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   1. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:12 PM (#2910117)
Stealing Doc Nabbit's post from the MVP Cubs thread:

Right now the Cubs have six players with an OBP over .350 and on pace to qualify for the batting title. Last time that happened? 1935.

All 6 are over 460 PA and the lowest OBP is .358, second lowest .367.

Last time 5 were over .350? 1972. Before then it was 1958, then 1937.
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:40 PM (#2910166)
The team is on pace to score 878 runs. That would be the highest total since 1930. The Cubs haven't reached the 800 run mark since 1998 (and only six times since the turn of the century). In fact, the 878 mark would be the third highest total in the team's modern era - but they won't catch the stratospheric numbers of the 1929 and 1930 teams that fell just shy of the 1,000 run mark.
   3. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2910179)
That 1929 team was a monster. The only team that could have beat them did. In the World Series unfortunately.
   4. Voodoo Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:51 PM (#2910183)
Are BBTF Cubs fans in general unanimity that this is our (your?) favorite Cubs team ever? Barring something completely unforeseen, it will certainly be mine. I can't remember a Cubs team that didn't contain a couple players that I detested. This year, I'm cool with everybody...even Jim Edmonds, who's signing pissed me off to no end just a few months ago. Howry is skating on thin ice, however...
   5. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:53 PM (#2910186)
The one number that stuck out to me when looking at the box scores of the 1929 World Series is this number 50,740. That was the attendance for Game 1 at Wrigley Field. Lots of folks standing on the field!
   6. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 04:56 PM (#2910192)
I find this team very, very likeable. I think the '84 team will always be the one for me, unless it really happens this year.
   7. Voodoo Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:07 PM (#2910216)
What needs to happen this year for you not to be disappointed? My general rule of thumb is that if the Cubs are playing meaningful September baseball, I'm happy (though the 2004 team seriously tested that philosophy). This year, I think it will take an NL pennant and a trip to the World Series to satisfy me.
   8. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:31 PM (#2910251)
I first started watching the Cubs in 1989, so I'll always have a soft spot for that team.


What needs to happen this year for you not to be disappointed?


Same as every year: finish above .500.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:36 PM (#2910265)
Are BBTF Cubs fans in general unanimity that this is our (your?) favorite Cubs team ever?

I will reserve judgment. I've certainly not enjoyed any Cub team through August 19 of a given season as much as this one.

And I will say that while I think this is the most talented Cub team I've seen, with the 2004 team #2 (you could argue for '84), this year's team is a pleasure to watch on the same level that the 2004 team was a constant aggravation to watch.
   10. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2910269)
I've only been watching since 1994, so this is easily my favorite team. On paper, the 2004 squad really should have been, but as others have noted, their flimsy grasp on their childish emotions have made them more disdained than remembered as a team that almost made the playoffs.

Even if this season doesn't end the way we want it, it'd be tough to feel that disappointed. They've been a fun team to watch almost all year and besides winning a championship, you can't ask for much more out of a team that will command your attention most of the calendar year.

I know we're all hesitant to talk about it, but this feels like a team that could do the impossible here. Looking at last year's roster, I'm amazed the Cubs made it into October. It was really only the Brewers' collapse that made it possible. This is a team that doesn't look like it'll roll over in October.
   11. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:45 PM (#2910277)
This is easily my favorite team, and the best.

In 2004 there were signs at this point, and it was already obvious how unlikeable some of the guys were. On July 31st, I was pretty high on that team though.
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:47 PM (#2910284)
Several Cubs are on pace to set career highs in OBP. One has to wonder if that is the hitting coach or really Lou. I have the utmost respect for LP as a manager AND a coach. I never quite figured out why he didn't click in Tampa, but it's very clear that the fit in Chicago is just about perfect.

And this isn't any push button roster. It may SEEM obvious to play Soto but how many managers would be comfortable with a rookie at catcher? Nobody else has gotten this level of play from Mark DeRosa. Not this combo of quality and over the course of an entire season. Is Edmonds resurgence Jimmy making the adjustments or on the advice from a wide old head? Lou was FAMOUS as an older player for making adjustments to his own swing based on things he recognized he could no longer do as a hitter.

In Lou's last three seasons as a player he batted 495 times (about a season's worth). He hit .301 with 36 walks and 35 strikeouts. He hit 30 doubles. The only blemish on his record is the 23 GIDPs. And yes, the numbers are a bit skewed because Lou was only hitting lefties by this point. A rightie, particularly one with heat, would bust the bat out of his hands more often than not.

