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With kudos to Craig Calcaterra ("ShysterBall") over at The Hardball Times, who suggested giving the Facebook game, "25 Random Things About Me," a baseball twist, I offer my list of 25:(updated: mine now added, below Cubnut's, below the fold. - Trans)

1.) I attended my first Cubs game in 1968--Cubs v. Giants, Fergie Jenkins v. Ray Sadecki. I still have the scorecard and thanks to the miracle of Retrosheet have been able to confirm that I did a pretty decent job of keeping score for a 7-year-old.

2.) The first Cub baseball card I ever turned up in a Topps package was a 1968 Rob Gardner and yes, it was eventually thrown in the trash by my mother, along with all of my other precious cards.

3.) About three years ago, I bought a replacement Rob Gardner card on eBay. Take that, Mom!

From Tracy Ringolsby... 

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa began lobbying last fall for the release of second baseman Adam Kennedy, wanting to keep Aaron Miles instead. Now he winds up with neither, the front office letting Miles go back in December, and then this week giving in on Kennedy and his $4 million salary when it became apparent there was no trade market for Kennedy.

Oriole-turned-Cub-turned-Mariner Garrett Olson talks about what it was like to hear he was Chicago-bound in the deal that sent Felix Pie to the O's.

From the Fresno Bee:

"Going to the Cubs, I had talked to the GM, talked to the pitching coach, a few other guys in the office. You definitely get excited for that. The thing is everybody knows the story about Chicago: haven't won a World Series in 100 years, and playing at Wrigley [Field], that's kind of like an icon in baseball. The opportunity developing in front of you is exciting."

Now Olson is with the Mariners, who have only gone 31 years without winning a World Series.

(Note: seems that we have reached the point in this country where it is physically impossible for someone from outside Chicago to say the word "Cubs" without saying the words "100 years" in the same sentence.)

Addendum: If the Cubs do, in fact, replace Henry Blanco with Paul Bako (per all the rumors) and the explanation is tied to the team wanting to "become more left-handed," these numbers might be of interest:

Paul Bako's lifetime batting line against RHP: 2015 PA's, .240 / .317 / .321 / 638 OPS
Henry Blanco's lifetime batting line against RHP: 1708 PA's, .222 / .281 / .352 / 633 OPS

Not much of a gain, especially considering all of those intangibles that Blanco was said to have contributed to the team--the same intangibles that are cited by the Padres upon their signing him.


The Padres signed 37-year-old Henry Blanco to a one-year, $750K deal on Wednesday. Blanco will back-up and mentor young Nick Hundley (no relation to Randy or Todd).

Rob invited us to pitch in with our Hall of Fame predictions on Sunday night, but I didn't have a chance to reply until now. Here goes:

I predict Ricky Henderson will receive somewhere around 511 votes, Jim Rice will finally get in the Hall with, oh, I'll say 76.4% of the vote, and two clowns will even cast ballots for Jay Bell.

TCR reader Jacos survived the cold and wind and a close encounter with Ronnie Woo-Woo to return with some nice shots from the Blackhawks/Red Wings game (including a shocking image of Red Wing players having to pass through a cloud of poison gas on their way to the rink--an allowable "home ice advantage" under NHL rules). Enjoy.

 

 

The last hockey player had barely stepped off the temporary ice rink at Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon following the 2009 NHL Winter Classic before Blackhawks team president John McDonough was in front of the reporters' microphones with another big idea.

In a reversal of sorts of the Blackhawks/Red Wings game at Wrigley Field, McDonough is proposing that the Cubs and Cardinals move their July 11th game from Wrigley to the United Center.

A funny thing happened on the way to the NHL Winter Classic:

The Blackhawks got good. Very good.

As a result, the spectacle that John McDonough begged his league to bring to Wrigley to help him reanimate a recently dead franchise has turned into something else:

A signficant matchup between the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the Blackhawks, the Wings' closest divisional pursuers, one of the league's youngest, highest scoring, and most dynamic clubs.

In case you have been too busy following the Cubs' off-season exploits to pay attention to the Blackhawks--or, more likely, if you have never paid attention to the Hawks--here is a Cubs baseball/Blackhawks hockey translator just for you.

Update: Loyal TCR reader Jacos points out my glaring omission of Bobby Murcer from the obit list. I think I scooted right past his name on the list of 2008 baseball deaths because I will always think of him as a New York Yankee despite his time with the Cubs and Giants, just like I will always think of Billy Williams as a Cub, despite his time with the Athletics. For the record, Murcer was acquired in trade from San Francisco for Bill Madlock in 1977 then traded back to the Yankees in June of 1979. In his two and a half years with the Cubs, Murcer had a couple of okay seasons--including 27 HR and 89 RBI in '77.


 

In the year just past, eight more men with various ties to our beloved Cubs left this world without seeing a World Series championship find its way to the North Side.

R.I.P. to you all, gentlemen...

 

John Buzhardt
(Died 6/15/08 at age 71 in Prosperity, South Carolina)

A right-hander signed by the Cubs as an amateur in 1954, Buzhardt pitched for the team in September of 1958 and all of 1959. In his two seasons in Cubbie blue, Buzhardt went 7-5, bouncing between starting and relief roles. The highlight of his Cub career was in June of '59, when Buzhardt threw a complete game, one-hit shutout at the Phillies. In addition to pitching for the Cubs, Buzhardt played for the Phillies, White Sox, Orioles, and Astros, ending his career in 1968 with a record of 71-96.

 

Don Cardwell (Died 1/14/08 at age 72 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Two days after being traded to the Cubs by the Phillies in 1960, Cardwell no-hit the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. If you haven't seen the grainy black & white footage from the WGN broadcast that day, you should.

Despite a past association with current Cubs manager Lou Piniella and rumors that the Cubs had him in their sights, Walnut Creek, California native Randy Johnson has signed a one-year deal with the Giants for a reported $8 million plus bonuses,.

Particularly before Ryan Dempster was re-signed and then when the Jake Peavy deal fell through, Johnson was identified by fans and press alike as an affordable free agent option to bolster the Cubs staff.

Once Dempster was back in the fold, it was easy to get excited about the thought of Johnson replacing Jason Marquis as the Cubs' fifth starter. Also attractive was the thought that if Johnson came to the North Side, the Cubs would never have to face him: Johnson's career mark against the Cubs, spanning 14 starts, is 13-0, 1.84, with 142 K's in just 102 2/3 IP.

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