Cubs history

Well that was kind of awesome...except I walked out right before Derrek Lee's double in the third. So I'll have to relive the glory through those who were witness.

I found out about the no-hitter when I opened my email and one of our readers sent me the parachat screen grab from the end of the game.

It looks like I'm four months late on this, but it appears that Rookie of the Month honors in the MLB is voted by the fans. The Cubs have two nominees, Geovany Soto and Jeff Samardzija and they'll go up against Cardinals reliever Chris Perez and Rockies third basemen Ian Stewart. Soto is looking for his second win of the year and voting runs through Monday.

 Samardzija provided a bullpen boost for the first-place Cubs. In 14 1/3 innings, he was 1-0 and didn't allow a run. Samardzija had 13 strikeouts during the month. Soto won rookie honors in April and has continued to be a firm offensive and defensive presence for a Chicago team that has taken charge of the NL Central. Soto hit .355 in August with five doubles, three homers and 21 RBIs. Soto drew 13 walks and scored 17 runs while handling himself well behind the plate and providing a level of comfort for the Chicago pitching staff.

 

A look at Geovany Soto's year compared to other Cubs catchers of years past after the jump...

Happy 65th Birthday Lou Piniella!

I put together some historical perspecitve on how solid or fragile things can be now that the 2008 Cubs are 83-50 (+33) and have the best record in baseball.

About a month or so back, a discussion arose in the comments about the Cubs futility at the center field position. Faithful reader "WISCGRAD" took it upon himself to take a look at the situation.


After hitting just .178 with one homerun in 90 at-bats to start the season, the 38-year old Jim Edmonds was released by the Padres on May 9th. He was signed just five days later by Jim Hendry and the Cubs and started the following day against his former team, going 1-4 in 4-0 win. In 100 at-bats since in Cubbie Blue, Edmonds sports a .290 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, and a .580 slugging percentage, having already blasted six doubles, a triple, and seven home runs. His on-base + slugging percentage is a robust .954, which would place him seventh in the National League (just ahead of Matt Holliday) if only his Chicago stats were counted and he had enough at-bats to qualify. (Ed Note: Numbers were for games played before Tuesday, July 1st)

Edmonds’ performance has been a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season, and is most certainly an upgrade offensively over the Felix Pie-Johnson combination that began the season. But how does Edmonds stack up to the production the Cubs normally get from the centerfield position? I decided to find out.

In the opener of the Cubs' just-completed series in Toronto, Derrek Lee, playing the part of Designated Hitter, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout; Aramis Ramirez, in his regular third base role, went 2-for-5.

On Saturday, Ramirez took over the DH role and went 1-for-5 with two K's and left five men on base; Derrek Lee returned to his accustomed position at first base and went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

Always one to jump to a quick conclusion, on Saturday night, I got to thinking that just maybe this DH thing was a little trickier than one might imagine, especially for National League players who don't know what it is to have four or five at-bats in a game separated not by time in the field, but by long idle stretches in the dugout, or back in the clubhouse, doing whatever it is DH's do when they're not sitting idle in the dugout.

We've had a few draft history pieces over the years, a 3-part series I did back in 2005( the third part is particularly gruesome) and one by reader "Real Neal" last year. Reader "Wiscgrad" has put one together for this year and I'll be adding it to the "TCR Junk Drawer" as soon as I get a moment. Unfortunately, I'm having some issues getting it translated to HTML (particularly the pictures), so the PDF file is down below for your reading and viewing pleasure.

Chicago Cubs Draft History (PDF File)

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.

A few of you were unimpressed by my previous post by telling me that it should be expected that the top hitters in the game were also the top hitters versus the Cubs. A fair assessment...

So who were the most unexpected Cubs killers? In other words, who saved their best to drive some nails in the Cubs' coffins? Reader "big_lowitzki" did the research for us and provided me with the list.

After Carlos Lee beat up the Cubbies again this weekend with a 5 for 12 series, a homer and couple of RBI's (pretty low-key for him), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the all-time biggest Cubs killers. So thanks to some of the wonderful tools over at Baseball Musings, I looked at which players had the highest all-time OPS while facing the Cubs with at least 350 Plate Appearances. Their database only goes back to 1957 as well.

 

"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.

Catching up on day-old news here, but former Cubs manager Preston Gomez was critically injured Wednesday morning when he was struck by a pickup truck in Blythe, California.

The 84-year-old Gomez, who has been a special assistant for the Angels for many years, was on his home from spring training at the time of the accident. Gomez stopped for gas and after refueling his car, "stepped out around the end of the gas pumps and into the path of a large pickup truck," according to the Blythe police.

Time will tell if the Cubs just lucked out by not acquiring Brian Roberts. His strength wouldn't have been in the field as we already have a solid second baseman in Mark DeRosa. Roberts would have given the Cubs a leadoff switch-hitter with a track record of well above average OBP and basestealing ability. Not making the trade keeps the Cubs farm system talent pool of near MLB ready talent available for the future, whether it be a different transaction or if those prospects develop further, maybe a spot on the roster if an injury occurs. Could Sean Gallagher replace one of our 5 starters if more than one breaks down? Will Eric Patterson become a bona-fide mlb leadoff hitter? Can Jose Ceda or lefty Donald Veal become the power arm that teams drool over with just a little more seasoning? Will Roberts back spasms limit his playing time this year devaluing his baserunning skills and therefore his trade value on a team which needed to completely rebuild with young talent?

I tried to think of deals that were rumored but never happened, but ultimately worked out better than if the trade had occurred. Last year Jacques Jones was almost dealt to the Marlins while being nearly useless to the club the first half of 2007. After that "almost trade" he started hitting again and some would say that was the difference the team needed to make the playoffs.

I'm sure Cubs history is full of rumored deals that never happened giving credence to the cliche that "not making that trade was the best thing that could have happened". So here's a chance for TCR readers to chime in on trades that almost happened (but never did) and the historical hindsight that goes with it.

No, this isn't a bold Ryan Dempster-like statement about the Cubs 2008 chances. We're going to hop into the DeLorean we have sitting around here at the sprawling TCR headquarters and visit my all-time favorite Cubs team - the 1984 ballcub.


I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who can point to the 1984 Cubs as the reason why they're still Cubs fans today. As a young nine-year old living in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, I had not yet quite sworn my life-debt to either Chicago team. If anything I was leaning towards the White Sox as they had just come off of a successful 1983 season and Dad G. fancied himself more a White Sox fan over the Cubs. Plus me and my brother scored like 8 White Sox helmets on a giveaway day the year before and that was kind of cool.

Then 1984 hit and the Cubs-love swept through Chicago. The mix of the "Daily Double", WGN, Harry Caray and being able to catch the end of most Cubs homes games right when I got home for school was enough to sway me to the Northsiders.

But, this piece isn't about my reasons for being a Cubs fan, rather about one man's bold prediction.

I have always wondered that if someone could make a minor change here and there to the timeline, how different being a Cub fan might be. Cub history is littered with so many momentary adverse events that with an occasional tweak, the one hundred year World Series drought would never have been an issue. With just a little help from Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine--voilà: Lee Smith throws a different pitch to Garvey, Leon Durham bends just a little lower to field that grounder or Alex Gonzalez actually turns that 8th inning double play.

Here’s a time-warped tale of modern day Orthopedics coming to the Cubs rescue! In order to tell the story of the World Series Shuffle, I went to one of my favorite TV programs of the 1990’s and discovered there were missing episodes in the archives.

QUANTUM LEAP – The Chicago Cubs Episode

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