View From The Bleachers

November 12, 2010

Who Do You Like?

Filed under: Featured,General — Buddy @ 4:00 pm

I’ve been a Cubs fan for more than 30 years (which doesn’t seem possible). While the last three decades haven’t produced a championship, they have given us a few interesting players to follow. Here are a few of my favorites.

Bill Buckner—Billy Buck never met a pitch he didn’t like, but that didn’t stop me from rooting for him. To be fair, I had no idea what on-base percentage was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was simply a young baseball fan who liked how hard he played. Buckner was part of some awful Cubs teams, but he still put up solid numbers. In 1978 he hit .323 in 117 games. Two years later he won the NL batting title. Though he never hit for power, the Cubs 1B was a doubles machine. My fondest memory of Billy Buck was his fight with Gary Carter. I always hated Gary Carter.

Rick Sutcliffe—It’s hard to believe, but in the mid 1980s it was tough to find an American League game on television (at least in Central Illinois). I knew a little bit about Sutcliffe when the Cubs acquired him from the Indians in 1984, but not enough to predict how dominant he would be. His 16-1 season produced a Cy Young Award and a trip to the playoffs. Though he never duplicated that magical season, I always enjoyed watching Big Red pitch (even after the arm injury).

Rafael Palmeiro—I was thrilled when the Cubs drafted Palmeiro out of Mississippi State in 1985, and ecstatic when they called him up one year later. Palmeiro had all the makings of a superstar. To the surprise of many, the Cubs sent him packing in the Mitch Williams deal in December of 1988. The word out of Wrigley was that the Cubs didn’t think Palmeiro would ever hit for power. Oops.

Rick Wilkins—You have to like a catcher who hits for power from the left side. Wilkins mashed 30 home runs in 1993, and at age 26 the future looked bright indeed. Unfortunately, Wilkins was a one-hit wonder. He knocked around the league for eight more seasons, but never came close to his previous production.

Brian McRae—After several decent seasons with the Royals, CF Brian McRae was traded to the Cubs for Geno Morones and Derek Wallace in April of 1995. McRae was a gifted defender with a decent bat, but his style of play was appealing. Plus, he wore a linebacker’s uniform number (56). Hal’s kid was an aggressive player who always seemed better than he actually was.

Ryne Sandberg— I saved the best for last. What’s not to love about the Hall of Fame 2B? Ryno was the perfect combination of talent and work ethic. Of his many great seasons, 1984 is still my favorite: .314/.367/.520, 19 HR, 36 2B, 19 3B, 84 RBI, 114 runs, 32 SB, 7 CS. Six years later, he led the National League with 40 homers. His career fielding percentage at 2B was .989. He played hard every day and kept his mouth shut. Sandberg was everything a Major Leaguer should be.

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  • mastrick

    I have a little respect for Palmiero the player but a little less than zero respect for Palmiero the man. He’s a consumate liar and a cheat, the kind of scum that would hose a teammate’s wife. Hopefully one day I will meet Raf the Trash one day when he is broke and working as a hotel greeter, that way I can refuse to shake his hand.

  • Buddy

    There’s a good chance he won’t be broke, or working as a hotel greeter. He may own the hotel however.

  • subtle

    Hector Villanueva -This switch-hitting catcher was a superstar in Puerto Rico before signing with the Cubs. Hit hit his first 20 home runs in under 300 at-bats. Hector was a huge fat guy who wasn’t particularly brilliant at any position but was beloved by all Cubs fans. You could always expect to see Hector in the on-deck circle with the game on the line. It’s too bad this guy didn’t make it farther than journeyman status

  • Buddy

    I was a big Hector fan as well. For what it’s worth, I think he was a RHB.

