The Last Time... (Cubs Opening Day Edition)
"Why, I remember when my father and I used to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and watch the season start in Japan."
--The Onion ("On Baseball's Opening Day")
Has Opening Day lost any of its luster since Major League baseball trash-canned the quaint tradition of starting every season with a single game, played in Cincinnati, the home of the game's first professional team, where the occasion was celebrated with a parade down the city's streets? Is the day less magical now that it has unfolded in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan, and the weekday game in the Queen City has given way to a made-for-ESPN event played on Sunday night? Of course it has.
But the thing is, it's still a damn special day on the baseball calendar and in WAY too many of the past 99 Cubs seasons, it has been the one and only day of the season when Cub fans' optimism was in full bloom.
So in honor of a day so wonderful that even Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, Jr. can't completely desecrate it despite his very best efforts, here is a list of Cub-relevant Opening Days of the past, specifically, the last time...
...the Cubs opened the season at Wrigley Field: 2001, when they lost 5-4 to the Expos.
...the Cubs opened the season at Wrigley Field and won: 1996, when the home side beat the Padres, 5-4.
...someone other than Carlos Zambrano was the Cubs' starting pitcher on Opening Day: 2004, when Kerry Wood went five innings and earned the victory as the Cubs beat the Reds, 7-4
...the Cubs started a rookie catcher on Opening Day: 1989, when 24-year-old Joe Girardi went 2-for-3 against the Phillies.
...someone other than Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez started at the
corners of the Cub infield on Opening Day: 2003, when Hee Sop Choi and
Mark Bellhorn had the honor.
...the Cubs were shut-out on Opening Day: 1993, when the Braves' Greg Maddux and Mike Stanton whitewashed the Cubs, 1-0.
...the Cubs won by shutout on Opening Day: 1974, when Bill Bonham blanked the Phillies, 2-0.
...Ernie Banks--whose Wrigley Field statue will be unveiled Monday--appeared in the Cubs' Opening Day lineup: 1970, when Banks had one of only five Cub hits in a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia's Chris Short.
...the Milwaukee Brewers opened the season in Chicago: 1990, when they lost 2-1 to the White Sox.
...the Cubs opened the season against the Brewers: never.
...the Cubs opened the season in the month of March: 3/31/03, when they crushed the Mets, 15-2, at Shea Stadium. (The only other time the Cubs opened in March was on March 29, 2000, when they beat the Mets, 5-3, in Tokyo.)
...a Lou Piniella-led team won on Opening Day: 2004, when Piniella's Devil Rays beat the Yankees, 8-3.
...the Cubs drew fewer than 38,000 to Opening Day at Wrigley Field: 1991, when only 31,622 showed up to see the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 4-1. It was 45 degrees and cloudy that day.
Real pussies, those 1991 Cubs fans.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.
Classic Scully - great stuff.
Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)
Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:
"And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."
When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.
If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.