Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Haight's blog

Are we just bored or anxious?

All these speculations on what moves we should make.  Peavy or not.  Roberts or not.  Hudson or not.  Packaging prospects.  Milton/Dunn/Abreu, etc.

Why do so many people think we have to make such drastic moves on a club that won 97 games and in 2009 is still the easy favorite to win the division?  Again.

Tweak a few things and let the team meld another year.  We have a really solid team.  We can't predict injuries.  We can't predict on who we have from last year may go down in production or who will better themselves.  Adding new faces doesn't guarantee the same or better stats just by switching teams (let alone staying healthy).

We can only go with the actual stats/history on the back of the player's baseball cards.  Hope that we don't get any key injuries.  If we are looking good by the AllStar break, we can tweak again for the playoffs.  Just like 2003.  That's really all we can ask for.

So, who's in this year?

We've finally had some winter action. Like it or not - we did make some moves. I'd like to add a Cubs sidebar which I'm sure Kurt, Rob and the gang will probably delve into as we get closer to Monday.

Monday we have a few favorite Cubs - Lee Smith, Mark Grace & Andre Dawson - being mentioned for enshrinement into Cooperstown. The last few years the HOF has been a place of 'controversy' or just a down right elitist mentality. Let's not even start with the Santo debacle.

This year there's a rumbling that Lee Smith has a legitimate shot at getting in. Since the 'closer' role has some HOF presedence with Sutter, Eckersley & Gossage, there is more acceptance of this position as being a viable choice and solidifying it's importance to the game we love.

This being said, is it the big fella's turn? We still have the Hawk waiting in the wings. Will he get any closer? Or in? We've recently covered the possiblity of Gracie getting in. Sorry Mark, that poll didn't turn out so well for you.

Does any of this even matter? Has the HOF lost it's ideals and foundation to what it once represented?

Here's the list of the candidates:

Harold Baines
Jay Bell
Bert Blyleven
David Cone
Andre Dawson
Ron Gant
Mark Grace
Rickey Henderson
Tommy John
Don Mattingly
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Jesse Orosco
Dave Parker
Dan Plesac
Tim Raines
Jim Rice
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
Greg Vaughn
Mo Vaughn
Matt Williams

Whattya think?

Fukudome - Bust? Already?

Am I the only guy that sees the upside or at least the possibility that he has the tools to become a quality major leaguer?

Defensively - a nonissue.

Offensively - for a 'rookie', he had a good 1/3, a fair 1/3 and a horrendous 1/3.  Yes, he's older and more experienced than your typical rookie, albeit from the japanese league.  But after one year we look at it as a bust?

He has a year of 'american' baseball under his belt.  He can draw a walk, that's been proven.  He just got into a huge hole trying to get out of the 2nd half slump and only added undo pressure on to himself.  When you're on a 1st place team and batting 6th or 7th, many times you will have men on base when you're at the plate.  But when you're a rookie in a slump, it could get ugly quick.  And it surely did.

However with few swing/stance adjustments & winter ball, I think he can turn it around and be a .280/.390/15/80 defensive gem for our club.  Maybe even our next leadoff hitter.  This isn't a Walton/Rhodes/Patterson/Pie scenario.  We also have to remember any comparision to Ichiro (which has been mentioned by some media) wouldn't be fair.

Was he overhyped?  At some levels, yes.  Did we pay him a lot of money?  Yes.  Too much?  The verdict isn't in yet.

Team leader...

Is there a true definition?

Leader by performance, but not much of a talker?  Sandberg, Dawson, Lee Smith, Maddux & Derrek Lee come to mind.

Leader by having a fiery attitude?  Bowa (player/manager), Piniella & Durocher.

Combination of both?  Performance & emotion?  Grace, Buckner, Zambrano and dare I say Dunston?

Leader in the clubhouse?  And do we even know what that entails?  Gives pep talks?  Takes a rookie under his wing and helps him out?  Hell, many of the young guys thought Daryle Ward was a good clubhouse leader.

Since he was a rookie, he couldn't be considered the 'team leader' but maybe as early as next season, Geo Soto could easily become the face of the Cubs.  First, he's the 'quarterback' on the field.  He's already been extremely impressive on how the pitchers listen to and work with him.

I know I know...he's only been around one season.  But you can sense the leadership qualities emerging on the field and in the dugout.  I see lots of Pudge & Pudge, Jr. qualities in him.

Although he has the longest eyelashes in MLB history, don't let the Mike Piazza/Richard Grieco looks fool you.  He looks like a guy that could be wearing the 'C' for captain for a long time.

Just a funny...

Five Chicago sports fans were climbing a mountain one day. Each was a fan of a different Chicago team and each proclaimed to be the most loyal of all fans to their team.

Finally as they reached the top, the Blackhawk fan hurled himself off the mountain, shouting, "This is for the !!!" as he fell to his doom.

Not wanting to be outdone, the Bulls fan threw himself off the mountain, proclaiming, "This is for Jordan and the greatest team of the 90's!!!"

Seeing this, the Bears fan walked over and shouted, "This is for DITKA and BUTKUS!!!", and leapt to his death.

The two remaining fans just looked at each other in stunned silence. After a minute, the Cubs Fan shouted, "This is for everyone on the North Side" and pushed the Sox fan off of the mountain!

Content? Satisfied?

I noticed a recent comment about being content with the 'novelty' of making the playoffs.  Are you saying just making the playoffs is 'good enough'?

If you have been around 25 years (or longer like I have) with this team, you have seen them make the playoffs 6 times. Four times in the last 11 seasons.  That's rather impressive compared to the majority of franchises.  We are a fortunate generation to have that stretch of 'success'.  Think of the folks that lived and breathed the Cubs from 1945 to 1983 (sorry '69 Cubs, I was 6 and can remember).  Basically, we were one of the worst franchises in baseball.

For me, the 'novelty' has worn off.  This is a franchise that needs to win and win now.  Honestly, just getting to the World Series isn't enough.  Look at Atlanta.  Between 1991-2005, they missed the playoffs only once yet won the Series only ONCE.  Ever notice their fan base near the end of that stretch of playoff appearances?  They couldn't even sellout during the playoffs.  We were practically the home team when we went down there in 2003.  Atlanta lost the feeling of the 'novelty' also.  Then there is the Yankees.  I'm not particularly fond of the Yankees or their fans.  However, they expect to win every year.  Anything other than that is a failure.  I might not be that extreme, because I don't see Yankee fans with big hearts like us Cub fans.

Being content or just happy with an appearance should not be considered a 'novelty' or sense of satisfaction.  That ship has passed.  We have had the opportunities.  Each playoff team we have is/was different than the next.  Curses?  Yet another way to pass the buck without pointing the finger at the players and coaching staff.  Lovable Losers?  Bite me.

Tonight I'll wear my emotions on my sleeve with 100% confidence that we will win.  If there's another outcome, I will be extremely disappointed, miserable and plain old pissed.  We have the best record in the NL and coming out of the strongest NL division.  We should be in the World Series.  If not, it will be considered a FAILURE.  NO EXCUSES!




Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award