Should the Cubs Retire #21 and Other Off-Day Musings...

With the Cubs announcing that #31 will be retired in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, waxpaperbeercup recently asked if the Cubs should retire #21 in honor of Jason Marquis? Suprisingly, 40% thought the Cubs should do so...which I thought was a bit high for someone that was a Cub for just two years. 

All kidding aside, it's an intriguing question and I imagine I'll get a similar response here, but let's try it anway. For anyone who reads this site regularly, they'll know where I stand when it comes to Sammy Sosa. The man deserves far more gratitude from Cubs fans than the vitriol that seems to be prevalent, but let's put it to a vote and see if we can up the sample size.


- Fangraphs has been ranking the franchises using ownership, front office, major league and minor league talent and has the Cubs at #7 with an overall A- grade. There's not much point to quibble over some rather arbitrary ranking system other than the Brewers are #6. Let's get this straight Fangraphs, the only time Milwaukee finishes ahead of Chicago is if they have an all-city weigh-in.

- Baseball Digest Daily with a visual pleasing preview of the Chicago Cubs. Once you get past the obligatory 100-year and Billy Goat references (nails them right in the first few paragraphs), it's one of the more thorough previews I've read.

- The wife of Angels pitcher Rich Thompson has a blog on what it's like being the wife of a player trying to make the major league roster. Next up, the Angel Fan Wife starts a blog about what it's like married to a baseball blogger.

Last night around 11pm as I was dozing off, Rob started writing an article. When I woke up at 7:30 this morning, he was in bed still with his laptop. I'm not sure if he just woke up early or never went to bed.

Today, I banned the laptop from the dinner table so Rob doesn't read his baseball site during dinner.

It's Sunday afternoon and the Cubs are on TV which means my husband will be chatting with his anonymous online "friends". Every once in awhile I hear a random chuckle and I smile and tell him how cute I find him. In reality, I'm plotting my escape.

Rob suffers from what I call his male menstrual period. For women, it only lasts a few days, for my husband it goes from April to October and his mood shifts depending on the outcome of the Cubs game that day. One day, I'll go through menopause and be done with it, Rob's will last forever.

Rob didn't put on pants all day.

...a week and a half of this god-forsaken spring training left to go...


I'm not against it, but I voted no. I think there are still a couple fresh wounds. Let's wait a few years.

That's a hilarious blog entry. My wife feels the same sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

...oh yeah, and I voted yes.

[edit] BUT, I'm offended by 'friends' in quotes. Remember when you and I went to the park and flew kites together, Rob? Our tandem bike trip? Our tickle fights? What does she expect of me?

Yes from me too, although I wouldn't do it yet.

If the Cubs have a ceremony during which they retire 21 I will eat copious amounts of red beans and rice and turn my back to the TV and fart in Sammy Sosa's general direction. I'd rather honor Lee Elia.

Yes from me... I still get goosebumps thinking about those years... juice or no juice, it was still the best Cubs years of my lifetime. I ate up every bit of it and washed it down with gallons of Kool-Aid to boot. If I were to regret the Sammy years because of the juice, then I’d be forfeiting all those great years of being a diehard Cubs fan. Sammy meant just as much to the Cubs in his Era as Banks, Santo, Ryno, etc... and if were going to throw Maddux his number... Sammy certainly is more worthy to have his Cubs number retired than the Mad Dog...

...oh and a few days back... the wife was doing laundry in the other room and caught wind of multiple dolphin cackels, grizzly bear roars, and sealion barks after a HoffPower HR... that she let out a huge groan and a "are you fucking kidding me, already?"....

that she let out a huge groan and a "are you fucking kidding me, already?"....
I nominate this for "Post of Spring Training"

I have to visit parachat more often, I'm missing my (retired-Dusty's Double-Switch) Dolphin :(

I'm a big Greg Maddux fan, but Sammy Sosa meant way more to the Cubs than Maddux did. Of course, I think retiring #31 has a lot more to do with Fergie Jenkins than it does with Maddux.

Having said that, I don't think enough time has passed for Sammy's #21 to be retired. Give it some time and let some of the hard feelings pass. When the time is right, #21 should be retired.

i'd imagine they'd wait until...

1- the whole 'roids' era thing blows over (believe he is or isn't...he's a huge part of the era and it's not cuz you can say he was 100% clean).

2- he's old/sick (hopefully old before sick) enough to forget any "well, maybe" and just remember what the dude did at face value

I think I'd vote for Sosa to join the Hall of Fame before I'd vote in favor of retiring his number at Wrigley.

IF we can set aside the Steroids' cloud, (and Sosa is well, less conclusively guilty than McGwire, Clemens, Bonds, Palmeiro and Tejada. At least based on what we know right now,), then he clearly is a Hall of Famer. Operative word being If.

But retiring a number is in some ways an even higher threshold than the Hall of Fame. A retired number isn't just honoring a player's skill on the field, it's honoring their place in the team and city's history and identity. There's a sense of legacy in it that is different from the more-or-less fuzzily defined standards of the Hall.

