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So, the Cubs lost their 100 game of the season yesterday.  This is the third time in their history that they have lost 100 games in a season.  This is the first time it has happened since 1966.  It is safe to say that this is the worst I have ever seen from my beloved Cubbies.

The Chicago Cubs have lost 100 games for the third time in franchise history

So, this season has seemed like an exercise in futility.  In spite of all of this, there are some things that I liked about this season.  Here they are in bulleted format:

 

  • Dale Sveum is going to do great things for this team

Dale Sveum is a good managerI was really disappointed when Ryne Sandberg was passed over for the manager position, but I think Dale Sveum was a great choice.  Sure, he lost 100 games in his first season, but no one expected a winning season.  He has led the team to better defense.  He has built a team atmosphere.  I expect good things

Josh Vitters (3B) and Brett Jackson (CF)Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson did not put up near the numbers that I hoped for.  They struck out more times combined than most the other team. OK that was a slight exaggeration.  They may not have been ready to compete on a Major League level, but this season was a wash and I think it was wise to give them some meaningful Major League experience.  I expect good things next year.

Darwin Barney Sets Errorless Streak 141This season Darwin Barney tied the Major League record for errorless games at second base with 141 in a row.  Considering he started off as a shortstop, this is great.  One of the reasons I loved Ryne Sandberg was his superior fielding (.989 career fielding percentage).  Glad to see a golden glove at 2B again.  (There is no reason why Darwin Barney should not get the Golden Glove btw.  Brandon Phillips does not deserve it this year)

Alfonso Soriano is actually doing quite wellIf you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that Alfonso Soriano would hit 30+ homeruns, and have a career mark for RBIs,  I would’ve made fun of you.  Apparently Soriano can still hit.  Hopefully this means we can deal him and his bloated contract in the offseason.

Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo

Rizzo was called up halfway through the season.  If you take his current stats and extrapolate them to a full season, you have a 30 homerun/100 RBI hitting first baseman.  This excites me to no end.

 

So, this season was awful.  We probably won’t have a winning season next year either, but we certainly won’t lose 100 games again.  This may be exactly the depth the Cubs needed to sink to in order to rise to the top.  I have high hopes in the next few years.  With consistent young stars in Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo, and with the potential of guys like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, the Cubs’ future is bright.  And it sure can’t get any darker than the present.

Until later friends…

 

 

 

 

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News just in: the Cubs have announced that Mike Quade will not be the manager next year.

Mike Quade

I like Mike Quade. He is a stand-up guy. He shoots from the hip when talking with the media, and I like that.  He is a great bench coach/assistant coach.  He was, however, not ready to manage at the Major League level.  Happy Trails Mike. I hope you find a great job elsewhere in baseball.

It is now time for Ryno-Watch.  Dear Theo and Jed, please hire Ryne Sandberg now.

Ryne Sandberg Signing an Autograph for me

Ryne Sandberg is exactly what the Cubs need.  He is a superb baseball player and manager.  He has done exceedingly well managing in all levels of minor-league ball, and he is ready for the MLB.

Ryne Sandberg HOF

Ryne Sandberg Stats:

10x All-Star

9x Golden Glove

.989 Career Fielding Percentage (Number 1 all time of Second Basemen)

7x Silver Slugger

1984 NL MVP

2005 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee

To quote an earlier post:

Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager.  They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic.  Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat.  This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies.  He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade.  Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well.  He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player.  He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball.  He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base.  Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now.  Thank you.

Until later friends…

Jim Hendry Dismissed as Cubs GM

In case you haven’t heard, Jim Hendry was dismissed as the Chicago Cubs General Manager.  In other words, Jim Hendry got fired.  Why did Jim Hendry get fired? Because the Cubs have royally stunk for the past two years.  Jim Hendry did some great stuff in his career with the Cubs.  The Cubs won three division titles under him, and he signed such players as Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney.  However, he also signed Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley.  Between Sammy Sosa storming out under his lead, Soriano being the most lazy player in the league, Milton Bradley being Milton Bradley, and Kosuke Fukudome never living up to his hype, Jim Hendry had awful luck with outfielders.  Other than that, and the atrocious record the Cubs have had the past two seasons, Hendry was a decent GM.  I met him personally in Boston, and he was great.  Everyone in the organization has a lot of respect for him.  The team just didn’t win enough games under him.  He finished with a 749-748 career with the Cubs.  I’m glad he got to leave with a winning record (that’s better than the Cubs are going to do this season).  He also left with class.  After receiving notice of his dismissal, he stayed with the team long enough to trade away Fukudome (thank you), and sign some great young talent from the draft.  So…Happy Trails to you Jim. Thanks for the good memories.  Good luck with some American League team.

