Cub Fan Nation
Looking through the comments and the Shout Box, it's pretty awesome to read so many views by so many Cub fans. And no viewpoint is exactly the same as any other. It's kind of like Lou Piniella making a lineup - over 162 games, more than a few will closely resemble the others, but some lineups seemingly come from outer space.
Just in the past few days, we've seen some of these contributions from readers:
- Forget about Peavy - Angel Guzman is the wave of the future!
- Adam Dunn is fat and slow, but he has a tremendous OPS and can spell D.Lee against tough lefties.
- Mike Fontenot is a 25-30 HR hitter who just needs a chance to play the game on a daily basis.
- Trading for Jake Peavy will mean nothing to a team that desperately needs at least one more left handed bat regularly in the lineup.
- If it means upgrading the offense and building a better balance in the lineup, then the Cubs could survive a season with Jason Marquis as the #5 pitcher on the team.
- The Cubs can do two things - they can give Pie his shot in center by platooning him with Reed Johnson while moving Fukudome to RF, or they can put the Fooky in CF, move DeRosa to RF, and let Fontenot get some more hacks at 2B. This is a perfectly acceptable offense if Jake Peavy is mowing them down from the rotation.
- Soriano is fine and good when he can prey on the shoddy pitching of a 162 game season, but the Cubs desperately need a leadoff LHB.
- Because they don't need him, Peavy shouldn't be so costly. The Cubs should be able to acquire Peavy, along perhaps with Raffy Furcal at the cost perhaps of Theriot, Pie, Cotts, Cedeno, Marshall, and Marquis - especially if the Cubs can get Khalil Greene in the process. This contribution should be called the At Any Cost suggestion as the contributor acknowledges it would put the Cubs over-budget, and also they should go back and grab Wood.
- Didn't the Cubs just re-sign Dempster? Why get Peavy when the team desperately needs to fix the effin' offense? The Cubs need a switch-hitting leadoff man, and if Marquis is really such a crappy option maybe they can sign Randy Johnson.
- Micah Hoffpauir could hit 30 homeruns in a season and should be an option for the Cubs - altho' hitting 30 homers wouldn't make him a superstar.
- The Cubs should con the Orioles out of Brian Roberts, who would be an ideal leadoff hitter. Adam Dunn should be signed, but only to serve as a spot/bench player, and Randy Johnson winning his 300th game as a Cub would be cool.
- Forget pitching! Pitching did nothing for the Cubs in '03, '04, or '08. Stick with Marquis or an Iowonian and grab a serious RF bat.
- Pretty much every World Championship team has a very balanced lineup of righties and lefties. It's even more important than having 5 strong pitchers.
- The Cubs don't need Peavy. They can, however, unload Marquis (for $1 if necessary) and give Angel Guzman his fair shot. (This comment was made by the same Goat Reader as the first comment). If Theriot can't play better defense, Furcal should replace him. Fukudome deserves another chance, but maybe he can also be dealt for a long reliever and replaced by Bobby Abreu. Forget Roberts - Fontenot and DeRosa are both better. Perhaps Marquis and Felix Pie could be dealt to the Pirates for Nate McClouth.
- Old Style sucks.
- DeJesus of the Royals is not only a great trade mate, but he's a leadoff choice to boot!
- Colin is nuts for stumping for Teahen.
- Orlando Hudson is defensively gold!
And so on. Hell, there are a lot of them.
For the most part, I try not to really do a lot of trade speculation, and here's why: you could be Peter Gammons having a conversation with Steve Phillips about trade possibilities and values. You could call up the guys who run Baseball America, correlate their opinions with the gentlemen who run Baseball Prospectus, and even throw in the opinions of the knowledgeable folks at Baseball Toaster and regardless of the trade you'd suggest and your logic behind it you'd still come off looking like a total, hopeless tool without a smidgen of real baseball knowledge.
