Friday, March 19, 2010

Jen's All-Time Cubs Team

I am not only a Cubs fan, but a baseball fan in general. A particular like of mine is old-time baseball and baseball history. You will see some of that on this blog, but to get us started, I have assembled my "All-Time" Cubs team.

This team dates back to day one of the Cubs organization, not just the modern era. Some names may not be familiar to younger fans, and date back to the 1870's when the team was named the "White Stockings". All listed played at least five years with the club.

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (pictured at right)
With Cubs: 1904-1912, 1915-1916
W-L188-86 (.686) 1.80 ERA
Three-Finger Brown used a childhood farming accident, resulting in the loss of two fingers on his right hand, to his advantage. The grip he had to use resulted in a wicked curve ball and other breaking pitchers. Brown is often considered one of the best pitchers in the game for his time.

Grover Cleveland Alexander
With Cubs: 1918-1926
W-L 129-83 (.607) 2.84 ERA
In spite of being a difficult drunk to manage, Alexander still managed to give the Cubs productive years, including the pitching triple crown in 1920.

Ferguson Jenkins
With Cubs: 1966-1973, 1982-1983
W-L 167-132 (.559), 3.20 ERA
Cy Young Award: 1971, HOF
An outstanding pitcher, Fergie had his best season in 1971, where he completed 30 of 37 games, posting a 24-13 record overall.

Greg Maddux
With Cubs 1986-1992, 2004-2006
W-L 133-112 (.543) 3.61 ERA
Cy Young Award: 1992
A fan favorite, now working in the Cubs front office. He is the first pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award in four consecutive seasons. A shoo-in for the HOF.

Bruce Sutter
With Cubs: 1976-1980
2.39 ERA, 300 Games, 133 Saves
Cy Young Award: 1979, HOF
A dominant relief pitcher, Sutter is the first to effectively use the split-finger fastball.

Lee Smith
With Cubs: 1980-1987
2.92 ERA, 458 Games, 180 Saves
A dominant closer and at 6'6" 285 pounds, a dominating figure on the mound.

Gabby Hartnett
With Cubs: 1922-1940
Average: 19 HR, 96 RBI, .297 BA
MVP: 1935, HOF
One of the greatest catchers in baseball history. He was behind the plate for Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run, and hit the famed "Homer in the Gloamin'" home run in 1938, which helped lead to a Cubs pennant win.

Adrian "Cap" Anson
With Cubs: 1876-1897 (Including several as player-manager)
Average: 6 HR, 133 RBI, .334 BA
Though a widely controversial figure today with his record of racial intolerance in his career, Anson was a key leader in early baseball and the Cubs organization. One of the best hitters of his time, Anson was also a manager, and part owner of the team in the late 1880's.

Ryne Sandberg
With Cubs: 1982-1994, 1996-1997
Average: 21 HR, 79 RBI, .285 BA
MVP: 1984, HOF
I would consider Ryne to be the best fielding second baseman in the game ever-he had a .989 fielding percentage for his career (MLB record), nine Gold Gloves, and made ten All-Star appearances. Another fan favorite in Chicago, he is now manager at AAA Iowa.

Ron Santo
With Cubs: 1960-1973
Average: 25 HR, 96 RBI, .277 BA
Many believe Santo should be in the HOF, and his numbers and accomplishments are comparable to others who have been inducted. A great third baseman, known for clicking his heels in his playing days, is often considered to be the Cubs greatest ambassador today.

Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks
With Cubs: 1953-1971
Average: 33 HR, 105 RBI, .274 BA
MVP: 1958 and 1959, HOF
Ernie's numbers speak for themselves-and MVP in back-to-back seasons on a losing team speaks volumes to his dominance in baseball at the time.

Hack Wilson
With Cubs: 1926-1931
Average: 29 HR, 128 RBI, .307 BA
Holds the major league record for RBI in one season, 191, set in 1930. Wilson was an interesting fella who was only 5'6" tall, though he weighed 195 pounds and had an 18" neck. A sportswriter compared his physique to a beer keg, and having likely died from complications of alcoholism, this seems appropriate.

Sammy Sosa
With Cubs: 1992-2004
Average:  42 HR, 115 RBI, .273 BA
MVP: 1998
Should Sammy really be on this team? I don't know. It started off as Kiki Cuyler, but numbers-wise, Sammy tops Cuyler. But were these numbers tainted? Opinions vary as to if numbers by Sosa and others from the "steroid era" should count. For now, he's here.

Billy Williams
With Cubs: 1959-1974
Average: 28 HR, 96 RBI, .290 BA
Rookie of the Year: 1961, HOF
Once held the NL record for consecutive games played (1,117), and was coined the "Iron Man" by some sportswriters. Even though not known for his defense, he made crucial catches in no-hitters by Ken Holtzmann in 1969 and Milt Pappas in 1972.

Frank Chance
Player/Manager 1905-1912
Won four pennants and two World Series titles
Managerial Record: 946-648
Chance was not only a famed manager, but an outstanding player as well. He was the first baseman in the Tinker-to Evers-to Chance trio, playing in and managing the club to the Cubs last World Series title.

Statistics courtesy of

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cubs Shine in Spring Opener

I know these spring training games don't count, but I am encouraged after the Cubs' performance in today's game. The team had it all today-pitching, hitting, and defense. I managed to catch most of the game on MLB At Bat 2010, which I purchased a couple of days ago via iTunes. This, combined with Cubs fans on Twitter, made even a spring training game fun.

Derek Lee performed today as he did last season, including a home run in his first at-bat, and several key defensive plays on not-so-good throws to first base. Starlin Castro made his debut with the team by legging out a triple. Lee, along with Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Brad Snyder, and "little" Sam Fuld all connected for home runs.

The home run was the first hit and RBI for Sam Fuld with the club. * I was not aware until today that Sam is also a Type I diabetic, having been diagnosed at the age of 10. He checks his glucose several times a day, and takes insulin at meal times. Kudos to him for his hard work to make it to the majors in spite of his health challenges.

I mentioned I had purchased the MLB At Bat 2010 app, and I love it. This is the second year I've had it, and found myself using it quite a bit last year to listen to the games at work and in the car (I have a device to listen to my iPod through the car speakers). It's quite a good deal at $14.99 via the iTunes app store (they also have Blackberry and Android versions now as well).

For the $14.99 you get all games available on Gameday Audio (any club) with no blackouts. If you subscribe to MLB.TV also, you can get those games live, but with blackout restrictions. In the 2010 version, the game can be played in the background, while you use other apps such as Twitter. The Gameday feature lets you follow a simulated game with every pitch, including showing who is on the field. It's really cool.

Looking forward to the next game!
*Correction: Apparently I had some bad data (lesson learned early!), and this was not Sam's 1st HR/RBI. Thank you to @oneminutecubs on Twitter for the correction.