Friday, October 3, 2008

Hot off the Presses...

Your humble Editor-in-Chief made the rounds on Friday.

Channel 2 reporter Kristyn Hartman came out to my house to film a piece for the 6:00 News. She also posted this story on their website.

I also spoke to the Associated Press, and this report from AP writer Don Babwin is all over the country today.

Overheard at the Wrigley Field troughs

This is an actual conversation I overheard while standing at the Wrigley Field troughs after the game...

Young Guy to my right: (screaming) Don't worry! We'll get 'em next game.

Old Guy to my left: (leaning over to see who said it) How old are you kid?

Young Guy to my right: 25.

Old Guy to my left: (Sigh)

The old guy looked at me and we nodded to each other. Not another word needed to be said.

Dane Placko is right...

I saw Dane at the game last night, and told him that I really thought he had his finger on the problem when he did this video for us a few months ago.

It has nothing to do with a curse. Either that, or God really isn't a Catholic.

Lou Piniella doesn't believe in curses either.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Great article about Cubs playoff history

The best article about the Cubs playoff history should have appeared in a Chicago newspaper, but no. Looks like the New York Times has chosen to cover the Cubs this year since neither NY team is in the playoffs.

This is pretty interesting, though. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1908 vs. 2008: Starting pitching

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. Next stop: Pitchers. We're only highlighting the top 4 starters, because that's all you'll see in the playoffs.

Mordecai Three Finger Brown vs. Carlos Zambrano

Brown had one of the best seasons in Cubs history in 1908, winning 29 games, saving another 5, and compiling an ERA of 1.47. He was a big game pitcher, the man who rescued the Cubs time after time. He also won two of the games in the World Series (game 1 in relief, and game 4 as the starter). Brown remains the best pitcher in Cubs history--and is a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame. On the other hand, Carlos Zambrano did something in 2008 that Brown did not do in 1908...he pitched a no-hitter. While Zambrano is not a Hall of Famer yet, over the past five years, he has been the best pitcher on the Cubs, and one of the best in baseball. Cubs fans worry about him in the playoffs, however. Zambrano is a volatile volcano...ready to erupt at any moment.

Orval Overall vs. Ryan Dempster

Dempster actually won more games (17) in 2008 than Overall (15) did in 1908, but good old Orval had ice water in his veins. Like Brown, he was often used to pitch in relief. Orval has the distinction of being the last Cubs pitcher to win a World Series deciding game. (He also won a game in the 1907 World Series). Like Overall, Dempster is no stranger to relief, having been the Cubs closer for several seasons before 2008. Dempster led the Cubs in wins, and his 2.96 ERA is a testament to his excellent season. While Overall was a serious college boy from California, Dempster is the key to the loose Cubs clubhouse. His temperament is the exact opposite of Zambrano.

Big Ed Reulbach vs. Ted Lilly

1908 was Reulbach's best season by far. He won 23 games, including a crucial double-header (yes you read that correctly) in September. He pitched shutouts in both games, and remains the only player to do that in baseball history. Reulbach was a tough competitor, but he was also a free spirit. In July he missed the team train because he tried to buy some fried chicken at a stop in Cleveland. Reulbach was so hot down the stretch in 1908, he got the ball in Game 1 of the World Series. He had some trouble in the game, and was rescued by Mordecai Brown. Ted Lilly had his own difficulties in the 2007 playoffs, but during his two seasons in Chicago, he has consistently been the pitcher the Cubs count on to stop losing streaks. He also pitched the best game of his career in 2008, a one-hitter over the Astros in Milwaukee (the day after Zambrano's no-hitter.)

Jack Pfiester vs. Rich Harden

Pfiester and Harden share one undeniable trait: they are both injury prone. Pfiester started the 1908 season by injuring his thumb when he couldn't get it unstuck from a bowling ball, and had several other injuries during the season. He only managed to win 12 games, but a few of those wins came in crucial games against the arch rival of the Cubs--the New York Giants. That's why Pfiester was known as Jack the Giant Killer. Success began to elude him at the end of the season, however. He had to be removed after 2/3 of an inning in the one-game playoff against the Giants, and was the only Cubs pitcher to lose a World Series game in 1908 (Game 3). Harden came to the Cubs in mid-season with a reputation of being so fragile, the Cubs treated him with kid gloves after his arrival. When he was on the mound, however, his stuff was absolutely electric, and his ERA was among the lowest in the big leagues in 2008.

Ex-Cubs with Rings

In the coming days there will be a lot of talk about the Cubs not winning the World Series in 100 years, and not having even played in one since 1945. Both of those facts are undeniably true. But don't let anyone tell you that Cubs players have never won the World's just that they did it after leaving the Cubs.

The following is a comprehensive list of Cubs players who have not only won World Series rings since 1945, but who have also played in those World Series and actually contributed to the championship.*

*(For the sake of our list here, we're not including those who won World Series before coming to the Cubs, or those who made a World Series roster, but didn't play in the Series.)

In reverse order...

In the '00s and the '90s...

