Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Home Grown versus Acquired is almost done, but with five more to go and only a few weeks left before the start of the season, I can't fall apart at the end.

Speaking of falling apart at the end, let me present THE CHICAGO CUBS!

OK, that might sound cruel, but is it?

I mean that house across the street from Wrigley Field that posts the number of years since the last World Series title, Pennant and Division Title has to add another space.

The Cubbies are entering their second century of waiting for a World Series title. And they haven't even played in a World Series since 1945.

I can't tell what is more amazing about that:

The fact that they haven't made it back to the World Series despite the astonishing talent that has played in Wrigley Field...

Or the fact that the fans keep coming back in droves.

It can't ALL be the beer and the ballpark.

Unless you are a White Sox fan or a lazy sports reporter who think that Cub fans are enjoying this, part of you HAS to want to see the Cubs win it all.

Maybe this is the year! Maybe it is a 100 year fluke.

Hey Hey! In honor of Ernie Banks, let's not write one list... LET'S LIST TWO!



Harnett was probably the NL's best catcher before Johnny Bench arrived in the 1960s.

The NL MVP of 1934 (and runner up in 1937) had his best season in 1930 when he hit .339, a career high 37 homers and an OPS of 1.034.

The future Hall of Famer got the nickname "Gabby" because he was so quiet. Kind of like calling a fat person "Tiny."

But in this picture, he's talking to Cubs fan Al Capone. I guess when Capone wants to talk to you, you get a little chatty.


I know of few Cubs that the fans love as much as Mark Grace. He wasn't the best Cub of all time. Heck, on his own team, he was always overshadowed by Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson or later Sammy Sosa.

He never hit 20 homers... never drove in 100 runs... never finished in the top 10 of the MVP.

But he was a steady and reliable left handed bat and Gold Glove first baseman. He hit for a high average and was always on base. And he came up big in big games. He matched Will Clark almost hit for hit in the 1989 NLCS batting .647 with an OPS of 1.800 and 8 RBI in the 5 game series.

You could throw other firstbasemen at me... but as I said in the Diamondbacks post, I knew Cub fans who were rooting for Arizona in the 2001 World Series because they wanted to see Mark Grace get a ring. That's love folks.


Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Margaret Daniels currently live in Indianapolis. And they have an interesting lineage.

On one hand their father is Mitchell Daniels, the Governor of Indiana.

On the other hand, their Maternal Great Grandfather is Billy Herman, a Hall of Famer and a 10 time NL All Star (8 with the Cubs) who played on three pennant winners with the Cubs.

Which would you brag about more? Your pop in the State House or your great grandfather doing all he could to win the 1935 World Series, batting .333 with an OPS of .958, a homer and 6 RBI.

I know what I'D brag about! It wouldn't be dear ole dad.


Ernie Banks' prescience is felt all over Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs in ways that I don't even think people realize.

He was the first black player on the Cubs... so he was a pioneer.

He played more games in a Cubs uniform than any player in history... so he spanned decades and generations.

He was the Cubs All Time Home Run King before Sammy Sosa arrived. So in many people's eyes he still is!

He was a two time MVP and a Hall of Famer... so he was an All Time Great.

But even more than that (and that's quite enough!) he personified the Cubs... easy to root for... playing hard... never winning it all but playing with a sunny optimism for the next day!

He dubbed Wrigley Field "the friendly confines" which is all but its official name now.

And I think it was his sentiment of "Let's Play Two" that helped give Wrigley Field the aura to play only day games until 1988.

No player on any Major League Baseball team is more of a personification of their franchise than Banks. Mr. Cub indeed.


OK, let me get the player stuff out of the way with Santo.

Santo was a great player and a borderline Hall of Famer. I would have no objections if he was in.

He was a Gold Glove third baseman with 30 home run power and always among the league leaders of on base percentage in the middle of the greatest pitchers era since the Dead Ball Era.

Now let's talk about him as an announcer. I think he is great. He is great for the same reason Phil Rizzuto was great for the Yankees, and Bob Uecker and Jerry Remy are great for the Brewers and Red Sox respectively.

He SOUNDS like a fan and yet he has the player credibility.

Now granted, Santo doesn't have those other guy's broadcasting chops... but isn't the world a better place when you can turn on your XM Radio, listen to a Cubs game, and have a guy who sounds drunker than the guys in the left field bleachers cheering the team on?


Billy Williams didn't just have bad luck in terms of post season play... he had CUBS luck.

He was yet ANOTHER star of the amazing 1969 team that had a 9 game lead on August 16th, were in first place as late as September 9th and lost 18 of their last 26 games.

