This is the time of year when people take time to look back
and reflect on the year gone by, and I’m no different. Here are some of my most
memorable moments from the 2010 Chicago Cubs season. There’s more than 10, but
hey, it’s my memories.
4/5: Opening Day; The Braves crush Carlos Zambrano and the
Cubs 16-5 and Jason Heyward hits a monster homerun on his first swing during
his first Major League at-bat.
4/12: Cubs Home Opener; I’m
at the game cheering on the Cubs. But fantasy baseball meets real baseball as I
have both Ryan Dempster and Doug Davis, the games two starting pitchers, on my
fantasy roster. I’m hoping for a 1-0 Cubs win. Instead, both pitchers combine
for 9.2 Inn, 11 ER, and 20 H&W. The Cubs do win the game at least.
5/7: Starlin Castro’s first game; Castro plays in his first game and goes 5 for
5 with a homerun, triple, and 6 RBI. Cubs win 14-7 over Cincinnati.
6/9 & 6/11: Derrek Lee and
Alfonso Soriano both hit their 300th career homeruns just two days
6/13: Cubs, Sox, and Blackhawks at
Wrigley; I’m at the game on a
great night. The NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks walk around the field before
the game carrying the Stanley Cup. During the game, both starting pitchers, Ted
Lilly for the Cubs and Gavin Floyd of the CWS, take no-hitters into the seventh
inning. In the bottom of the 7th, Alfonso Soriano gets the Cubs
first hit with a double down the line. Soriano eventually scores and the Cubs
lead 1-0. Ted Lilly takes his no-no to the 9th. I’m going nuts
thinking I’m going to see a no-hitter. Unfortunately, ex-Cub Juan Pierre gets a
pinch hit slap single up the middle to end the no-no. Carlos Marmol comes on in
relief and, after loading the bases, gets the last out for a 1-0 Cubs win.
6/24: Carlos Zambrano’s dugout
tirade; Zambrano goes nuts, again, he eventual takes anger management
lessons before having a great second half of the year.
7/25: Largest Wrigley crowd (41,406)of
the season; I’m at the game with
two of my three daughters. It’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Cubs vs Cardinals.
We stay late into the night to watch the Cubs lose 4-3 in 11 innings.
7/31: Cubs trade Ted Lilly and Ryan
Theriot to the Dodgers
8/2: The Brewers crush the Cubs
18-1; Randy Wells starts the game for the Cubs and actually kept
Milwaukee scoreless for the first 3 innings. The Brewers score in every inning
after that and win 18-1 with 26 hits.
Two days later the Cubs score their highest run total of the year,
ending a 7 game losing streak by beating the Brewers 15-3.
8/19: Padres beat the Cubs 5-3;
I’m at the game with my daughters. I can tell my oldest isn’t feeling well
(pre-game pizza, nachos, and peanuts didn’t help). It’s the bottom of the third
and she says she wants to leave. I say ok, right after this batter( I don’t
want to get up during the middle of an at-bat and block people’s view). Carlos
Zambrano is up, the very next pitch after I tell them we are going to leave,
Zambrano swings late on an outside pitch and slices a liner into the crowd. It’s
low and I lose sight of it as it heads straight at us. One second later the
ball pops out from in-between the two guys in front of us. The ball goes screaming
an inch over my daughters head as she’s looking down getting her things
together. She never sees the ball or knows what just happened, Zambrano makes
an out and we leave.
8/22: Lou Piniella retires;
Lou’s last game a Cubs manager, the Cubs lose 16-5 against the Braves, just
like they did on Opening Day. Lou ends career with 1835 wins as a manager, 14th
9/19: Tyler Colvin gets a bat in the
chest; Yikes!! Colvin gets hit with the broken handle of a bat and it
punctures his chest. He doesn’t play again in 2010.
10/3: Houston beats Cubs 4-0;
Last game of the year. Cubs finish in 5th place with a 75-87 record.
Wait til Next Year!!!
I’ve written previously about Moonlight Graham and other
players like him. I also updated that post when one of the subjects, Brian
Esposito, actually made a several plate appearances during September of this
past season. So I’m going to go ahead and call this post part 3. A link to the previously updated post is here:
As most of you know, Moonlight Graham is one of the
principle characters in the book Shoeless Joe and the subsequent movie Field of Dreams.
He played in one game, but never got to bat. But he isn’t the only player
in Major League history that has happened to.
One of those players is the Chicago Cubs Chris Kitsos.
