The Cubs vs Cardinals rivalry. Old Photos.

 

I found some old photos in a box.

Crappy, from an old point and shoot in the pre-digital days.

I asked a buddy if he thought that was crazy Mitch Williams on the mound for the Cubs, he said he thought it was Rod Beck.

And then I simply had to find out what the shots were from.

I scanned 'em at high resolution and you know what? Fuzzy shots scanned at high resolution still look pretty fuzzy. But blown way up you'll see two #30's (starting pitchers) in the shot of the scoreboard. That would be Geremi Gonzalez and Todd Stottlmyre. 

The batters, of course you'll remember Cardinal  #25 and Cub #21.

I found out that these are from (I'm 99.9% certain) May 1, 1998, when Sammy and McGwire were in the process of The Great Home Run Battle. Back when players were doing evil black magic in the locker rooms with needles.

But let's forget that stuff for a minute and look at these photos.

Wrigley Field back in a far more innocent time, seats nowhere near filled, Torco sign, cigarette smoking Mark Grace at first, and that IS Rod Beck throwing the ball for the Cubs. They won 6-5.

This was the year Harry died - he passed away just a couple months earlier. On Opening Day my brother and I sat in the front windows at Bernie's (which was still a pleasant old man bar) thinking we'd watch it there. But we ran across the street just before the game and got tickets at the will call window for face right down the 3rd base line about 20 rows up and watched a thousand black balloons fly into the sky in honor of Harry before the game started.

This was just 12 years ago. The photos look like they're from another time completely.

Lineups:

Cubs
Brant Brown cf
Mickey Morandini 2b
Sammy Sosa rf
Mark Grace 1b
Henry Rodriguez lf
Jeff Blauser ss
Tyler Houston c
Kevin Orie 3rd
Geremi Gonzalez p

Cardinals
Royce Clayton ss
Delino DeShields 2b
Mark McGwire 1b
Ray Lankford cf
Willie McGee lf
Gary Gaitti 3b 
John Mabry rf
Eli Marrero c
Todd Stottlemyre p

You can go to Baseball Almanac to see the actual box score.

Anyway,I don't remember this at all, but I guess we got to see a McGwire homer, Grace and McGee double, about 50 guys steal on Tyler Houston, and Rod Beck get the 9th save of his 51-save season. (If there is a heaven, I hope to have a couple beers with Rod some time in the future.) 

A couple months after these photos were taken the Cards would dump Gary Gaetti, the Cubs would pick him up and in a 2-month span he'd hit .320, slug .594, hit 8 homers and 27 RBIs, and be a big deal in helping the Cubs get to the playoffs.
I also liked Brant Brown - we all thought he was gonna be a star, but later this season he'd make his famous NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (that's Santo, of course) Error. 

The Cubs would win the wild card in a 1-game playoff vs. the Giants and go on to... get swept by the Braves in round one of the NLDS?

That's CRAZY!

Must be some kind of Cubs' theme or something.

Anyway, I hope you like the photos, and hope the Cubs contribute to the St. Louis Slide of 2010.

(click on the image for the full-size version)


 

You can view Tim Souers work on a daily basis at Cubby Blue.

Comments

Concerning the earlier comments about the under usage of Soto----I've wondered why when you have a catcher who contributes significantly to the offense, that the manager doesn't pull him after, say the 6th inning, on blowouts in either direction. It wouold be logical to assume that the backup catcher might be the defensive equal of the starter or he wouldn't be on the roster. You might have your best offense on the field for the deciding portion of say 150 games instead of 120-130.

It's an interesting question, but the backup being a better defensive player than the starter isn't true, nor is it really relevant.

When Henry Blanco was with the Cubs he was definitely better defensively than the starter.
He was about as good as it gets. I suspect that many teams look at defense first for their second string catcher.
Is Hill's defense as good as or better than Soto?
I don't know but it would appear that Lou thought so.

Backups are inferior ballplayers. Sometimes your backup is a better hitter, sometimes he's a better fielder, probably the case the Cubs have right now, or the Cardinals have or the Twins have, your backup catcher is neither.

Most teams don't carry three catchers so if you pull your starter in the 6th and the back up gets hurt you are in trouble.

That said I think that you are on to something.

that is pretty S.O.P., but one i never understood.

How often does a catcher get hurt late in a game that a team is left without one? and even if they did, you're talking one game a team would then be allegedly destined to lose compared to the 10-20 times a year that you could put a better pinch-hitter or replacement in there during a season but are afraid to because of losing your 2nd catcher.

I assume managers make for crappy blackjack players.

How often does a defensive replacement actually make a play that the guy he replaces doesn't make? I think that happens much less often than the other team comes back (regardless of the outfield play in left) and suddenly you miss your big bat you took out.

I think all baseball managers are more worried about looking bad than doing what actually makes their team most likely to win. I guess that's not a trait unique to baseball managers.

To me the benefit would be saving miles on the starting catcher's knees more than the defensive upgrade.

And agreed, the main job of a manager is to not get fired for as long as possible. Taking chances is more likely to get you fired than anything else.

This was just 12 years ago. The photos look like they're from another time completely.

That's exactly what I was thinking. I know they've done a number of things to the park since then, but it looks almost minor league in those pics. Neat.

How am I supposed to know what kind of beer I'm supposed to drink or which athletic apparel to use?

Thanks for the saunter down Memory Lane.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 13 min 24 sec ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 26 min 51 sec ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 1 hour 50 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 51 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 57 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 2 hours 1 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 5 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 2 hours 13 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 15 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 2 hours 21 min ago view
  • QuietMan 2 hours 29 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 2 hours 48 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 3 hours 27 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 11 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 22 min ago view
  • You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.

    To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 23 min ago view