Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Strange Choices

Number of losing seasons since 1978

Earlier this week, the Cubs retired #31, as used by Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins. Both Maddux and Jenkins had stellar careers, and are both probably worthy of having their numbers retired...by someone. Now, what I don't understand is why they chose to retire these two over anyone else (aside from getting a cheap "2 for 1" deal on number retirement) - especially since it seems like they waited about 20 seconds after Maddux retired to get this set up.

First of all, let's get one thing straight - Maddux was an absolute monster. He pitched with his brain and let a 88 MPH fastball fool some of the best hitters in baseball. He certainly played for the Cubs enough (he was on the team 10 different times), but do you award a player for the amount of time he spent on a team, or where he achieved his accolades?

If you're going by where Maddux did his work, the answer is obviously Atlanta. Maddux pitched a great year for the Cubs in '92 (and won a Cy Young), but the reality is that Maddux absolutely wrecked the competition for the next 10 years as a member of the Atlanta Braves (including a batshit insane stint in '94 and '95). If anyone should be retiring Maddux, it's Atlanta - don't retire the number of a guy who did his best work for the opposing team. If you're going with that logic, why not retire Bruce Sutter's number or Rick Sutcliffe's (both of which were great acquisitions, but not really "Cubs" players for their careers)? What about Andre Dawson?

As for Fergie, he was a monstrous workhorse. In both cases he certainly spent a lot of time with the Cubs and had his best years as a Cub...but is it enough? Fergie spent 8 years with the club, amassing a Cy Young and some impressive stats on an otherwise futile Cubs team. Still, I can think of a few more deserving candidates that "Bleed Cubbie Blue."

Mark Grace: 12 years with the club providing consistent hitting, defense, and mad skills. Grace had a career average over .300 with the Cubs, and in an era of ridiculous homerun hitters and juicers (especially when one is on your team), hit no more than 16 in any year on the way to becoming one of the most prodigious hitters in Cubs history. Oh, and other than that little tail-end trip to Arizona for three short seasons, Grace spent almost his entire career with the Cubs. That's gotta be worth something, right? Oh, and did I mention he was absolutely sick in the playoffs?

Sammy Sosa: Sosa will be remembered for a lot of things - the fact that he couldn't find Right Field unless the patch of dead grass was there to direct him, the face that he "accidentally" used a corked bat in a game, and the fact that he needed an interpreter for...one day. Point being, Sosa also happened to be the face of the Cubs for 12 years where he hit a then-unheard of number of homeruns, followed by that bullshit kissing and tapping the chest business. Yes, he's a dick, yes he likely used roids, but if you're going to award a player for time spent with the team and a prodigious career while on it, he's your guy.

Got a better suggestion than these two? Hit up the comments.

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