did we feel so good about Chicago’s chances this year? It started
with their off-season front office moves. Everything they did seemed
to make sense to us, and — without being too offensive — that
has rarely happened. Shoring up their pitching staff first and
plugging their lineup deficiencies next is the type of thing that
will not only help them to stay in the race this year, but it will
also enable them to compete for the immediate future as well. Isn’t
this what all good teams do consistently? They don’t mortgage the
future for a chance to finish .500.
a baseball fan, I applaud the moves they made. I know it wasn’t
easy. They had to be crying in their cold frosty ones when they let
Mark Grace slip away to Arizona. But isn’t it interesting that
they’re having one of their best years ever without him. That may
not be just a coincidence. In an upcoming story, the LDN hopes to
prove how the addition of even one player here or the subtraction of
another player there can sometimes make all the difference in the
knew the Cubs meant business when they acquired Bill Mueller from
the Giants and Matt Stairs from the As. These guys were not just
good players, they came from "winning" organizations.
Mueller carried the Cubs for almost two months, and when he went
down he was hitting .317 and playing terrific defense. Stairs has
contributed 10 home runs, and his 41 RBIs are second in the ball
club. And although he won’t make you forget Gracie down at first,
he’s certainly been solid.
White and Ricky Gutierrez haven’t been chopped liver either. Ricky
is tied for second in RBIs with Stairs at 41, and White has banged
out 13 dingers (second behind Sosa) to go along with his .302
average and 36 RBIs. Ron Coomer, Eric Young and Gary Matthews have
all had their moments too. In fact this Cub conglomerate is a true
epitome team. One guy does the damage today and another guy comes
what can you say about Sammy? Can you say "one of the most
underrated superstars in professional sports"? All we know here
at the LDN is that the guy bats over .300, hits a million homers and
drives in a few million runs. For you purists, Sammy’s numbers are
actually .302 with 34 taters and 98 RBIs. Not to mention a few great
plays in the outfield on a pretty regular basis.
a matter of fact, I’ve only been watching baseball for 41 or 42
years, and the kind of defense that the Cubs have displayed so far
this year has been as good as I’ve seen. If I’m wrong, would you
agree that it has helped get them this far, so far?
the pitching staff has been downright amazing. Their miniscule 3.72
ERA is second only to the "best pitching staff money can
buy" — that of none other than the Atlanta Braves. Cub
pitchers are first in wins, third in saves, and first in runs
allowed and in strikeouts. I’m not too smart about sports, but
aren’t these the most important categories out there? Tom
"Flash" Gordon has 19 saves. Area product Jeff Fassero has
11, and most of those were big, while the Cubbies were waiting for
the Flashman to return. Kerry Wood, Jason Bere and Kevin Tapani have
made major contributions and at times have probably deserved a
better fate. Kyle Farnsworth and Todd Van Poppel have been better
than anyone hoped for, except for maybe Greg Taylor. And Jon Leiber
has simply been unhittable most of the time.
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fans were waiting for the Cubs to collapse in June while others were
expecting a July swoon. Now I hear some talking about the wheels
coming off in August. The LDN doesn’t think so. We still see the
Cubs in the playoffs. How far they go may be the real story.
concerns still do remain. Their hitting woes at times have reached
the anemic stage. They’re in the bottom half of most team hitting
stats. If they could really pull off the trade for Fred McGriff or
some other slugger, that would really improve their chances of going
deeper into the playoffs. Don’t hold your breath for Jason Giambi.
While many of us would like to see him hitting some bombs for our
favorite team, his Oakland As have snuck back into the wild-card
race. I don’t see the Cubs landing him this season.
probably wouldn’t hurt to add maybe one more pitcher to the mix
either. Maybe someone who could eat up a lot of innings in long
relief and maybe deliver a respectable spot start here and there the
rest of the way.
anyway you slice it, if you’re a Cubs fan, you gotta be loving
this season. The LDN encourages you to stop with the gloom and doom.
Part of the enjoyment of any achievement is the journey. The Illini
hoopsters had a great year even though they lost in the Elite Eight,
but it was a great ride. A few years ago when our Railer hoopster
teams went to state, we didn’t win the championship, but they were
the adventure of a lifetime.
behalf of the LDN: Cub fans, enjoy the ride!
yesterday’s one-run loss, 4-3, due to late-game errors against the
San Diego Padres, left the Cubbies stinging, it was only their
fourth loss in 11 games. It still leaves northern Illinois’
favorite National League ball team in first place in the Central
League, Central Division standings
basketball at Delavan Fall Festival
17, 2001] A
3-on-3 basketball tournament will be part of the Delavan Fall
Festival on Saturday, Sept. 1.
will be numerous divisions for males and females age 8 and up. This
is a double-elimination tournament with awards to first-, second-
and third-place teams in each division. Each player will also
receive a T-shirt.
tournament will include 3-point contests and free-throw contests
throughout the day, with prizes awarded.
more information or to obtain an entry form, call Jack Wheeler at
(309) 244-9881 or Dennis Moehring at (309) 244-9241. Entries must be
received by Friday, Aug. 17.