You couldn't blame Williams who had another All Star caliber season, hitting .293 with 21 HRs and 95 RBI.

He followed it up with a great 1970, hitting 42 homers, driving in 129, batting .322 with an OPS of .977. He had his first of two MVP runner ups. (He led the league in hitting and OPS in 1972 while finishing third in Homers and second in RBIs.)

Out of borderline mercy, the Cubs dealt him to the three time Defending World Champion Oakland A's for the 1975 season. He saw his only post season play in the ALCS that year... but it was also the year the A's World Series runs came to a crashing end. He never did play in a World Series.

Cub luck.


The five time All Star drove in 110 runs with only 12 homers in 1945, the last pennant winner for the Cubs.

And he went 3-4 in Game 1 of the 1945 World Series, helping knock future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser out of the game and putting the Cubs in control... or so it seemed.

When All Star Stan Hack retired, he moved from Center to Third Base for a season to fill the void and made the All Star team.

How many All Stars today would just go to the infield for one year?
No doubt the agents would allow it.


Never heard of Frank Schulte? Well let tell you something. There have only been four players to hit 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season.

One of those players was named Willie Mays. You've heard of HIM right?

Two others are named Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson. Ring a bell?

Who was the first one?
Frank Schulte. He did it in his MVP winning season of 1911. He also started every game in both World Series that the Cubs have won.

Now you know who he is.


Oh I know I am going to get some flack for not starting Chance and starting Grace.

The "Peerless Leader" is a Hall of Famer who was not only a career .296 hitter and prolific base stealer, but also batted .421 with an OPS of .921 in the 1908 World Series. He got three hits and drove in a run in the last World Series clincher in Cubs history.

Plus he was the MANAGER of the only two World Series winners in Cubs history.

Oh yeah, he was also in that poem.



I have seen more dynamic pitchers than Greg Maddux.

Roger Clemens in his prime and Randy Johnson in his prime were all more electric while pitching.

The individual seasons of Dwight Gooden in 1985, Orel Hershiser in 1988 and Pedro Martinez in 1999 were more dazzling than any of Maddux's seasons.

He wasn't the big game performer like Dave Stewart, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling or John Smoltz.

But he might be the best pitcher whose career I have seen from beginning to end. All he did was win, eat innings and keep in ERA low in an outrageous steroid and small ballpark era.

He won 18 games as a Cub in 1988 and 16 as a Cub in 2004 and took home his first Cy Young as a Cub in 1992.

Not the sexiest ace... but the single most reliable I can remember.

Big Daddy gives all of us with a big gut hope that we could go on that hill and win 20 games, like Reuschel did with the 1977 Cubs.

Al at Bleed Cubbie Blue did a wonderful write up on Reuschel that I can't top. But I did notice that he still harbored resentment that Reuschel was left off of the 1984 playoff roster.

Look I know he was a fan favorite, and I also know he came back and became an All Star with the Pirates in 1987 and the Giants in 1989 so he still had something in the tank.

But I have a hard time believing that when the Cubs were winning with Rick Sutcliffe on the mound in Game 5 that Cub fans were thinking "Man, I wish Big Daddy was available!"

Call me crazy.

From Big Daddy to Big Ed.

He pitched a complete game victory to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 1907 World Series and then won 24 games for the 1908 World Champions.

And in that tight pennant race with the Giants, Reulbach had a pitching day for the ages on September 26.

With the Cubs clinging to a 1/2 game lead over the Giants and the Pirates, they sent Reulbach to the mound against Brooklyn.

He pitched a complete game shutout, 5-0. But it was only the first game of the double header.

Guess who started the second game? That would be Reulbach. Guess what he did?
He threw his SECOND complete game shutout of the day... 3-0. The Cubs would win the pennant by a single game and win their last World Series.

In 2008, two shutouts for the entire season was the highest total in the American League. For Reulbach, that's just in a day's work!


Big Daddy... Big Ed... Now Big Bill! It's the Big section!

No, not the Spaceman... although putting Lee on this list means I can plug Spaceman, the movie I am in, again.

Actually Big Bill won more games than the Spaceman. He was a two time 20 game winner and finished second in the MVP vote for the 1938 NL Champion Cubs.

And with the 1935 World Series on the line, he pitched three innings for the save in Game 5.

He was a great pitcher. Spaceman was more fun.


BIG Z!!!
It's an All Big Rotation!

When the Cubs were putting together their wonderful pitching staff in 2003, Zambrano was almost an after thought on a staff with Prior and Wood.

