View Full Version : The Return of "Mariotti"

07-31-2001, 07:39 AM

It might be, it could be, it is. . .
July 31, 2001
Holy Harry, they're going for it. I never thought I'd see the day when the Cubs tried their damnedest to reach a World Series, but unless there's a punchline coming, that's exactly what is happening as summer veers toward fall. We keep waiting for them to crack, gag, unravel and discombobulate, all the sorry things Cubbies traditionally do. Instead, they keep living charmed lives. They take a wild flyer on Fred McGriff and end up hearing yes. They near the two-thirds pole still looking as strong as any other National League ballclub. They answer potential crises with convincing streaks. They add a Michael Tucker here, a Delino DeShields there, and now a David Weathers--say, what happened to the goofs who wanted David Wells?--to bolster a crackling bullpen. Usually, Wrigleyville optimism is advanced with considerable trepidation, knowing how easily hexes lurk and hearts break.

But this year, too much is going right to expect the worst. When a certain Robert Machado graciously hands jersey No. 29 to the Crime Dog, then proceeds to jack a home run on the same night McGriff contributes to victory in his Cubs debut, you know something nice is happening in the den of the lovable losers. I gave it to the big guy, but I don't think the number matters,'' Machado said. It's what you do in the uniform.''

Such are the tales of winners, so convincing that I dare make a bold statement on the final day of July: The Cubs are going to be just fine. Do not confuse it as a World Series forecast or anything outlandish, but simply as a vote of confidence that they won't screw up these last two months. This is what the dance is about, isn't it, proving the Cubs can sustain a wonderfully overachieving season for a change without choking in the end? No one could detect a looming crash in 1969, of course, but the difference is in the competition. Do you sense the rise of the Miracle Astros? Do you see a black cat walking across Enron Field in two weeks? Me, neither. With the McGriff deal, the Cubs now have enough offense to definitively say they are a better all-around club than Houston. They have a better starting rotation, a better bullpen and a better bench, which should compensate for the Astros' offensive outbursts in the 10 games left between the lone contenders in the NL Central.

If no one has taken Andy MacPhail on a bar crawl down Sheffield, let me extend the celebratory invite. He has done his job magnificently, adding when we asked him to add and pulling off a McGriff deal that rates among the all-time trade deadline heists. Even if the Cubs were to sputter and fold, you sure can't blame Dandy Andy. Since rescuing the front office from the Ed Lynch disaster last summer, his eye for talent and chemistry has been nothing short of brilliant. And more remarkably, what has he relinquished? MacPhail must have pictures, having talked Tampa Bay into trading McGriff for scraps. The Yankees and others might have dealt for him, but MacPhail made inroads early and waited patiently for the Father of the Year until he reached his no-brainer conclusion to come. Better, MacPhail spent a slice of Tribune Co.'s fortune to sweeten Crime Dog's mood, guaranteeing his 2002 option year at $6.75 million. Weathers doesn't come cheaply, either, all of which finally silences concerns that MacPhail would continue his cheapness when the moment called for spending and upgrading.

It is the crowning achievement for MacPhail, who has amazed his peers by piecing together a serious contender from the ashes while protecting his farm system. Other than Ruben Quevedo, who went to Milwaukee in the Weathers deal Monday and may or may not become a productive major-league pitcher, he has managed to keep his cherished prospects. He gave away scraps for Rondell White last July. He followed by landing Bill Mueller, Ron Coomer and Matt Stairs at bargain prices and Julian Tavarez in a tidy deal. We have criticized him mercilessly for his cost-efficient ways amid the stinking wealth of Tribune Tower, and most of the time, the piecemeal route doesn't work in baseball. But it has worked this year, to the chagrin of teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox that have spent upwards of $30 million more.

Encouraged by the big boss, Dennis FitzSimons, the romantic in MacPhail senses a sweet story. The stands are jammed, the town is abuzz, the sports nation is curious. Why not live a little, spike the payroll, try to do the impossible and win a world championship on the North Side of Chicago? If it ever happened, MacPhail would be an instant legend, a quick reversal from six years of wearing goat horns.

As the belief goes, the only Chicago sports fantasy that could top the '85 Bears and the Jordan dynasty would be the Cubs winning the World Series. Only a White Sox fan--remember the White Sox?--isn't intoxicated by the day-to-day ride. Even McGriff noticed immediately, seeing filled seats and excited faces for a change and saying, The fans are awesome. You can feel the electricity.'' If nothing else now, we know the Cubs are going to make a run for mid-October. Who's better? The Braves would have more savvy and experience in a postseason series, but they have holes. The Dodgers are living too large and will crash with a decimated starting rotation. The Diamondbacks have Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, but are showing their age. The Giants made a good deal to get Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal and might be the sleepers--with Barry Bonds, Rich Aurilia and closer Robb Nen--but their rotation isn't of Cubs quality. As you've read here since, oh, the third week of April, the league is quite winnable.

