Road to Opening Day: #31

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The Cubs didn’t do so hot in yesterday’s game, the Cactus League opener and the very first official spring training game at the new Cubs Park.  The home team lost 5-2, but at least they were up 2-0 when the Cubs I really cared about where in the game.  Jeff Samardzija pitched well enough in front of scouts, so hopefully that means whenever he’s traded the Cubs get a bounty in return.

The lineup later today against the Angels in Tempe (see schedule):

 

 

As we count down to Opening Day, keep tabs on our lineup here.

Fergie and Mad Dog

MadduxFlagThe gentlemen who share the #31 retired flags at Wrigley Field (however much of a copout you think that is) are two of the best pitchers of all time.  While neither was a career Cub, both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux are forever linked to the Chicago Cubs franchise as icons.  Their career statistics speak for themselves, and both are deserving Hall of Famers, with Maddux being elected just this year and to be inducted this summer.

While they pitched in two very different eras, Jenkins and Maddux had very similar lines, with Jenkins striking out batters at a slightly higher rate while Maddux had a better walk rate.  Jenkins never saw the postseason, while Maddux was a huge part of the great Atlanta Braves run in the 90s, culminating in a World Series championship in 1995.  Maddux also pitched for the Cubs in October just once in 1989, and with the Dodgers a couple times before he finally hung up the cleats.  Fergie won just one Cy Young award, which seemed weird until you realize he had to go up against all-time greats like Bob Gibson.  Maddux won four straight Cy Youngs and also monopolized the pitching Gold Gloves for a total of 18 awards, including 13 in a row at one point.

I was very close to Fergie at my first (and to this date, only) Cubs Convention when he signed autographs for fans at a vendor station.  He looked very good for a man his age.  He also received one of the highest honors for a Canadian citizen when they put his mug on a stamp.Fergie-Jenkins-stamp-300x237

It really is a shame that two of the best pitchers that Cubs fans had ever seen couldn’t do much in the postseason with the team, but them’s the breaks.  I never got to watch Fergie play, and I knew Maddux mostly as a Brave.  I think we as fans should be honored and grateful that both still associate so well with the team, even though Maddux didn’t stick around as a coach or executive.  It must have been something when those gentlemen took the mound.

31 more sleeps to Opening Day…

 

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