Results tagged ‘ Sammy Sosa ’

5/3 Castro on SI cover

Look who’s on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine: It’s Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

The story headline is “The Education of a Shortstop,” with the subhead, “Starlin Castro, 21-year-old Cubs phenom, grows up before our eyes.” It’s the first time a Cubs player has been featured on the magazine’s cover since Aramis Ramirez was on the Sept. 29, 2008, cover, although Carlos Zambrano was included on the cover in the baseball preview edition April 6, 2009. Sammy Sosa has been on four SI covers, Kerry Wood two, Kosuke Fukudome one, and Alfonso Soriano and Lou Piniella combined on one in February 2007.

– Carrie Muskat

2/3 Where were you …

… on Feb. 2, 2005? That’s the day the Cubs traded Sammy Sosa and his 574 career homers to the Orioles in exchange for Mike Fontenot, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dave Crouthers. Chicago also signed free agent Jeromy Burnitz to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, part of the never-ending search for left-handed power. “Obviously, it’s a historic day,” Cubs GM Jim Hendry said at the time of the deal. “Everybody feels like it was the right thing to do.” Sosa hit 14 homers and drove in 45 runs in 102 games in his only season with the Orioles. He played with the Rangers in 2007 before retiring.

What about the others? Hairston batted .261 in 114 games with the Cubs in 2005, Fontenot spent that year in the Minors, getting called up for seven games in April-May. Crouthers never made it to the big leagues but retired in Spring Training in ’05. In a September 2005 interview with “Inside the Ivy,” he said he left the game because of anxiety issues. Crouthers credited the Cubs staff, particularly pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Hendry, for being supportive. “My decision really had nothing to do with the Cubs or being traded,” he said. “It just got to the point where I didn’t feel like I could compete.” He re-enrolled at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Burnitz hit 24 homers and drove in 87 in 160 games with the Cubs, batting .258 with a .435 slugging percentage. He played one more season with the Pirates in ’06 before retiring.

– Carrie Muskat

7/21 Ramirez HR/RBI numbers

Aramis Ramirez hit three homers and drove in seven runs on Tuesday, his fourth three-homer game to tie Albert Pujols for the most among active players and tie Ernie Banks for the second-most in Cubs history. Sammy Sosa has the most three-homer games with six, which ties him with Johnny Mize for the Major League record.

Ramirez also has nine homers and 24 RBIs in his last 12 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only two other Cubs batters have had at least nine homers and 24 RBIs over a dozen games: Hack Wilson (1928) and Sosa (in both 1998 and 2002).

– Carrie Muskat

5/26 The 300 club

Both Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano are one swing away from joining the 300 homer club. Lee hit No. 299 on Tuesday and Soriano reached that mark on Sunday.

If they do connect in the same game, they won’t be the first to do so. On April 13, 2009, the White Sox’s Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko not only both reached 300 in the same game, but in back to back at-bats at Detroit.

So far, 125 players have hit 300 home runs, including six who reached the milestone with the Cubs. The most recent was Sammy Sosa on June 26, 1999.

– Carrie Muskat

5/5 Soriano 1 HR away from club mark

Alfonso Soriano is on the verge of a club record heading into Wednesday’s game. He has hit in four straight games for the first time in his career, and needs a homer Wednesday to tie the Cubs’ all-time record of five straight games, shared by Sammy Sosa (June 3-8, 1998), Ryne Sandberg (Aug. 7-11, 1989), and Hack Wilson (July 3-7, 1928).

Soriano and teammate Derrek Lee both have 297 career homers, and are in a race to see who will be the 126th Major League player to reach 300.

– Carrie Muskat

4/19 Best/worst Cubs trades

A new book rates the best and worst Cubs trades of the 20th century. According to “Traded: Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History,” the Cubs ranked 12th of all teams. Author Doug Decatur uses “Win Shares,” a statistic developed by baseball guru Bill James to determine how many wins a player contributes to his team, to rank the 306 most lopsided trades.

