We at WAIW are lucky enough to be acquainted with the operators of a bunch of excellent Cubs blogs. Every Friday throughout the 2009 season, we're going to bring as many of them as we can together to share their thoughts on being Cubs fans. Today's topic - players who dashed our hopes:
With Opening Day approaching, everyone in the Cubs blogosphere is making their predictions for 2009. A few are destined to be dead wrong. John thought LaTroy Hawkins was a great pickup in 2004. Steve once saw Hee Seop Choi as the future of 1st base for the Cubs. Who is the Cubs player you thought would be great, but ended up falling on his face? It doesn’t have to be something you’ve put on your blog – maybe you were so taken with Corey Patterson’s return, you went out and bought his jersey in 2004. Maybe you believed Mark Prior as recently as his 7th comeback attempt. What’s the biggest Cubs player whiff to which you’ll admit?
One would think a man who routinely bangs an Olympic athlete would have an impervious groin. One thought this so emphatically in the summer of 2004 that she risked her rent money to torment her Bostonian boss about his Red Sox trading their fleshy gold to her team and that alas, the Sox would not be meeting the Cubs in the '04 World Series. (Technically correct.)
The Nomar Garciaparra four-way seemed to be a work of genius. Little did we know that the trade announcement would be the most enthusiasm Nomar could generate while in a Cubs' uni. The former batting champion's .283 contributed only 20 RBIs in the Cubs' chase to the '04 playoffs. Re-signed in 2005, the five-time All Star played a whopping 62 games after his faulty groin took him out only three weeks into the season.
Nomar received an honorary World Series ring from the Red Sox in '04. After his injury-laden 2005 on the Cubs, he went on to become a six-time All Star as the NL's Comeback Player of the Year for the Dodgers in '06. Meanwhile, I was stuck with a Cubs jersey that stretched "Garciaparra" from elbow-to-elbow, a plate full of rotten crow to eat and the nauseating sensation akin to a groin injury of my own.
Oh, and Matt Murton.
- Jen blogs about the Boys in Blue and her heartbreak over the Mark DeRosa trade at Cub Blogging.
I'm gonna go the other way on this one. Last year I came out and said that Geo would not have nearly as productive a season as Houston prospect J.R. Towles. Let's just say I botched that one big time, not that I regret being wrong on it. Towles hit .137 in 146 at bats and has forced the 'Stros to get Pudge as the starter for this season. Geo seems to be headed toward being one of the best catchers in the game. That, my friends, is why I quit projecting.
- Joe has been running The View From the Bleachers since 2003, and was the good kind of wrong in this case.
That's very simple: Before the 2007 season, I traded for Mark Prior in our keeper fantasy baseball league. He hasn't thrown a major league pitch since.
- Wrigleyville is the head of Wrigleyville23, which posts more entires in a day than we did the entire month of February.
Opening Day 1994 happened to fall during the Spring Break of my Junior year of High School. Looking back at the starting line-up, you can see why I was so excited to see Tom Trebelhorn and the Cubs start this season against the Mets. This team included Sandberg, Grace, Dunston and Sosa. However, the team also consisted of Rick Wilkins, Steve Buechele, Derrick May, Glenallen Hill and Jose Hernandez. The pitching staff was even more depressing with a starting rotation that included Willie Banks, Anthony Young and Kevin Foster. It's no surprise that the Cubs were below .500 the entire season and ended up in last place during this strike-shortened season.
However, there was a glimmer of hope that Opening Day. There was a young Center Fielder that was acquired the year before from the Astros. Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes was batting lead-off and homered off Doc Gooden in the first Cubs at-bat of the season. He homered again in the 3rd and yet again in the 5th. Tuffy drew a walk in the 6th and singled in his last at-bat in the bottom of the 9th. Despite Tuffy's 4-4, 3HR performance, the Cubs lost to the Mets 12-8.
Now put yourself in the mind of 16 year old kid. Who cares that Tuffy had been drafted ten years prior and hadn't amounted to anything? This guy was the future! He would set up shop in Center Field at Wrigley for years to come. Sandberg, Grace, Sosa, Dunston, Rhodes. This is the year!
Friends, I was wrong. Tuffy went on to hit five more homeruns in his entire MLB career, which essentially ended at the end of the season. However, Tuffy did experience success in Japan, hitting 442 homeruns over 12 years. In 2006, Tuffy was signed to a minor league contract by the Reds, but was released during Spring Training. I was way wrong.
- Corey covers the Cubs at Ivy Envy, which currently sports a regular podcast and a bitchin' Jheri curl faceoff between Sammy Sosa and the Hawk.