And there, I just don't see Sosa as having made the same sort of contributions to the Cubs' identity and legacy as a Jenkins or Banks or Santo or Sandberg or Williams or for that matter, Caray. Granted, this is an exceptionally subjective, idiosyncratic value-call I'm making, but deciding to retire a number IS a value-judgment in a way that evaluating say, Schilling's place in the Hall, is not. I can't tease out the good part of Sosa's tenure with the Cubs from the bad, and there's enough bad that I vote for letting the Hall honor his contributions.



They should wait a few years but there is no question that Sammy Sosa deserves to have his number retired. He did more for the Cubs than Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg or Ron Santo ever did. And yeah, I'll say it, Ernie Banks too.

Sammy filled the stadium better than any Cub ever.

I agree with that last sentence 100%.

Sammy deserves to have his number retired, but not yet. I disagree with Trans above. I do think he did an enormous amount to define the Cubs of the late 90s and early part of this decade. He's one of five Cubs (the four others Chad lists above) that young kids just getting into Cubs history will be able to name off the top of their heads as the greatest, most spirited Cubs who ever played.

I'm as jaded as the next guy, but come on. Sammy's home runs were awesome and provided me the overwhelming majority of my Cubs excitement for the better part of a decade.

Also, I should add a defense of the Fan Graphs rating: they're evaluating the franchises in their ability to regularly contend for a world championship from here on out, not on what was done in 2008 or earlier. The disparity between the minor league systems is pretty significant. And the grade of the Cubs' ownership basically was an "incomplete."

Where in your wife's diary does she get around to mentioning Carlos?


63 pitches over 4 innings...topping around 92mph according to Miles. Struck out E-Pat twice...

I like the velocity. Striking out E-pat...not as impressive.

You like that he topped out at 92? Less than a year ago he was topping out at 99.

I know he has to ease his way into it and all, but the dude lost a TON of velocity since July. Let's hope it comes back.

Yes, I like that he's in the low 90s in ST. Call me crazy, but I think we can expect mid-90s in April.

QUOTE: "Rob didn't put on pants all day."

Substitute SJS for Rob, and that's the story of my life...and why I'm easily the first one kicked out of the club.

Retire #21, absolutely.

George Altman. Wore 21 in '66 and '67.

Kept his card for years. The reason I always picked #21 for my jersey number, when I got to pick. First guy I remember wearing white cleats.

Re: #1 -- I'm not against it, but I voted no. I think there are still a couple fresh wounds. Let's wait a few years.

Right now, I'm with Ryno here. I'll even go a little farther:

I want the Cubs to with the World Series.

I want them to have players who want to do whatever is necessary to win the World Series. Right now, when I think of Sammy, I remember all of the missed cut-off men on throws, the dodgy defense, the "sometimes I feel like using all of my tools to win and sometimes I don't give a fuck about anything but swinging like an idiot 'cause I might hit the ball 500 feet".

I loved the talent I saw in Sammy Sosa when he first joined the White Sox. I used to watch for the News highlights for Cubs replays and for anything spectacular that Sammy might have done while playing for the Sox (this is the only Sox player I can think of whom I can say that about). I don't want to spend the time to recount all of the energy I invested in watching him over the years. In the end, I wanted Sammy to want to win more than anything. I think that, at the end, this was not his focus. After the Cubs win the World Series, I may be willing to give special recognition to his achievements by retiring his number. Right now, I only want to honor players who just wanted to win, baby. And in my opinion, Sammy was not one of those players by the time he left.

He probably brought more heat on himself by wearing #21, Roberto Clemente's number, and claiming it was because of how he idolized Clemente. Sammy is hurt by the comparison.

If you idolize Clemente, then play like him. Use all of your tremendous talents all of the time for the single purpose of winning. I saw Clemente play. He was one of those fucking bastards who did something to hurt the Cubs anytime he was involved in any play, anywhere on the field. Players who got a hit to right field habitually NEVER rounded first out of fear of getting picked off from a throw behind them. It was the weirdest, most cautious baserunning I've ever seen. Fielding, throwing, baserunning and especially hitting -- he was fucking disgusting. You hated seeing the Pirates come to town in the late 60's & early 70's because of him. It was like Pujols -- less power but he could effect the game in more ways. Sammy had the talent to be that kind of player -- plus the extraordinary power -- and I believe that kind of talent -- disciplined and dedicated to winning in all facets of the game -- could have taken the Cubs over the top.

Sorry, man. The Cubs gotta win the Series first before I can look back to honor the individual achievements of a player who had the talent to take them there but lost the focus and discipline and commitment to get them there. That's just how I feel right now.

I respect your opinion--a world series win would cure a lot of old ills. Kind of like how Boston brought Buckner back after their 2004 win.

But I have to note that one of the reasons I respect Sammy's time with the Cubs is outside his talent and results, which were both considerable. I also have tremendous respect for how hard he played and for how often.

Following his injury-shortened 96 season (with 40 homers!), he never played in less than 150 games until 2003. Those years, of course, correspond to his most productive, with the exception of the disappointing 1997.

What was great about Sosa was not only that during his prime, every at-bat held the possibility for great things, but also that he played in almost every game.