Chris Kitsos was signed as an amateur player in 1947 as a 19
year old by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played the next 5 years with several
different Dodger minor league teams working his way up through their system as
a shortstop. Unfortunately for Kitsos, Pee Wee Reese was playing shortstop for
the Brooklyn Dodgers during this time period and there was no chance of Chris
moving into a major league role anytime soon.
Without any place to use Kitsos, the Dodgers left him unprotected
following the 1951 season. That December the Chicago Cubs selected Kitsos
during the 1951 minor league draft.
Chris Kitsos played the next two seasons for two different
teams in the Cubs minor league system, Springfield of the International League
and Des Moines of the Western League.
To start the 1954 season, the Cubs had two rookie shortstops
on their roster, Chris Kitsos and Ernie Banks. As we know, Ernie “Mr. Cub”
Banks was the starting shortstop and had a wonderful season finishing second in
On April 21st, 1954 the Chicago Cubs played the
Milwaukee Braves on the road in Milwaukee. The starting pitchers that day were
Johnny Klippstein for the Cubs and HOFer Warren Spahn for the Braves.
The Cubs took an early 2-0 lead over the Braves by scoring
solo runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings. The Braves
countered with two runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game. The Cubs
once again regained the lead in the fourth after a solo home run by Hank Sauer,
it would be the last runs they scored that day.
The Braves scored 3 in the fifth inning off an Eddie Mathews
homerun and 2 more in the seventh with a Joe Adcock homer.
With the score 7-3 Braves entering the top of the 8th,
Ernie Banks was due to lead off the inning. But Banks was 0 for 3 against
Spahn, including 2 strike outs and the rookie shortstop was pinch hit for by
Eddie Miksis. Miksis struck out.
In the bottom of the 8th, our hero Chris Kitsos
went into the game playing shortstop. The first batter, Johnny Logan, hit a
grounder to Kitsos. It was a routine 6-3 put-out. Following a second batter K,
Spahn hit a grounder to Kitsos to finish the inning with another 6-3 out.
The Cubs went 1-2-3 in the ninth. The Cubs lost 7-3 and
Kitsos never got to bat.
In fact he never played in a Major League game again.
Kitsos was returned to the minors where he played the next 6
years before finishing his career in 1959 with New Orleans of the Southern
Unofficially, Kitsos played 1618 games in the minors with 56
HR’s and a .255 average.
Chris Kitsos died in Mobile, Alabama on June 7, 2004 at the
age of 77.
Photos: Bing Image Search
I watched the MLB Networks (***plug alert***) Biggest Blast
of the Year 2010 this afternoon.
They showed their list of the top 40 longest homeruns. Three
Cubs homers made the list, two from Marlon Bryd and one of D Lee’s shots. It
was a fun show to watch with a lot of great highlights.
For those that are really interested in “how far did it fly”
shots. I suggest that you check out HitTrackerOnline.com.
They track every homer hit; including distance, speed off
bat, and trajectory. They also look back at some historic shots like Ted Williams at Fenway Park and Glenallen Hill at Wrigley
As for the TV show, the ranked Josh Hamilton’s June 27th
HR off Roy Oswalt as the #1 blast of the year, according to HitTracker, it was
the longest shot of the year at 485ft.
Check out Hamilton’s shot here.
I went to the Mall today. You know, the once a year mad dash
to get some of those last minute Christmas presents.
As I walked around looking and shopping and looking some
more, I actually started to think of the other shoppers as opponents. Do they
want what I want? Will they get their first? Do they have more money than I do?
What’s the best deal for my money?
And then I started to think about general managers of
baseball teams shopping for free agents during the off season.
It’s different than my shopping because the players don’t
come with a set price tag, but they still have to get the most for their money
and beat the other shopper to the punch.
Some teams are just rich and don’t have to worry about the
price, as they say…..if you have to ask, you can’t afford the price. But most
teams are just like you and I, they must try and live inside the budget.
The Cubs are in a strange spot because they are a rich team
but are confined to a budget this year which mandates they cut about $10M or so
from last season’s balance sheet.
So far the Cubs have bought two new toys. First they picked
up Carlos Pena for $10M, certainly they paid full price. But with just one year
on the contract, Pena becomes a rent-to-own type player that will need to
produce big numbers this year to get full price next year.
The Cubs second buy is Kerry Wood. At $1.5M, Wood was definitely
bought using their ‘previous customer ‘ discount
and is without doubt a great bargain compared to similar models that have
already been sold. ( Jenks $6M, Putz $5M, Downs $5M).
Anyway, I know my head hurts after shopping at the mall all day;
I hope Jim Hendry doesn’t feel the same.