Now he is not only the last one left, but he's the only one to emerge as a legit ace.

A big winner and an innings eater, he threw the single strangest no hitter I can imagine on September 14th of last year... Cubs against the Astros in Milwaukee. Where else would it be played?

Why Piniella took him out of Game 1 of the 2007 Division Series is a mystery, like the Loch Ness Monster, that may never be solved.

But I've already written about that.

I was going to put Mark Prior in the rotation... and had the Cubs won the 2003 pennant, he'd be here. But this is not a list of unfulfilled potential.



Sutter was one of the great relievers of all time and he made his mark as a Cub.

He saved 31 games for a .500 1977 team, thus leaving his first mark as a big time closer.

He became a regular All Star, culminating in his wonderful 1979 season when he struck out 110 posted a 2.22 ERA over 101 1/3 relief innings. He saved 37 for the sub .500 Cubs and won the Cy Young Award.

He later clinched a World Series and got a plaque in Cooperstown... and both times he was wearing a hated Cardinals hat.

If there was a Mount Rushmore for Relief Pitchers, then Rollie Fingers, Mariano Rivera, Rich Gossage, Dennis Eckersley and Bruce Sutter belong on it.

Then again that is five faces and Mount Rushmore has only four.

OK, maybe that is a bad analogy.
Elston was a classic late blooming player.

A product of the Cubs system, he was dealt to the Dodgers. Over his two years in the Dodgers system he pitched a grand total of 1 inning for Brooklyn before being sent back to the Cubs.

The Game of "I don't want him, you take him" ended when suddenly at age 30, he blossomed into an All Star for the 1959 Cubs team.

He saved 10+ games three straight seasons before the bullpen closer was a regular role and got the save in the 1959 All Star Game.

Not bad for a 30 year old nobody wanted.

I know some people will give me hell for not including Lee Smith on that Mount Rushmore that I mentioned with Bruce Sutter.

Well first of all, in my incredibly tough criteria for Closer Greatness, I say you need to be a closer for a World Series winner. That's not my ONLY criteria, but I am not flexible about that.

And the only post season highlight involving Lee Smith in a Cubs uniform was his letting up Steve Garvey's home run in Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS.

Now I don't say this to belittle Smith, who was a great pitcher. I included him on my Red Sox and Angels posts. He saved 30 games a year back when that meant something. In 1985 he struck out 112 in 97 2/3 innings.

No dishonor in saying you were not as good a closer as Fingers, Gossage, Rivera, Eckersley nor Sutter.

And to think this kid started off as an infielder!

Oh the highlights that Carlos Marmol can have if he can take over the closers role.
His strikeout totals are jaw dropping. (114 in 87 1/3 innings???)

Admit it Cubs fans... you've thought about the scenario and its been with Marmol on the mound.

Two outs... two strikes... here's the pitch from Marmol... STRIKE THREE! THE CUBS HAVE WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!

Could he be THE ONE?
(I never thought it would be Keith Foulke for us!)

Didn't the whole idea of Kerry Wood clinching a World Series title just make sense?

I mean he was supposed to be one of the two aces to lead the team to glory.

He was their blazing 20 strikeout in a game stud! He homered in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS.

And after injuries ravaged his career, he reinvented himself into an All Star Closer.

Why did the Cubs dump him? To make room for Kevin Gregg? The reliever who basically torpedoed the Marlins season last year?

Doesn't make a lick of sense to me. Kerry Wood is a Cub through and through and he should come back.



Smiling Stan was an All Star regular in the 1930s. The Third baseman had little power (he never hit more than 8 in any of his 16 seasons) but was a great contact hitter and hit for a terrific average (.301 career.)

And in the 1945 World Series, he hit .367 with an OPS of .908 as the lead off man and was the hero of Game 6.

On the verge of elimination, Hack singled home the tying and go ahead runs with a fifth inning single.

The Tigers would tie the game and in extra innings tried to win the Series. But in the bottom of the 12th with 2 outs, Hack doubled to left, scoring Broadway Bill Schuster, to end the game and force a Game 7.

The Cubs would lose that Game 7 and haven't won a pennant since. Meaning that Smiling Stan Hack won the last World Series game victory in Cubs history.


The middle part of Baseball's Sad Lexicon Evers (EE-vers) was a super skinny short infielder who compensated for his lack of size with a slap hitting style, stolen bases and poem worthy defense.

Almost every bio I've read of him describes him as "scrappy."

I guess that is a euphemism for "short angry guy."