Here are the top five positive lopsided trades for the Cubs:

1982 Ryne Sandberg for Ivan DeJesus
1966 Ferguson Jenkins for Larry Jackson
1992 Sammy Sosa for George Bell
1995 Luis Gonzalez for Rick Wilkins
1918 Pete Alexander for Mike Prendergast

Here are the Cubs’ five worst lopsided trades:

1989 Mitch Williams for Rafael Palmeiro
1964 Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock
1934 Don Hurst for Dolph Camilli
1983 Steve Trout for Scott Fletcher
1939 Cash for Harry Brecheen

– Carrie Muskat

3/21 Byrd: "I'm here to win"

On Sunday, before Marlon Byrd even got to HoHoKam, he had already taken a few swings in front of the mirror in his Arizona condo. He then drove to the park, much earlier than the other regulars, got dressed, had his breakfast, and was ready to hit. But as Byrd was headed to the batting cages, Rudy Jaramillo was walking in. The two joked about the timing — and, naturally, Jaramillo turned around to go back to the cage with the Cubs new center fielder.

The key to Byrd’s success is keeping a routine. He’ll never forget when he first joined the Phillies. Finding a routine that worked was the advice he got from Jim Thome.

“It’s just over tme, finding a routine, picking from all the guys I’ve come up with,” Byrd said. “My rookie year, I came up with Jim Thome, Jose Mesa, Billy Wagner, Dan Plesac, Rheal Cormier, Tim Worrell. I started picking things from all those guys I played with, all the veterans over the years.”

When Byrd went to the Nationals in 2005-06, he watched veterans like Marlon Anderson, Royce Clayton and Vinny Castilla and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. Byrd still tapes his bat the way Wil Cordero showed him. He has learned from Eddie Guardado, Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr. When he went to Texas, Byrd watched Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa. What did he pick up from Sosa?

“Routine,” Byrd said. “[Batting] cage routine. He said, ‘You do the same routine every single day in the cage, never change.’ Over the years, it’s developed.”

On Saturday, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano said he has enjoyed watching new teammates like Xavier Nady and Byrd.

“I like Marlon Byrd a lot and the way he goes about his business,” Zambrano said. “He just cares about playing baseball. He came here on a mission. People count more on [Derrek Lee] and Aramis [Ramirez] to drive this team but he’s there. He wants to be part of those three dangerous hitters, 3-4-5. That’s a good thing.”

Is Byrd on a mission?

“Yes,” Byrd said. “I’m here. I’m here to win. I’m not here to replace anybody or anything or all that, I’m here to help this team win. They came and got me not because they needed a good clubhouse guy but because they needed somebody to play center field and do it well and I know I can do that. I’m getting myself ready to go out there and play as many games as possible.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/6/10 The Hawk & Sammy

One of my favorite Andre Dawson stories involved him and Sammy Sosa. The Cubs were in Montreal, and Dawson told Sosa, then in his first season with the team, to go see a tailor he knew and pick out a couple suits. The Hawk would pick up the tab, a ritual that continues today on most Major League teams in which veteran players take care of rookies. I’ll let Dawson tell the story:

“I go there and I have a $2,000 bill,” Dawson said. “I asked Sammy, ‘What happened?’ And he said, “Well, I pick the suit but I pick the one I like.”

“I said, ‘For $2,000, you could get three or four suits.’ And he said, “No. Silk. Very, very nice. I like it.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/31 Top 10 Cubs games of the Decade

It’s time to ring in the new year and new decade. In the first 10 years of the 2000s, the Cubs reached the postseason three times (2003, ’07 and ’08), had five managers (counting Rene Lachemann’s one-game in ’02 and Bruce Kimm), and changed ownership. Here are 10 of the most memorable games of the last decade. Agree? Disagree? What’s your favorite game?  

1. Game 5 of National League Division Series, Oct. 5, 2003: For the first time since 1908, the Cubs won a playoff series. Kerry Wood had won Game 1 of the ’03 NLDS when he struck out 11 and hit a two-run double. In the deciding Game 5 on Oct. 5 in front of 54,357 at Turner Field, Wood fanned seven and held the Braves to one run in a 5-1 victory. Aramis Ramirez, a key in-season acquisition from the Pirates, hit a two-run homer.

