Saturday, August 9, 2008

1908 vs. 2008: Centerfield

Between now and the end of the season we're going to compare the last Cubs championship team to this year's future championship team. First stop: Centerfield.

1908: Jimmy Slagle

One of the wily old veterans on the Cubs, centerfielder Jimmy Slagle is the leadoff hitter for the 1908 Champs. He's been around so long he has acquired not one, not two, but three nicknames. He's known as the "Human Mosquito" (because he's such a pest), "Rabbit" (because of his speed), and Shorty (because of his height—5'7").

Jimmy is well respected by his teammates, but hated by his opponents. He has been the starting centerfielder with the Cubs since 1902, but his run with the team is almost over. He is showing signs of his age (he's 35), and by the time the Cubs reach the World Series, Solly Hofman will claim the starting job. Slagle will play his last game for the Cubs on October 3, 1908. He won't get an at-bat during the World Series, and will retire after the last out is recorded.

2008 Jim Edmonds

This year's Cubs team also has a wily old veteran named Jim manning centerfield. Picked up off waivers from the San Diego Padres early in the year, Jim didn't win over the fans immediately because of his long association with the St. Louis Cardinals.

That began to change during the first series against the White Sox when he clubbed two home runs in one inning to help clobber the crosstown rivals. Since arriving with an average south of .200, he has turned it around. He actually leads the team in home runs since he put on Cubbie blue.

Cubs fans are starting to see why Cardinal fans dubbed him "Jimmy Baseball." Jim Edmonds will undoubtedly provide an invaluable bat in this season's quest for the World Series title.