Friday, March 25, 2005

What I'm Reading: Wrigley Blues by William J. Wagner

Wagner, a Chicago sportswriter and life-time Cubs fan -- nobody else could have deployed such a acid pen against the team so tellingly -- spent 2004 writing about the Cubs season as it progressed. The Cubs were widely considered a good shot to win the World Series. Most famously, Sports Illustrated picked them to take it in their pre-season edition.

Well, it didn't happen, as I know all too well. I laid out a lot of money scalping tickets last year--a lot of money--and ended up seeing a mess of lousy ball, a Sammy Sosa who burned every last part of the gigantic bridge he'd built in Chicago over the last 10 plus years, and the best sports announcer in baseball chased out of town by petulant players and (even worse, because he should have told the players to shut up and mind their own business) the increasingly less impressive coach Dusty Baker.

This pre-season it's more of the same. Our two big pitchers are again hurt, as always, before a single game has been played. Even worse, in a way, our putative reliever, Joe Borowski, was injured in an exhibition game and will miss a month or two, at which point we'll find out if he can even muster himself in the time that remains.

However, reading Wagner's book recharged my batteries some. The book goes through the 2004 season series by series, and it all came back. Most especially, however, it came back that we blew chance after chance and still came within inches of winning the wild card and going to post-season. We might not be so lucky again, but it's a looong season, and its obviously too early to throw in the towel at this point.

Even with Prior and Wood out, and hopefully not for an extended period, we still have two great pitchers, Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux. We have the best infield I've ever seen the Cubs field in Derek Lee, Todd Walker, Nomar Garciaparra and (especially) Aramis Ramirez. And while we'll lose a lot of power in Sosa and Alou, hell, we never won with it. Maybe we'll do better trying something different.

I should warn folks, now that I'm blogging, that I will probably blog on the Cubs throughout the season too. Please feel free to skip over such posts and read the other crap I church out.

Anyway, I give a big thumb's up for Wrigley Blues, at least for Cubs fans. Look also for the upcoming Cubs Nation by Gene Wojciechowski, which covers a different issue or story about the 2004 Cubs for each of the 162 games played.

2 Comments:

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Tork_110 said...

I've grown up thinking of baseball as a boring sport, but now that the D.C. area finally has a baseball for the first time in my lifetime, I've actually tried to support the Nats. I'm really looking forward to seeing a couple games at RFK Stadium.

 
At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Chris M said...

The Cubs do have a long road to hoe here, mostly because the division remains tough. I think the wildcard will be in the East this year, since the Mets, Braves, and Marlins all look like legitimate 90-game teams. That means the Cubs will have to figure out how to dominate the Cardinals, who are just as good as last year's 100+ win club, and overcome the Astros lethal offense.

That said, word on the scout street is that Nomar has been looking like an MVP like player again, and if he can at least ignite the offense with a fast start, the pressure on the staff could be reduced. It will be interesting to see if management chases a closer after the All-Star break, once it becomes clear that Borowski is not a championship reliever. There might be a few good ones on the market, like Billy Wagner and Armando Benitez (since both the Phillies and Giants look like tanking franchises to me).

And don't worry: there's at least one other b-movie/baseball nut in the audience.

 

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