WAIW Cubs Blog Roundtable, Week 11: Frank's Wild Years

Friday, June 5, 2009

WAIW Cubs Blog Roundtable, Week 11: Frank's Wild Years

. Friday, June 5, 2009

Okay, maybe I'm stretching the plausibility of the title somewhat to get in a Tom Waits reference, but it's Friday, and last night's game was rained out. In Atlanta, of all places - a city that has been under dangerous drought conditions for years. Can't begrudge that, I suppose. And I will of course be using this already-tenuous stretching of reference choice to post WAIW's first (if I remember correctly) Tom Waits video - "Hang on Saint Christopher" from the seminal 1987 Tom Waits album "Frank's Wild Years."

"WTF, mate?" you might be saying. First of all, shut up, you Aussie bastard. Second of all, we're a little light on the responses this week (I blame Gregg), so this is allowing us to get to the usual epic Friday Roundtable length. And what the hell, third, we'll call this a late welcome to the crew from Bush League Times - Jay, Dan O'Clock, and Puma - who asked nicely for and got their spot on the Roundtable last week. We don't know if they like Tom Waits, and we didn't bother to ask them. This is about as good as it gets with Steve and I. Welcome, you bastards! Hope you like Tom Waits. Remember, if your Cubs blog wants a spot in these hallowed Friday pages, then send us an email at aCubsblog at gmail dot com. Except, you know, use the actual at sign and period.

I feel like there's something missing here. Like I forgot to do something. Oh ... right:

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. This week - our favorite years:

For a lot of people, their favorite Cubs team wasn't necessarily the best or most talented one. Most of the time, it's the first one they really got to know in and out, god-awful as that team may have been. Despite an infield that included the zombie corpse of Gary Gaetti and the .219 bat of Jeff Blauser, the 1998 team remains a favorite of John due to them being the first playoff-run Cubs team he saw since he was old enough to know what the hell was going on. A whopping 33 games spent at Wrigley watching the 2008 team forever endeared that roster to Steve, playoff debacle be damned. What Cubs team do you love best?


I really loved the '89 team. No one expected them to do anything, there was a different hero every day, and bunch of no-names from Mike Bielecki to Les Lancaster to Vance law to rookies Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith had career years. Our closer was borderline psychotic. The devastatingly handsome Mark Grace was tasked with fielding 100 mph knuckleballs from Shawon Dunston. And they were so much fun to watch play - there was no quit in that team. Unlike our current team, which seems to have "quit" in spades. Boo.

- Cubbiejulie runs A League of Her Own, which is still settling into its new home under the legit banner of the Chicago Now network. She also sent this to a man with a B.A. in English and a career in journalism without capitalizing any of the sentences or names. I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE, JULIE!


I have one goal in life - to watch every single inning of a Cubs season: every pitch, every bad call, every ball scratch. Due to scheduling conflicts (who gets married on a game day?), network blackouts (GFY WCIU), torrential downpours (is it too much to ask for a drought?), I'm still reaching for this dream.
But the closest I've come to the unattainable began last year when before the start of the 2008 season. A lapse in my boss's judgment presented me an opportunity to telecommute and I hopped on board (couch) enthusiastically (I don’t change out of my pajamas most days). Even when years of drinking Old Style from aluminum cans have me forgetting my own name, I'll fondly remember the highlights of my first "full season" and all the things the 85% of people in Lee Elia's working world miss out on every afternoon (it is a fucking playground!).
Oh yeah, the 97 wins were pretty endearing as well - even if the year ultimately ended in heartbreaking disappointment and a strong reprimand of my company's work-at-home policies.

- Jen runs Cub Blogging, where every time I go to participate in game day chat, the conversation ends up hitting the topic of "Sexing Kevin Gregg: Would/Wouldn't You?" Needless to say, it's highly recommended.

Bush League Times

Jay: I'm having a difficult time recalling anything I like about this team right now, the present is clouding the past. So, since last week I let Dan pinch-hit for me, this week I'm letting Puma take a crack at this one.