I really wanted to include Shawon Dunston, whose arm was so terrific and probably had 20,000 times the ability of Evers. But I can't deny a Hall of Famer.


The Cubs had a first round pick named Rafael Palmeiro. He was a good left handed hitting outfielder and first baseman. He nearly won the batting title in 1988, his last year with the Cubs finishing second to Tony Gwynn.

He was a lean, line drive, doubles in the gap hitter. He hit 14 homers in 1987, but that clearly wasn't going to be his M.O.

The Cubs sent him packing to Texas in the deal that sent Mitch Williams to Chicago.

Let's just say he changed there... but he looked destined to be a great left handed hitter. If only that were enough.


The Cubs last won the pennant in 1945.
The National League MVP in 1945 was Phil Cavaretta.

He drove in 97 runs that year and had an OPS of .949 with only 6 homers. He won the batting title that year.

And in the World Series, Cavaretta hit .423 with an OPS of 1.115 and homered in the Game 1 rout of the Tigers.

They didn't win the World Series in 1945... but don't blame Phil!

(Yes I know he was primarily a first baseman, but he played 538 games in the outfield and I didn't want to leave Phil out!)


I've written a lot about Cubs of the past... but Soto, a Cub of the present and the future, belongs here.

From his homer in the 2007 Division Series, it seems like he has marked his territory in Cubs lore. Even Peter Gammons wrote about him as an MVP candidate in 2008.

The 2008 Rookie of the Year hits for power and calls a great game and is already an All Star.

Allow yourself to picture it Cubs fans... Soto jumping into Marmol's arms!


What? I have Evers and Chance on here and I'm not supposed to include Tinker?

It's part of probably the only poem in the history of poetry that I actually liked!

Besides he hit the only home run in the 1908 World Series. How many other Cubs can claim to have homered in a World Series that the Cubs WON? None.

The infield is complete!

Now THAT is a complete team. You know it's deep when you have Tinker, Evers and Chance off of the Bench.

The depth, power and passion of the home grown team will be hard to match. Could there be any beloved Cubs left that the Cubs acquired?

Oh... there's a Hall of Famer or two.
Read on.



Without a doubt one of the most popular Cubs during the 1980s, Davis was a Rule 5 heist from the Cardinals, who exposed him because of his ulcers.

His popularity has more to do with hard nosed play than any eye popping statistics.

But he WAS a Gold Glove catcher.
He DID smack 24 homers in 1983.

And he DID have a terrific NLCS in 1984... crushing 2 homers, driving in 6 runs, batting .389 with an OPS of 1.201.

Maybe his popularity isn't that hard to figure out after all!


When Lee got the big two run double as a Marlin (in the wake of the underrated Alex Gonzalez error) in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, I am guessing he would NOT be considered beloved by Cubs fans.

But armed with his World Series ring, he joined the Cubs and became a an All Star, Gold Glove winning MVP candidate (finishing 3rd in 2005 when he won the batting title and had the NL's top OPS).

He continued his hot post season hitting with a .333 average in the 2007 Division Series and a .545 average and a 1.401 OPS in the 2008 Division Series.

Granted they didn't win those years, but unlike the Cubs, he can look back to 2003 with happiness.


The Cubs wanted the Phillies' Larry Bowa.
The Phillies wanted the Cubs' Ivan DeJesus.

It could have been a straight swap and it probably would have been the biggest "So What?" trade of the 1980s.

Two shortstops... neither bad. Neither great.

But the Cubs said "Hey! We think DeJesus is a little better than Bowa. Can you throw someone else in... just a farm hand so it could a 2 for 1 deal?"

The Phillies could have thrown in Jay Baller... Steve Jeltz... maybe Tony Ghelfi... and this would have been a forgotten trade.

But someone in the Phillies front office said "Eh... give them Ryne Sandberg."

And the Cubs got an MVP... they got a Hall of Famer... they got the face of the franchise for a decade.

What I am saying is I am sure someone lost their job in the Phillies front office.


I am including DeJesus on this list for four reasons.

1) He actually had a few good years in Chicago, including leading the NL in runs in 1978 and smacking 10 triples in 1979.

2) The Cubs have had a hard time acquiring other shortstops.

3) Nomar Garciaparra's year and a half in Chicago was injury plagued.

4) Cubs fans should be so thankful that the Phillies overvalued him and were able to get Ryne Sandberg out of the deal!


The Cubs had a real revolving door of third baseman after Ron Santo retired. Some have been good. (Bill Madlock, Ron Cey, Vance Law) but no long term solution.

