Quantum Broglio

I have always wondered that if someone could make a minor change here and there to the timeline, how different being a Cub fan might be. Cub history is littered with so many momentary adverse events that with an occasional tweak, the one hundred year World Series drought would never have been an issue. With just a little help from Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine--voilà: Lee Smith throws a different pitch to Garvey, Leon Durham bends just a little lower to field that grounder or Alex Gonzalez actually turns that 8th inning double play.

Here’s a time-warped tale of modern day Orthopedics coming to the Cubs rescue! In order to tell the story of the World Series Shuffle, I went to one of my favorite TV programs of the 1990’s and discovered there were missing episodes in the archives.

QUANTUM LEAP – The Chicago Cubs Episode

SHOW PREMISE: Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula, yes he’s also Captain Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise) leads a team of elite scientists to develop the top-secret project known as Quantum Leap. Pressured to prove his theories or lose government funding (some things never change), Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the quantum project accelerator... and disappeared. He finds himself in the past, looking in the mirror and seeing an image that was not his own. In each episode, he has to figure out who and where he is before he tries to straighten out whatever mess he’s in. Fortunately he gets some help and contact with his own time through brainwave transmissions with Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), the project military observer, who can communicate in the form of a hologram and aid our hero with historical facts. Naturally, only Sam can see and hear his sidekick. Trapped in the past, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap would be the leap home.

THIS EPISODE'S LEAP: Dr. Sam Beckett finds himself as young budding star orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe. The time is October 1964. In Dr. Jobe’s clinic to be examined is recently traded Chicago Cub pitcher Ernie Broglio, with a sore elbow.

Before he was traded, Broglio had pitched 5 seasons with St. Louis ranging from 180-250 innings. His success included seasons of 21-9 and 18-8. He was acquired to bolster the top of a rotation that included such workhorse pitchers as ace Larry Jackson, lefty Dick Ellsworth and veteran Bob Buhl. The offense included 1958-59 season’s MVP Ernie Banks and young offensive stars, sweet swinging Billy Williams and slugging third baseman, Ron Santo. All it cost to get this stud pitcher was a 25 year old inconsistent hitter (.251 in 1964, .258 in 1963) and error prone outfielder named Lou.

Now back in 1964 a pitcher with a sore elbow (there was no MRI imaging to diagnose this yet) was dead meat. Common advice from the treating doc was “Sorry fella, you might start thinking about working for the Wrigley Company selling gum”. Cortisone shots were all there was to offer and they were of no help (actually they make the problem worse, weakening the ligament tissue).

From a Greg Couch article in the Sun-Times (circa, May 2000) comes this info on Broglio and his medical treatment:

Broglio said he took 21 cortisone shots in 1962 for his sore shoulder. Who knows what the problem was? By the time he came to the Cubs in 1964, he was taking more regular cortisone in his elbow. Back then, he said, teams didn't make trades contingent on players passing physicals. And one morning, he said, he woke up and couldn't move his arm at all.


Broglio’s career at that point dwindled to 50 innings pitched in 1965 and 62 innings in 1966. That was it. After 1966, they put a fork in his pitching career (no knife would help back then). That was the natural history of a pitcher with a torn ulnar collateral ligament on the inside/medial aspect of the elbow back in the 60’s.

In fact, the prognosis for such a pitching injury wouldn’t change until 1975, ten years later. In the 1974 season, Dodger pitcher Tommy John had some elbow soreness that limited him to 22 starts (he’d averaged 33 starts the previous 5 season). This was before MRI’s were available, so it wasn’t the technology that helped make the earliest diagnosis, let alone figure out a treatment. It was just inspired knowledge and understanding of the anatomy by a pioneer surgeon. When TJ’s elbow went south in 1975, Dr. Jobe was told by the Dodgers to do something surgical, anything he could think up that would help. The subsequent technology advances such as arthroscopy and MRI imaging have made the diagnosis much easier to make but in 1975 they were not at his disposal.

Tommy John missed the 1975 season recovering from a surgery that borrowed a “spare” tendon (the palmaris longus) from the forearm and Dr. Jobe replaced the damaged ligament with this spare part, stabilizing the pitchers elbow and allowing him to once again pitch effectively at the major league level. John in 1976 had 31 starts (207 Innings). The next two years he pitched in the post-season including two World Series games.

Dr. Sam Beckett (being a die-hard Cubs fan) realized that pitcher Broglio was a focal point in time. He would become known for being on one end of the most lopsided trades in all of baseball history. Lou Brock, had he stayed a Cub would have been the leadoff hitter, base stealer and centerfielder that the Cubs infamous 1969 team was lacking.

Unfortunately, Dr. Beckett didn’t Quantum Shift into the body of Cub GM John Holland on June 15th, 1964. If he had, the episode would have had him put a halt to that trade and... Well maybe that’s another lost archive episode, albeit without the orthopedics.