I'd love to say that the '84 team is my favorite of all time. I grew up with that team on WGN, and I still think of them every time I hear "Jump" by Van Halen, but I was only 7 at the time so my memories beyond that are hazy.
I'd love to say that the '89 team is my favorite of all time. The formative years for any young boy as it relates to sports are between the ages of 8 and 12. You're old enough to know what's happening but still too young to be interested in girls. In '89 my family took our first vacation ever, to Cincinnati, and caught Jerome Walton extending his hitting streak. Andre Dawson took the mantle of my favorite Cub during this time period and I really enjoyed when I hit it over a Tru-Link Fence in my backyard, just like the HAWK! That was a great summer and a fun team to watch, but I can't claim it for my favorite simply because that September my dad passed away. I stopped caring about the Cubs that season just as they were clinching the East and I really have very little recollection of those games against San Fran.
I'd love to say that the '98 team is my favorite of all time. I look like Kevin Tapani, I worshiped Kerry Wood (and saw every minute of that 20-K game live from my dorm room), and I was a college student with nothing better to do than to spend what little money I had going to Cubs games and getting drunk. Sure, I knew that this team had no chance against Atlanta, but I loved every minute of that season and took my one-and-only trip to Mesa to see them in Spring Training the following year.
But this team has to be a close second because The 2003 Cubs are without question my favorite Cubs team of all time. You had Kid K having a truly remarkable year where he stayed healthy and dominant. You had the emergence of Mark Prior, the freak of nature that seemed to signal the end of the Cubs' Lovable Loser era. You had the chin-bearded Matt Clement with his near asthma attacks on the mound. You had Big Z just beginning his run of crazy. You had some unknown kid from Nowhere, NJ, fresh out of Mexico, closing games every night by retiring nearly every batter on warning-track flyballs. There was Sammy at the tail-end of his prime, but still doing his home run hopping/finger-tapping/kiss-blowing thing (and everyone who claims now to not have ever been a Sammy fan can suck it, you're just lying to yourself, hindsight is 20/20, yada yada yada?). Moises Alou was a hand-pisser, Randall Simon a sausage-beater, Dave Veres a Frisbee-thrower. Dusty Baker was a God sent here to deliver Cubs fans from the years of misery, "In Dusty We Trusty!" I know this team collapsed against Florida. I will never forget it. I don't know that I've ever experienced a day so bleak and lacking hope as the days after Games Six & Seven. I tried to blame everyone from Bernie Mac to Steve Bartman to Dusty Baker with nothing to show for it. As heartbreaking as that experience was, I will never forget that year and those guys, I don't think I've ever enjoyed being a Cubs fan as much as I did that summer and fall.

- Jay and Puma, from Bush League Times, have, I believe, been covered above more than adequately

Ginger Russ

I don't know why, but the 1988 season sticks out in my mind. I looked up the stats for that year, and it was the usual Lovable Loser Cubbies. But the team did feature many of my favorite players, including:

Damon Berryhill, Gracey, Ryno, Shawon, a young Palmeiro and the Hawk. Plus Jody, Leon Durham, Mad Dog, The Red Baron, Les Lancaster and Goose Gossage.

The team finished 4th in the NL East with a great record of 77-85 behind Don Zimmer.

I guess this is when I can remember really starting to watch and listen to the Cubs regularly. I was 10 years old, we had just moved to our new house and many an afternoon was had watching my 13" b/w TV in my room or being forced to do yard work (we didn't have a yard before this year) and listening to Harry Caray's calls on WGN. It was also the year that the Cubs played at Wrigley under the lights for the first time ever. I remember being totally against this for some reason. Somehow in my 10 year old head it was ruining the game. Oh, to be young and innocent.

- Ginger Russ, from College of Idiots, wins the title of most persistent Roundtable participant. He continues to answer our questions every week despite the fact that I keep sending them to the wrong e-mail address. That's dedication.


My favorite Cubs team was the 1989 club. They came out of nowhere to win the NL East and returned to nowhere the next season. One of the reason I liked that team so much is, I think they got more out of less.

Talent wise, it wasn't a 93 win club. When you look at the careers of '89 ROY Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Lloyd McClendon, Mike Bielecki, Les Lancaster 1989 was their career year. It was a perfect storm of career years from these type of ballplayers along with solid performances of veterans Sandberg, Dawson, Sutcliffe, Dunston, Williams and young rising stars in Grace and Maddux.

Zimmer was managing like a maniac that season. The funny part about it was for the most part his crazy moves worked that season. He'd run out of players and send a relief pitcher up to bat in extra innings and he'd double down the line to win a game on national tv. It didn't make much sense but wtf?

Throw in some more baseball magic like this comeback win against the Astros and it was a genuinely great fun season for the Cubs and their fans. Unlike other division winners, the 1989 Cubs didn't leave me asking what if. They got as far as they could and were beaten by a better Giants team in the NLCS. They got more out of their talent than any Cubs team I can remember.

- Check out waxpaperbeercup here - it's a blog meets the Surgeon General's recommended daily amount of kickass


KD said...

I appreciate the "would you/would you not sex Kevin Gregg" discussions on Jen's blog. It's hard hitting, tough nosed baseball discussion at it's finest. And, not that you asked, but yes, yes I would. :)

Jen said...

Again I say - in a testament of my maturity, class and overall perviness - saves aren't the only things he can blow.

DePaul DJs said...

Hear you're going to be on Radio DePaul next week. I look forward to that. And no, this is not John posting from the Radio DePaul account. How dare you!

wolfie said...

While I do remember the '84 team (the craziness of going to the playoffs for the first time since '45, and the implausible - read: Cubs style - defeat after going up 2-0 against the Padres - still hate them for it) it was '87 that cemented the team in my heart forever (little did I know at that tender age that the effects to my heart would resemble those of an extreme, lifelong coke habit).

That year, I finally convinced my father to start taking me to games (I grew up on the south side, and he could never understand why I couldn't just root for the team 15 minutes away with cheap seats and parking). Dunston had a gun, Martinez was the fastest man alive, and Dawson was a god. I still smile when I hear Goodman sing "Have Keith Moreland drop a routine fly,
Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a frosty malt, And I'll be ready to die."