And then the Cubs found a trading partner with that gift that keeps giving... the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Always quick to blame economics and the lack of a salary cap for not fielding a .500 team since 1992, the Pirates would probably fare well if they could get something... oh I don't know... USEFUL when they deal away All Star caliber right handed power hitters.

More than veteran Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and someone named Matt Bruback.

Ramirez has been the rock at third base, winning the Hank Aaron Award in 2008 and crushing 4 homers in the 2003 post season.

I hope the Cubs sent Pittsburgh a thank you note.


Notice I put SENIOR on there.

Sarge was already an established major leaguer when he came to the Cubs prior to the 1984 season. He fit in perfectly in Wrigley, getting his only top ten finish in the MVP vote.

He has the best on base percentage in the league, was a solid run producer and a huge fan favorite in Wrigley.

In fact it was his saluting the Bleacher Creatures that earned him the nickname Sarge. He hit two homers in Game 1 of the 1984 NLCS... which things looked so promising.

His son's year and a half in Chicago... well that was before he discovered HGH, so let's just say he didn't get the same love from the Wrigley faithful.


The Giants had Hack Wilson. He actually was in their starting outfield for the 1924 World Series... but after a lousy 1925, John McGraw gave up on him.

The Cubs picked him up and found a slugger on the scrap heap.
In fact they found a slugger who hit more homers in one season than any National Leaguer with 56.

The first National Leaguers who have passed him were Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. I will just say that as a fact. You interpret it anyway you want. (Ryan Howard also passed him in 2006.)

That same year that he hit 56 homers, he drove in 191.
Do you know who has hit more in one season? Juiced or not?

That year he batted .356 with an OPS of 1.177.

The National League did not elect an MVP that year. I have a hunch that Hack Wilson would have won it.


Hey! Another great slugger that fell into the Cubs lap.

In the middle of collusion, Expos star Andre Dawson desperately wanted a new contract, but nobody would offer him one.

I mean who could POSSIBLY use a player who hits 20 homers, bats in the .280s, has speed and is a Gold Glove right fielder?

He gave the Cubs a deal that even the colluders couldn't refuse: A blank contract.

Dawson would sign it and they assign the number value in good faith... good faith with guys who were FOUND GUILTY of collusion.

The Cubs signed him for $650,000. Best $650,000 they ever spent.
He hit 49 homers, drove in 137, won the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger and gave the 2 million fans who showed up to see a last place team something to cheer about.

He won the NL MVP and got a nice big fat raise.

While the colluders will NEVER get the grief they deserve, let's give Dawson the credit HE deserves. He just wanted to play!

He should be a Hall of Famer... NOW!


OK, maybe this is the Red Sox fan in me talking... but let me have Billy Bucks here.

He was a terrific all around hitter in Chicago and won the 1980 batting title.

You think this is excessive praise? Well I think he's received excessive grief over the years so I am swinging the pendulum back.

Should I have included Leon Durham?
You mean the guy who let the ball go through his legs?



Yes he had only three fingers on his pitching hand. It's probably the coolest and most literal nickname in baseball history.

He mangled his hand in a farming accident and it forced him to learn how to grip the ball differently.

The result was an unholy breaking ball and 55 career shutouts, six straight 20 win seasons, 13 saves in 1911 and unlike most Cubs, he also had World Series glory.

His complete game shutout in Game 5 of the 1907 World Series clinched the first ever World Series title for the Cubs.

In the 1908 World Series, he won Game 1 out of the Bullpen and then threw a complete game shutout in Game 5.

Kids, don't get any ideas and start cutting your fingers off!

Oh did you think that Ryne Sandberg was the only Phillies minor leaguer dealt to the Cubs to wind up in the Hall of Fame?

Au contraire! Nearly 2 decades before the Ivan DeJesus deal, Fergie Jenkins, he of 8 career games and no starts with the Phillies found a new home in Chicago in a deal that sent veterans Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl to Philadelphia.


Jackson and Buhl were long out of baseball when Jenkins won the 1971 NL Cy Young Award. He had six straight 20 win seasons in a Cubs uniform. He was also good for 20 complete games a year and led the NL in strikeouts in 1969.

He returned to the Cubs at the end of his career. In his final year his teammate was Ryne Sandberg.... just a thought to make Phillies fans sick.

I am not a betting man, but I am sure that if you listed the odds for "Who would win the NL Cy Young Award for 1984" before the season began, there would be a few favorites.

Perhaps Fernando Valenzuela. Maybe Mario Soto. Maybe defending Cy Young winner John Denny.