We all know what happened to the 1969 Cubs without Lou Brock, but what if the 1969 Cubs had a healthy Ernie Broglio?

Beckett knowledge of the future allows Dr. Jobe to reconstruct Broglio’s elbow that fall of 1965 and invent the operation ten years ahead of schedule. Being a leading TV show actor, Bakula naturally gets scenes with lovely OR nurses to flirt with him while he sweats out the operation on Broglio. Sidekick Al reads directions on how—to—do—surgery, Bob Vila and "This Old House" style, which on TV seems plausible considering his doctor degree was in Physics (not Orthopedics).

The pitcher misses the 1966 season while rehabbing, which wasn’t such a bad thing. The Cubs in 1965, after seeing their acquisition from St. Louis go up in smoke finished in 8th place (ahead of expansion Astro and Met teams). So 1966 was the year, new Cub manager, Leo Durocher is quoted as saying “this is not an 8th place team”…so they promptly finished the ‘66 season in 10th place.

Per the Quantum Leap formula, Bakula expects to shortly move on to the next episode (…muttering something about having to dress up as a Miss Deep South Beauty Pageant contestant). To wrap the Cub episode, his timeline impact needed to be spelled out (the show is only 40 minutes without commercials). As his time being Dr. Jobe/Beckett is counting down, Sidekick Al reads to Dr. Beckett from the timeline altered Baseball Encyclopedia, quoting stats from the 1969 season.

What we remember is that the Cubs fortunes were improving in the late 60’s due to a few shrewd trades including ace pitcher Ferguson Jenkins (who arrived in a 1966 trade involving Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl), catcher Randy Hundley and unsung starting pitcher "Froggy" Bill Hands (for reliever Lindy McDaniel and outfielder Don Landrum), draft/signing acquisitions of a solid middle infield combo of Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger.

We also know Broglio didn’t have any stats for the 1969 season. When Al reads Broglio’s 1969 line of 205 Innings, 32 starts and a 20-9 record, they stick out like a sore elbow. Fergie Jenkins won 21 that year. Bill Hands went 20-14 and Ken Holtzman went 17-13. Instead of 92 wins, Al says the Cubs with Broglio won 103 games and didn’t fold in September (take that Black Cat).

OUTTRO: Ron Santo clicking his heels after a game saving diving stop to throw out Brooks Robinson, winning the 1969 World Series in 5 games.

…Fading exit, cut to Santo’s introduction Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown in 1980. Ah, that’s what I call timeline change collateral impact.

…Followed by the credits, with a background of Tribune sports page headlines from 1999. Kerry Wood HAS ELBOW SURGERY. Whoa, his operation was the Ernie Broglio elbow ligament reconstruction ("EB elbow surgery").

POSTSCRIPT: Apparently, according to sidekick Al, it’s only been 38 seasons since the Cubs have won a World Series but nobody’s counting anymore.

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Comments

Why all the Brogllio fuss? If you're going back in time, just don't trade for him and keep Lou Brock.

I know that it's part and parcel of being a Cub fan to mourn the loss of Lou Brock, but the fact of the matter is that they had no place to play him. Brock is acknowledged today as having been a crappy fielding LF - but for the Cubs he was a crappy fielding RF. Billy Williams was only one year older and would continue to be the regular LF for the next decade or so.

Given that the Cubs couldn't afford to keep the poor fielding Brock in RF forever, the only way that he could have been a contributing regular on the mid 60s Cubs would have been to have him (or Billy) playing first base. So if you want to rewrite history and keep him, you've got to dump Mr. Cub.

But the fact is that even after Brock's great second half in '64, he wasn't consistently more productive than Ernie until about '67 or so. So if they had moved Ernie to make way for Brock in '64, the Cubs and their fans would probably have soured on Brock well before he became a star. I could see them dumping the disappointing speedster for spare change right before his first All Star season in '67.

In any case, with the benefit of sabermetric hindsight, we now know that Lou Brock wasn't really as good as everyone thought at the time. Add in the fact that for most of his career his career in St. Louis, the Cubs still had the better LF, and I'm totally ok with the Brock trade. Did we get the better end of the deal? Definitely not. But was it the cause of all the ills of the Cubs of my youth? Most definitely not. Bring on Quantum Broglio.

So if you want to rewrite history and keep him, you've got to dump Mr. Cub.
==============
I believe any thoughts about trading Mr. Cub were nixed by PK Wrigley. So in that context, maybe there are parallels between PK and Peter Angelos

Yup, I think you're right. Wrigley loved Banks and would never have traded him. But that's the only way that it would have ever made any sense to keep Brock.