But think about that for a bit. The guy was playing maybe once or twice a week if that. He was 38 or older. And yet he managed to make something happen that was positive.

I just think if given guys of the right approach Lou can be an amazing asset. But nobody knew more about what to do on the field to maximize your chances than he did. He's the last remaining link in some ways to the Casey Stengel Yankee approach. Be smart, be smart aggressive and be a bit of a red-*ss.
   13. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:53 PM (#2910294)
Are BBTF Cubs fans in general unanimity that this is our (your?) favorite Cubs team ever? Barring something completely unforeseen, it will certainly be mine. I can't remember a Cubs team that didn't contain a couple players that I detested. This year, I'm cool with everybody...even Jim Edmonds, who's signing pissed me off to no end just a few months ago. Howry is skating on thin ice, however...


I'm with Jack/Bunny -- I'll probably forever be in love with the 1984 team... I grew up with 'em, I knew virtually everything there was to know about everyone from Rick Sutcliffe to Tom Veryzer (I bet I could still recite most of the stats for the entire roster by heart). Zonk, the Sarge and his army in the LF bleachers, Bobby Dernier... The Sandberg game...The unbeatable Red Baron... Those big Mets series - and Jody Davis always seeming to come up with the big hit.

This team is damn close, though... certainly closer than the '98 and 2003 teams (the '89 cubs were fun, too, but in a sort of scrappy, flukish sort of way).

The nice thing is that, even though the Cub are getting non-career norm performances out of guys like Theriot and Dempster -- only Jim Edmonds looks like a possible key performer that's ready to fall off a cliff. I'm certainly living in the moment and just soaking in this season for all it's worth, but unlike the '84 Cubs -- who had some key pieces due to expire or come back to earth -- these Cubs are a legitimately good team that should be able to stay good.
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:55 PM (#2910297)
Favorite Cubs team: 1945

Stan Hack!!!
   15. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2910300)
I was 11 in '84, so it will be impossible for any sports team to top them as my favorite.
   16. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 20, 2008 at 05:59 PM (#2910313)
Favorite Cubs team: 1945

Stan Hack!!!


Heh, no love for Hank Bowery, who was Rick Sutcliffe (or CC Sabathia, if you like) before Rick Sutcliffe was Rick Sutcliffe?

Before my time, but with Phil Cavaretta, Bill "Swish" Nicholson, a young Andy Pafko -- and managed by Jolly Cholly Grimm, I imagine the '45 Cubs were a fun bunch.
   17. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2008 at 06:00 PM (#2910314)
I loved the '84 team, but they made me sob for hours when Gwynn hit that hard grounder past Sandberg after Durham's error. The most traumatized I've ever been as a sports fan, at least relative to my emotional maturity/ability to deal with it. (In absolute terms, the Bartman game was definitely worse.) The Pads' bullpen was lights out that year, and you just knew the Cubs weren't coming back.

Just too bitter an ending for them to be my favorite.
   18. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2008 at 06:01 PM (#2910316)
Heh, no love for Hank Bowery, who was Rick Sutcliffe (or CC Sabathia, if you like)

Or Rich Harden...
   19. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2008 at 07:32 PM (#2910399)
And this isn't any push button roster.

Piniella has really done a great job of mixing and matching. The Fukudome/Edmonds/Johnson/DeRosa/Theriot/Fontenot/Cedeno monster has been just terrific. Here are the Cubs' OPS splits by position:

C 866
1B 843
2B 842
3B 907
SS 756
LF 858
CF 871
RF 746

Really, that's just great despite the little RF disappointment. The worst OBP among those positions is 343 in LF. Cub subs had a 745 OPS with a 363 OBP. Even our PH are making it on base nearly 1/3 ofthe time.

The lead (by a healthy margin) in RS; they are second (by a thin margin) in RA. They're scored more runs than every AL team but Texas. Just an astounding run they've had so far yet they are 2 games under their pythag. There is some "luck" here in terms of players playing over their head (Blanco 97 OPS+?) but there's no question the actual play has been the best in the NL by a wide margin.