The question remains…So, now what?

Here are my suggestions to make this team a playoff contender, and eventually, a world series champion team.

1. Hire Andrew Friedman as General Manager

The Cubs need to hire Andrew Friedman

Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays were awful? That was before Andrew Friedman.  He has made them what they are.  He does not blow money on stupid contracts (like Alfonso Soriano’s).  He builds a good team around good young players.  This is exactly the kind of guy we need in Chicago.

2.  Get rid of Mike Quade and Hire Ryne Sandberg

Mike QuadeThis is not just me being bitter about my childhood hero getting passed over last year.  Quade did ok at the end of last season winning games that didn’t matter.  He has proven this season though that he does not have what it takes to manage a professional team.  He’s a great assistant coach.  He’d make a great bench coach, but not a manager.  He does not have a good grasp on how to manage a pitcher.  He alternately leaves pitchers in three batters too long, or takes them out an inning early.  His hiring was my biggest problem with Jim Hendry, and now that it is time for a new GM, I think it is time for a new manager.

Ryne Sandberg Signing an Autograph for me

Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager.  They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic.  Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat.  This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies.  He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade.  Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well.  He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player.  He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball.  He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base.  Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now.  Thank you.

3.  Do Whatever We Have to do to Get Rid of Alfonso Soriano and His Ridiculous Contract!

Alfonso Soriano is incredibly lazy

Alfonso Soriano has the worst work-ethic in all of professional sports. OK, that might be a bit harsh, but he at least makes the top 5.  He does not care at all.  He is fast, can knock the cover off the ball, and has a great arm.  Yet, he misses routine fly balls, and he averages 1 less base per hit than he should (Come on dude, you’re being paid 18 million. HUSTLE FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!!!).  His contract his hamstringing this organization.  To quote Ted Williams, “If I was getting paid $30,000 [or 18 MILLION!!!] a year, the least I could do is hit .400.”  Let’s find a way to get rid of him, even if we have to eat a chunk of his contract.  We have Brett Jackson, and I’m sure we can afford another decent outfielder that hustles like Reed Johnson.

4.  Teach Carlos Marmol to Throw Strikes or Trade Him to Someone Who Believes He Can.

Carlos Marmol Throwing a Wicked SliderWhen Marmol is on his A-game, no one can touch his slider.  When he is not, he can’t throw a strike to someone with the strike zone the size of Andre the Giant.  Someone either needs to teach him to throw somewhere near the plate, or we need to trade him when his trade value is up.  Sorry Jim Hendry, but you never should have deemed him “untouchable.”

5.  Build Around the Young Guys – Especially Castro and Barney

Darwin Barney and Starlin CastroThese kids are going to be great.  Sign them to long contracts, and let’s build the team around them.  Don’t be concerned with all the errors they’ve made this season, they’ll get better defensively if Ryne Sandberg is their manager.  These guys have the potential of being a double-play combo on the same plane as other Cubs greats Tinker and Evers or Sandberg and Dunston.

6. Do Whatever We Can to Make Greg Maddux our Pitching Coach

Make Greg Maddux the Cubs Pitching Coach

Maddux is one of the best pitchers of the past 50 years.  He was dominant and brilliant.  Please bring him in.  If he were to coach the Cubs’ pitchers, I bet even Jeff Samardzija could be good.  The Cubs’ two greatest deficiencies this year are defense and pitching.  Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux could fix both of those in under a year – fact.

7.  Do not go after Albert Pujols

Jim Hendry hugging Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is an incredible player.  He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I’m begging the Cubs to not spend $30 mil/year on him.  With our luck, he will get injured and his numbers will decline – just like Alfonso Soriano.  Let’s take that $30mil/year and go after three (or four) young and talented players that have their best years ahead of them.

