Should the Cubs Retire #21 and Other Off-Day Musings...

With the Cubs announcing that #31 will be retired in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, waxpaperbeercup recently asked if the Cubs should retire #21 in honor of Jason Marquis? Suprisingly, 40% thought the Cubs should do so...which I thought was a bit high for someone that was a Cub for just two years.ย 

All kidding aside, it's an intriguing question and I imagine I'll get a similar response here, but let's try it anway. For anyone who reads this site regularly, they'll know where I stand when it comes to Sammy Sosa. The man deserves far more gratitude from Cubs fans than the vitriol that seems to be prevalent, but let's put it to a vote and see if we can up the sample size.


- Fangraphs has been ranking the franchises using ownership, front office, major league and minor league talent and has the Cubs at #7 with an overall A- grade. There's not much point to quibble over some rather arbitrary ranking system other than the Brewers are #6. Let's get this straight Fangraphs, the only time Milwaukee finishes ahead of Chicago is if they have an all-city weigh-in.

- Baseball Digest Daily with a visual pleasing preview of the Chicago Cubs. Once you get past the obligatory 100-year and Billy Goat references (nails them right in the first few paragraphs), it's one of the more thorough previews I've read.

- The wife of Angels pitcher Rich Thompson has a blog on what it's like being the wife of a player trying to make the major league roster. Next up, the Angel Fan Wife starts a blog about what it's like married to a baseball blogger.

Last night around 11pm as I was dozing off, Rob started writing an article. When I woke up at 7:30 this morning, he was in bed still with his laptop. I'm not sure if he just woke up early or never went to bed.

Today, I banned the laptop from the dinner table so Rob doesn't read his baseball site during dinner.

It's Sunday afternoon and the Cubs are on TV which means my husband will be chatting with his anonymous online "friends". Every once in awhile I hear a random chuckle and I smile and tell him how cute I find him. In reality, I'm plotting my escape.

Rob suffers from what I call his male menstrual period. For women, it only lasts a few days, for my husband it goes from April to October and his mood shifts depending on the outcome of the Cubs game that day. One day, I'll go through menopause and be done with it, Rob's will last forever.

Rob didn't put on pants all day.

...a week and a half of this god-forsaken spring training left to go...


I'm not against it, but I voted no. I think there are still a couple fresh wounds. Let's wait a few years.

That's a hilarious blog entry. My wife feels the same sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

...oh yeah, and I voted yes.

[edit] BUT, I'm offended by 'friends' in quotes. Remember when you and I went to the park and flew kites together, Rob? Our tandem bike trip? Our tickle fights? What does she expect of me?

Yes from me too, although I wouldn't do it yet.

If the Cubs have a ceremony during which they retire 21 I will eat copious amounts of red beans and rice and turn my back to the TV and fart in Sammy Sosa's general direction. I'd rather honor Lee Elia.

Yes from me... I still get goosebumps thinking about those years... juice or no juice, it was still the best Cubs years of my lifetime. I ate up every bit of it and washed it down with gallons of Kool-Aid to boot. If I were to regret the Sammy years because of the juice, then Iโ€™d be forfeiting all those great years of being a diehard Cubs fan. Sammy meant just as much to the Cubs in his Era as Banks, Santo, Ryno, etc... and if were going to throw Maddux his number... Sammy certainly is more worthy to have his Cubs number retired than the Mad Dog...

...oh and a few days back... the wife was doing laundry in the other room and caught wind of multiple dolphin cackels, grizzly bear roars, and sealion barks after a HoffPower HR... that she let out a huge groan and a "are you fucking kidding me, already?"....

that she let out a huge groan and a "are you fucking kidding me, already?"....
I nominate this for "Post of Spring Training"

I have to visit parachat more often, I'm missing my (retired-Dusty's Double-Switch) Dolphin :(

I'm a big Greg Maddux fan, but Sammy Sosa meant way more to the Cubs than Maddux did. Of course, I think retiring #31 has a lot more to do with Fergie Jenkins than it does with Maddux.