The Cubs' current run differential is already higher than any season since 1945 or 1935 if we ignore the way years (with nothing particularly close in that time). (OK, I was lazy and only checked the seasons with really good records but I think even the Cubs would have trouble finishing 500 while outscoring the opposition by 170 runs.)
   20. SteveM. Posted: August 20, 2008 at 07:40 PM (#2910414)
I love the 84 and 89 teams. I named my son after Ryne Sandberg and tried to named my daughter Grace but was overruled by my ex. But I have simply fallen for this team. Its amazing to me how 1-8 (and 9 when Big Z pitches) are all threats. Even though he has been scuffling, I really think the addition of Fukudome was pivotal to this change. It is as if his patience has seeped throughout the lineup.
   21. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 07:47 PM (#2910424)
I was devastated in '84. I knew that Detroit was a juggernaught, and a WS victory unlikely, but there was no reason to lose that series. I was at Game 1 with my Gramps. That was a magical year, that I assumed would happen in perpetuity, having witnessed the Sandberg game, and numerous others, plus that first playoff game, the Sutcliffe homer, etc.

2003 was more symbolic of my crumbling relationship with my then girlfriend. 2004 felt like the tailspin my life was in.

Things are very good now.

Still, 50,000 people at Wrigley. That's goofballs.
   22. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 20, 2008 at 08:17 PM (#2910464)
Several Cubs are on pace to set career highs in OBP. One has to wonder if that is the hitting coach or really Lou.

Phil Birnbaum was nice enough to rerun his Birnbaum Database stuff for me - with some tweaks and changes to improve it. Piniella came out as historically great at getting the most out of his hitters. Top 5 of all-times -- even better than Dusty Baker. Due to a 2-year lag time in its numbers (a player's seasons are compared to the 2 previous and succeeding years) it didn't include his time with the Cubs, either.

I'm with Jack/Bunny -- I'll probably forever be in love with the 1984 team... I grew up with 'em, I knew virtually everything there was to know about everyone from Rick Sutcliffe to Tom Veryzer (I bet I could still recite most of the stats for the entire roster by heart). Zonk, the Sarge and his army in the LF bleachers, Bobby Dernier... The Sandberg game...The unbeatable Red Baron... Those big Mets series - and Jody Davis always seeming to come up with the big hit.

Agree completely.

It's also why Steve Garvey is the most horrible man who ever lived.

and tried to named my daughter Grace but was overruled by my ex.

Good woman.
   23. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 08:22 PM (#2910474)
Oh, and I meant to mention that Harvey's post is great evidence as to why he's such a valued member of this site. I actually wish he wrote more historical related things like this.
   24. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 20, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2910578)
We always refer to the immaturity and general unlikeable nature of the 2004 squad, but I rarely hear anyone singled out. Just to clarify, we're mostly talking about Alou, Sosa, Mercker, and who else? Wasn't Remlinger part of that whole fiasco with the announcers?
   25. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 20, 2008 at 09:19 PM (#2910588)
Mercker was the one with the announcers. I don't recall hearing Remlinger tied to it.

It's all Alou for me with the '04 team. What a miserable #### he was.
   26. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 20, 2008 at 09:24 PM (#2910597)
Alou, and Mercker.

I was pretty okay with Remmy.
   27. SteveM. Posted: August 20, 2008 at 09:47 PM (#2910623)
Don't forget Dusty. It was very hard to like him, IMO.
   28. Voodoo Posted: August 20, 2008 at 09:56 PM (#2910630)
It's all Alou for me with the '04 team. What a miserable #### he was.

Agreed. Much of my distaste for the 2004 has to do with Alou. I didn't like Dusty much in 2003, but by the end of 2004, I hated him. Almost 200 at-bats for Macias, riding Latroy Hawkins even though it was clear he was a headcase, and a host of other offenses that I can't think of right now and maybe I imagined. There was the hideous scrape between the players and the announcers which Dusty did nothing but encourage. It drove Steve Stone away for good, which was devastating at the time, but though I still miss him in sometimes, I've come to enjoy Bob Brenly plenty.

Though Sosa was no great shakes that year in terms of performance or in maturity level (though I can't really recall any incidents other than the much-hyped end of season flameout, which IMO was overblown), I associate the 2004 with the, IMO, shameful way one of the the three or four (at worst) Cubs in franchise history was escorted out the door. Certainly it was time for a divorce, but the way the Cubs handled that was repugnant to me, regardless of how much of an @sshole Sosa might have been. It was a bad breakup that has yet to be reconciled. It still irks me to no end, that many Cubs fans and baseball people in general seem to remember him walking out on a meaningless game at the end of the season more than the hundreds of incredible moments he provided us just a few years earlier. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the steroids mess, which, without getting too much into it, has never been of much concern to me.

