I Have To Pie

So, this headline would be more amusing if Pie had been traded to Toronto.  Sadly, he was not. However, Pie will now be locking down left field for the Baltimore Orioles.  A great defensive outfielder, along with Jones and Markakis, the O’s will have a strong outfield to grab all of those line drives that batters will be hitting off their horrible pitching.

I admire and respect the history of the Orioles, loved Ripken and Murray as a baseball fan growing up and still have the goal of making it to Camden to catch a game asap.  I will be keeping tabs on Pie throughout the season in a new section called ‘Still Have to Pie’ for two reasons.  1) I’m a big fan and still see amazing potential.  I’ll be curious to see how his career comes about in Baltimore. 2) There aren’t enough bloggers in this community to cover it all.  Seriously, I clicked on the team tag on the MLBlog home page and while some bloggers with sites dedicated to other teams have posted articles about the O’s and are listed there, there are very few Orioles sites.  I’m not sure why that is.  I counted about eight of them and only a few of those had anything added to the pages since last Spring or Summer.  There’s one that I liked a lot that was something about ‘the tough life of an orioles fan’ or something like that (I’ll get the title asap and link to it here for you to check out…it’s really a great read).

Ok, I just got distracted by watching Fallon on Leno.  Looking forward to checking out his new late night talk show. Anyway…my point is, Pie is gone, I look forward to seeing how he does in Baltimore and will keep a section of Prose and Ivy dedicated to checking in on his career there and there should be more Orioles blogs in the MLBlogs community. Simple observation and opinion.  If anyone knows of one I may have missed, let me know here and I’ll check them out.

Note to self: stop blogging at midnight and if the best headline you can come up with is ‘I Have to Pie’, just go to bed.

Go Cubs Go!
 
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

Once Again

Grace, Dawson and Smith.  All left saying ‘wait until next year’.

Ok, not Grace.  He didn’t get enough votes to stay on the ballot.

Congratulations to Rickey and Jim though! I always enjoyed watching Rickey play (really enjoyed watching Rickey run) and I met Jim Rice one time at a minor-league ball game in New Britain, CT.  Rice signed an autograph for me without a blink of an eye.  Classy guy, happy for his accomplishment.

Rickey and Jim were just on Letterman with a hilarious top 10 list of the Top Ten Highlights of my Career.  Oddly enough, it was Rice who led things off with number 10.  The absolute highlight of the list of highlights: Rickey with #3: “Sleeping with Madonna”.  Jim with #2: “Sleeping with Madonna (shakes Rickey’s hand)”.  Hilarious.  All in good fun, yet, I don’t doubt it.

Dawson is definitely deserving and will eventually get in, in my opinion.  Same goes for Smith.  Salma Hayek is now on with Dave.  Time to go!

hayek.png
Go Cubs Go!
 

A Hall of Fame Look at Ryne Sandberg. Is Dawson next?

Monday is the day we find out whether Andre Dawson joins fellow Cub great Ryne Sandberg in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  While I believe this IS the year of the Hawk, many consider him to be on the fence in terms of qualifications.  I generally use Prose and Ivy for strictly observation and evaluation.  Tonight, however, in honor of The Hawk and what Monday could mean for him, I’ll use the space for celebration.  Celebration of my favorite Cub of all-time, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Though he made his Major League debut with the Phillies in ’81, Sandberg was traded to the Cubs for his rookie year the following season.  After spending ’82 at third base, he shifted to second, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
Sandberg first gained national attention on June 23, 1984, when he went 5 for 6 with game tying home runs off the Cards’ Bruce Sutter in the ninth AND tenth innings on national television.  Talk about great timing.  The Cubs won it in the 11th and the contest thereafter became known as “The Sandberg Game”.  Good times.
Sandberg won the ’84 NL MVP Award hitting .314 with 200 hits, 36 doubles, 19 triples, 19 home runs, 84 RBI’s and 32 stolen bases to lead the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945.  Ah, ’84.  Good year.
Sandberg was masterful in the field winning nine straight Gold Gloves at second base (’83-’91) and retiring with an all-time best .989 fielding percentage at the position.  He also set a then ML record with a 123 game errorless streak from 1989-90.  In my opinion, the best second baseman of all-time.
Sandberg led Chicago back to the playoffs in 1989, when the Cubs fell to the Giants in the NLCS. During his two trips to the playoffs, he batted .385 with a .457 OBP and a .641 slugging percentage in 10 games.  If only there were wild card series back then.
Sandberg’s best power year came in 1990 when he slugged 40 home runs, the first time a second baseman had led the league in that category since Hornsby in ’25.  He also plated 100 runs, a feat repeated in 1991 by Ryne.  Check out those old Expos uni’s.  Remember those Hawk?
Known to fans as “Ryno” or “Kid Natural”, Sandberg was also adept on the basepaths.  He stole 30 or more bases every year from 1982 to 1986, led the NL in runs scored three times and placed in the top five and additional five times.  Whether he was defending the basepaths or running on them, Ryne was a huge threat.  Speed.  Another tool Hawk had at his disposal throughout his career.  Hall of famer?  We’ll see.
After a slow start to the 1994 season (which was shortened by the strike), Sandberg abruptly announced his retirement on June 13 at age 34, citing “loss of desire”.  Sixteen months later he announced he was coming back and “Ryno” returned with two productive years in ’96 and ’97.  The more Ryno the better as far as I was concerned…still am.
Ryno was selected to 10 straight All-Star games from 1984 to 1993 and started nine of those contests.  He also took home seven Silver Slugger awards for his prowess at the plate.  Best of his time.  Best of all time.
Sandberg retired for good after the 1997 season and had his number 23 retired by the Cubs in 2005.  His 277 home runs as a second baseman were the most all-time until Jeff Kent broke the mark in 2004.  Overall, Ryno finished with a .285 BA, 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 homers, 1,061 RBI, and 344 stolen bases in a 16 year career.  Wow.
That same year, Sandberg was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (where all these pictures and information is from, by the way) alongside Wade Boggs on Jan 4, 2005.  In his third year on the ballot, he received 76.2 percent of the votes cast to gain entry.  Enshrined for all to honor and appreciate for years and years to come.
Later that year, he was inducted into the Hall on July 31, 2005.  Ryne is quoted in his acceptance speech as having said: “I dreamed of this as a child, but I had too much respect for baseball to think this was ever possible.  I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today.”  Class all the way.
Will Monday prove 2009 to be the class that Dawson belongs to?  Only a couple days left before we find out.  I can’t wait.  Go Hawk Go!

