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Nomar era begins with a W       Send a link to a friend

By Jeff Mayfield

[AUG. 2, 2004]  Has Chicago GM Jim Hendry been taking Walt Jockety pills? And does he call Walt to get his opinions and ideas on how to do the GM thing really well? And does the Wrigley family know that THIS GM is actually trying to make deals to make the team better and give them chances to win? These are just a few of the many questions I have pondered after hearing that the Cubs stole Nomar Garciaparra (pronounced like Garcia pear-a) from the Boston Red Sox.

And while we're on this subject, no wonder the Red Sox are jinxed… Making deals like this one does not usually lead to championships. Rumor has it that they once traded a young Babe Ruth to a team in New York, which is not much of a track record. How Boston could give up on the guy that carried them for several seasons I'll never know, and how the Cubs were able to get him is even more astounding. However, once again Hendry has made another great deal. Does that mean his days are numbered with the Cubs?… I sure hope so.

The Cubs did manage to go out behind Garciaparra and beat the Phillies 6-3 yesterday to take two of three from the struggling Phils; but by the time I turned the game on, LaTroy Hawkins was in -- I presumed, to nail down Maddux's 300th win… Little did I know that he was no longer the pitcher of record.

At any rate, in this would-be reporter's mind, Nomar is exactly the kind of player you want and exactly the kind of player the Cubs need and have always needed. To me he is a guy who makes everyone in the lineup better. I hope and pray he is not the guy who can help Chicago catch St. Louis in the Central Division race, but he very well could be the guy who could lead the Cubbies to the wild card title.

Have I mentioned that the last two wild cards haven't fared too badly? World titles for both the Florida Marlins and the Anaheim Angels is my evidence for that statement! At any rate, hats off to Jim Hendry for a super move, especially when you consider that the Cubs did not have to give up Matt Clement to get this deal done. And for those Cub fans who have bemoaning Greg Maddux this season, he's something like 3-0 with a sub-2.0 ERA over the last month… Yah, he's really lost it!

Cards a bigger hit than Broadway

If the St. Louis Cardinals were a Broadway play, they would be sold out nightly and headed for an extended run. After dusting off the San Francisco Giants 6-1 last night in front of a national ESPN TV audience, they put the finishing touches on a 5-1 road trip. With the win the Cards vaulted 30 games over .500 and obviously start August with a 10½ game lead over the second-place Cubs. If you watched the game, you had a bad feeling after the top half of the sixth. In that frame the Redbirds loaded the bags against SF wonder boy Jason Schmidt with only one out. He induced John Mabry, who has been on fire lately, to ground weakly to first, resulting in a fielder's-choice force out at home, and then he got Mike Matheny to ground out weakly to second. I guess that's why Jason is the wonder boy and the leading contender for the NL Cy Young award.

However, Cardinal Jedi master Woody Williams was up to the task. By the way, congratulations to Williams, who won the 100th game of his career, limiting the potent Giant lineup to only one run and helping to hold Barry Bonds to an 0-for-4 night. The Cards could have swept the series if Mr. Ten Days Rest, Matty Mo, would not have gotten shelled the night before (and the Birds almost came back and won that one too).

Some fans were disgusted that the Cards didn't make a deal for a RHP in middle relief and pick up an outfielder for the stretch run. While I agree with some of them that those would have been nice additions, I'd like to mention that the machine is NOT broke and sometimes the best deal is no deal at all. I sure hope that was the right decision.

One other note: Rick Ankiel will make his first start in over a year tonight for Palm Beach as they take on St. Lucie in Jupiter, Fla. If anyone's got a plane and would like to make the trip, we'd spring for gas, as we'd like to cheer on the young lefty. Hopefully, he'll be back up with the big club next month.

White Sox lay an egg

On the other hand, it hasn't been much of a week for Ozzie Guillen and the Pale Hose. Losers of six or seven in a row, they finally picked up a victory over Detroit yesterday, but the damage has already been done. If they fail to capture the AL Central, they can look back to the last week in July has their "collapse" week! Perhaps the Sox should take a page out of my swingin' A's book? Did you see what they did to the Rangers this weekend? Look it up!


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Bloomington Gold advances

The Bloomington Gold American Legion baseball team won the 4th Division championship at Chuck Lindstrom field last night over Springfield 17-12. Former LCC baseball coach Mike McElyea's son Shawn, who is a Parkland College recruit, closed out the win for the Gold. With the win they now advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2000 against an unnamed opponent as we go to post.

Former Lincoln resident Steve Clapp manages the ballclub, and judging by the sparkling 39-8 record, he has done a masterful job. Clapp, who was an integral member of record-setting LCC baseball and basketball teams, is no stranger to success, having enjoyed it all of his life. Wins, victories and other good stuff follow this guy wherever he goes.

At any rate, the LDN wishes the Gold great success at UIC and would love a state title brought back to our area.

Golf drama

When I was a young man, my dad tried to get me interested in golf. I was OK playing it, but just the thought of watching it on TV made me sick. I could not understand how ANYone could watch it. It just appeared so boring -- like maybe watching paint dry. Even today some of you loyal and faithful LDN readers might have that same opinion.

If you share that opinion, then you obviously were NOT watching the Buick Open yesterday from Michigan. And you missed some major entertainment. It was drama, spills and chills and all wrapped into one. The crowd was in a frenzy like a college basketball crowd. You had Carlos Franco and Tiger Woods going toe to toe and you had a rejuvenated John Daly just obliterating the field with his monster drives and shots. And of course you had Vijay Singh just galloping away with the championship. He can do it with the long putter, he can do it with the cross-handed grip, and he can do it with a conventional style. Speaking of Singh… If he's not the No. 1 player in the world right now, I don't know who is.

And if that wasn't enough to whet your golf appetite, then did you check out the Senior U.S. Open from spectacular Bellrive in St. Louis? Tom Kite held the third-round lead, but huge galleries were trying to pump Hale Irwin and Jay Haas onto victory. But it was a steady Peter Jacobson who shook off the effects of a sore hip and a 36-hole finale to claim the trophy. Not bad golf for seniors on a hot day playing an extra round of golf.

For my money that's just good TV (I realize that's an oxymoron)… I just hope I didn't miss too many great shootouts in my youth when I chose to watch paint drying instead!

I was sad to learn of the death of former UCLA great Steve Patterson. Patterson died of cancer at the young age of 56. He played center on three national champion teams, in between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor at the time) and Bill Walton. As a kid and way before ESPN, FOX, etc., I would stay up past the news and watch the UCLA replays at 11:30 at night. They were the UNLV (I'm not going to say that team on Tobacco row) of their time and were virtually invincible. That was one thing my dad DID convince me to watch on TV, and again that was some REALLY good television. They just don't make 'em like that anymore!

Hey… the pools are open… Use 'em and cool off… Have a great week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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