Posts Tagged ‘Sammy Sosa’

The Chicago Cubs, Story of a Curse: A Review

January 21, 2019

It’s been a while since I did a book review, so it’s time to change that. This time I want to look at a new work by Rich Cohen titled The Chicago Cubs, Story of a Curse. The title pretty much tells you the plot. Cohen is a writer, but not specifically a sports writer, so his book gives a different look at the Cubs. It’s much more a memoir than a history.

After a reasonably long and decent look at the 1906-1910 Cubs, the last team to win a World Series prior to 2016, Cohen skips, after brief stops to look at Hack Wilson and to mention the 1945 Cubs (the “Billy Goat Curse” is supposed to begin here), to the Ernie Banks Cubs. Most of the book details the “curse” that mandated the 1969 Cubs, the 1984 team, and the Sammy Sosa clubs would lose. Cohen puts a lot of the blame on ownership, the park itself (Wrigley makes it difficult to create a park friendly team that dominates at home) and the idea that “loveable losers” is a terrible way to spark a team to victory.

Then he moves to the creation of the 2016 team and goes through the World Series in reasonable detail. The book is worth the read if you’re a Cubs fan or if you’re interested in the 2016 season. I found it at Barnes and Noble for $18.00.

The Class of 2017: Some Thoughts

January 19, 2017

So we now know who is and who isn’t in the Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Here’s a few notes on the results. As usual, in honor of a nine inning game, there are nine of them.

1. Congratulations to all five winners. My list might have been different, but this is a solid slate of inductees.

2. I feel a little sorry for both Trevor Hoffman and Vlad Guerrero. Both managed to pick up 70% plus in the voting (Hoffman missed the class by four votes) but failed election. It must be tough to get that close and not make it. But it bodes well for both next year.

3. The steroid boys ended up a mixed bag. Both Clemens and Bonds are rising. Neither Sheffield nor Sosa are doing well. Ramirez did not debut particularly high (apparently “Manny being Manny” wasn’t a big enough draw). It seems that the writers still haven’t made up their mind about the issue, although it’s possible that the pre-steroid careers of Clemens and Bonds have more weight than do the pre-steroid careers of the others. All this mimics “conventional wisdom” about if and when the five of them started using the stuff, not my own opinion (which is strictly my own).

4. I’m surprised Jorge Posada dropped off the list after one vote. He was, after all, part of the “Core Four,” the greatest single combination of baseball talent together on one field since Abner Doubleday (or maybe not). Seriously, I thought he’d do better because of the positive press he and his team had gotten over the years. He was an important member of the multi-pennant winning team that played in New York and that got him a lot of recognition. I never expected he’d make a run on the first ballot, but I didn’t expect him to fall off entirely. Shows what I know.

5. There are a lot of allegations about PED use by Ivan Rodriguez. His election, along with Bud Selig’s, now makes it easier for others to reach Cooperstown. Again, I make no comment on whether the allegations are true.

6. They tell me that the openness of the balloting this year, and the publishing of the complete balloting next year is changing the vote. OK, maybe. But I see no actual proof of that. It’s possible that removing the “dead weight” after last year’s voting may be making more changes than the new “openness.” We’ll see in a year or so.

7. Edgar Martinez made a big move. Hooray. Come on, people, DH is a position like first base is a position. So they’re played differently. First base and second base are played differently. So are second and shortstop.¬†At some point baseball is going to have to deal with the DH being a position that is no longer merely the refuge of old guys who can’t run the bases anymore. The Hall came close with Paul Molitor, so now it’s time to deal with it with Martinez.

8. Mike Mussina is doing better. Curt Shilling isn’t. I have no idea how much Shilling’s politics is involved in that trend. It shouldn’t be at all.

9. It seems the gap between traditional stats and the newer ones is narrowing when it comes to election to the Hall of Fame. I have no idea it that’s good, bad, or indifferent.

Congratulations and another one of those All Time Teams

September 16, 2016

First, it seems right to congratulate the Chicago Cubs as the first team to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. But, perhaps to celebrate, Sports Illustrated just released, on its daily mailing it sends to people like me, the All Time Cubs team. Here, for your interest and edification, is the list:

Catcher–Gabby Hartnett

Infield-Cap Anson (1st), Ryne Sandberg (2nd), Ernie Banks (ss), Ron Santo (3b)

Outfield–Billy Williams (left), Hack Wilson (center), Sammy Sosa (right)

Pitchers–Fergie Jenkins and Mordecai Brown as starters and Bruce Sutter as the reliever.

There are no backups listed.

So what do we make of this? On the face of it, it isn’t a bad list. It’s certainly better than the thing ESPN did on its top 100 players. Having said that, I have a couple of problems with it. I’m not sure how you compare Anson with the rest of the cast. He spent almost his entire career (which went from the National Association of the 1870s into the 1890s) hitting against pitchers who were not allowed to throw overhand or who did not throw from a mound 60’6″ away. I agree Anson was a heck of a player (probably a top 100), but I’m not sure you can accurately compare him with more modern Cubs first basemen (Mark Grace, Leon Durham, even Phil Cavarretta of the 1945 team). Sure you can make comparisons with Anson’s contemporaries, but I do worry about comparing him to much never guys. Second, I wish they’d do some commentary on Sosa’s steroid issue. I’m not sure how much it would change his position, but it should be noted (as should the bitter taste of how he left Chicago).

There is no manager listed. I suppose I’d go with Frank Chance. He’s the only one who proved he could lead a team to a modern World Series championship. Anyway, you should be able to find the list on Sports Illustrated’s website somewhere.