The Cubs vs Cardinals rivalry. Old Photos.

 

I found some old photos in a box.

Crappy, from an old point and shoot in the pre-digital days.

I asked a buddy if he thought that was crazy Mitch Williams on the mound for the Cubs, he said he thought it was Rod Beck.

And then I simply had to find out what the shots were from.

I scanned 'em at high resolution and you know what? Fuzzy shots scanned at high resolution still look pretty fuzzy. But blown way up you'll see two #30's (starting pitchers) in the shot of the scoreboard. That would be Geremi Gonzalez and Todd Stottlmyre. 

The batters, of course you'll remember Cardinal  #25 and Cub #21.

I found out that these are from (I'm 99.9% certain) May 1, 1998, when Sammy and McGwire were in the process of The Great Home Run Battle. Back when players were doing evil black magic in the locker rooms with needles.

But let's forget that stuff for a minute and look at these photos.

Wrigley Field back in a far more innocent time, seats nowhere near filled, Torco sign, cigarette smoking Mark Grace at first, and that IS Rod Beck throwing the ball for the Cubs. They won 6-5.

This was the year Harry died - he passed away just a couple months earlier. On Opening Day my brother and I sat in the front windows at Bernie's (which was still a pleasant old man bar) thinking we'd watch it there. But we ran across the street just before the game and got tickets at the will call window for face right down the 3rd base line about 20 rows up and watched a thousand black balloons fly into the sky in honor of Harry before the game started.

This was just 12 years ago. The photos look like they're from another time completely.

Lineups:

Cubs
Brant Brown cf
Mickey Morandini 2b
Sammy Sosa rf
Mark Grace 1b
Henry Rodriguez lf
Jeff Blauser ss
Tyler Houston c
Kevin Orie 3rd
Geremi Gonzalez p

Cardinals
Royce Clayton ss
Delino DeShields 2b
Mark McGwire 1b
Ray Lankford cf
Willie McGee lf
Gary Gaitti 3b 
John Mabry rf
Eli Marrero c
Todd Stottlemyre p

You can go to Baseball Almanac to see the actual box score.

Anyway,I don't remember this at all, but I guess we got to see a McGwire homer, Grace and McGee double, about 50 guys steal on Tyler Houston, and Rod Beck get the 9th save of his 51-save season. (If there is a heaven, I hope to have a couple beers with Rod some time in the future.) 

A couple months after these photos were taken the Cards would dump Gary Gaetti, the Cubs would pick him up and in a 2-month span he'd hit .320, slug .594, hit 8 homers and 27 RBIs, and be a big deal in helping the Cubs get to the playoffs.
I also liked Brant Brown - we all thought he was gonna be a star, but later this season he'd make his famous NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (that's Santo, of course) Error. 

The Cubs would win the wild card in a 1-game playoff vs. the Giants and go on to... get swept by the Braves in round one of the NLDS?

That's CRAZY!

Must be some kind of Cubs' theme or something.

Anyway, I hope you like the photos, and hope the Cubs contribute to the St. Louis Slide of 2010.

(click on the image for the full-size version)


 

You can view Tim Souers work on a daily basis at Cubby Blue.

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Comments

Concerning the earlier comments about the under usage of Soto----I've wondered why when you have a catcher who contributes significantly to the offense, that the manager doesn't pull him after, say the 6th inning, on blowouts in either direction. It wouold be logical to assume that the backup catcher might be the defensive equal of the starter or he wouldn't be on the roster. You might have your best offense on the field for the deciding portion of say 150 games instead of 120-130.

It's an interesting question, but the backup being a better defensive player than the starter isn't true, nor is it really relevant.

When Henry Blanco was with the Cubs he was definitely better defensively than the starter.
He was about as good as it gets. I suspect that many teams look at defense first for their second string catcher.
Is Hill's defense as good as or better than Soto?
I don't know but it would appear that Lou thought so.

Backups are inferior ballplayers. Sometimes your backup is a better hitter, sometimes he's a better fielder, probably the case the Cubs have right now, or the Cardinals have or the Twins have, your backup catcher is neither.

Most teams don't carry three catchers so if you pull your starter in the 6th and the back up gets hurt you are in trouble.

That said I think that you are on to something.

that is pretty S.O.P., but one i never understood.

How often does a catcher get hurt late in a game that a team is left without one? and even if they did, you're talking one game a team would then be allegedly destined to lose compared to the 10-20 times a year that you could put a better pinch-hitter or replacement in there during a season but are afraid to because of losing your 2nd catcher.

I assume managers make for crappy blackjack players.

How often does a defensive replacement actually make a play that the guy he replaces doesn't make? I think that happens much less often than the other team comes back (regardless of the outfield play in left) and suddenly you miss your big bat you took out.

I think all baseball managers are more worried about looking bad than doing what actually makes their team most likely to win. I guess that's not a trait unique to baseball managers.

To me the benefit would be saving miles on the starting catcher's knees more than the defensive upgrade.

And agreed, the main job of a manager is to not get fired for as long as possible. Taking chances is more likely to get you fired than anything else.

This was just 12 years ago. The photos look like they're from another time completely.

That's exactly what I was thinking. I know they've done a number of things to the park since then, but it looks almost minor league in those pics. Neat.

How am I supposed to know what kind of beer I'm supposed to drink or which athletic apparel to use?

Thanks for the saunter down Memory Lane.

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