March 2009

Sweet 16

In accordance with March Madness,’s Marty Noble presents his fourth annual Sweet 16, this one devoted to the Cubs. Here are 16 facts or sets of facts that celebrate the Cubs. Any disputes, take them up with Mr. Noble:

1. The Cubs have won 16 league championships, but only one — in 1945 — since 1938. The other championship years were: 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932 and 1935.

2. Beginning in 1982 and through 1997 — 16 years — Harry Caray brought Cubs baseball to the masses.

3. Cubs players have won 16 BBWAA awards: eight MVP awards —  Ernie Banks (1958, 1959), Phil Cavaretta (1945), Andre Dawson (1987) , Gabby Hartnett (1935),  Ryne Sandberg (1984), Hank Sauer (1952), Sammy Sosa (1998);  three Cy Young Awards — Ferguson Jenkins (1971), Greg Maddux (1992), Rick Sutcliffe (1984); and five Rookie of the Year Awards: Ken Hubbs (1962), Geovany Soto (2008), Jerome Walton (1989), Billy Williams (1961), Kerry Wood (1998).

4. Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, played 16 full seasons, from 1955 through 1969. Banks averaged 150 games per season and never played in less than 130 games. The franchise record for most seasons for a pitcher is 16, by Charlie Root.

5. Sixteen is the Cubs’ record for home runs hit by a pitcher. Carlos Zambrano holds the honor. He has hit six, two and four the last three seasons.

6. A Cubs pitcher has allowed at least 12 runs in a game 16 times, but only twice since 1900. George Zettllein was responsible for the other 14 — all in 1874. He allowed 29 runs in a complete game. That’s right, 29, but only 19 were earned.

7. Sutcliffe won 16 games for the Cubs in his Cy Young season, 1984. He also won 16 consecutive regular-season decisions, a club record he established by winning the last 14 decisions in ’84 and his first two starts in ’85.

8. Sixteen straight losses. The Cubs lost their final two games in 1996 and the first 14 the following season. The 14 straight losses constitute the longest losing streak in franchise history.

9. Sixteen is the one-game National League record for extra-base hits, established by the 1883 Cubs (July 3, versus Buffalo).
10. The Cubs had 16 doubles in the 1945 World Series, their most recent World Series appearance.

11. Mark Prior struck out 16 Brewers in his 16th start of the 2003 season, on June 26.

12. The Cubs lost 16 of the 20 games Elvin “El” Tappe managed in 1962 as a member of the Cubs’ infamous college of coaches, a bizarre concept implemented by Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley in ’61 and ’62. Tappe and four others rotated as the big league manager and as minor league coaches and managers. The Cubs lost 90 games in 1961 and 103 the following year. Their 59-103 record in ’62 stood alone as the worst record by an established  team in an expansion season until when the Mets duplicated it in 1993. The Marlins exceeded it in 1998 when they lost 108 games.
13. Ken Hubbs wore No. 16 in his Rookie of the Year Award season, 1962.

14. The Cubs scored 16 runs, a franchise record, in their Opening Day games in 2005, in Arizona, and in 2006, in Cincinnati and never scored as many runs again in either season.

15. Cubs home run leaders Phil Cavarretta and Bill Nicholson combined for 16 home runs — eight each — in 1946. Rookie Ralph Kiner of the Pirates led the National League with 23.

16. The Cubs have played 16 games that have ended in 16 innings, beginning with a 6-6 tie against the Phillies Aug. 19. 1930. They didn’t play another 16-inning games for 16 years.


— Carrie Muskat

Off day

Lou Piniella had considered a hot air balloon ride on the Cubs’ last off day but that’s not on his schedule for Wednesday. Instead, he’ll film a commercial in Tempe for DirectTV. So, no ride?

“I do that every day here,” Piniella said. “I just don’t go in the balloon.”

— Carrie Muskat

Accentuate the positives

Micah Hoffpauir has been working on his outfield skills every other day this spring with coach Mike Quade. Hoffpauir has heard enough people say he can’t play defense, and uses that to motivate him. When he was in high school, a scout told him he’d never play Division I baseball. Well, Hoffpauir played baseball for Lamar University.

“I saw [the scout] one time when I was in college, and I told him, ‘Thank you,'” Hoffpauir said.

— Carrie Muskat

My Boys

Actress Jordana Spiro and the “My Boys” crew were at HoHoKam on Tuesday to film part of the season finale for the TBS show. Spiro, who plays a Chicago sports columnist, pretended to interview Cubs infielder Bobby Scales and also the HoHoKam’s head groundskeeper, Frankie Gonzalez. Mike Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir also will have parts in the show.