2. Game 7 of NL Championship Series, Oct. 15, 2003: After the debacle of Game 6 (see No. 3), Wood started the deciding game of the series on Oct. 15, and served up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. But Wood gave Cubs fans hope when he hit a two-run homer in the second to tie the game at 3. Moises Alou’s two-run homer in the third opened a 5-3 lead. But the Fish scored three in the fifth and dashed the Cubs’ dream with a 9-6 series-clinching win.

3. Game 6 of NLCS, Oct. 14, 2003: The Cubs led the NLCS against the Marlins, three games to two, and had taken a 3-0 lead in Game 6 in front of 39,577 at Wrigley Field. Then the fateful eighth. Mark Prior started the game and retired the first batter. The Cubs were five outs away from getting to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Juan Pierre doubled, and Luis Castillo popped up, sending a ball to foul territory which fans in the left field seats tried to catch. So did Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. Nobody did, and Castillo walked. Both he and Pierre moved up on a wild pitch by Prior. Ivan Rodriguez hit a RBI single and Miguel Cabrera reached on an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Derrek Lee — yes, the same D-Lee now with the Cubs — delivered a two-run double which tied the game and chased Prior. The Marlins would score eight runs in the inning and win, 8-3.

4. Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter, Sept. 14, 2008: The Cubs and Astros were relocated to Miller Park in Milwaukee because of hurricane damage to Houston, and 23,441 bought tickets to the last-minute game. What a trip. Big Z struck out 10 and walked one in a 5-0 victory over the Astros, the first no-hitter by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas did so Sept. 2, 1972.

5. Sammy Sosa’s 500th home run, April 4, 2003: In the top of the seventh inning in Cincinnati, Sosa connected off Scott Sullivan for his historic blast, launching a 1-2 fastball over the right-center field wall. It was his first home run of the ’03 season.

6. Greg Maddux’s 300th win, Aug. 7, 2004: Maddux had returned to the Cubs for the 2004 season, and in San Francisco, he became the 22nd pitcher to join the elite 300-win club. The Cubs posted an 8-4 victory over the Giants in front of a sellout crowd of 42,578. Maddux notched the win in his second try.

7. The Ramirez walkoff, June 29, 2007: Aramis Ramirez belts a two-run walkoff homer with two outs in the ninth off Francisco Cordero to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the first-place Brewers in front of 41,909 at Wrigley Field. The win was the Cubs’ seventh straight and boosted them to .500 for the first time since early May. “I know it’s early,” Mark DeRosa said, “but it’s an exciting win for us.”

8. Lou’s first ejection, June 2, 2007: One day after Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano scuffled in the dugout, Lou Piniella erupted and was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a call at third base. It was the first time he was tossed as a Cubs manager and the 60th ejection of his career.

9. The rally vs. the Rockies, May 30, 2008: The Cubs rally from deficits of 8-0 and 9-1 to beat the Colorado Rockies, 10-9, at Wrigley Field. Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds and Henry Blanco each homered and DeRosa smashed a two-run shot to cap a six-run seventh inning. Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez didn’t start the game and Piniella pulled Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto after the Rockies opened a 9-1 lead in the sixth.

10. The Barrett-Pierzynski game, May 20, 2006: Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski collide at home plate in the second inning of the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox, sparking a bench-clearing fight and four ejections. The White Sox had the bases loaded with one out against Rich Hill at U.S. Cellular Field. Pierzynski raced home on Brian Anderson’s fly ball and barreled into Barrett. Pierzynski slapped the plate with his hand and got up. Barrett grabbed the White Sox catcher and delivered a right punch to the face. The Cubs eventually lost, 7-0.

– Carrie Muskat

9/22 D-Lee RBIs

Assuming Derrek Lee drives in one more run in the next nine games for the Cubs, he will have at least 20 RBIs in each of the last four months.

The most recent Cubs to accomplish that feat — and their RBIs totals for June, July, August and September — include:

1998 Sammy Sosa: 158 RBIs total (June 40; July 29; August  28; September  22)

1972 Billy Williams: 122 RBIs (June 23; July 29; August 26; September 26)

1959 Ernie Banks: 143 RBIs (June 26; July 27; August 24; September 21)

1957 Ernie Banks: 102 RBIs (June 22;, July 24; August 21; September 22)

Note: September and October numbers are not combined)

– Carrie Muskat


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