Julian Tavarez (2007 Red Sox) – Cubs 2001
Mark Bellhorn (2004 Red Sox) – Cubs 2002-2003
Bill Mueller (2004 Red Sox) – Cubs 2001-2002
Mark Grace (2001 Diamondbacks) – Cubs 1988-2000
Luis Gonzalez (2001 Diamondbacks) – Cubs 1995-1996
Miguel Batista (2001 Diamondbacks) – Cubs 1997
Jose Viscaino (2000 Yankees) – Cubs 1991-1993
GlenAllen Hill (2000 Yankees) – Cubs 1993-1994, 1998-2000
Joe Girardi (1996, 1998, 1999 Yankees) – Cubs 1989-1992, 2000-2002
Alex Arias (1997 Marlins) – Cubs 1992
Dwight Smith (1995 Braves) – Cubs 1989-1993
Greg Maddux (1995 Braves) – Cubs 1986-1992, 2004-2006
Joe Carter (1992, 1993 Blue Jays) – Cubs 1983
Pat Tabler (1992 Blue Jays) – Cubs 1981-1982
Billy Hatcher (1990 Reds) – Cubs 1984-1985

In the 70s and 80s...

Dennis Eckersley (1989 Athletics) – Cubs 1984-1986
Jay Howell (1988 Dodgers) – Cubs 1981
Joe Niekro (1987 Twins) – Cubs 1967-1969
George Frazier (1987 Twins) – Cubs 1984-1986
Willie Hernandez (1984 Tigers) – Cubs 1977-1983
Bruce Sutter (1982 Cardinals) – Cubs 1976-1980
Rick Monday (1981 Dodgers) – Cubs 1972-1976
Greg Gross (1980 Phillies) – Cubs 1977-1978
Bill Madlock (1979 Pirates) – Cubs 1974-1976
Matt Alexander (1979 Pirates) – Cubs 1973-1974

Fred Norman (1975, 1976 Reds) – Cubs 1964-1967
Billy North (1974 Athletics) – Cubs 1971-1972
Ken Holtzman (1972, 1973, 1974 Athletics) – Cubs 1965-1971
Bob Miller (1971 Pirates) – Cubs 1970-1971
Moe Drabowsky (1966, 1970 Orioles) – Cubs 1956-1960

In the 40s, 50s, & 60s

Don Cardwell (1969 Mets) – Cubs 1960-1962
Lou Brock (1964, 1967 Cardinals) – Cubs 1961-1964
Lou Johnson (1965 Dodgers) – Cubs 1960
Jim Brewer (1965 Dodgers) – Cubs 1960-1963
Barney Schultz (1964 Cardinals) – Cubs 1962-1963
Dale Long (1962 Yankees) – Cubs 1958-1959
Smokey Burgess (1960 Pirates) – Cubs 1949-1951
Don Hoak (1960 Pirates) – Cubs 1956
Gene Baker (1960 Pirates) – Cubs 1953-1957
Johnny Klipstein (1959 Dodgers) – Cubs 1950-1954

Andy Pafko (1957 Braves) – Cubs 1943-1951
Carl Sawatski (1957 Braves) – Cubs 1948-1953
Russ Meyer (1955 Dodgers) – Cubs 1946-1948
Lonnie Frey (1947 Yankees) – Cubs 1937
Bobo Newsom (1947 Yankees) – Cubs 1932

(Photo: Andy Pafko baseball card)

Let me know if I missed anyone, and I'll add them to the list.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bleacher Preacher

It's good to see that our friend Jerry Pritikin is still getting his name in lights. A recent Associated Press story...

CHICAGO (AP) -- The famous Wrigley Field marquee scrolls a new message: "2008 NL Central Champs Chicago Cubs."

The Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Saturday to clinch the NL Central division and head into the playoffs. In the city's Wrigleyville neighborhood, fans erupted into cheers, screams and spilled beer at the game-ending catch.

Cub fan Jerry Pritikin is 71-years-old and says he went to his first Cubs game in 1935 at age eight. On Saturday, Pritikin said he was cautiously optimistic for his team's chances at breaking a 100-year streak without winning a World Series.

Jerry has been kind enough to tell us a few of his memorable Cubs stories, and we've featured them throughout the year. Here they are again, for those of you who have a true appreciation of Cubs lore, from a man who has seen most of it...

E-mails, we get e-mails...

From Ted Norstrom, writer and performer of the song "Just One Bad Century"...

Hey Rick,

I've been kicking around the idea of a song called 'Get On The Big Blue Train' for the past month or so and I've finally recorded it! I've uploaded to my myspace profile where you can here the full version streaming right now. I've also made it available for download from the snocap utility on my myspace page.

If you like it please tell all your friends about it, I know you have pretty effective ways of communicating....

Get on the Big Blue Train was inspired by Dan Plesac from Comcast Sportsnet. You've probably noticed that he's been calling the Cubs the Big Blue Train after victories this year. Ok, it's goofy and extremely corny but those are the kind of things that make good songs sometimes.

Read more about it here