"If they ever cut the ivy down, they’ll find a hundred baseballs
in there." -Andre Dawson
-Wrigley Field underwent more changes in 1927.
-Upper deck seating became available, but only in left field.
-A year later the right field seating was completed in 1928.
-In turn, the Cubs began setting attendance records.
-1,485,166 fans set a new team attendance record in 1929.
-Attendance June 27, 1930 vs. Brooklyn Robins: 51,556
-Still the largest crowd ever for baseball at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs would have been fortunate to score 20-runs in one week last season. But on May 5, 2001 Chicago lambasted the Dodgers 20-1 at Wrigley Field (video below).
The offensive outburst was highlighted by Sammy Sosa’s 3-for-5 day at the plate including a 2-R HR in the bottom of the fourth (Sosa hit 64 HR, 160 RBI for the season). Damon Buford also went 3-for-5 with 2 RBI and Bill Mueller drew four walks and scored three runs.
Darren Dreifort started for LA allowing four-runs in six innings, but the bulk of the damage came against Terry Adams who failed to record an out while giving up seven earned-run on six hits. Jose Nunez didn’t provide much relief issuing nine more runs (five earned).
You’ll get a chuckle watching the television opening when it’s said the Cubs are throwing their ‘crown jewel’ Julian Tavarez. At the time Tavarez was 28 and had signed with Chicago as a free agent in the offseason. He finished the campaign (10-9, 4.52) and then was packaged with Dontrelle Willis in a trade to Miami in late March of 2002 (Antonio Alfonseca & Matt Clement).
Funny enough, the last Cubs pitcher to win 20-games in a season, Jon Lieber (20-6), was on the ‘01 team as well as Kerry Wood (12-6) and Jason Bere (11-11). Tavarez posted the highest ERA and fewest innings pitched of anyone on the staff, including Kevin Tapani (9-14, 4.49). Crown jewel, indeed.
In this game, however, Tavarez had one of his better outings limiting Los Angeles to one-run on six hits over seven innings. Courtney Duncan pitched the final two frames to seal the victory.
The heavy-handed win kept the Cubs (18-11) atop the NL Central. By mid June Chicago pushed its division lead to 6.0 games, but in typical Cubs fashion the lead wouldn’t last long.
Houston and St. Louis stormed back to catch the Cubs two months later. In early September Chicago had fallen to third place while the Astros and Cardinals jumped ahead to finish the season tied for first at (93-69). Houston was awarded the division title having won the regular seasons series vs. St. Louis. Meanwhile, the Cubs (88-74) finished third under Don Baylor, five games back in the NL Central.
Cubs Transactions January 13th:
- 2012 – Signed free agent
- 2003 – Signed free agent
- 1986 – Traded Larry Whitford & Rich Rembielak to Milwaukee for Mike Martin
- 1981 – Selected Billy Hatcher in the 6th Rd of amateur draft.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer comprised a list of the Indians’
Top 5 and Bottom 5 free agent signings in their franchise history.
Two former Cubs made the list…in the Bottom 5, no less.
Kerry Wood and Ricky Gutierrez.
In Hoynes’ words:
- 2. RHP Kerry Wood – Signed: Dec. 13, 2008 to a 2-year, $20.5M deal. Stats: Former GM Mark Shapiro thought the Indians were ready to win and Wood would be the last piece as a lock-down closer. Wood, as his history showed, couldn’t stay healthy and never really got the hang of closing after being a starter most of his career. The Indians have not spent big money on a free agent since.
- 4. 2B Ricky Gutierrez – Signed: Dec. 17, 2001 to a 2-year, $6M deal.
Stats: In their haste to replace Roberto Alomar at second base, the Indians signed free agent Ricky Gutierrez, who was coming off a career season with the Cubs. The problem was Gutierrez was damaged goods. He needed two vertebra fused in his neck and played only 110 games in two years for the Tribe.
Cubs fans remember Kerry Wood’s goatee just as much as they do his once blazing fastball. Wood’s tufted chin beard was a staple throughout his 14-year career not long after the peach fuzz wore off from his rookie season in 1998.
However, when the Indians traded Wood to the Yankees in July of 2010 the goatee became a casualty of New York’s clean shaven policy. Wood had to go slick, and it wasn’t a site to behold.
The same can be said of Kevin Youkilis, who signed a 1-year, $12 million deal with the Yankees on Tuesday. So much for the manly, bushy goatee Youkilis displayed during his career in Boston and on the South Side of Chicago.
As if watching Woody, Johnny Damon (among other formerly bearded ballplayers) play in Yankee pinstripes wasn’t bad enough. Seeing them void of their predominant whiskers was even worse. And now the ‘Youker.’
Only in Gotham city would they pillage the game’s best players and strip the league of its most recognizable chin chillers, too.
What’s a major league cookie duster to do?
Cubs fans have been privy to the exceptional work of Len Kasper & Bob Brenly over the last eight seasons. That’s not as commonplace in baseball as some might believe it to be.
Granted, Brenly wasn’t a favorite analyst of mine out of the gate. He did grow on me and I’m honestly disappointed he won’t be back in the Cubs’ broadcast booth next season—but wishing him all the best wherever he lands.
I’m not shocked, however, Brenly’s leaving Chicago. Here’s what I said in late August:
Post Aug 27: I’m wondering if Brenly wants to come back?
From the outside it seems broadcasting Cubs games is a wonderful gig, Brenly is certainly paid well, but does he want to sit through another three or four losing seasons on the North Side?
Watching the rebuild may not be worth it for a guy like Brenly whose on-air candidness and occasional humor would be welcomed with open arms in markets with competitive teams like Arizona or Los Angeles.