I am guessing Rick Sutcliffe wouldn't be high on the list. He wouldn't have been high on the list in April or May either. He wasn't even in the National League. He was still pitching for Cleveland.

Then he came over to the Cubs in one of the most successful midseason deals in history.
The Cubs were in third place behind the Phillies and Mets when he arrived.

Then he started winning a few games. In fact he won 16... and only lost 1.
He won his last 14 decisions. He won Game 1 of the 1984 NLCS and homered as well! He had the lead in the 7th inning of a clinching Game 5... OK, he picked a bad time to lose his first game since June 29.

But it was a heck of a season. And whoever put a bet down on "Rick Sutcliffe" to win the NL Cy Young Award CLEANED UP!

The Cubs picked up an ace who became a 5 time All Star in a Chicago uniform for three nondescript players in 1939.

In 1940 he won 20 games, had an ERA of 2.50 and struck out 124, second in the league in all three categories.

He became a steady pitcher over the next few seasons culminating with his masterpiece, Game 3 of the 1945 World Series.

He let up a second inning single to the Tigers Rudy York... and that's it! He spun a 1 hit complete game shutout that gave the Cubs a 2-1 series lead.

Oh by the way, the team the Cubs stole him from?
The Phillies.

Note to the Phillies... STOP DEALING WITH THE CUBS!

Cubs fans... if there was a baseball genie you could ask a wish for, what would it be?

OK, besides a never emptying keg.

It would be to see the Cubs winning a World Series, am I right?

As a Red Sox fan, I used to visualize the moment of a Red Sox World Series clinching in my head before each season. And then in 2004 and later in 2007 I actually saw it... trust me, it was even more special because I visualized it.

So the Cubs have gone 100 seasons without doing it. The last person do have that highlight? The last person to throw a pitch and then celebrate a championship?

Orval Overall.
And yes, that is his real first name. Mr. and Mrs. Overall decided to name their child Orval.
Go figure.

On October 14, 1908 in front of 6,210 fans in Detroit, he got Boss Schmidt to ground out to catcher Johnny Kling who threw to Frank Chance to end Game 5 of the World Series.

And the Cubs won the World Series.

Until it happens again (and it will) Orval Overall is the last person to know what that feels like.



Myers was best known as either the Met who made Jesse Orosco expendable or the Nasty Boy who clinched the World Series for the 1990 Cincinnati Reds.

But he had his highest save total with the 1993 Cubs when he notched 53 saves, then a National League record.

OK, he wasn't a fan favorite with EVERY Cubs fan. Especially not the one who stormed the field to try and beat up Randy Myers after blowing a critical game in 1995.

Now I am not condoning that fan's action... but who hasn't been that mad when their bullpen closer blows a game?

The Vulture (he of the 14-1 record out of the pen for the 1966 L. A. Dodgers) continued his vulture like ways when he was traded to the Cubs during the 1968 season.

He won 12 games and saved 17 for the 1969 Cubs, throwing 112 innings in relief.

He gave the Cubs some steady relief (many outings for more than 1 inning) although he had some... um... rough outings down the stretch.

Charley Root has won more games than anyone in a Cubs uniform. He is the only Cubs pitcher with 200 wins (he finished with 201.)

With the likes of Three Finger Brown, Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux in Cubs history, I had a hard time believing that. But why would Baseball-Reference.com lie to me?

Root is best remembered for giving up Ruth's supposed called shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Whether Ruth called the shot is unclear. (Root claimed he didn't.) What is beyond debate is he got rocked that game. He let up back to back shots to Ruth and Gehrig.

So why is he in the bullpen?
I HAD to include Root, and he saved 40 games for the Cubs over 16 seasons, including 8 in 1938 which was second most in the NL.

So I am putting him in the pen. Just don't bring him in to face Ruth.

Look at that face. Look at that facial hair. Look at that gut.

If I could invent a closer the way those guys in Weird Science invented a woman, that closer would look and act like The Shooter.

I gave him lots of love in my Giants post, but he deserves love here.

As a closer, he did the job wonderfully his first year in Wrigley. He saved 51 games including 14 of his first 15. And down the stretch he got a save or a win in 14 straight appearances between August 27th and September 17th.

And in an irony that shows that the Giants can be as haunted as any franchise, Beck came in to the 9th inning of a one game playoff between the Cubs and his former San Francisco teammates for the 1998 Wild Card.

The Cubs took a 5-0 lead into the 9th but these are the Cubs and they seemed hellbent in coughing it up. The Giants scored two runs and had runners on first and third and only one out.