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Roster moves

The Cubs sent five players to Minor League camp on Tuesday to reduce the roster to 37. Right-hander Jose Ascanio and outfielders Jake Fox and Sam Fuld were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Non-roster invitees Jason Waddell and Bobby Scales were assigned to Minor League camp. Also, Richie Robnett was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs’ 40-man roster now is 38.

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Quick hits

Here’s the lineup for Tuesday’s game vs. Rockies at HoHoKam: LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Milton Bradley, 3B Aramis Ramirez, CF Reed Johnson, C Geovany Soto, 2B Aaron Miles, P Chad Gaudin.

Early notes:

  • Ted Lilly threw a simulated game on the backfield at 8:30 a.m., and will be slotted into the rotation to follow Ryan Dempster. Rich Harden is on track to start in a Minor League game Wednesday at Fitch Park.
  • Kosuke Fukudome will make his first Cubs appearance Thursday night in Scottsdale vs. the Giants. Fukudome and Team Japan won the World Baseball Classic on Monday.
  • Jake Fox and Sam Fuld were trimmed from the roster — expect more cuts later Tuesday.
  • Lou Piniella says all roster decisions will be made before the team goes to New York for the two games against the Yankees, April 3-4.

— Carrie Muskat

3/23 Background noise

Reed Johnson, Mike Fontenot, Kevin Gregg and Koyie Hill were in the Cubs clubhouse on Monday at Phoenix Muni Stadium, waiting for the van to take them back to Fitch Park. The Athletics radio broadcasters apparently didn’t update their scorecards. They announced that Johnson was at the plate, delivered a hit, and that Fontenot scored. Fontenot actually was sitting on a plastic chair, his shoes and jersey off.

“Way to go, Font,” Johnson said.

Some real game notes: The Cubs were 12-for-23 with runners in scoring position vs. the A’s. … Derrek Lee belted his first spring homer leading off the fifth. He was told not to run 100 percent to avoid re-aggravating his quad injury. … Micah Hoffpauir leads the Majors in spring RBI with 19 after hitting a RBI double Monday. … Jake Fox drove in three, and has 16 RBIs this spring. … Paul Bako who subbed for Hill, went 4-for-4.

— Carrie Muskat

Extra credit

The extra work by Micah Hoffpauir and coach Mike Quade early Monday paid off in the first inning. Hoffpauir, starting in right field, made a diving catch of Nomar Garciaparra’s fly ball for the second out. Quade was the first one to shake Hoffpauir’s hand to congratulate him as he trotted off the field in the first.

— Carrie Muskat

Classic Cubs update

The World Baseball Classic will end Monday night with Japan vs. Korea playing for the championship in Los Angeles, which means Kosuke Fukudome is close to rejoining the Cubs. He’s expected back in the lineup on Thursday when the Cubs travel to Scottsdale for a night game against the Giants. He’ll be inserted into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and in center field. Lou Piniella said Monday he hasn’t watched enough of Team Japan’s games to gauge how Fukudome is doing.

— Carrie Muskat


3/23 Early quick hits

Derrek Lee will be the designated hitter for the Cubs in Monday’s game vs. Oakland. It’ll be SS Ryan Theriot, 2B Mike Fontenot, DH Lee, RF Micah Hoffpauir, 1B Jake Fox, CF Reed Johnson, 3B Bobby Scales, C Koyie Hill, LF So Taguchi.

  • Ted Lilly will throw about 70 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday on a backfield at HoHoKam Park. Lilly and Team USA were eliminated in the World Baseball Classic Sunday night by Japan. The lefty is scheduled to start the April 3 game against the Yankees at new Yankee Stadium with Rich Harden to go April 4. Harden will throw Wednesday in the Cubs’ Minor League camp. Wednesday is an off day for the rest of the team.
  • Keith Moreland, who played for the Cubs from 1982-87, has joined the spring camp as a guest coach.
  • Outfielder Brad Snyder has been sidelined with a sore left calf, and was expected to get back in a game on Tuesday.
  • Monday was an early extra work day for Micah Hoffpauir, Jake Fox and the catchers.
  • The Cubs have five home dates left at HoHoKam Park to reclaim the Cactus League single-game attendance record. The figure to beat is 13,311 set Saturday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. So far, the HoHoKam high is 13,162. There are still tickets available for the Cubs’ March 31 game vs. the Angels and the April 2 game vs. the Indians.

— Carrie Muskat