If my beloved Cubbies follow my advice, we will have winning seasons for the next ten years and at least 2 World Series appearances.  Let’s go Cubbies! Until later friends…

cubs-logo

This is by no means a fashion blog. I do, however, want to share with you my latest clothing purchase.  This super sweet  Big League Chew T-Shirt from Target:

Big League Chew T-ShirtI love Big League Chew.  It brings to mind all sorts of great little league baseball memories.  Every guy my age that grew up playing baseball looks back fondly at Big League Chew.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this confectionery goodness, Big League Chew = shredded bubble gum, and it is packaged much like chewing tobacco.

Big League Chew Shredded GumOf course, most children had no idea how chewing tobacco is packaged.  I don’t recall there ever being an controversy over this great gum.  All I remember was the joy of taking a massive handful of shredded gum and stuffing it into my mouth.  Sure my mouth may have looked like I had a hunk of tobacco in there like this guy below, but I wasn’t thinking of that.  All I knew was that I had a lot of gum in my mouth, and I thought I could hit one over the fence as a result.

MLB Chewing Tobacco

(This guy – Bill Tuttle – denounced his tobacco use and became a leading voice against the dangers of smokeless tobacco)

I can honestly say that my use of Big League Chew never influenced me towards chewing tobacco in later life.  Big League Chew did not make tobacco seem cool.  Plus, I grew up in the generation of boys that loved The Sandlot and Rookie of the Year, and both of these films illustrated the disgusting nature of tobacco (e.g., remember those boys from the Sandlot trying tobacco at the fair and vomiting all over the place?).

Rookie of the year and The SandlotI’m feeling some major early 90s baseball nostalgia today.  Oh to be able to have a wad of Big League Chew, watch Ryne Sandberg in his prime, and challenge some rich kid to sandlot baseball.

Until later friends…

You read that title correctly, I did mean to say “Fields.”  Field of Dreams is one of the best baseball movies ever. No question.  It examines the National Pastime and father-son relationships.

I’ve always loved Field of Dreams, and I’ve grown to love it more as I have gotten older.  Unlike Ray Kinsella, I have always had a great relationship with my dad.  Like the Kinsella’s – and many other American fathers and sons – my dad and I have a lot of baseball memories.  I remember playing catch with my dad in the front yard while pretending to be Ryne Sandberg or Nolan Ryan or Mark Grace.  I remember my dad computing my batting average for me when I was playing little league, and explaining to me that a fielder’s choice was not a hit (much to my chagrin).  Dad and I have been wanting to go on a major baseball park tour for a long time, and we finally got to do that last month.  This post (and several subsequent posts) will be about this “Fields of Dreams Baseball Park Tour” as I have decided to call it.  Today, I will give a basic overview, and I will go into more detail for each park in subsequent posts.

May 20-21 – Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox

We saw two games at Fenway Park between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.  This was the first time the two teams met in Fenway since the 1918 World Series.  It was a great experience.  Fenway Park was a great ball park – the only ballpark older than Wrigley Field.  The fans were nice, and the traditions were great.  Boston was also a great city for a history nerd like me.

May 22 – New York Mets vs. New York Yankess

Next, we went to New York via the Amtrak to see the Subway Series.  Yankee stadium was ginormous.  It was a really interesting experience.  We sat in the right field bleachers and were neutral observers as the Yankees and Mets fans around us cussed one another out for several hours.  The subway to the Bronx was…interesting.

May 23 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Contrary to everything I’ve ever heard about Philadelphia fans – Philadelphia was great.  The fans were super nice.  I was really excited to be there for Chase Utley’s first game of the season following an injury last season (I think he is a super classy player).  Philly was just a great city.  Loved all the historical places.  I also enjoyed getting to go to a couple of quality coffee shops while sporting my Prima Coffee T-Shirt (interestingly the two shops I went to, and had great experiences at, served Stumptown and La Colombe coffee respectively – and those roasters decided to get into a tizzy shortly after I dropped by).

May 24 – Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles

I absolutely loved Camden Yards.  We had great seats (as evidenced by the photo above).  The game was also won with a walkoff home run (also evidenced by the photo above).  It was a great experience, and I look forward to blogging more about it.

Overall we had a great trip.  I am looking forward to posting more about each game.  We saw all sorts of great things, and I am so thankful my dad wanted to take me on this trip.  Being away on this trip explains my absence from blogging, but I will now be back in full force. So, stay tuned.

Until later friends…

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