Heeeere’s Bradley!

Milton Bradley is a Cub.
There goes the neighborhood.
Or so they say.I’m willing to give Mr. Bradley a shot.  And I do so by showing the utmost respect.  Notice the use of the most respectable address you can use with the, “Mr. Bradley”.
Five teams in the last five years and seven in the last ten.  Ripken, one club.  DiMaggio, one club.  Yastrzemski, one club.  Ok, so maybe he’s not one of the greats in numbers or reputation. BUT, he may just be what we need to put this club where we need to be.  A world title?  Sure.  That would be great.  How about first off, we simply get out of the NLDS and reach the NLCS?  That would be a good first step for now, yes?
Bradley led the American League in on-base-percentage while hitting .321.  His 22 home runs aren’t too shabby either.  Last year at this time we thought we had this whole left bat/right field thing figured out too with Fukudome.  Turns out, not so much.  After making the All-Star team in his first season, Kosuke’s star faded and his second half of the season fizzled.  I blame exhaustion due to the schedule the MLB puts its players through compared to the league in Japan, as well as all the new cultural differences to get used to, the traveling, etc.  Moving him to center to platoon with Johnson and having the ability to sometimes still play a Soriano, Johnson, Fukudome outfield (which wasn’t too shabby overall last year) mixed with the usual combo of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley should be a nice position to be in.  Always nice to have some depth anywhere you can get it.  I’d of course feel much better of where we are with DeRosa on the team still, but he’s not, so be it.
Bradley has never received a long term contract and this three year deal is the longest he’s ever received.  He’s been a mess, sure.  Then again, many respected baseball minds think he’s a great asset.  Hard to sign with this many teams if you weren’t worth the risk to begin with.  Also, the Cubs hitting coach, Gerald Perry, is thrilled to be reunited with Bradley who he  had in Oakland a few years back.  He thrived under Perry there in the three hole.  Will Lee still be our guy there?  Who knows.  A good problem to have though for sure.
Given where we are right now, here is how I believe the opening day line up would look:
1. Soriano, LF
2. Theriot, SS
3. Bradley, 1B
4. Lee, 3B
5. Ramirez, RF
6. Miles, 2B
7. Soto, C
8. Fukudome, CF
9. Zambrano, P
I’d be all for moving Soto and Fukudome up a spot and throwing Fontenot in the eight hole as well, with Miles starting the season as a utility guy off the bench.  Especially hard to call without seeing anyone in Spring Training together.  In fact, with the fact that Fontenot and Theriot have been successful before and are familiar with each other may cause me to lean towards starting those two up the middle if I were Piniella.  But Miles comes with a lot of heat and buzz, so I’ve got him in the projected lineup today because of it regardless.
This group of guys has always been about team which is why I think Lee and Ramirez would be cool with moving down a notch in the order to insert Bradley in the three hole, a position he’s been extremely successful in in the past.  With Bradley’s OBP and patience at the plate, it could also be one more guy to get on in front of Lee to knock in.  Then again, with Lee’s DP problems, maybe move him to the five hole and put Rami at the four?  That might be a good call too.
It’s all getting very interesting once again this winter for the Cubs.  The only other major move I’d expect they may make is obtaining Peavy in exchange for some young pitching.  Otherwise, we’re probably pretty much looking at the guys we’ll be rooting for this year, as is. Happy Mr. Bradley is a Cub.  Until he proves to us all that he doesn’t deserve the respect and benefit of the doubt, I’ll stick with addressing him in such a manner…because with Mr. Bradley in the lineup…this thing could get very interesting indeed.
And now, Prose and Ivy presents the newest member of the Cubs, Mr. Milton Bradley:

GO CUBS GO!