‘Tis the season for blinking lights, spiked egg nog and most importantly, presents. I have received many wonderful gifts during the course of my life, whether at the holidays or other times of year. Some of my favorite Christmas gifts include a locomotive, a piece of Notre Dame Memorabilia and my first ever season ticket to Wrigley Field. Gifts can bring a certain level of joy unparalleled by most other events. I am sure many of you have home videos of yourself opening presents during the holidays. And I know at least one of these presents elicited the type of response of which I speak. As humans grow older receiving gifts loses its luster and the holidays become more about family and togetherness. With this being the case, I find it more challenging to verbalize what I want for the holidays every year. However, this year it is much clearer and easier for me to decipher. I know what I want this year, maybe more so than ever. So without further ado, here are my ten Holiday wishes as a Cubs fan, some realistic, some, well, maybe not so much…. 1. Roger Clemens retires or plays in the AL- Even though Houston has acquired Jason Jennings and Carlos Lee, the loss of Pettitte is painful, but the loss of Clemens could be debilitating. Even with Pettitte and Clemens the Astros staff struggled at times last year and no matter the level of caliber, Minute Maid Park is a hard place to pitch. The presence of Roger Clemens adds a certain element to a team and his departure would be much more than a loss of pitching.
2. Cardinals continue to be non-players in the Free Agent market – Let me get this straight, bye bye Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver and hello….Kip Wells? Granted Jason Marquis may be no better, but the rest of the Cubs rotation looks far better than the Cardinals at this time. I may not be a baseball expert, but I do consider myself rather knowledgeable when it comes to these games, and Kip Wells is, well, Kip Wells. On top of that, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen are one year older, and though they won the World Series, they were only 5 games above .500.
3. Jim Hendry trades Jacque Jones - I want to be clear, I was one of the stronger supporters of JJ last year, but he requested a trade and that is that. With the exemption of Manny Ramirez, very few players step up and play well when they are discontent. Look at Alan Iverson or Vince Carter, different game I know, but the same premise. Pro athletes like everyone else, look out for number 1 and do what it takes to put themselves in the best situation. The Cubs have other outfield options in Pagan or Pie, or they could go out and sign Steve Finley as insurance. If a player does not want to be part of a team, then as a fan I do not want him on the team either.
4. Mark Prior becomes Mark Prior – After the ’03 campaign I thought he was the real deal, like most others, including the experts. Injuries, setbacks, mental issues, whatever the problem, have kept this man from living up to his talent. Many players have something to prove this year, but no one more than Prior. Mark Prior is an ace, the number 1 pitcher in a rotation, and if he regains his form, the Cubs would have arguably two of the best four or five pitchers in the league. Combine this with a solid performance from Rich Hill and an average one from Ted Lilly and the Cubs are looking tough. Anything from Wade Miller or Jason Marquis would be gravy.
5. Kerry Wood becomes the Closer Kerry Wood - See: Prior, Mark.
6. Matt Murton continues to develop - The Big Murt has been a hot topic of conversation on this site and many others and for good reasons. He led the team in average, but provided very little power. Some want to ship him off, some want to keep him. For those that read this site, you know that I have a man crush on this kid and support him more than most. If he develops the power stroke many of us think he can, then look out because the Cubs may have found a new superstar. If he develops a Grace-like personality, the city of Chicago better look out because it’s found its new sports idol. He has everything you need as well as the ability to sweep through this city the same way Grace did in the early 90′s.
7. A-Ram and Lou have dinner regularly – Admit it, you are as scared as I am to witness A-Ram shuffle down the line on a fly ball and get reamed by Lou for the first time. Dusty may have accepted this type of effort but I doubt Sweet Lou will. There is no ‘dogging it’ allowed anymore. However, with a new contract and more security, A-Ram may feel comfortable pushing the limits. In order to avoid some serious dugout scrapping, a friendship needs to be formed and formed quickly. This would alleviate many issues that are bound to happen based on past behavior.
8. Jason Marquis finds some form - I am not asking for a miracle, the man has had success and is capable of winning double digit games with a respectable ERA. He has done it before and maybe this is the man that Rothschild can actually fix. Imagine that, not only did we pick him up off the scrap heap, but the Cardinals scrap heap at that. And not that all positive things for the Cubs are not negative things for the Cardinals, but this one would be a real kick in the….
9. Ted Lilly and Barry Zito mysteriously swap ability – I have not quite figured out how to make this happen, but if they were in the same place at the same time and some cosmic forces were present and lightning struck and Doc Brown was at the clock tower while Marty McFly was going 88 mph in the DeLorean, maybe, just maybe this could happen, right? Hey, I said some were realistic.
10. Sweet Lou Piniella brings it home – Well, this is what it is all about, 99 years and counting. All the hype, all the talk and all the hope settle surround one thing, the ultimate goal. The excitement of A-Ram resigning, the mass hysteria with Soriano, the cautious approach to Ted Lilly and the somewhat perturbed reaction to Jason Marquis. As fans, we may have an idea or thought about each one individually, but the sum of these individuals is all we really care about in the end. Bring it home Sweet Lou, just bring it home.
And this reminds me, Lou needs a nickname, a good, solid nickname. Maybe it is Sweet Lou, maybe it is not. Please let me know your ideas below.
As a child, one learns rather fast that he or she will not always get what he or she wants, but it never hurts to ask. So as this Holiday season comes and goes, these are my top ten wishes as a Cubs fan. Don’t get me wrong, a toy locomotive was the coolest thing I have ever seen on Christmas morning, but a Cy Young for Mark Prior would be a true Holiday Miracle.
Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a line a firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time….
Stay Classy Cubs Fans