With the tying run at the plate, Beck came in and retired Jeff Kent and Joe Carter to clinch the Wild Card.

Oddly, manager Jim Riggleman did not bring in Beck to close out the 1-0 lead in Game 2 of the Division Series (and steal home field advantage from the heavily favored Braves.) The Braves rallied and won in extra innings. Imagine if they brought in the Shooter.

Beyond the stats, he loved the game and seemed to relish being a Cub. He lived his last years in a camper near a ballpark in Arizona, having beers with fans. The Shooter will be missed.

OK, let me say right off of the bat that I know I am going to get a tremendous amount of flack for this pick.

I know that Joe Borowski is actually not a very good closer.
I would argue he is an awful closer and possibly the biggest example of how the save can be an overrated statistic.

So what is he doing here?

A very simple reason... unlike Ryan Dempster, or Rick Aguilera, or Mitch Williams, or Antonio Alfonseca, or Hal Jeffcoat... or any other pitcher you are going to suggest... Joe Borowski did something that only Three Finger Brown and Orval Overall have done:

He closed out a post season series as a Chicago Cub.
The 2003 Division Series is the only post season series the Cubs have won in a century. And Borowski saved it. And admit it, it was fun seeing a Cubs team celebrate a post season series.

It might be a strange reason to include him... but wasn't that little bit of joy in 2003 worth a little pat on the back for Borowski?



Steinfeldt was a terrific hitter for the Cubs during their four pennant winning seasons at the turn of the century. He led the NL in hits and RBI in 1906 and nearly won the batting title that year.

And in the 1907 World Series, he batted .471 with an OPS of 1.197, driving in a run in the clinching Game 5.

He's also the lone infielder who was not mentioned in the Tinker to Evers to Chance poem.

I guess Steinfeldt kind of threw off the rhyming scheme.


Bill Madlock is never going to make it to the Hall of Fame, but he was a terrific hitter over a prolonged period of time.

He always seemed to be among the batting leaders. He won two of his four batting titles with the Cubs and established himself as an All Star caliber player from his rookie year on.

He of course wasn't a model citizen in Chicago. He got his "Mad Dog" nickname for reasons other than his name starting with Mad.

But you can't argue with batting titles, All Star Game MVPs and decent speed and power to boot.


Has there ever been a faster fall from love than Sammy Sosa?

It's almost surreal to think about it. In 1998 he was possibly the most popular Cub since Ernie Banks.

He was everything fun about Wrigley Field. He was a super slugger with a cannon. He ran out to right field, playing it up to the right field fans.

And he got Mark McGwire to loosen up and have fun.

He was the most loved figure in baseball. He saved the game of baseball.

Then came the corked bat. And the strange injuries. And then leaving Wrigley Field when a game was going on. And then forgetting how to speak English in the steroid hearings.

10 years after saving the game and being the greatest slugger in Cubs history he is persona non grata in Wrigley Field. If you told me that in 1998, I would have thought you were from an insane asylum.

And then I would ask you how you achieved time travel.


All Kong did was homer and strike out. He did both better than anyone in the game.

In 1979, he broke his stereotype of being a low average slugger by hitting .288. He led the league in homers (48), RBI (115) and slugging (.613.) and although he didn't know it, he led the league in OPS with .956.

But it was the year before, on my birthday, May 14, 1978, that he gave the world his biggest contribution.

Against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kingman homered off of Doug Rau in the 6th inning to make the game 3-2 Cubs.

Then in the top of the 9th with 2 outs, he hit a game tying homer off of Mike Garman.

Then in the 15th, he hit another 2 out homer to give the Cubs a 10-7 lead that they would hold on to. He drove in 8 runs in all.

And while I am sure you have heard it already, it is worth listening to Tommy Lasorda's post game interview here.

You are welcome.


Randy Hundley came over in a steal of a trade.

The Cubs got Bill Hands, who would 20 games in 1969 and Hundley who would become a Gold Glove All Star catcher.

Hundley was a durable every day catcher with pop over four straight seasons in Chicago.

And they got this terrific battery in exchange two veterans who flopped.

Guess which team they made the trade with?

Actually it was the Giants, but wouldn't it be awesome if it were the Phillies.


There are a lot of great Cubs I could honor here... but when else am I going to get a chance to tip my cap to King Kelly?

He was one of the first superstars in baseball... one of the first idols who revolutionized the game with the hook slide and the hit and run and wearing a glove and chest protector as a catcher.

And he had songs written about him, and was a media darling during the 1880s.

