The 5-Minute Superfan: June 1, 2008
June 1, 2008
Welcome to the first installment of The 5-Minute Superfan. If you’re wondering what the heck it is, check this page out.
In case you missed it, this was an incredible – and historic – week for the Chicago Cubs. The team lost on Sunday, but streaked through the rest of the week unbeaten, taking them to a record of 35-21: the best in baseball. Why is this historic? The last time the Cubs entered the month of June with the best record in baseball was also the last time the team won a World Series. That’s right, it was 100 years ago.
The Bare Minimum Weekly Roundup
Sunday, May 25 – The Cubs lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-6 in Pittsburgh. The Cubs led 5-4 in the 9th, when Alfonso Soriano forgot how to catch lazy fly balls. He dropped a Nate McLouth fly ball, which he said he lost in the sun, and the Pirates tied the game. They would later win in extra innings on a walk-off single by Jason Bay – his second in as many days.
Monday, May 26 – The Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 at Wrigley. Ryan Dempster found himself in jams all day long, but worked out of them. Derrek Lee hit is 250th career home run in this game, 120 of which have come with the Cubs. 129 came with the Marlins. What about that other lonely home run? It came in Lee’s rookie – and only – year with the San Diego Padres back in 1997.
Tuesday, May 27 – Lather, rinse, repeat. Cubs beat Dodgers 3-1, again. Sean Gallagher pitched a gem for the Cubs, and left fielder Kosuke Fukudome had a great night at the plate and in the field on his bobblehead night. Gallagher is just 22, and is a name to know. He was selected by the Cubs in 12th round in 2004 – though he was actually a consensus 2nd or 3rd round-caliber player (he slipped because many thought he would not sign if drafted later than the 2nd round, opting instead to go to college). After dominating every level of the minors for three years, he made his debut with the Cubs last year – and made his Brickyard debut earlier this year.
Wednesday, May 28 – Cubs complete the home sweep of the Dodgers, winning 2-1. Carlos Zambrano pitches well, but doesn’t figure in the decision as the Cubs can’t scratch out a single run off Dodger starter Derek Lowe (seems to always give the Cubs fits – career 3.15 ERA against the team). But the Dodger bullpen can’t close the game out, much to manager Joe Torre’s anger and confusion, and the Cubs come back to tie it in the 9th and win it in the 10th on an Alfonso Soriano single. We’re still not forgetting that dropped ball thing, Alf.
Thursday, May 29 – Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4 at Wrigley. Derrek Lee hit his 13th homer of the season in this game. Last year, he didn’t hit his 13th home run until August!
Friday, May 30 – Cubs stage an unbelievable comeback to beat the Rockies 10-9 – the team’s 4th straight come back win. The Cubs were down 8-0 early, but came back late – despite manager Lou Piniella (rightfully) yanking Derrek Lee and catcher Geovany Soto when the game was seemingly out of reach, and resting shortstop Ryan Theriot and third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the start. Center fielder / hated former Cardinal Jim Edmonds finally had a good game for the Cubs. Still not seeing the production from Edmonds that the Cubs had hoped.
Saturday, May 31 – Cubs beat the Rockies again, with a 5-4 win over former Cubs fat guy Glendon Rusch. Ryan Dempster picked up his 7th win of the year, and now stands at 7-2 with a 2.75 ERA. If he keeps it up, how can he not be an All-Star? Well, unfortunately, the performance of his teamates – notably Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Geovanny Soto and others – may be the answer to that question. Because each National League team has to have a representative on the All-Star team, it will be difficult for the Cubs to get more than 3 or 4 players on the team. Dempster may be the odd man out.
The Step on your Grapes Moment of the Week: Alfonso Soriano goes Brant Brown on a fly ball.
The Reason We’re Fans Moment of the Week: Mark DeRosa’s 2-run homer that caps off the ridiculous comeback against the Rockies. Gives you chills. Admit it.
The Cubs Count’s Number of the Week: .473
That’s the winning percentage of the Pittsburgh Pirates – the last place team in the NL Central. That’s the best record for a divisional last place team outside of the AL East (where the Baltimore Orioles are just a half-game better). The NL Central has six teams. Every other division has only five, except the AL West, where only four teams must compete for the divisional crown. Ever since realignment, we’ve heard that this unbalanced setup is not unfair because the NL Central is the weakest divsion in baseball. But given this number, it might be time to question this old addage. If the Pirates were in the AL West, they’d be a full 5.5 games ahead of that division’s worst team, the Seattle Mariners.