In fact, I agree with something Rob Neyer once wrote--the only legitimate claim that Sosa had over McGwire for the 1998 MVP is that he played in many more games, thereby providing greater value to his club.

It's something that gets overlooked with all the steroid suppositions, corked bat critics and manufactured rage over his skipping a meaningless day of work--but Sammy Sosa played hard and often for his team.

I also respect your opinion and recognize that you raise valid points. I also note that my opinion is centered in my emotions about Sammy -- the facts I cited merely help explain why I feel as I do. My emotions may change with time and in light of future events. Right now, however, I have to honor those feelings, as the facts can support both a decision to retire his number as well as one to decline to do so at present.

Wow Honey, you really nailed this one! Pretty much right on. But, I would like to add that I am waiting for the day that our twins ask me if the Cubs won that day before you walk in the door at night. Better yet, I'll make a sign on the fridge and post a W or L. It will let them practice their letter/sound recognition as well as serve as a daily horoscope. They'll know whether they can attack you when you walk in the door, or go color a pretty picture to cheer you up. You know this is coming...
All kidding aside, I appreciate your passion for the Cubs and I'm not plotting my escape...yet. ;)

wwwwwwwwwwwwww *breath* wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

I find it pretty hilarious (in a good way) that Mrs. G. posts responses to Rob that she could have just said in person. TCR is all about relationships, I tell ya.

She knows it's the best place to find me.

And don't worry, we mock plenty of you when the cameras aren't rolling.

I voted for "Who?" because I'm passive aggressive.

Behavior humor at its finest. Good stuff there.

Vote no for Jason's bid to enter the HOF.

The 2008 season's #21 had an interesting day starting for the Rockies (vs Angel Fan Wife's team)...

Marquis (L, 0-3) IP 3.1 H 10 R 12 ER 11 BB 4 SO 1 HR 0 ERA 14.1

Final Rocks 11 Angels 18

...and Orange Guy was 1-5 (single), as a DH

Recent comments

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  • j.buchanan with a nice start...5ip 2h 1bb 3k, 0r/er

    zobrist with 2HR and a double through 8

    heyward 0-4 :(

    crunch 10 hours 47 min ago view
  • Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales

    Soler likely to return Sunday, Maddon says

    crunch 13 hours 25 min ago view
  • Right now, I'd like to see the Mets first, Giants 2nd.

    I believe that since most of the team from last years' NLCS is on the squad this year, they will really amp their game up even more to kick their ass in payback for 2015.

    The Giants just do not have the depth in years past, and I think all things equal - and at Wrigley - they could handle them.

    I do not want to see the Cards, period. Or their fans, media, or Joe Buck.

    The E-Man 13 hours 44 min ago view
  • I don't want to play Braves in the first round. Any friggin team in the league can win 3 of 5..I hate the first round. Furthermore, I wanted to play the Marlins in 2003 and the Mets over Dodgers last year.

    With that said in reverse order:
    3. Cardinals: It will be devastating to lose in the first round, but even worse to their main rival. It is increased incentive for the Cardinals, especially after last year. Cards would have nothing to lose, Cubs have everything to lose.

    2. Giants: Rotation in the playoffs scare me a bit, but what a lousy team.

    blockhead25 14 hours 27 min ago view
  • 1. Mets--because of the losses in the rotation
    2. Giants--because they're not the team they were BUT they maybe have bullshit even-year magic?
    3. Cardinals--because rivalry and not making the playoffs hurts them more than losing in the NLDS plus getting eliminated by them in the playoffs would make for horrible sports commentary next throughout next season.

    Charlie 16 hours 11 min ago view
  • Who's asking?

    jacos 16 hours 13 min ago view
  • #TeamEntropy

    CLE/DET rained out last night already, possible rain-outs in New York (vs. Baltimore), Boston(vs. Toronto) and Philly(vs. Mets) this weekend too.

    Not only games involving playoff spots that would need to be played, but any that involve home field advantage.

    Rob G. 16 hours 21 min ago view
  • I got the first one! Second one I'm not even sure what even/odd betting is.

    johann 17 hours 8 min ago view
  • any opponent preference for NLDS?

    Mets are down to 1 great pitcher instead of 4. Syndegaard may pitch Sunday which means if Mets win the WC game, he'd be set up for Game 1. There's a chance they clinch a spot by Sunday so he'd pitch the WC and then we'd probably get Colon for Game 1. They've certainly had the hottest bats over the last week and month out of the WC options.

    Rob G. 17 hours 30 min ago view
  • Rob Richardson 22 hours 34 min ago view
  • Can't teach height and thinness

    jacos 1 day 29 min ago view
  • Hopefully Pirates don't call up A. Lincoln.

    jacos 1 day 9 hours ago view
  • j.buchanan going friday...should something like it.

    crunch 1 day 10 hours ago view
  • Wow. I didn't know they could do that.

    Nice for Willson, not so much for Addy.

    billybucks 1 day 10 hours ago view
  • Game is officially called...also officially a tie.

    Stats count, no make-up date of course.


    Rob G. 1 day 10 hours ago view
  • Yeah -- seeing the weather -- I hope KB and Rizz are inside, wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate.

    billybucks 1 day 11 hours ago view