And then he died of pneumonia at age 36. He was the biggest star in all of baseball during the 19th century. By the age of Ty Cobb, he was a distant memory.

By Babe Ruth he was totally forgotten.
But the staff at Sully Baseball all agrees... he is worth one last "Slide Kelly Slide" here.


Any team that has home run kings and batting titles on the Bench like the Acquired Team is going to be tough!

The Acquired Team has Ryno, Fergie and The Hawk!

But with Maddux leading the staff and Ernie Banks at its heart... who is going to pick against the Home Grown Squad?


One more down!

That's the Cubs

And the Indians
And the Tigers
And the White Sox.
And the Royals
And the Brewers
And the Reds
And the Dodgers
And the Blue Jays
And the Pirates
And the Diamondbacks
And the Mariners
And the Nationals
And the Angels
And The Padres
And The Twins
And The Orioles
And the A's
And the Astros
And the Giants
And the Rockies
And the Mets
And the Rangers
And the Marlins
And the Yankees
And the Red Sox

4 to go...



  1. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Excellent work and a frightening attention to detail, as always.

    But you're kidding about Zambrano, right? They've been calling him "Big Z" for years! It's an All-Big rotation!

  2. Apparently you forgot that Ryan Howard hit 58 HRs in 2006.

  3. Yes I did

    I corrected it

  4. This is an excellent read. My only quibble is Dawson starting over Sosa. I adore Dawson and hate Sosa, but Sosa's numbers are just too damn good to leave out of a lineup, even with Dawson's far-superior defense. How about sliding Sosa over to left and putting Sarge on the bench?

  5. Anonymous9:02 PM

    Where's Leon "Bull" Durham? Seriously, where is that guy?

  6. read top pinch hitter off of the bench for the acquired team

  7. Wow! This is an amazing post. I agree with a lot of your pics but would personally still put Sammy in right, even as much as I like Dawson.

  8. Anonymous8:03 AM

    did you consider rich gossage for the pen at all

  9. Anonymous9:19 AM

    I really enjoyed this, especially seeing some of the stats about players from long ago. But with any list, you get objections. Here are mine: 1) Kerry Wood as a closer rather than a starter. Along with the 20 K game, he was on four Cub playoff teams (think about that) and was the winner in Games 1 and 5 of the 2003 NLDS. He's the last SP with a playoff series clinching win for the Cubs, and the first to do it in forever.

    I also have a major issue with Dempster being included in the bullpen over Wild Thing or the Shooter. Borowski I actually understand with your argument, it's Dempster's inclusion that makes me want to pull my hair out. He wasn't a good closer for the Cubs, and in his one good season as an SP for the team, he tarnished it with an epic bed-wetting in Game 1 of the NLDS. You've got to give me Williams for his 89 performance or Beck for what he did in 98 or living in an RV at the ballpark in Des Moines before you mention Dempster.

  10. No, I never considered Rich Gossage and looking over his one sub par season in Wrigley I won't include him

    Gossage gets a lot of love at Sully Baseball. I consider him to be arguably the greatest reliever of all time (or at least in the conversation with Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley and Mariano Rivera.)

    I have him listed in the home Grown White Sox team
    I have him listed in the Acquired Pirates team
    I have him listed in the Acquired Yankees team
    I have him listed in the Acquired Padres team

    But his one year in Wrigley doesn't merit a spot

  11. I've been getting some resistance to Dempster and people asking for Beck.

    Again, I can always make changes because its my list but you guys know the Cubs better than me.

    I may switch out Dempster for Beck.

    As for Wood, I needed to put him on and there were not a lot of good closers to choose from in the home grown department after Sutter and Lee.

    I have a funny Mitch Williams as a Cub story.
    It might be worth switching out Dempster for Wild Thing.

    But I am leaning towards putting in Rod Beck

  12. Dempster is out
    Beck is in

  13. Anonymous1:47 PM

    How about 40-40 man Alfonso Soriano for the acquireds?

  14. What position should Soriano suck at on this roster?

  15. Anonymous6:11 PM

    Cap Anson???????

  16. Sully: With all due respect, the acquired teams are meaningless. Leaving Pedro Martinez off the Dodgers' home-grown team to put him on the Expos and/or Red Sox acquired team is absurd. Why isn't Lou Brock on the Cubs homegrown team? You put Joe Morgan on the Astros team -- on the bench (and I love Biggio!!!). And Raffie has to be on the Cubs in RF (Brock in CF). And Mordecai Brown isn't good enough to be on the Cardinals' home-grown team?

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