Closure For Billy Buck?

Former Cub Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch before the Red Sox home opener Tuesday against the Tigers. In a tearful press conference--lot of that going around this week--Buckner said he had finally been able to forgive the media for the brutal treatment he and his family had received following Buckner's fateful error in Game Six of the Sox' 1986 World Series loss to the Mets.

For a whole generation of fans, Buckner's connection to that Mookie Wilson-hit ground ball has obscured the fact that the guy was a terrific baseball player. The onetime Dodger played seven full seasons on the North Side after the Cubs had acquired him and Ivan DeJesus in a January, 1977 trade for Rick Monday.

Buckner played on some terrible Cub teams between '77 and '83, and he played for some terrible managers, including Herman Franks and Lee Elia. In fact, Buckner's first season with the Cubs was the only one in which the club finished .500. But Buckner hit better than .300 four times for the Cubs and won the NL batting title in '80 with a .324 mark. He managed to do that while limping around on chronically sore ankles that required extensive treatment and taping before each and every game.

The Cubs eventually traded Buckner to Boston in May of '84, a deal that opened up an opportunity for young Leon Durham to play first base full-time and brought Dennis Eckersley to Chicago. Durham and Eckersley were key figures in the Cubs' 1984 NL East championship. (Durham, of course, had an unfortunate post-season encounter of his own with a ground ball.)

Buckner was not as productive in Boston has he had been with the Cubs, though he did collect better than 100 RBI in his two full seasons with the Red Sox. Then Mookie Wilson happened to him. And the jokes. And the bitterness.

Buckner, who ended his 22-year career in 1990 with 2715 hits and a .289 lifetime average, was one of my favorite Cubs in the years he played here. And I am happy to see that on Tuesday in Fenway Park, where he received a long standing ovation as he hobbled out to the pitching mound to throw that ceremonial first pitch, Buckner seems to have closed a miserable chapter in an otherwise distinguished Major League career.

For the record, Buckner's numbers in his seven full seasons with the Cubs ('77--'83):

G AVG
H
HR
RBI
953 .301 1127 81 514

Buckner's contemporaries included the likes of Steve Garvey, Ken Griffey, Eddie Murray, Pete Rose, Robin Yount, and Dave Winfield. And in the years Buckner was a Cub, he had a higher batting average than all of them.

 

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Comments

And it's total BS he was even blamed for that game anyway. At the time he made the error, the game was tied anyway. No chance the Mets don't finish it off at that point. Bob Stanley and Rich Gedman were the real goats, and no one says boo about them. What an awful catcher Rich Gedman was.

Exactly right, just like it's stupid that Bartman is blamed for the game named after him. I thought it was great that Buckner got the reception that he did and was glad that he was able to get a little closure after 20+ years.

Buckner is easily in my favorite Cubs list.

Mike and Mike were trying to make the comparison between BB and Bartman this morning on ESPN (which reminded me why I stopped listening a couple of years ago. I was just flipping channels. honest!). They said something along the lines of "Hardcore Cubs fans still won't forgive Bartman." Idiots. From what I see, hardcore cub fans never blamed Bartman after that fateful game. Just the casual fans who needed talking points did.

Who you calling casual, friend? I'm as die hard as they come and I still blame that motherfucker. You analysis is BULLSHIT.

So you're on the fence, Chad?

You're right. I think it's just that the press always saw that error as a perfect metaphor for the Red Sox' failures, so they hammered on it and hammered on it.

Yeah, the press can never just blame the team or a group of players or plays - it's always one guy as a scapegoat for a meltdown (see Bartman). I really like those ESPN shows "The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame ________" - they usually do a good job of showing that there is a great deal of suck and choke from a lot of people that went into those catostrophic collapses.

about time...day games are nice and all, but i'm ready for some end-of-the-day cubs baseball on TV.

btw...great bunch of articles posted lately, including this one.

It's absurd, I haven't seen a first pitch yet this year. I haven't seen more than a few innings. Between crap going on over the weekend, the opening day blackout (seriously, wtf?), and all the day games I've pretty much missed the entire first week.

In fact, I would support a shorter MLB schedule if it meant:
* Starting the season in a little bit warmer weather.
* More night games.
* No blackouts.

And tonight the game is on CSN+, so I don't even know if I get it. Last year Ft. Wayne Fios TV didn't have CSN+, but I think they do this year. I'm not getting my hopes up, though, I think there's a conspiracy against me to prevent me from watching my Cubbies.

Okay, I'm done bitching.

Now here's the way I understand this deal with providing CSN+. Since you're in the Cubs market (Ft. Wayne, Indiana I presume), I believe they are required to provide it to you. It shows up on my cable only on days when the Cubs or Sox are on CSN+. Any other day the channel doesn't exist.

As far as I know, games on WCIU are exempt from that, since it's not a cable channel.

Ok, so I went to look at the standings.
Notice a trend? Our pitching has been a real problem. Funny at face I thought we weren't hitting, but pitching seems to be a real issue. Looking at all the standings the common theme of 1st place teams is low runs against. We are very lucky to be over .500, this staff needs to get it straight. I thought bad weather schedules were suppose to help pitching?

The only "trend" bothering me is Ted Lilly, and Bobby Howry.