But I truly appreciate the enthusiasm of our readers who are tossing about so many ideas that I can't possibly keep up with them. Which isn't to say I'm not going to try. Tomorrow, like the guy who canceled Christmas, I'm going to tackle most of the trade suggestions offered by our readers and I'm going to shoot them down in a blaze of hell and fury. And then, like the guy who woke up on Christmas morning relieved to still be alive and hungry for a Christmas turkey, I'll write about how they just might work... in a blaze of hell and fury. It should be a can't miss article, so don't miss it. See you tomorrow.
I won't go too deep into the details, but we're planning something for GROTA that probably won't affect you in the slightest, but might be totally kick-ass for those of us who slave-labor over the blog on a daily basis.
However, part of what we're looking to do requires help from you guys, so I have a huge, HUYUUUUGE favor to ask. In the comments section, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves? Specifically, I'd love it if you could answer the following questions for me...
1. Where do you live?
2. How long have you been a Cubs fan?
3. If you live outside of the city, how often do you go to Chicago?
4. How many games do you get to see a year?
5. What kind of Cubs swag do you own - jerseys, other items, etc?
6. How much time do you spend in Wrigleyville each year?
7. Do you play sports on your own?
Basically we want to get to know you guys a bit better. Any help you can give will be very tremendously appreciated.
Note from Rob: WE WILL NOT SELL OR OTHERWISE DISTRIBUTE YOUR INFORMATION TO ANY THIRD PARTIES.
Heh. I always wanted to say that.
It has come to our attention that the Cubs - and by way of the Cubs, their fans - continue to be the butt of jokes across the nation. The most recent example of this is Tank Mc Namara, a comic strip I do not read that produced a harmless joke at the expense of Cub fans everywhere.
I'm sure most of our readers understand that people who cannot handle being mocked and ridiculed tend to get mocked and ridiculed far, far more often than those who understand the concept of "give and take." If Cub fans take it personally every time Jay Leno cracks a joke, or Tank Mc Namara does up a portrayal of a crazed Cub fan who looks like an elderly Al Yellon, if Cub fans take it too seriously, then we're going to get way too uptight and have trouble enjoying anything, and we will also be leaving our flanks open to be ripped apart by the fans of opposing teams who do not care about how sensitive we're feeling.
I mean, c'mon folks, there are actually important things out there to get upset about and annoyed with. To be sensitive of people who make jokes at our expense is just a little ridiculous. After all, I doubt any Cub fans out there would be upset if somebody made fun of the Cardinals, or Brewers, or especially the Yankees, right? So, grow a thicker skin, accept that you are a part of the world and therefore open to be mocked by the world, and get over it already! And when they mock, rather than complain, whine, and cry about it, give as good as you get!
And to emphasize my point, to the kind of Cub fan who can't handle a joke, I present to you a few other comic strips made at the expense of us, the Cub fan:
When we redesigned the blog, we came up with a theoretically fun/interesting way to make our blog roll more interactive and informative. Kevin asked Byron to give him an updated list of the blogs that we'd include in our roll, but Byron didn't get back to him in a timely fashion - although our good friend and GROTA co-creator has been blogging semi-regularly back at The Cubdom, in case ya didn't know.
I decided this morning to finally compile that long overdue list, and I was shocked to realize that there are close to four dozen active Cubs blogs out there right now. Four dozen! That's crazy!
Taking a look at many of those blogs for the first time, I have to say I'm impressed by our passion. A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into talking about the Cubs in an open forum.
However, while I pulled my list from the Cubs Blog Army, don't assume I caught your blog. If you have a Cubs blog that you'd like to be a part of our blog roll, post a link in the comments of this article.
If I can pull aside an hour later today, I might do a quick Goat Cast, as well about the Year in Review for Goat Riders. It will be a can't-miss if you enjoy gossip.
Alright, Glenallen Hill is not the reason I cheer for the Cubs. I cheer for the Cubs for many, many reasons just like everyone else--WGN force-feeding me Cub baseball, Wrigley Field, Ryno, Gracie, etc. etc. etc.
