Not much going for former Cubs players in the postseason this year.
Aside from the threesome of Angel Pagan, Ryan Theriot & Xavier Nady in San Francisco, the rest are out of the playoffs.
Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto, deserving or not (depending on your Cubs perspective), couldn’t fend off the A’s in Game 162 for the AL West title. Dempster blew an early 4-run lead and was shelled for 5-ER in 3.0 innings. It forced Texas into the AL play-in game, which they lost 5-1 to Baltimore.
Meanwhile, it’s a shame Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson & Jeff Baker couldn’t advance past Atlanta’s play-in game vs. St. Louis. It would’ve been enjoyable to see Maholm make his first-ever postseason start coming off the best season of his career. And who doesn’t root for Reed Johnson?
The same can be said of Mark DeRosa, whose Nationals fell to those same Cardinals in the division series. DeRosa never appeared in the series, but Chad Tracy appeared in all 5-games, going 0-for-4. And Tom Gorzelanny pitched just 0.1 of an inning, allowing one hit.
Sean Marshall appeared in 3-games for the Reds and shined in his 4.0 innings of no-run, no-hit baseball. But the Reds, of course, squandered it 2-0 series lead to lose 3-straight at home against the Giants.
Pagan is arguably having the best postseason for former Cubs while his Giants have advanced to the NLCS. He’s tied with Buster Posey with a team leading 2 HR & 5 RBI through two rounds, in addition to several defensive gems in the outfield.
Theriot and Nady have each appeared in 4-games: The Riot is 1-for-4 with 2 RBI (coming on a bases loaded single in Game 2 of the NLCS) while Nady is hitless in 4 at-bats.
I’ve never particularly enjoyed rooting for Theriot, especially after his back handed comments about the Cubs, and then his world championship spent with the Cardinals.
Pagan, however, has been a pretty good player since leaving the Cubs and joining the Mets before heading to San Fran this year. Go figure the Cubs never found enough playing time for Pagan during his two seasons spent on the North Side (2006-07).
I get tired of Cubs fans reveling in delight at every misfortune Dusty Baker experiences as manager of the Reds, who extended its skipper for 2 more years on Monday.
It seems Cubs fans have developed some sort of self-medicating technique to ease the pain of the past by simply blaming Baker for everything from his 96-loss season in 2005, to the brutal NLCS loss against Florida, to the demise of Mark Prior & Kerry Wood, to just about every other countless Cubs failure during his tenure in Chicago.
Don’t get me wrong, Dusty is responsible for some of that blame. But all of it? Hardly.
The fact of the matter is, nothing will wipe away the heartbreak of coming within five outs of a World Series appearance, or the what-could-have-been careers of Prior & Wood.
What happened, happened. It’s over. Done. History, whether it’s Baker’s cross to bear or not.
But to think of this guy as a bum manager is ridiculous. Baker won 3 NL Manager of the Year Awards before he ever stepped foot into the Cubs’ dugout in 2003…and should’ve won a fourth with the Reds in 2010 (he lost by one vote).
Since taking over the down trodden Reds in 2008, Dusty’s resurrected the franchise to its highest success in 30 years, having won 2 division titles in the past 3 season.
He’s now just one of 6 manager in major league history to have won 3 division titles with 3 different teams (Billy Martin, Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella & Davey Johnson).
No, the playoff success hasn’t been there. And no, Dusty will never be considered a great tactical game manager. But you can’t ignore Baker’s boys love playing for him, or that more often than not, his teams are competing near the top of the league.
Who knows if Baker will ever find enough postseason success to win a world championship. But I hope he does, even if it comes with the division rival Reds while the Cubs are rebuilding (after all, anything is better than another Cardinals championship).
And I understand rooting against Baker may relieve some of your Cubs pain. But isn’t it about time we let the dead bury the dead, move on from Baker’s disappointments, Bartman, Billy Goat Curses, Black Cats and various other hexes as the crux of the Cubs’ postseason futility?
Even if Baker was once the root of all Cubs evil, he no longer is, and hasn’t been for some time. So why keep hating on the man?
Like countless other Cubs managers before him, it didn’t work out, for whatever reasons doesn’t matter. Dusty’s moved on, and as Cubs fans, we should, too.