Having said that, I don't think enough time has passed for Sammy's #21 to be retired. Give it some time and let some of the hard feelings pass. When the time is right, #21 should be retired.

i'd imagine they'd wait until...

1- the whole 'roids' era thing blows over (believe he is or isn't...he's a huge part of the era and it's not cuz you can say he was 100% clean).

2- he's old/sick (hopefully old before sick) enough to forget any "well, maybe" and just remember what the dude did at face value

I think I'd vote for Sosa to join the Hall of Fame before I'd vote in favor of retiring his number at Wrigley.

IF we can set aside the Steroids' cloud, (and Sosa is well, less conclusively guilty than McGwire, Clemens, Bonds, Palmeiro and Tejada. At least based on what we know right now,), then he clearly is a Hall of Famer. Operative word being If.

But retiring a number is in some ways an even higher threshold than the Hall of Fame. A retired number isn't just honoring a player's skill on the field, it's honoring their place in the team and city's history and identity. There's a sense of legacy in it that is different from the more-or-less fuzzily defined standards of the Hall.

And there, I just don't see Sosa as having made the same sort of contributions to the Cubs' identity and legacy as a Jenkins or Banks or Santo or Sandberg or Williams or for that matter, Caray. Granted, this is an exceptionally subjective, idiosyncratic value-call I'm making, but deciding to retire a number IS a value-judgment in a way that evaluating say, Schilling's place in the Hall, is not. I can't tease out the good part of Sosa's tenure with the Cubs from the bad, and there's enough bad that I vote for letting the Hall honor his contributions.



They should wait a few years but there is no question that Sammy Sosa deserves to have his number retired. He did more for the Cubs than Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg or Ron Santo ever did. And yeah, I'll say it, Ernie Banks too.

Sammy filled the stadium better than any Cub ever.

I agree with that last sentence 100%.

Sammy deserves to have his number retired, but not yet. I disagree with Trans above. I do think he did an enormous amount to define the Cubs of the late 90s and early part of this decade. He's one of five Cubs (the four others Chad lists above) that young kids just getting into Cubs history will be able to name off the top of their heads as the greatest, most spirited Cubs who ever played.

I'm as jaded as the next guy, but come on. Sammy's home runs were awesome and provided me the overwhelming majority of my Cubs excitement for the better part of a decade.

Also, I should add a defense of the Fan Graphs rating: they're evaluating the franchises in their ability to regularly contend for a world championship from here on out, not on what was done in 2008 or earlier. The disparity between the minor league systems is pretty significant. And the grade of the Cubs' ownership basically was an "incomplete."

Where in your wife's diary does she get around to mentioning Carlos?


63 pitches over 4 innings...topping around 92mph according to Miles. Struck out E-Pat twice...

I like the velocity. Striking out E-pat...not as impressive.

You like that he topped out at 92? Less than a year ago he was topping out at 99.

I know he has to ease his way into it and all, but the dude lost a TON of velocity since July. Let's hope it comes back.

Yes, I like that he's in the low 90s in ST. Call me crazy, but I think we can expect mid-90s in April.

QUOTE: "Rob didn't put on pants all day."

Substitute SJS for Rob, and that's the story of my life...and why I'm easily the first one kicked out of the club.

Retire #21, absolutely.

George Altman. Wore 21 in '66 and '67.

Kept his card for years. The reason I always picked #21 for my jersey number, when I got to pick. First guy I remember wearing white cleats.

Re: #1 -- I'm not against it, but I voted no. I think there are still a couple fresh wounds. Let's wait a few years.

Right now, I'm with Ryno here. I'll even go a little farther:

I want the Cubs to with the World Series.

I want them to have players who want to do whatever is necessary to win the World Series. Right now, when I think of Sammy, I remember all of the missed cut-off men on throws, the dodgy defense, the "sometimes I feel like using all of my tools to win and sometimes I don't give a fuck about anything but swinging like an idiot 'cause I might hit the ball 500 feet".