Probably most of it comes down to their collapse at the end of the season, though. But keep in mind that with one week left and clinging to a one game lead, the Cubs' focus seemed to be on what Steve Stone had to say, and not (if their performance is any indication) on getting the job done. Looking back, it seems like Stone's comments were dead-nuts on:


The truth of this situation is an extremely talented bunch of guys who want to look at all directions except where they should really look and kind of make excuses for what happened. At the end of the day, boys, don't tell me how rough the water is, you bring in the ship. This team should have won the wild-card by six, seven games. No doubt about it.
   29. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 20, 2008 at 10:58 PM (#2910676)
The lead (by a healthy margin) in RS; they are second (by a thin margin) in RA. They're scored more runs than every AL team but Texas. Just an astounding run they've had so far yet they are 2 games under their pythag. There is some "luck" here in terms of players playing over their head (Blanco 97 OPS+?) but there's no question the actual play has been the best in the NL by a wide margin.

The Cubs' current run differential is already higher than any season since 1945 or 1935 if we ignore the way years (with nothing particularly close in that time). (OK, I was lazy and only checked the seasons with really good records but I think even the Cubs would have trouble finishing 500 while outscoring the opposition by 170 runs.)


Top 10 in run differential on a per game basis (1901-2008)
1) 1906
2) 1935
3) 1909
4) 1929
5) 1905
6) 1910
7) 2008
8) 1945
9) 1907
10) 1918

The next postwar teams are 16) 1970 then 18) 2004 then 20) 1972

If we switch to the ratio of RS to RA:
1) 1906
2) 1909
3) 1905
4) 1907
5) 1910
6) 1935
7) 1945
8) 1918
9) 1908
10) 2008

The next postwar teams are 14) 1972 then 18) 1970 then 19) 2004
   30. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 21, 2008 at 03:42 AM (#2911141)
An unusual thing about this Cubs team: it lacks a player who seems at this point to be a likely Hall of Famer.
   31. Voodoo Posted: August 21, 2008 at 03:52 AM (#2911147)
I was thinking about that. Who would be the most likely? I guess, Zambrano. Followed by who, Soto? Interesting note: Alfonso Soriano's most similar comp per BB ref? Aramis Ramirez.
   32. Davo Posted: August 21, 2008 at 04:18 AM (#2911156)
Who would be the most likely?
Jim Edmonds?
   33. Voodoo Posted: August 21, 2008 at 05:58 AM (#2911190)
Touche ^
   34. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2008 at 06:43 AM (#2911198)
Who would be the most likely? I guess, Zambrano. Followed by who, Soto?

I agree on Edmonds and Zambrano. After that ...

His health is obviously an issue, but Ramirez has a good shot (given the usual caveats about maintaining performance far longer than one would be expected to maintain it).

He's still only 30 and should be at 1300 games at 3B by the end of the season. Because of the floundering Pgh years, he's gotten kind of a late "start" to his productive career but those early years will help the counting stats some. The 113 career OPS+ will have to come up but he hasn't been below 126 in the last 5 seasons. He's got a decent chance at 500 HR, 2500 hits and maybe 1500 RBI. He needs another 7 good years and needs to stay at 3B for about 5 of them to have much of a shot and could use an MVP and several AS appearances along the way. I'm a little worried about the emergence of some "old-man" hitting (Ks are up, walks are up) but then I'll happily take those walks. Still, for the last 5 seasons, the man's been about as consistent as can be and probably the NL's 2nd best 3B behind Chipper (and maybe 3rd best in MLB?).

And, god forbid, I think I'll give credit to Dusty (and his staff) on this one. ARam might be the only player who clearly improved under Dusty -- he became a much better hitter and fielder.

After that ... yeah, Soto I guess. If Wood can remain a healthy closer, he just might. Obviously Rich Harden's going in, probably on the same day as Sabathia. :-)
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2008 at 10:02 AM (#2911217)
Walt:

I was absolutely dismissed as a loon for suggesting Ramirez as a possible Hall of Fame player a while back.

To Aramis is the kind of guy who at age 35 folks are going to look around and say, "Hey, this guy has been pretty good."

And Jack, thanks for the kind words. Though I guess you are mostly congratulating me on being older than dirt. Ha!
   36. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 23, 2008 at 01:04 AM (#2913545)
I think Aramis and Zambrano have accomplished enough that they are in the running for a Hall of Fame career, but neither is on what I would consider to be an inside track.

And I don't think Edmonds is going to get in.

I will say that being a key player in the Cubs' first World Series win in 100 years will be a pretty plum bullet on the resumé, however.

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