Pennants aren't won only in October. They also are won in July. The Yankees have proved it over time, and now here are the Cubs, finally acting like a major-market operation in a city's time of need. I will wipe my eyes once more.

Yes, they are in first place by 41/2 games.

07-31-2001, 08:57 AM
Mariotti is a classic buttwipe, but he's right on target. A Cub fan I am not, but they've really handled this season well. They've gone out and gotten guys when needed and have made some major steals on the trade market. What they've had to give up for McGriff, White, DeShields and Tucker is almost laughable. The latter two guys are not guys that get you to the pennant, but will work wonders for bolstering their bench. Sad to say, the Cubbies are loaded for their pennant push and have the kind of team that excells in the playoffs....read: excellent pitching. Assuming they hold on and get into the postseason, they could make some serious noise. Start preparing now!

07-31-2001, 09:11 AM
What the hell, I'm just going to label this whole thing "JergensFest 2001" right now. Disgusting. And I love how "Mr. Big" can't resist getting in his digs at A) David Wells, and B) Sox fans. What a chump.

The Cardinals are still the NL Central champs, last time I looked. The Flubs haven't won squat yet. Until they do, they're still losers in my eyes.

07-31-2001, 11:15 AM
I took the Moron pledge, so I didn't read it.

07-31-2001, 11:18 AM
Jer, three words: post a link. Please don't soil my database with Moronotti. It could corrupt it and blow the whole board up.

07-31-2001, 11:27 AM
Jer, three words: post a link. Please don't soil my database with Moronotti. It could corrupt it and blow the whole board up.

I thought about doing that but some people are to lazy to click the link. I figured putting a warning up would be good enough. But whatever you say "BoardGuy"

07-31-2001, 11:28 AM
The swipe he took at the Sox with the Wells comment is cheap. Hindsight is 20/20, Morontoni. :moron

07-31-2001, 12:13 PM
I too took the Moron Pledge, but since it was right there in front of me, I couldn't resist reading Jay-Jay's take on JergensFest 2001.

Silly me.

07-31-2001, 12:54 PM
Don't like him.. can't stand him.. rarely read his garbage..
But can someone for the love of God explain to me why, while he's on his knees in front of the entire Cubs team.. ummmm.. practicing blowing bubbles... that he's got to throw in there a dig at the Sox..? What a completely useless waste of oxygen!!

07-31-2001, 01:44 PM
Because he knows exactly how to get his digs in at his 2 favorite targets, David Wells (because Wells called Jay-Jay "Kotex Boy") and Sox fans (because Sox fans absolutely detest the reprehensible pud).

I could write his column in my sleep these days. He's absolutely predictable. And to think he represents the "anti-Cubune," well, now you know why us Sox fans have an "attitude" about the media coverage in this city...

07-31-2001, 02:22 PM
I don't even have an issue with the media coverage... don't really pay attention to it actually. I buy my season tickets, and go on at least 3 road trips a year. I do my part to support the team. This idiot.. who doesn't even PAY to go to the games, and probably hasn't even seen a game live for fear of his life, gets paid to run his mouth. That's the real crime here.

07-31-2001, 03:26 PM
Hot damn, Steff is fired up about Mariotti. Good to see you letting loose a little. Great to have you here. It's a nice place to visit during down time at work, where I can't get to other "certain" message boards. Gotta like the Tags here too.

This one's for you, Steffie.

07-31-2001, 04:43 PM
I read here all day.. rarely post because if I said what I feel, I might get TOS'ed.. Ooops.. wrong board :-). I can't get on the other one from work either. Damn firewall!!! And thanks for the pic of the flamer... just what I need on this 150 degree day.. to be hotter...
By the way Rob, can you get to the game tomorrow? Jim and I will be there - probably early drinking @ Jimbos. Can you let KARK know for me..??

07-31-2001, 05:12 PM
No can do for tomorrow due to Wednesday volleyball league. Would love to, though. Kark didn't leave me a forwarding email address. He's going to send it to me when one exists. Have fun at the game. It should be just about as hot and humid as our last outing. I'm going tonight and will likely swelter also. Garland better make tonight's trip worth the effort. I'll want a full report from you on Danny Wright.