I loved the talent I saw in Sammy Sosa when he first joined the White Sox. I used to watch for the News highlights for Cubs replays and for anything spectacular that Sammy might have done while playing for the Sox (this is the only Sox player I can think of whom I can say that about). I don't want to spend the time to recount all of the energy I invested in watching him over the years. In the end, I wanted Sammy to want to win more than anything. I think that, at the end, this was not his focus. After the Cubs win the World Series, I may be willing to give special recognition to his achievements by retiring his number. Right now, I only want to honor players who just wanted to win, baby. And in my opinion, Sammy was not one of those players by the time he left.

He probably brought more heat on himself by wearing #21, Roberto Clemente's number, and claiming it was because of how he idolized Clemente. Sammy is hurt by the comparison.

If you idolize Clemente, then play like him. Use all of your tremendous talents all of the time for the single purpose of winning. I saw Clemente play. He was one of those fucking bastards who did something to hurt the Cubs anytime he was involved in any play, anywhere on the field. Players who got a hit to right field habitually NEVER rounded first out of fear of getting picked off from a throw behind them. It was the weirdest, most cautious baserunning I've ever seen. Fielding, throwing, baserunning and especially hitting -- he was fucking disgusting. You hated seeing the Pirates come to town in the late 60's & early 70's because of him. It was like Pujols -- less power but he could effect the game in more ways. Sammy had the talent to be that kind of player -- plus the extraordinary power -- and I believe that kind of talent -- disciplined and dedicated to winning in all facets of the game -- could have taken the Cubs over the top.

Sorry, man. The Cubs gotta win the Series first before I can look back to honor the individual achievements of a player who had the talent to take them there but lost the focus and discipline and commitment to get them there. That's just how I feel right now.

I respect your opinion--a world series win would cure a lot of old ills. Kind of like how Boston brought Buckner back after their 2004 win.

But I have to note that one of the reasons I respect Sammy's time with the Cubs is outside his talent and results, which were both considerable. I also have tremendous respect for how hard he played and for how often.

Following his injury-shortened 96 season (with 40 homers!), he never played in less than 150 games until 2003. Those years, of course, correspond to his most productive, with the exception of the disappointing 1997.

What was great about Sosa was not only that during his prime, every at-bat held the possibility for great things, but also that he played in almost every game.

In fact, I agree with something Rob Neyer once wrote--the only legitimate claim that Sosa had over McGwire for the 1998 MVP is that he played in many more games, thereby providing greater value to his club.

It's something that gets overlooked with all the steroid suppositions, corked bat critics and manufactured rage over his skipping a meaningless day of work--but Sammy Sosa played hard and often for his team.

I also respect your opinion and recognize that you raise valid points. I also note that my opinion is centered in my emotions about Sammy -- the facts I cited merely help explain why I feel as I do. My emotions may change with time and in light of future events. Right now, however, I have to honor those feelings, as the facts can support both a decision to retire his number as well as one to decline to do so at present.

Wow Honey, you really nailed this one! Pretty much right on. But, I would like to add that I am waiting for the day that our twins ask me if the Cubs won that day before you walk in the door at night. Better yet, I'll make a sign on the fridge and post a W or L. It will let them practice their letter/sound recognition as well as serve as a daily horoscope. They'll know whether they can attack you when you walk in the door, or go color a pretty picture to cheer you up. You know this is coming...
All kidding aside, I appreciate your passion for the Cubs and I'm not plotting my escape...yet. ;)

wwwwwwwwwwwwww *breath* wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

I find it pretty hilarious (in a good way) that Mrs. G. posts responses to Rob that she could have just said in person. TCR is all about relationships, I tell ya.

She knows it's the best place to find me.

And don't worry, we mock plenty of you when the cameras aren't rolling.

I voted for "Who?" because I'm passive aggressive.

Behavior humor at its finest. Good stuff there.

Vote no for Jason's bid to enter the HOF.

