Closure For Billy Buck?
Former Cub Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch before the Red Sox home opener Tuesday against the Tigers. In a tearful press conference--lot of that going around this week--Buckner said he had finally been able to forgive the media for the brutal treatment he and his family had received following Buckner's fateful error in Game Six of the Sox' 1986 World Series loss to the Mets.
For a whole generation of fans, Buckner's connection to that Mookie Wilson-hit ground ball has obscured the fact that the guy was a terrific baseball player. The onetime Dodger played seven full seasons on the North Side after the Cubs had acquired him and Ivan DeJesus in a January, 1977 trade for Rick Monday.
Buckner played on some terrible Cub teams between '77 and '83, and he played for some terrible managers, including Herman Franks and Lee Elia. In fact, Buckner's first season with the Cubs was the only one in which the club finished .500. But Buckner hit better than .300 four times for the Cubs and won the NL batting title in '80 with a .324 mark. He managed to do that while limping around on chronically sore ankles that required extensive treatment and taping before each and every game.
The Cubs eventually traded Buckner to Boston in May of '84, a deal that opened up an opportunity for young Leon Durham to play first base full-time and brought Dennis Eckersley to Chicago. Durham and Eckersley were key figures in the Cubs' 1984 NL East championship. (Durham, of course, had an unfortunate post-season encounter of his own with a ground ball.)
Buckner was not as productive in Boston has he had been with the Cubs, though he did collect better than 100 RBI in his two full seasons with the Red Sox. Then Mookie Wilson happened to him. And the jokes. And the bitterness.
Buckner, who ended his 22-year career in 1990 with 2715 hits and a .289 lifetime average, was one of my favorite Cubs in the years he played here. And I am happy to see that on Tuesday in Fenway Park, where he received a long standing ovation as he hobbled out to the pitching mound to throw that ceremonial first pitch, Buckner seems to have closed a miserable chapter in an otherwise distinguished Major League career.
For the record, Buckner's numbers in his seven full seasons with the Cubs ('77--'83):
Buckner's contemporaries included the likes of Steve Garvey, Ken Griffey, Eddie Murray, Pete Rose, Robin Yount, and Dave Winfield. And in the years Buckner was a Cub, he had a higher batting average than all of them.
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The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.