OF those RA stats, they are probably responsible for 10-14 of those.

The team pretty much should be 5-2 now. But, I expect that they'll get back some of the games grabbed from the jaws of victory
when the team's other two stars start hitting, and when Theriot sits more.

I think if Ted Lilly & Bob Howry had a bad week or even two weeks in July no one would think anything about it. Let's not panic yet.

When was the last time a Cubs team had an offense that could carry their pitching? I'm liking it so far cos I know our pitching is good and it will come around.

That block of code/table is definitely messing with the layout...

We probably just need to see the Runs Scored and Runs Against in order for you to make your point.

can you edit past posts?

Thanks for flagging that, lowitzki. Now all seems to be well.

Sorry, Bigz. I didn't know what else to do but delete the table.

Apologies.

 

I believe that Darrell Johnston was the BoSox manager at the time, and he was the true idiot in this scenario. All year long he had used another 1st baseman as a defensive replacement for Buckner, but for this critical moment he leaves the poor guy in, gimpy legs and all. Predictably the ball ate Buckner up, and Johnston never offered a credible answer for his decision - nice way to throw your own player under the bus.

John McNamara was the Bosox manager.

YIKES -- I read the heading and thought I was being censored.

if anyone is getting a free pass for 2003 it that stupid shortstop gonzalez i think,
he is the one who made the big error.

Gonzo error, Dusty sitting in the dugout while Prior labored, and Farnsworth serving up the back-breaking, 2-out, 3-run double to a dink-hitting Marlin (Mike Mordecai?) when the score was 4-3.

I'm sure Dusty thought he had no better option than Prior -- given what happened to Farnsworth, he was probably right.

Not to mention the poor pitch selection following the Bartman incident. As I recall, Prior had two strikes on Castillo and was trying to finish him off by blowing fastballs by him, which Castillo was barely getting a piece of him. For some reason, though Castillo was clearly barely staying alive, Prior or Miller decided to deviate from the string of fastballs, and Prior bounced a curveball to walk Castillo and let Pierre get to third. The inning devolved from there.

if anyone is getting a free pass for 2003 it that stupid shortstop gonzalez

Yep. It was a "tailor made" double-play ball.

It also didn't help that Dusty sat on his ass in the dugout after the Bartman play, when he should have gone out and calmed his pitcher down. And Prior lacked the mental toughness to ignore the play and just pitch.

We were never turning two on that play.

And they flatly turned him down.

"Not much about him has changed. Baker still drops Hank Aaron's name every few minutes, and says "big-time" at least once every sentence. He still walks through the clubhouse and calls his players "dude" and "homie." He still chomps on toothpicks and passes out unsolicited advice."

In case this isn't 3/44 ...
http://www.nwherald.com/baseball/story.php?storyid...

I'm personally glad to hear he's the same "O.G." as he used to be.

I think the moral to the Billy Buck and Bartman stories is that getting angrier at the guys who are involved in the mistake made in a game than the people who hound them and their family afterward is ridiculous. Bartman made the dumb mistake of reaching for that ball, just like a bunch of other people in the stands, and Buckner's body failed him on the ground ball, but it was malicious to hound these guys.

After Floyd's hot start he's now on the DL: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3338368

Seeya back sometime in June.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb...

big-time prospect for the Braves....

I blame Bartman more than Gonzalez. :P

If Alou makes that catch, Gonzo doesn't have to rush to try to turn two and he doesn't make that error. :P :P

Well according to KJK in an above post, you and are are only casual fans who are looking for talking points.

Looks like I can retire my tagline.

"Cubs recall Marshall, send Pignatiello down
April 9, 2008 Recommend
FROM SUN-TIMES STAFF REPORTS
The Cubs recalled Sean Marshall from Class AAA and assigned Carmen Pignatiello.

Marshall becomes the Cubs' only left-handed reliever."

What a dumb line. He becomes the Cubs' only left-handed reliever? He replaced a left handed reliever.

Cotts can't be too happy right now.

After the Bartman thing, people would always ask me what I thought, while telling me that it wasn't Bartman's fault the Cubs lost.

I agree. It was not Bartman's fault. HOWEVER, that incident changed the complexion of the inning, and even Bartman's staunchest defenders can't deny that.

i think non-cubs fans loved it and followed it more than cubs fans.

bartman right or bartman wrong most cubs fans i ran into found it stupid/unfortunate/etc. but generally just in passing.

many other team's fans jumped on it as if bartman ran onto the field and took alou's knees out with a baton.

Z, prior, wood...couldn't get it done.

agonz plays a full season with hardly an error and makes the error of his career...

i also blame dusty for not going to a starter out of the pen in game 7
instead we had dave veres i think in there while marlins manager
used josh beckett,needless to say dusty was once again out managed.

what starter?

wood + farns (who was an ace pen guy in 03) gave up all the runs in the game.

veres+crew pitched like 2ip for 0er.

what other move should have been made? bringing in a 110 pitch Z to pitch for farns...who was one of the team's best pen men?

It's what Hank Aaron would have done.

since i think dempster is gonna win 15 games this year
here is my prediction 6.1 innings 3 earned runs i see
a 5 to 4 game .
hopefully my prediction is a little closer than the
ted lilly fan club

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    Rob G. 5 hours 3 min ago view
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