It is with tremendous trepidation that I await the eventual run after Kosuke Fukudome to fill the outfield spot vacated by the three-headed Jacque Jones-Matt Murton-Cliff Floyd nightmare. As I mentioned at the end of the year Jacque Jones showed me a lot with the way he responded in the second half of the year. He played hard, got clutch hits, and smiled a lot. I appreciated him more and more as the year went on. I am glad he was traded, don’t get me wrong, but I think I will always have a fond feeling for Jacque Jones if his name ever comes up in the future. Which I would not have thought possible last June.
There have been some questions about Fukudome, and now that his pursuit seems imminent you might want to bone up on some Fukudome knowledge. (Which points out some of my fear. As I have mentioned before the blowhard known as Jay Mariotti thinks that it is somewhat creative and journalistic to take the names of Chicago sports figures and morph them into non-creative and non-funny monikers…such as “The Blizzard of Oz” for Ozzie Guillen and “Kid DL” for Kerry Wood; how does he come up with these things??? brilliant!!!…What will he come up with for Fukudome if he is a bust?) So a good place to start would be to take a peek at the entry about him on wikipedia…which at this moment was just updated and says nickname is “Ching Chang Chong.” I am pretty sure that this was a racist addition to the entry and might not be on the entry when you check it out. But if you are looking for some stats about Fukudome, scroll down and click on the link to the “Armchair GM’s” site where you will find a write up about him and a list of his yearly stats.
So I was thinking in light of Jacque Jones’ place in my heart about some of the Cubs over the years that have made my heart happy and made me sick. It amazes me that some of these guys are symptomatic of the things that are wrong or right with the franchise. You might want to add some of your own.
This is starting somewhat easy but for me Sandberg brings up warm and cold feelings at the same time. I remember as a kid the amazing plays Ryno made at second base. He had clutch hits, clutch home runs and was a continual delight to watch. Not to mention that we share a birthday.
So why the cold feelings? Remember his comeback? Do you remember that the Cubs were about to pursue Craig Biggio, until Sandberg announced that he was returning? His return was OK but the thing that continued to happen over and ever that I still remember was many, many strikeouts. Which was bad enough? Let alone the icing on the miserable cake. After almost every swinging strike out, Ryne would do this cutesy little strike out hop and look at his bat, seemingly trying to find the hole that the pitch just went through.
This would be the museum of the broken star. See: a broken boom box, corked bat, videotaped early exit. See: a great hitting first baseman, who hit for little power and replaced a guy who hit over 500 juiced home runs. See: a slugging, cannon armed right fielder whose body was deteriorating in front of us. See: fragile pitching studs.
This is the probable future home of our current left fielder.
This name could be Manny Trillo, or Luis Salazar, or Cesar Izturis, or Augie Ojeda, or Steve Buechelle, or Gary Scott, or Vance Law, or whatever light hitting infielder the Cubs have run out for us over the years. I have two vivid memories of these guys (Aside from the Augie Ojeda beat down during the playoffs this year.) One year I was at a game and Manny Trillo made an error. A fan yelled out “Manny go get on the bus.” Later in the game Trillo made a second error to which the fan responded “Trillo, forget getting on the bus. Get under the bus!!!”
I also remember a game where Luis Salazar got a clutch hit and Harry Caray began to yell about how the managers were not playing him enough…”And now Lefebvre isn’t playing him!!!”
Speaking of which, how many mediocre to bad managers have we had over they years. Wrigley Field seems to be a place where managers go to die. Think about these names Lefebvre, Trebelhorn, Essian, Kimm, Riggleman, Baylor…I know I am missing many.
I work at a job where I interact with many people from many walks of life. When the Cubs hired Dusty Baker, a pretty old and disoriented woman wanted to complain to me about the hiring. She yelled out “Why would they hire him again?” This confused me, until I realized that this dear, confused woman thought that the Cubs had rehired Don Baylor (Similar names, same initials, and probably some other similarities that confused a woman in her eighties).
I must say that I loved Don Zimmer. He made me laugh. A guy who was nicknamed Popeye who actually looked like Popeye. And who had the guts to charge and fight Pedro Martinez even thought he was like 150 years old.
This is the category of head scratching moves. Named after the pitcher Anthony Young who lost 27 games in a row and was signed by the Cubs after three seasons in which he went 5-35. This would be a place to put many Cubs over the years. This year’s outfield plan would be an example. Also included the Danny Jackson experiment, maybe even the Burnitz ride.
This is the category for the young guy who had a pretty good year and became a cornerstone to build on that crumbled. Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Ronny Cedeno…one after another.
By the way, do you remember that Hector Villanueva wrote an autobiography after that one season.
This is the category for guys you love to love. I have Tapani here, I also include Mickey Morandini and Brian MacRae. These guys are OK. They come through for you. But they are certainly not stars. But, you love them anyway.
There are some Cubs of legend who might have been more respected or tougher if they had been on other teams. I include here Lee Smith and Ron Santo. Both might be in the Hall of Fame if they had played somewhere else.
This is a category for the guy who resembles everything that is good and bad about Cubness. Dunston had a gun for an arm, played strong shortstop, got hits, was responsible for the Shawon O Meter. Extremely entertaining. But never…ever…walked…ever. Typical for the Cubs.
Give input. This is only my opinion from my memory which is probably wrong and tainted. What do you remember?
On a final note, why did the Cubs ever hire Joe Carter to replace Steve Stone? How did he get through the try outs? What could they have seen in him that made them think he could do it?