Fantasy Baseball – Greg Maddux and Marla Collins

It is Monday morning again….and time for Fantasy Baseball, this time with a twist that only Jason can provide. I had forgotten about Marla Collins….so this one is pretty good. Don’t forget to check out ‘Coffee with Jim Hendry’ from Saturday. 16 days until pitchers and catchers report and everyone here at the CCO cannot wait….

Greg Maddux and Marla Collins!

This week I have my All-time Cubs Fantasy Pitching staff, and I also have a stroll down memory lane with the Cubs former ballgirl, Marla Collins!

I decided that there are just too many good pitchers from the 1800s to the 1950s that had great careers for the Cubs to include in just one 5-man rotation. Since it is hard for fans of today’s “modern” era to comprehend a guy winning 40 games in a season, I thought I would do a quick look at my top 5 Cubs pitchers, prior to 1950, and then my top 5 since 1950. There really wasn’t any such thing as a closer/reliever in the early years of baseball, so I will just pick one reliever with my post-1950 team.

The Old-School Cubs Fantasy starters:

1. Grover Alexander; In addition to sharing a first name with a Sesame Street character, Grover also won 128 games with the Cubs, which would be a pretty good feat by itself, but then he also won a total of 373 victories to place him in a tie for 3rd all time in MLB history!
2. Mordecai Brown; won 188 games with a 1.80 ERA for the Cubbies, and 239 overall. He also had 6 straight seasons of 20 wins for our Cubs!
3. Charlie Root; the all-time Cubs leader in victories with 201, he never won a game with any other team. He played with the Cubs from 1926 to 1941….he probably felt blessed to have a job with the Cubs during the Great Depression….but who knows how many other jobs he had during that time!
4. John Clarkson; he went 53-16 in 1885, with a sparkling 1.85 ERA. The previous year he only won 10 games, so I am guessing he won the “Most Improved Player” award that year…. John also finished up with 328 career victories, and will hopefully be surpassed by Greg Maddux sometime this August.
5. Larry Corcoran; This guy I found the most interesting. Starting in 1880, Larry went on to win 43, 31, 27, 34, and 35 victories in 5 glorious seasons with the Cubs. He averaged between 40-60 starts a year during that stretch. Then….he seems to have lost his magic out of the blue. He played one more season with the Cubs, only starting in 7 games, and then spent the next 3 years with 3 different teams. He only won 7 games his last 4 years, and his last year in MLB was in 1887. He died just 4 years later, and while I didn’t do extensive research beyond a quick Google search, I can’t find out how/why he died so young, and if perhaps he had an illness that explained his sudden drop in production. Perhaps Jose Canseco knows if ol’ Larry had been on the juice? Nah….I prefer to believe he had a brief but amazing career, that was ended by injury, and that he had a talent similar to Robert Redford in the Natural. Maybe he just had arm trouble? He did throw 516 innings his last good year….what the heck….was Dusty managing that team, too?!

Ok….those were some names I had mostly never heard of….how about some of the better pitchers in the past 50 years or so? Most of these names will be extremely familiar to all of you.

My modern times All-time Cubs Fantasy Starting Rotation:

1. Greg Maddux; With his 17 straight seasons of 15 victories or more, Maddux is the best example, in modern times, of consistent pitching excellence. He is currently 15th on the All-time MLB wins list, and with a good season of 12 victories, or more, in 2006, he will vault past Steve Carlton into the top 10, where he belongs.
2. Fergie Jenkins; Starting in 1967, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins started his first of 6 straight 20 win seasons. In 1973, he only won 14 games, so the Cubs let him go and he wound up winning 25 games with the Texas Rangers the next year. He would wind up back with the Cubs at the end of his career, winning 14 games in 1982, and going 6-9 his last season in 1983….just missing a chance to be with the division-winning club in 1984.
3. Rick Reuschel; pitched 21 long years, and managed to win 214 games with a 3.37 ERA. Except for a brief stint in 1981 with the Yankees, Rick pitched from 1972 to 1984 with the Cubs, and contributed 5 victories to the 1984 division-winning club.
4. Rick Sutcliffe; He doesn’t have the career pedigree that most of these other pitchers do, and he only won 82 games for the Cubs, but he was an instrumental part of both the 1984 and 1989 division winning Cubs teams. His amazing 16-1 record (after being traded to the Cubs) in 1984 was one of the main reasons that I had a “Cubs Fever” t-shirt on most of the Summer!
5. Carlos Zambrano; This is my controversial pick…. I would take Zambrano over Wood and Prior because he has produced more, and hasn’t been injured, and has been the most consistent. In his first 3 full seasons as a starter, Zambrano has averaged 14 wins, and is the Cubs version of Mark Buerhle….just as Buerhle was taken for granted his first few years, so has Zambrano taken a back seat to the unrealized potential of Wood and Prior.
6. Relief Pitcher: Lee Smith! I don’t care that Bruce Sutter just got in the HOF….how can you not choose the All-time MLB saves leader, and the closer on the 1984 squad? With his labored breathing, take-your-sweet-time approach to pitching, and his insane 101 mph fastballs, Lee Smith was always good theater to watch, if not good for a little heartburn as well.

Well….that is my list, and I definitely admit it is not overly scientific, and I certainly have plenty of bias due to my age (early thirties) and who I grew up watching as a fan in my youth. I would love to hear who you would have on your All-time Fantasy Cubs Pitching Staff, whether for personal reasons, statistical reasons, or a combination of the two….let me know what you think!

Fantasy Baseball of a Different Sort….Marla Collins!

With Neil”s question of what I would do as owner of the Cubs, I realized I had forgotten one vital thing: I would bring back the ballgirl to Wrigley Field! For those of you that don’t remember the lovely Marla Collins, here is a quick recap:

In July of 1986, the Cubs fired their ball girl Marla Collins when it was discovered that she posed nude for Playboy magazine. The photos appeared in the October issue that year, along with other photos of Marla in her Cubs uniform and one of Harry Caray pointing to a tattoo on her right thigh.

Seems like a silly reason to fire such a vital component of the Cubs staff….why don’t they just fire all the groundskeepers while they are at it….or the scoreboard operators?!?! For shame, Tribsters….for shame! Now, I am not advocating bringing back Marla herself, as she was cute in those shorts 20 years ago, but maybe not so much now (just a guess, as I have no personal knowledge that this is the case). Rather I am saying the idea should be brought back, and I am sure there are plenty of athletic and perky young women in the Chicago area that would like to get the kind of publicity that a job with the Chicago Cubs would bring. Perhaps you have a rotating cache of ballgirls, much like the Harry Caray 7th inning stretch singers? I don’t know….does anyone really want to see 81 good-looking women running back and forth in short shorts, happily bringing the umpires new baseballs? Yeah….that idea probably wouldn’t fly, as the Tribune would never want the focus of their marketing and promotions to ever be anything except the baseball product on the field.

Final Thoughts

Boy oh boy, the NFL is almost done, and it feels like the season has been over since the Bears lost anyway. The Bulls are starting to get hot, but they are still one good off-season away from becoming a legitimate contender. Are the Blackhawks even playing….does anyone care if they are? That feeling must mean it is almost time for Spring Training yet again….baseball season is right around the corner, and I am definitely ready for it, as this weekend felt like the perfect time (I live in AZ, remember….) to watch a baseball game in the middle of the afternoon. Give me a healthy pitching staff this year, and I predict the following win totals:

Zambrano 19
Prior 18
Wood 18
Maddux 13
Miller 8
Hill 7
Rusch 6

That is 89 victories right there….c’mon Cubs, lets do it this year!

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt