After 87 games, one may find it difficult to pick the Cubs’ MVP. After a great June, some may point to the ‘Fonz. Others may argue that without the Bayou Boys this team would be floundering at 10 games under. Many will say Aramis and his timely hitting and competitive nature are more evident now than any other time in his career. Though his power numbers are almost non-existent, D. Lee’s heart, soul and leadership are priceless. With all that said, and after a great deal of mental posturing, I am hear to announce that my first half MVP is…. Sweet Lou Piniella. Many chided Lou for his inconsistent lineup or his insistence on playing Izturis or Jones over Pie and Theriot. For the first two months, the Cubs Faithful waited for one of his patented outbursts. He came close on multiple occasions while yelling, ahem, raising his voice at the media. Then on June 1st, the incident occurred, he went off after the game, holding certain ‘unnamed’ players accountable and stormed away from the press conference. To steal a reference from Shaun, we all new Mount St. Sweet Lou was about to erupt. And that is what happened the very next day. Pagan was called out at third and the belly bashing began. Dirt was kicked, garbage was thrown and the highly anticipated meltdown happened. Piniella was suspended, but the Cubs started winning. Barrett was traded, and the Cubs kept winning. There were walk-offs and blowups. And as great as A-Ram’s blast was that beautiful Friday afternoon, ‘Fonz’s walk-single five days earlier against the Rockies was the turning point of the season.
After giving up 6 runs in the top of the 9th, Wrigley emptied, television sets were turned off and all hope was lost. We have seen this game before, we know how it ends, I mean, this is the Cubs, right? Wrong, this is not your mother or father’s Cubs team, this is a new team. We are not talking about an Oldsmobile here, we are talking about the Cubs. They did not quit, they went out there, got a big break and the $136 million man came through when he was needed. Yes, the players performed, but they only did because they believed in themselves. And why did they believe….because of Sweet Lou.
After the fight many rumors were floating around regarding Piniella’s lack of control in the locker room. Some claimed that he had “lost his team” and that certain players, specifically D. Lee, did not like him. With their backs up against the wall and amid great controversy, this team went out and proved the baseball pundits wrong. I am still of the belief that Piniella was getting thrown out of that game no matter what. He was tossed 3 seconds into his “conversation” with the ump, and it is clear to me he walked out and said “Throw me out of the game.” He admitted to doing this in the past a day earlier. He fired up his team, served his suspension, came back to a rather hot ball club and led them to the best June in the Major Leagues.
He takes his squad into the break 4.5 games back, having given away at least three or four games in the first half. The Cubs open the second half with a 10 game home stand, of which 7 are against sub-.500 teams. A good 8-2 or 7-3 to open the second half and the Faithful will be rocking into August. The Division is winnable and the Wild Card is within reach. The team has gelled, everyone understands their role and it is time to go show the world what $300 million can truly buy.
I believe it was Jim that asked if the ’07 Cubs can play the role of the ’69 Mets as this year’s Brewers squad does that of the ’69 Cubs. Quite a question, but I would love to be on the other side of the coin just once in my life as a fan. The Brewers are solid offensively, but their pitching has been less than stellar. In the dog days of summer, if Sheets ends up on the DL and Capuano cannot find his control, Mr. 136 and Sweet Lou might go flying right by in the end. Here is a glass of kool-aid that says it will most definitely happen….
And by the way, that is light blue kool-aid, not dark blue, Princes come and go, but there will only be one “Fonz!”
Stay Classy Cubs Fans.