That said, Cub fans are a different breed in that they embrace the non-superstars almost as much. For every Andre Dawson there is a Bobby Denier that we hold close to our little Cubbie hearts. I mean, after this season, does anyone really believe that Mike Fontenot is going to have to buy a beer in Chicago ever again? It's a unique aspect that is often overlooked by the sports media who is too interested in talking about Steve Bartman and goats and whatnot.
For me--and my screen name namesake--one of those players is Glenallen Hill.
There are several reasons for my strage infatuation with GA. The obvious one is that he hit home runs a very, very long way. But the other reasons were, well, he was just funny. The way his legs didn't move when he swung a bat, the way he basically waddled towards pop flys in the outfield (he did play in the outfield from time-to-time)--he was just a unique player, possessing the kind of idiosyncrasies that only ballplayers can possess and be successful in their sport. One of the many reasons baseball is so unique. And, of course, he was part of that amazing (now tarnished) season of 1998.
All that said, there was a story I was told at Wrigley one day that officially made him one of my all-time favorites. I saw a guy in his (I'm guessing) 50's wearing a Glenallen Hill authentic jersey. Mind you, this was in 2003. GA had been long gone. My mind was swimming with different reasons the guy had a Glenallen Hill jersey on, and it was well before the game started, so I thought I'd just go talk to him.
Turns out he was sitting with his son (who was roughly my age), and they told me that GA was indeed one of their favorite players, for many of the reasons he was one of mine. However, they were telling me that they had a special nickname for him because of a great story they had heard from one of the son's best friends. They called him M.F. Hill.
"Why 'M.F.?", I asked.
Then the dad--who looked like he easily could have taken the train to the park after teaching an econ class at the University of Chicago--replied: "because he is such a mother f***er."
They proceeded to tell me that the son's buddy was a journalism student at UC, and was given the opportunity to interview Glenallen. He said it was going about as well as you would think--short, snappy answers; no depth, just generally GA wanting to be doing anything in the world other than this interview. So, as a last grasp at getting something good out of him, the buddy asked GA:
"OK, Glenallen, last question: describe yourself in three words."
GA: "Scary. Black. Man."
Needless to say, the dad, son, and I were absolutely rolling. It was a beautiful day at Wrigley Field, not a cloud in sight, cold beers, and telling great baseball stories.
Ultimately, that's probably the point. It's not about Wrigley, it's not about Ryno, it's not about curses, WGN, 100 years, or any of that crap. It's about a fanbase that has a true passion for baseball and the strongest sense of community among our fellow fans. It's about sitting in the sun, embracing the players on the field and cheering as loudly as possible, then living to tell stories about it with total strangers that for brief moments become long-lost friends.
People speak of the poor, down-trodden Cub fan like we're some pity case. They always ask how you can handle all the losing and cheering for a team that never wins.
With moments like that one in Wrigley, the answers to those questions become pretty easy.
If we looked closely, we might discover that Cub fans in particular - and probably sport fans in general - share many qualities with people who suffer from manic depression. The highs and lows that we've experienced, especially these last two weeks, are ridiculous.
A week ago, the Cubs were entering Monday after having lost 2 of 3 from the hapless Reds. Those who hadn't already jumped off the cliff were, at the very least, on the brink of climbing up there and having a good look around.
Two Mondays ago, the Cubs had ended a hot streak unlike anything we'd seen in a long while and had wound up splitting a 4-game set with the Phillies. Nobody was panicking yet; nobody knew that the worst period of the season was about to hit.
And three Mondays ago, the Cubs were in the middle of their best baseball this season.
For those of you who have been walking the Panic Trail, the Cubs went through their tailspin in a period where they did not have Rich Harden or Carlos Zambrano. Both players have since returned and pitched with authority.
With either 14 or 15 games remaining this year, the Cubs now have a 7.5 game lead on the Brewers, who they play 6 more times this year. They are 89-58; 11 games away from that statistic that threw us all in a tizzy just 3 weeks ago.
Is it possible for the Cubs to finish the year with 100 wins? Can they go 11-3 (or 11-4) the rest of the way against dangerous teams like Milwaukee, St. Louis, New York, and Houston?