  • Joe

    Brian McRae is one of my earliest favorites. I always liked Tyler Houston, thought he would hit 35+ with Sammy every year for about a decade… Doug Glanville/Lance Johnson were who I modeled my CF skills after. And Mr. Gracie, loved how he didn’t wear batting gloves and it seemed I’d ALWAYS see him hit a double and a HR when I was lucky enough to catch a WGN game after school

  • cap’n obvious

    The Cubs became a little less to me the day Gracie left. Being at Wrigley in my old beer selling days, and sucking clients into moundball games, only to realize that Gracie was a shill for fans in the 1st base box seats. They’d scream “dirt Gracie” and he’d place the ball on the rubber on the way to the dugout. What other player has ever been that in tune with the fans? Bobby Dernier was another favorite of mine. Fundementally sound guys like that always are my favorites.

  • Buddy

    Frank Castillo was another favorite of mine, though looking back, I’m not sure why.

  • Dragon

    I wasa a batboy in Burlington, IA when Steve Wilson was there with the Rangers organization so I liked it when he made it up with the Cubs.

    Other than that, Sandberg and for some strange reason, Mitch Williams.

  • Josh

    Ryno & Gracie, of course…had to be said.

    Doug Dascenzo, for the win. From the wikipedia page:

    “Dascenzo began his Major League career by playing in a then-National League record 241 consecutive games without making an error.”

    And he just killed himself on the field going for balls. You just gotta give props to the guys that shouldn’t be playing at the major league level because they’re “five feet-nothin, a hundred-nothing…”, but they’re there anyway because they make everyone else look lazy by comparison. I even saw him pitch in a blowout…I love that sh*t.

  • Buddy

    For some reason I forgot Greg Maddux too. I must be getting old.

  • Mr. David M. Beyer

    Nice topic!
    1) Ryno
    2) Maddux
    3) Shawon
    4) Sutcliffe
    5) Mike Fontenot
    6) Hector!
    7) Grace
    8) Kerry Wood
    9) Jose Hernandez (because he played so many positions)
    10) Mike Krukow
    Honorable Mention:
    Lee, Julio Zuleta, Hee Seop-Choi, Dawson, Rolando Roomes, Mike Bielecki (I didn’t say they were GOOD…), Prior, Dave Owen,

  • Buddy

    Now that’s a great list! I completely forgot about Julio Zuleta.

  • walterj

    alltime favorites were sandberg , dawson , sutcliff , lee smith , dunston , grace , maddux ,buckner and cey . also enjoyed watching mullholland , glenallen hill , wilkens , dernier ,kingman , and was sooo disapointed matt murton never made it big with the cubs . glad to see that murton hit it big in japan . speaking of which , was murton left handed ? i was wondering if maybe the cubs could now bring him back after so long to play first .

  • Buddy

    Murton is a righty.

  • Dr van Nostrand

    George “the Baron” Mitterwald!

  • cap’n obvious

    That missile that Glenallen Hill hit onto the rooftop across Waveland will be my signature memory from the steroid era…something to tell the grandkids about.

  • Mr. David M. Beyer

    I forgot about Matt Murton. He’s 5.5.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    All those players listed are before my time, so I will give my list, this is in order of era that I remember them from. Since I am the youngest regular here, I will start with the 1998 team, my first year watching the Cubs, when I was 10.

    1. Sammy Sosa – At the time he was my #1 favorite Cub. The chase is the reason I got into baseball and am a Cubs fan
    2. Mark Grace
    3. Kerry Wood
    4. Shooter – Rod Beck
    5. Kevin Tapini
    6. Jon Lieber
    7. Mark Bellhorn
    8. Joe Borowski
    9. Hee Sop Choi
    10. Grudz
    11. Eric Karros
    12. Nomar

  • Buddy

    Jon Lieber was an underrated Cub. Good call!

  • Buddy

    How about least favorite Cubs? Derek May would top my list.

  • Gabo

    Whats not to like about D-Lee? The consummate professional

  • http://Billyw1984 Billyw1984

    Many of those names are before my time as well (1997 was my first year as an avid fan at the age of 13) Here’s my list:

    1. Kerry Wood
    2. Mark Grace
    3. Ryan Dempster
    4. Derek Lee
    5. Mark DeRosa
    6. Kenny Lofton (the spark plug of 2003)
    7. Sammy Sosa (before the 2004 fall out)
    8. Aramis Ramirez
    9. Gary Gaetti (game winning homer in 1 game playoff against the Giants in 1998!)
    10. Henry Rodriguez (anyone remember him?)