Volume 2 - Don Larsen
Most people know of Don Larsen; they know he pitched for the
Yankees, and of course, most know that he threw a perfect game in the fifth
game of the 1956 World Series. But most people don’t really know much about the
totality of his career.
Don Larsen signed with the St. Louis Browns as an amateur
free agent and played his first professional season in 1947 with Aberdeen of
the Northern League. From 1947 to 1950 Don played for 5 different teams in the
Browns minor league system. He was 36-29 during that time.
Following the 1950 season, Don started active duty in the
military with the Army. Over the next couple years Larsen was based in Hawaii
and he played with the Army baseball team.
Don returned from active service before the 1953 MLB season
and made the St Louis Browns despite not having pitched with the franchise in
over two years.
During his rookie season Don pitched in 38 games, starting
22 of them. He went 7-12 for the last place 54-100 Browns. For the 1954 season the Browns moved to
Baltimore and became the Orioles. The change of scenery did little to help the
team or Don. The newly minted Orioles went 55-99 and Don led the league in
loses, posting a 3-21 record.
Following the 1954 season, Don was traded to the New York Yankees
in what would eventually become a 15 player trade after everything was
During the next five seasons with the Yankees, Don made 128
regular season appearances, starting 90 games. He was 45-24 with a 3.50 ERA. He
also appeared in four World Series during this time. He made 7 starts, going
3-2. Of course, Don’s most famous game happened during the 1956 WS. Don pitched
the only perfect game in post-season history against the Brooklyn Dodgers on
October 8th winning 2-0.
After a 6-7 1959 season, Don was traded to the Kansas City
A’s. One of the players the Yankees received in return was Roger Maris.
Don struggled in the 1960 season. He went 1-10 with a 5.38
ERA and spent some time back in the minors.
Over the next 6 years Don Larsen played with 5 different
teams including the Giants, White Sox, and the Astros.
After playing with Baltimore for the second time in his
career, Larsen was released by the Orioles on April 11, 1966. He signed with
Phoenix of the PCL and pitched the entire year in the minors.
For the 1967 season he signed with the Chicago Cubs. He pitched with the
Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs AA team before being called up to pitch with the Cubs
Don made three appearances for the Cubs. He pitched in
relief on July 3rd, 4th, and 7th. He was 0-0
in four innings. He had 2 walks, 1 K, gave up 4 runs, including a HR to Mack
Jones, and finished with a 9.00 ERA.
Don pitched the 1968 season with two different Chicago Cubs
minor league teams, but he never made a major league appearance again.
Don Larsen finished his major league career with an 81-91
record and a 3.78 ERA.
Don was never a HOF type pitcher. But for one day in October
of 1956 he was perfect, and for that he will always be remembered.
If I’m the Cubs, I call the Yanks and offer Carlos Zambrano.
After losing out on Cliff Lee, you know the Yankees would
love to make a move to get another starting pitcher. Rumors are that Zack Greinke is available out
of Kansas City, but considering Greinke’s past history with anxiety disorder, I
don’t see any way that he goes to New York.
The Cubs are under the weight of some heavy salaries right
now and could shed a few pounds. Zambrano has two years remaining at $35M.
Zambrano had a very good second half last year and the
chances of trading him will never be better.
And if I remember correctly, the Yankees have had past
interest in Big Z.
The Phillies have added Cliff Lee to an already solid
rotation. Lee will reportedly ink a $120 million, 6 year deal with
The Phillies starting five rotation will include; Lee, Roy
Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels. The four time defending NL
East division champs will again be the favorites to win the National League
But what are the odds that all five starting pitchers will
have good years…… not very.
Since 1973, only one team has had five pitchers win 15 or
more games in a single season, the 1998 Atlanta Braves. The Braves had Maddux,
Glavine, Smoltz, Millwood, and Neagle.
Surprisingly, during this same period of time, only 10 more
teams have had 4 pitchers win 15+ games. None since 2004.
Of course this doesn’t mean that the 2011 Phillies rotation
can’t do it, if any team next year has a chance to get 15 wins from five different starters, it’s the Phillies. But history say’s ……unlikely.
The “I didn’t Know That” stat - Since 1973, the Cubs have only had 1 rotation
include three or more pitchers to get 15+ wins. In 1989, Rick Sutcliffe(16),
Greg Maddux(19), and Mike Bielecki(18) combined to win 53 games.
Let the conspiracy theories begin.
Brett Favre isn’t ready to play and all of a sudden the dome
My friend claims that the 15 inches of snow proves that even God is a Favre fan and He doesn’t want to see the streak broken.