I submit that it does not matter. It really doesn't. What matters is that the Cubs reach October with home-field advantage and some kind of momentum. The last couple of games have really turned them back in the right direction, and the first Cubs no-hitter of my lifetime cements in me the belief that giving up on this team is absolutely foolish, especially as long as they have the best rotation in baseball, the best lineup in baseball, the deepest bench in baseball, and outs remaining in a game.
There will be a lot of firsts for me this year. There already have been. The Cubs - for the first time in my life - will reach the playoffs in back-to-back years. They should have - for the first time in my life - the best record in the NL. They are doing so on the backs of big arms like Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano, who - for the first time since I was born - threw a no-hitter yesterday.
I wonder what other firsts will happen this year?
We could follow a team with the best record in baseball and a damned-near 5-game lead on the second place team, and we'd still only be satisfied if the Cubs win 120 and beat every opponent by 10 runs ... until they trail in a World Series game by 1, at which point we'd say it's all over but the cryin'.
Cubs Fans: Keeping Ambian in Business since 1909
As promised, here are some takes by some of the other prolific Cub bloggers out there. As of this writing:
Bleed Cubbie Blue: They've got nothin'.
On the BCB Fan Blog, however, writer "mrmaroon" writes: Hopefully this'll end up being a good deal for us - I had high hopes for gallagher, but Hendry usually knows what he's doing. Was that before or after Jim swung deals for Steve Traschel, Craig Monroe, and Matt Lawton? Just kidding, my opinion of Jim Hendry is favorable tonight.
The Cub Reporter: Nothin'.
Baseball Toaster: Legendary Cubs blogger Derek Smart says that he's completely thrilled that the Cubs pulled off a deal for the only other true ace-level pitcher available. Yes, he's fragile, so this is high-risk, high-reward, but to me, a pitcher of a healthy Harden's character is what is required for this team to reach the next level. Not surprisingly good points all around, although Derek failed to really talk about the other players in the trade. Harden's fragility is almost made up for by Gaudin.
Ivy Chat: Nothing as of yet.
View from the Bleachers takes a just the facts ma'am approach, leaving the commentary for the rest of us schmucks.
Over at In A League of Her Own, Julie also witholds commentary except to exclaim that the trade went down.
Even the guys over at Thunder Matt's Saloon seem happy with this trade. In a post titled "Harden Hard-On" (somebody had to do it), Saloonier Daft Punk seems happy that the the Cubs acquired a player of Harden's caliber, while Thunder Matt's will be preparing an official statement tomorrow. If they're changing to an A's blog, I'm blocking them on my cell phone.
Goat Friend Chris Yarbage of the Yarbage Cub Review also only briefly reports that the trade went down, with a promise for more information later.
And, lastly, over at this little site called GROTA, there have already been three - and, with this post, four - articles about the trade. Not that I'm trying to compare us with the other Cubs blogs out there, except to say that everybody clearly has lives except those who write at GROTA.
Conclusions: Anybody who gripes that this trade cost too many prospects needs to have a re-evaluation. The Cubs dealt three players they don't have room for, and one certifiable prospect who may never be as good as either of the pitchers they landed from Oakland.
This blog - and this writer in particular - has been critical of Jim Hendry over the last few years. While he has certainly made some huge signings since the departure of Andy MacPhail, Hendry hasn't made a good trade since 2004. This trade changes everything. The Cubs are far-from-guaranteed to win anything, but they now are in an excellent position to not just reach the post season, but to go deep. Harden compliments Carlos Zambrano perfectly - he has the ability to shut down the opposition, and that is something the Cubs have been lacking from most of their rotation this season.
To summarize, a short series rotation now looks like this:
Zambrano 9-3, 2.96 ERA
Harden 5-1, 2.34 ERA
Dempster 9-3, 3.24 ERA
Lilly 9-5, 4.47 ERA
That may be the best in baseball, if they can maintain - or even improve - through October.
P.S. - If Jim Hendry can in fact land A.J. Burnett for Jason Marquis and Ronny Cedeno, he has to do it. That would be one awesome, scary Cubs team.