Road to Opening Day: #14

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The Cubs once again split their games, beating the Mets in Vegas while losing a tough one against the Indians at home in Mesa on Sunday.  Travis Wood had a good game despite taking the loss in Mesa, and Dan Vogelbach hit a homer in Vegas.  That was pretty much it since I don’t have cable and basically just followed the games on MLB.com and Twitter all afternoon.

Monday afternoon, the Cubs have more split squad action, visiting the Oakland A’s while hosting the Los Angeles Angels of whatever they call themselves these days.

 

 

The Cubs game against the Angels is on Comcast Sports Net Chicago starting at 3 PM Central.  Notice that in the A’s game, Javier Baez is starting at second base while Darwin Barney is at shortstop.  This could be fun to follow.

Keep an eye out for our countdown lineup as we trek on to Opening Day…

Mr. Cub

BanksFlagWhen you see “Mr. Cub” anywhere, the only name that comes to mind is the great Ernie Banks.

It’s no wonder that Ernie Banks is such a fan favorite.  Not only was he an excellent player (he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977), he was also the proud owner of an infectious smile, an always positive attitude, and a charitable member of the community.  As the first black player for the Cubs (and later, with Gene Baker, part of the first all-black middle infield tandem in the majors), he definitely made a name for himself, setting a single-season record for home runs by a shortstop until a guy named Alex Rodriguez came along.  Like a lot of his Hall of Fame teammates, Ernie never got to play in the postseason while spending his entire career with the Cubs.  As a career Cub, Ernie came closest to being named “Mr. Cub” on the Beyond the Box Score All True Cubs Team, although they might as well give it to him since no one else can be Mr. Cub.

Though he was one of the first prototypes for power-hitting shortstops, with the position being dedicated more to defense than offense, Ernie Banks had to eventually move off short to first base due to persistent knee injuries.  He continued to be productive throughout his career until the last three seasons, when he scaled back his playing time to become a player-coach.  As a shortstop, he won back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959.  Ernie finished with 512 home runs as a career Cub, a mark that would stand until a guy named Sammy Sosa came along.

MrCubMedalIt is therefore appropriate that with so many firsts and memories in his Cubs career, Ernie Banks was the first player to have his number retired by the franchise.  The Ernie Banks statue stands alone right outside the Cubs box office at Wrigley Field.  For his role as a humanitarian and an ambassador of baseball, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Cub continues to make appearances at the ballpark, singing the stretch every now and then.  He is a frequent guest at Cubs Conventions and at spring training, and will likely be around us Cubs fans for as long as he is healthy and alive.  We’re hoping that is a very long time, as the positive energy from that man is incredible and inspiring.

14 more days.  Two more weeks until Cubs baseball.  Can’t wait.  Let’s play two.

About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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