The 2008 season's #21 had an interesting day starting for the Rockies (vs Angel Fan Wife's team)...

Marquis (L, 0-3) IP 3.1 H 10 R 12 ER 11 BB 4 SO 1 HR 0 ERA 14.1

Final Rocks 11 Angels 18

...and Orange Guy was 1-5 (single), as a DH

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  • FYI, formatting of the web page is weird.

    JoePepitone 40 min 3 sec ago view
  • Now who can argue with that? I think we're all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I'm particularly glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.

    Jackstraw 51 min 15 sec ago view
  • White Sox new stadium name w apropos logo

    jacos 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • it was between that and "more like the CRUNCH REALLY EARLY AM REPORTER because i'm gonna all over this place."

    i chose the classy route.

    crunch 1 hour 34 min ago view
  • Rob G. 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • that was the 2nd greatest piece of performance art since Donald Trump's campaign

    Rob G. 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€ good shit goเฑฆิ sHit๐Ÿ‘Œ thats โœ” some good๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œshit right๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œthere๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ rightโœ”there โœ”โœ”if i do ฦฝaาฏ so my self ๐Ÿ’ฏ i say so ๐Ÿ’ฏ thats what im talking about right there right there (chorus: สณแถฆแตสฐแต— แต—สฐแต‰สณแต‰) mMMMMแŽทะœ๐Ÿ’ฏ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘ŒะO0ะžเฌ OOOOOะžเฌ เฌ Ooooแต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ’ฏ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐ŸŽฉ๐Ÿ‘“๐ŸŽฉ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŽฉ๐Ÿ‘“๐ŸŽฉ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŽฉ euphoric logic !euphoric loGic๐Ÿ‘Œ thats โœ” some euphoric๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ’ป logic right๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ’ปthere๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Œ Carl ๐Ÿ”ญ Sagan๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿ’ซif i do ฦฝaาฏ so gentlemen ๐Ÿ’ฏ i say so ๐Ÿ’ฏ thats euPhoric logic right there Richard ๐Ÿ“’ Dawkins๐ŸŽฉ (chorus: socrates died for this shit) mMMMMแŽทะœ๐Ÿ’ฏ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘“๐Ÿ‘ŒะO0ะžเฌ OOOOOะžเฌ เฌ Ooooแต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’แต’๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐ŸŽฉ ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ’ฏ ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘“๐ŸŽฉ๐ŸŽฉ๐ŸŽฉ ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Œeuphoric logic slam me the FUCK uP ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘€ john cena JOhN cEna

    crunch 2 hours 12 min ago view
  • You can start the CRUNCH EARLY AM REPORTER. Then you can blog to yourself, and argue with yourself about Jon Lester.

    The E-Man 3 hours 22 min ago view
  • my current job has me coming in at 7am (eastern)...i miss staying up til 2am to watch west coast games.

    crunch 5 hours 4 min ago view
  • Remember when west coast road trips were a good time to catch up on some reading?

    Old and Blue 5 hours 22 min ago view
  • Taboola field is more appropriate.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 22 min ago view
  • we can only hope...

    The things you have to do to pay for James Shields contract.

    Rob G. 6 hours 4 min ago view
  • I wonder if they'll have to make use of the Guaranteed Rate logo, which is a giant red arrow pointing downward.

    Brick 6 hours 9 min ago view
  • unsurprisingly, the White Sox continue a tradition of stupid stuff....

    @DannyEcker BREAKING: Guaranteed Rate has purchased naming rights to U.S. Cellular Field. Will be known as Guaranteed Rate Field thru 2030.

    Rob G. 6 hours 12 min ago view
  • that was a very kind 3rd strike to hendricks to end the 3rd.

    man on 3rd, 0 outs and got 2 pop-ups and a K...Maddux-lite indeed

    Rob G. 6 hours 22 min ago view
  • how did Fowler not score from 2nd on a double?

    by making bad decisions...

    Rob G. 6 hours 29 min ago view