The current edition of the Cubs is awful. They’ve won six of their first 18, which is awful. But the Cubs know awful better than anybody else.
And so, here’s the start of a short series titled: Terrible Cubs of a Recent Vintage, a (fake) oral history of some of the shittiest Cubs teams in recent memory.
No list of such teams would be complete without the infamous 1997 Cubs. The team that started the season winless in their first 14 games. Really, there’s nothing better than being mathematically eliminated before Tax Day.
Friday night I posted a really well-done video tribute to the 1989 Cubs put together by longtime (well, before he died) WGN-TV producer Arne Harris. It used the song “Keeping the Dream Alive” by your favorite German pop band Munchener Freiheit and had a lot of archival black and white footage of non-lousy Cubs players, then the great moment in 1984 when Rick Sutcliffe struck out Joe Orsulak and Jim Frey inexplicably put his cap in his shirt on his way to the field, and then a lot of non Ryne Sandberg highlights of the 1989 Cubs. It was fun to look back at that season and remember how shocking it all was, and just how much fun.
One of the least surprising things is that baseball players are still using performance enhancing drugs. What is surprising is that they are still getting caught. The latest dummy to get caught is Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. He doesn’t look like a dummy. He doesn’t seem to be a dummy. (He also doesn’t look like a guy who should be hitting 30 homers a year, but I’m sure it’s just because he “puts a lot of backspin on the ball.”)
Since it shocked no one, and I got in plenty of cheap shots yesterday, I wasn’t going to write again about Mark McGwire’s half-assed admission that he used steroids during his playing days in Oakland and St. Louis.
But given the Ari Fleischer-fueled spin machine (seriously, that’s who he hired) that keeps foisting miserable Tony LaRussa on us, I think we need to take a good look at McGwire’s performance last night on MLB Network with Bob Costas.
There was McGwire blubbering openly on camera like Rod Tidwell talking to Roy Firestone at the end of “Jerry Maguire.” This was clearly a man who regrets something–or at least a man who wants to pretend to really regret something.
The first thing you noticed is that he appears to have added an extra deck of forehead in the last decade. I mean he always had a big head, but this thing is so long now you expected him to start insisting he was from France, shotgun some dry Tang and a six pack and have Costas lob wreaths at his head.
McGwire kept crying and Costas kept fidgeting with the phone book he was sitting on, and the interview was headed nowhere fast.
Finally, we got some juicy details. At last it can be said without dispute that Tony LaRussa didn’t know that McGwire had used steroids until yesterday.
Our look back at the fourth bestest decade in Cubs history continues with the yin, the yang and the up your yingyang of the seasons when the Cubs at least sort of contended.
Those would be the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Cubs.
Each season included a win that made you believe that “it” was gonna happen, and a loss that made you realize that you’d be grabbing your ankles and hoping it would end soon enough.
In at least one case I tried to avoid the most obvious “killer” and managed to find one that foreshadowed the whole goddamned thing.