But sadly enough, in retrospect, a Banks for Broglio trade would have benefited the Cubs by freeing up a position for Brock. Brock's 119 OPS+ and 53 steals would have been a nice addition to the '69 Cubs - especially in light of the OPS+ of 92 that Banks posted as a firstbaseman.

just don't trade for him and keep Lou Brock.
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couldn't write about elbow reconstruction if I spun the story that way...but I did mention the Quantum leap into GM John Holland scenerio.

lol. Not even Star Trek could resurrect the career of Scott Bakula, but the good doctor might have something here...

Fun read. I've never seen QL but I'm aware of the premise. Some weeks this team winning a championship DOES seem like science fiction.

While you're at it, can you please leap back to 1980 and buy me 5,000 shares of Home Depot?

QL was a great show for a geeky young teen Cub fan who also was interested in history and science to watch in the early 1990s. Woo. And what better excuse than to use it to tie together the Brock and Broglio trade with the most important surgical development in baseball history... Nice work!

To bad Ziggy didn't send Sam back to Feb of 1964 to tell Ken Hubbs not to fly his plane.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=159244

The Cubs have interest in outfielder Reed Johnson, who was given his unconditional release by the Toronto Blue Jays. They seem to like Johnson better than Jeff DaVanon, who was let go by the Padres.

So the Canadian trash must smell less bad than the West Coast US trash. Good to know...:)

http://www.brewtonstandard.com/articles/2008/03/24...

Tampa Bay officially changed the team name from Devil Rays to just "Rays" which is going to wind up being pronounced Tampa "Bay-Rays" just wait and see. Better yet, they announced that anyone in the media who uses the old name Devil Rays will be fined $1 per infraction. We should follow suit.

I think the Cubs should fine the media $100 every time they remind us that the Cubs haven't won a World Series in 100 years.

Mike Francessa of WFAN's "Mike and the Mad Dog" show made a funny comment about this. I guess one of the owners is from Long Island where Francessa is from and he sent Mike a letter informing him of the "fine". Mike sent a letter back with a check for $100 saying this should cover me for the year.

$1000 fine for using the word "curse"

Two pitchers that I would love to go back in the day and 'fix' or prevent injuries...Lance Dickson and Mike Harkey.

Thanks for this great post, Cubster.

This makes me want to ask-- if it were possible to Quantum-improve a single draft decision, which one would people choose?

Bye bye Prior.

There are dozens of drafts where we can find a player picked after the Cubs' first pick who performed better. My pick though woul be to "leap" back to the 1999 draft and instead of taking Ben Christenson (26th overall) take Brian Roberts (who went 50th overall to the Orioles).

Not only could we have avoided that waste of a player Christenson, and had Roberts at 2B for the 2003-2005 season where he would have mattered, but also we would not have to hear about "the trade" every day for 4 months this winter/spring.

Espn saying Wood is closer, Marquis part of rotation.
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2008/news/stor...

hmm...new site. controlled posting. interesting.
Hope everyone had a nice offseason.

So Marquis and Dempster in the rotation, and Lieber in the pen. Personally, despite his age and recent health problems, I'd feel better about Lieber over both Marquis and Dempster. I'm not expecting terribly much from the Cubs this year. Injury depending, somewhere in the range of 78-87 wins. Saving grace is our division will probably suck again this year.

Welcome back, block!

 

This is what Lieber gets for not being a malcontent....  Here's hoping we see him in the rotation sometime soon. 

Block:
"I'm not expecting terribly much from the Cubs this year. Injury depending, somewhere in the range of 78-87 wins. Saving grace is our division will probably suck again this year."

Welcome back...

And I do agree with the above statement for the most part. I do think they will be on the high side of that 78-87 win range. I think 87 is likely going to be official prediction next week, but that mostly stems from the sucky division again, like you said, more than any improvements the team made.

My guess is that keeping Marquis in the rotation is an effort to boost his perceived trade value. I can't imagine this is the long-term plan. Lou hasn't been shy about his problems with Marquis.

LNL:
"I can't imagine this is the long-term plan. Lou hasn't been shy about his problems with Marquis."

Yeah, I agree. Hopefully Marquis can start out hot again, and Hendry trades him, and sell a player high for a change.

Paull Sullivan says the same: Wood-Closer, Marquis & Dempster-Starters, Lieber-Long Relief

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

on The Score 670 - as "Breaking News" (I was hoping a beneficial trade was going to be "reported" - but just the above re MArquis, and Lieber to the pen, Woody as closer).


Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello will now compete for Scott Eyre's spot as late-inning left-hander, after Piniella confirmed that Eyre probably won't be ready to start the season due to tightness in his left elbow.

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

Nice article, Dr. Joseph. Any chance there's another episode where Dr. Jobe pulls Dusty's head out of his ass in 2003?

Nice article, Dr. Joseph. Any chance there's another episode where Dr. Jobe pulls Dusty's head out of his ass in 2003?

 +1

Nice read Doc.

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