  • Doc Raker

    Dave Kingman, Steve Swisher, Manny Trillo, Steve Onteveras and Herman Franks

  • Buddy

    What about Barry Foote?

  • goatman

    Mickey Morandini! saw him at the cubs convention a few years ago…he was wearing a Steelers sweatshirt and signing autographs…haha

  • Buddy

    It’s Derek May, Gabo. Not Derek Lee.

  • Doc Raker

    Just think of how good Mickey Morandini would of been if he was a regular sized second baseman.

  • Chuck

    My favorites:
    1) Dawson
    2) Ryno
    3) Hector Villinueva (gotta root for the fat guys)
    4) Grace
    5) Roosevelt Brown (Saw a LOT of him at AAA)
    6) Doug Decenso (gotta root for the midgets)
    7) Sosa

    My hate list:
    1-100) Maddux (I loved him as a Cub until he went to Atlanta because he wated “to win” or some such nonsense. I have lothed him and Atlanta ever since. He was my first free agent traitor in my formative years and I will never forgive him. (spits in contempt))

  • goatman

    also…even though he was only with us for a short time: Kenny Lofton…top professional and top personality (and we only had to get rid of strikeout king Jose Hernandez, and two other prospects for him and Rami…one of the few moves in recent years I can applaud Hendry for)

  • jswanson

    Ryno, Hawk, Dougie D, and Dunston are my big 4. Sorry Grace.

  • http://SCN2bagger Timmy

    1. Ryne Sandberg
    2. Maddux
    3. Slammin Sammy Sosa
    4. Mark DeRosa(although he wasnt around long)
    5. Ryan Theriot
    6. Derek Lee
    7. Andre Dawson
    8. Mark Grace
    9. Joe Giradi
    10. Ryan Sutcliffe

  • Timmy

    sorry one revision i meant to say Rick Sutcliffe.

  • mastrick

    My favorite Cubs:
    1. Ron Santo
    2. Billy Williams
    3. Ernie Banks
    4. Fergie Jenkins
    5. Ken Holtzman
    6. Dave Kingman
    7. Bruce Suter
    8. Ryno
    9. Bobby Dernier
    10. The Sarge
    11. The Zim
    12. Lee Smith
    13. Andre Dawson
    14. The Penguin
    15. Davey Lopes
    16. Greg Maddux
    17. Mark Grace
    18. Kerry Wood
    19. Ryan Dempster
    20. Marlon Byrd

    My list is chronological – noticeably absent are guys that were pretty good (Durham, Lee, Ramirez) scumbags (Palmiero,) and cheaters (Sosa.)

  • mastrick

    I forgot Jim Hickman

  • Buddy

    At age 40, Davey Lopes had a solid year in 1985. He was one of the few bright spots that season.

  • MGAD

    A couple names that I haven’t seen yet that I always liked “back in the day” were Jody Davis and Dwight Smith. My all time favorite Cubs, however, are Mark Grace and Andre Dawson….hence my tag MGAD.

  • aquariumgravel

    Tuffy Rhodes. I liked the way he came in like a storm, and then went quietly to dominate Japan.
    Jerome Walton was great, he played for a minor league club near me when I was a boy.
    Gracie was great, not just as a player, but the awesome stories he tells (especially about the slump buster, look it up).
    Jamie Moyer, tht old fellow was in the farm system when Moses played 2nd base.
    And the entire 1991 Winston Salem Spirits Single A farm team, since they set the stage for one of the best brawls of all time the following year vs. the Durham Bulls. 9 players ejected, three arrested, and caused a riot. Love baseball…..

  • Eric

    Neifi Perez! Ok, I kid I kid. They were right about Palmeiro tho, he hit for power cause he found it in a bottle.

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