It seems every year Cub fans are exposed to that new kid who is going to do great things for the club. It seems like only yesterday I was yelling at Eric Patterson playing in center field at Hohokam that he was better than his brother and would be the player we all thought his brother would be. And then of course there was Matt Murton. No one really thought he would do great things for the Cubs (besides the very obvious folks at Thunder Matt's Saloon) except for me. Being a ginger myself, I had to root for the kid.
But it seems every year I put more stock into those veteran players the Cubs acquire that I think will push them towards a WS title, only to be traded away a couple years later. Think Fred "The Crime Dog" McGriff, Juan, "JP" Pierre, and even Fukudome last year (wait, he's still on the team? I thought we traded him to Japan). So when on a hot summer evening in July of 2004 I heard on my car radio that the Cubs had acquired Nomar Garciaparra from the BoSox, I was ecstatic.
And so was everyone else in Chicago it seemed. Number five jerseys started flying off the shelves. The Cubs were in leading the Wild Card race and this would put them over the top. Nomar ended up having a okay end of the year with the Cubs, going .297/.364/.455, but it in the mind of many Cub fans, this one included, it was hardly good enough as the Cubs failed to the playoffs that year.
The next year expectations for Nomar were again high, but the oft-injured Garciaparra would again find himself on the disabled list for more than 3 months after a left groin pull sidelined him early in the season. He would finish the season playing in only 62 games that year and ending with a .283/.320/.452, the worst of his career since his debut in 1996.
The next year saw Nomar return to his All-Star self, only with the Dodgers, not the Cubs. This off-season, rumors flew that Nomar was considering signing a cheap, minor league deal to return again with the Cubs, but this was squashed as he has reunited with his buddy and mine, Matt Murton (who was actually the better part of that original trade to the Cubs), with the A's for a surprising $1 million contract.
The slightly less wordy, more "edgy" version:
GFY Nomar! What kind of name is that anyway? What, it's your Dad's name backwards? How fucking stupid! So yeah, remember when you used to be awesome and played on that BoSox team before everyone in world loved them? And then you came to the Cubs...and SUCKED! I could have sworn that everyone in the park after the month of July in 2004 had a number 5 jersey. We loved you. And what did you do? NOTHING! We were leading the Wild Card deep into September, and then we couldn't even make it to the playoffs. Next year we said, like always. But we had Nomar. Then you pulled your groin and were out for more than 3 months. WTF!?! Thanks a lot. Thanks for using your one "full" season with the Cubs to have the worst of your career. Then you were gone and 3 million Chicagoans had to burn their jersey with the longest name ever on it. To top it off, we thought you might return this season, and I thought I could love again. But instead you reunited with Thunder Matt in Oakland for the tune of $1 million. And so the world turns.
- Ginger Russ is a member of the College of Idiots, and a proud WAIW koozie owner. He gave us two choices for his contribution, and we clearly couldn't decide.
Ah, the "stud" pitching prospects through the years. I loved so many of them - completely non-sexually and completely irrationally. Sergio Mitre - who was actually not terrible for a half season with the Marlins - is probably my greatest mistake. I was all over him from the moment he was called up to fill in, straight from AA in 2003 when he was just 22. At the time, he was largely an unknown, and it was something of a surprise that he got the call. But the kid had moxie, and a wonderful sinker. I was convinced he would become a middle of the rotation mainstay for the Chicago Cubs.
- Ace comes to us via Bleacher Nation, where he watches Rich Harden's shoulder with the rapt attention of an ICU physician.
Do you have a Cubs blog, and want to take part in the WAIW Cubs Blog Roundtable? Send us an e-mail (email@example.com).
2014 Beer Price Guide
Let's face it, they gouge you in Wrigleyville. Here is your official source of beer prices, containing only beers we have drank at bars we have drank them at.
Revolution Anti-Hero $6
Miller Lite (16 oz) $6
312 Wheat $3
312 Pale Ale $3
The Illinois $6
Old Style $2
We Were There!
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2014: Year of the Call Up
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Friday, March 27, 2009
Posted by John at 6:47 AM . Friday, March 27, 2009
WAIW 6th Annual Pub Crawl Shirts
Nintendo! Malort! Crawling! These are a few of our favorite things. They can be yours as well, with the simple purchase of this shirt. Timeline's tight on this one folks, so don't delay, as you need to get the order in by Friday. EARLY. What? Haven't you looked at the posting frequency? We're lazy.
Looking to buy? You are too late, sucka!