Personally, I’d enjoy if Brenly returns to the Cubs’ booth in 2013 and beyond. But I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if he opts to move elsewhere.
Losing is hard to swallow, even when you’re being paid handsomely to watch.
Nonetheless, now the discussion turns to Brenly’s replacement, and it’s a hugely important decision considering the television broadcast is the main marketing arm of the Cubs…especially coming off a 101-loss season and continuing to sell the idea of longer-term rebuilding plan.
Paul Sullivan of the Tribune lists several possible replacements for Brenly:
- Mark Grace
- Rick Sutcliffe
- Todd Hollandsworth
- Kerry Wood
- Steve Stone
- Eric Karros
- Gary Matthews
- Darrin Jackson
- Steve Lyons.
I understand how beloved Gracie is on the North Side, but I fear his reckless lifestyle would ultimately become a distraction to the organization—same as it did in Arizona.
Kerry Wood is obviously another popular name in the mix, but he has zero broadcasting experience (that I’m aware of) and is the least polished of the early candidates.
I could live with ‘Big Red’ Sutcliffe or the return of Steve Stone. But I’ve always had a soft spot for former-Cub Doug Glanville.
Glanville is smart, articulate, funny and still remains tied to the area as President of GK Alliance, LLC located in the west Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, as well as serving as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight show since 2010.
There are certain to be other candidates. Heck, it’s likely the Cubs have been narrowing down a short-list for weeks now.
The good news is Kasper is signed through another four season, which is a saving grace in itself. Len’s one of the best TV play-by-play voices in baseball. So regardless of whomever is paired with him, at least we’re promised half the broadcast to be enjoyable.
All said, the announcement of Brenly’s replacement is certain to be one of the biggest offseason additions to the Cubs’ family. But here’s hoping it doesn’t remain the top headline for long.
We know whoever it is the Cubs land as its new television analyst won’t be starting at third base, center field, or shoring-up a leaky starting rotation. That’s the kind of signing we can only hope takes top-billing this winter.
Then again, Brenly’s replacement will be an everyday player in the booth, that someone we’ll want to welcome into our living rooms for those six/seven months out of the year.
Brenly couldn’t have been a better house guest on our flat screens, even if he took some getting used to.
Who knows if we’ll be as lucky to have someone as good as Brenly again?
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.
When Kerry Wood tossed his glove into the stands following another poor outing in May it was pretty clear something wasn’t right with the aging Cub.
Wood had lost his pitch control, his velocity was down and I speculated the thought of retirement was eating at him, as well.
At the time I expected Wood to make a lengthy trip to the DL where he could ready himself for one last hurrah late in the season to close out his career with the Cubs.
May 12: The worst case scenario is Wood continues to struggle and the Cubs are forced to issue an ultimatum to ‘retire’ or accept his unconditional release from the club.
It would be a rather sad ending for a much beloved Cub, but the more Wood struggles, the more likely it becomes Kerry finalizes his Cubs career standing with family members behind home plate at Wrigley Field during a small ceremony held in late September.
That small ceremony played out just as expected at Wrigley Field as part of Kerry Wood Appreciation Day on Sunday. The only difference was Wood wasn’t wearing a Cubs uniform.
I never did anticipate Wood’s abrupt retirement coming the way it did in late May…not that many did…but it’s a shame the Cubs couldn’t win Wood’s last game against the White Sox or against the Cardinals on Sunday. Somehow, though, it seems fitting of Kerry’s career with Chicago—close but no cigar.
WALKS WILL HUANT: If there’s one area the Cubs must improve on next season it’s walks. Chicago leads all of baseball with 546 free passes.
By comparison, the Nationals are ranked 15/30 in baseball with 462 walks–84 fewer than the Cubs. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is the best in the majors having issued only 385 base on balls. And even if you take away Chicago’s 35 intentional walks, they’re still in the top 6 in walks allowed.
It’s no surprise starters Ryan Dempster (2.34), Paul Maholm (2.56) and Matt Garza (2.78) still sport the best BB/9 ratio on the team.
In their absence, however, fill-ins Brooks Raley (4.07), Chris Volstad (3.82) and Chris Rusin (3.43) sport the worst BB/9 among Cubs starters.
But it’s the bullpen that’s at the crux of the issue like it was on Sunday. Cubs relievers walked four in only 3.1 innings with Alberto Cabrera walking three of his five batters faced. Not surprisingly, it set up the eventual game-winning runs to score in a 6-3 loss. That just can’t happen.
Jaye Chapman (7.71), Carlos Marmol (7.57), Cabrera (7.45), Lendy Castillo (6.57), Jeff Belvieau (6.19) and Rafael Dolis (5.94) are all above 5.00 BB/9. Anything above 4.50 is ridiculous!
You simply can’t put that many runners on base and expect to be a contender, and especially with an offense ranked 28/30 in runs scored (586).
Closing In: Darwin Barney played his 138th-straight game without committing an error at second base on Sunday. He’s now three-games shy of tying Placido Polanco’s major league record of 141-consecutive games at second base without an error.
That means Barney will have his opportunity to tie the mark at Colorado on Thursday and possibly break the record at Arizona on Friday night (Cubs are off today).
If Barney plays the remainder of the Cubs’ schedule without committing an error he would top-out at 147-straight games. Rather impressive.
Ryan Dempster has pitched the seventh-most games (369) in Cubs franchise history.
He makes his 12th start of the season and the 150th start of his Cubs career this afternoon against Boston.
This is a player Cubs faithful has grown to love, but are now faced with the distinct possibility today’s outing could be Dempster’s last wearing Cubbie blue–ending the nine-year love affair on the North Side.
Yet the sadness that permeated the air in anticipation of Kerry Wood’s departure won’t carry the same buzz as it did a few short weeks ago at Wrigley Field.