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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hey, remember those "Out of the Blue" Cubs?

Eric Zorn passed along this nugget of insight from local blogger Justin Kaufmann:

Remember 2003 when the Cubs almost went to the World Series? Here's my hair brained theory (don't sue, i make no money). I say they were ALL on performance enhancing juice. Think about it....Wood, Prior were the best pitchers ever, now they can't stay healthy and get clobbered. Sosa and Alou were tops in the league (now, worst), Joe Borowski, Corey Patterson, Kyle Farnsworth, Alex Gonzales, Eric Karros, Mark Grudzelanek, Randall Simon? All those guys either got hurt, suck now or are out of the league. In 2 years!!!! Hey, I'm just sayin...

He's not thinking anything unique or new, but it is an unbelievable coincidence that so many stars from that team have fallen off the map in just two seasons. Regardless, there are a few holes in this crackpot theory. Grud has done well with the Cards this season. Alex Gonzalez was never that great, and the same goes for catchers Damian Miller and Paul "Pass Ball" Bako. Farnsworth was as inconsistent in 2003 as he was in any other season. While CoPat was playing his career best in 2003, he didn't play a game after July 6 due to his ACL tear. Also, Prior was out for a considerable portion of the season. (He has yet to pitch for a complete season.) One certainly couldn't count Kenny Lofton because he was on his way out of the Leagues already.

Perhaps 2003 was simply the last best season many of those players could offer. Some might have been on performance-enhancing drugs, but it was well known that many players were walking Bondo by the end of the regular season. At least Alex Gonzalez reeked of linament. Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry weren't going to sit on the same set of players as they were trying to build a dynasty.

There's also an axiom in competitive team sports that dictates that, in spite of how much money is thrown at a given franchise in a given year, a team can simply surge, can become better than the sum of its parts, even if its parts are already largely working at their best. In short, success is as much a component of happenstance as raw talent. On paper, the 2003 Cubs don't look that phenominal.

The 2003 Cubs had a lot of holes, which were made apparent in the final three games of the 2003 NLCS, but they had enough to win their Division and beat the Braves in the NLDS. Plus, the Cards were nowhere near as good in 2003 as they have been since. The Astros, Cards, and Cubs were all fairly evenly matched, and the Cubs won the Division uncontested only because the Brewers managed to get the best of the Astros while they won a doubleheader against the humble Pirates. Again, happenstance...

I think what's more curious is how lackluster the Cubs franchise itself has been compared to what it accomplished in 2003. They haven't really improved themselves. They one only one more game in 2004. They are on the road to posting a similar season record. Key injuries have played a part, but only on the pitching side. Only a few batters have performed with any consistency. When Cub fans start feeling sorry for Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, there are problems.

No Cub fan wants to think 2003 was the high point of the modern era. Had the Cubs squeaked into the World Series and been pounded by the Yankees or the Red Sox, Cub fans wouldn't have cared. That stupid curse would've been broken, and everyone could reminisce happily on that one magical season. Instead, Cub fans are left with memories of silent bats, bad fielding, inadequate management, lost tempers, wasted opportunities, and an unfortunate scapegoat in the span of three games. The following two seasons of the alleged "Why Not Us? Dynasty" have produced little else.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:50 AM
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