In the late ’90s to about the mid-2000s, there were a weird number of players that the Cubs and Boston Red Sox swapped back and forth as they both sought to avoid 100 titleless years. Jimmy Anderson, Shane Andrews, Terry Adams, Rod Beck, Damon Buford, Frank Castillo, Matt Clement, Jeff Fassero, Cliff Floyd, Chad Fox, Gary Gaetti, Nomar Garciaparra, Geremi Gonzalez, Tom Gordon, Mark Guthrie, Ricky Gutierrez, Chris Haney, Bob Howry, Damian Jackson, Sandy Martinez, Wade Miller, Bill Mueller, Troy O’Leary, Darren Lewis, Ron Mahay, Pat Mahomes, Orlando Merced, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger, Rey Sanchez, Matt Stairs, Chris Stynes, Julian Tavarez, Jermaine Van Buren, Todd Walker, and Scott Williamson all played for both historically horrible franchises around that time. The swapping worked for the Red Sox. Not so much for the Cubs. The starting third baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time was one of those guys. Many Cubs fans blamed Dusty Baker for mismanaging Mark Bellhorn and not handing him the starting third base position during the 2003 season. I’m all for blaming Dusty Baker for everything. But I don’t think this one was on him. Bellhorn was awesome for exactly one season. Fortunately, that season happened when he was with the Cubs. Unfortunately, it happened in 2002, when they were absolutely terrible. Nevertheless, Bellhorn’s Cub career was enough to earn him a spot on this team.
Are you as excited as I am about grown men playing catch in the Arizona sun? It’s a low bar. But pitchers and catchers reporting is the first sign that this winter can’t LITERALLY be endless, right? Soon, there will be baseball games that don’t matter. Then, there will be baseball games that do matter. Then, around May, there will be baseball games that don’t matter again. But, hey, the sun is out today.
Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th. What does that mean to you? It means nothing. The 2014 Cubs MAY get within 10 games of .500 this year. But I said that last year. Because I’m an idiot. As someone who cut the cable cord last fall, the biggest story of the 2014 season is going to be whether I’m going to be able to watch Cubs games on MLB.tv. If not, I guess I’m going to complete my final metamorphosis into a full-time Twins fan. Or maybe I’m finally going to finish that novel and learn to play guitar. Or maybe I’ll just waste that time looking at memes. Who am I to judge myself?
Is Keith Moreland a secret agent? Are the Muskbox submitters a secret sect of low-intelligence sentient life forms? Does anyone remember Josh Vitters? Do people in New Zealand watch the Cubs? All these questions and more will be half-assedly answered in this week’s edition of the Muskbox.
Happy Super Bowl weekend, humans. If you have plans for the Super Bowl, you’re one step ahead of me. No part of me wants to see Peyton Manning with another Super Bowl, but a large part of me wants Pete Carroll to fall on his stupid smug face. So, go Broncos? Whatever your plans for this weekend, be safe, try to let your significant others actually watch the game if they want to, and try to space out your halftime toilet flushes.
Dave Kaplan got his hands on the contract the Cubs signed with the rooftop owners. Dave Kaplan wrote a 2,000+ word essay breaking down the contract. I wrote a million-word fisking of his breakdown of the contract. THE CIRCLLLLLLLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE! Thanks to Section 242 for the tip.
The Muskbox is here to solve all of the Cubs’ third-base problems… or something. What that solution is, is hard to define. But if there’s one thing our resident librarian knows how to do, it’s define words. And phrases. And idioms. And shush people. And hand out detentions. And stamp books. And keep Ed Hartig fed and watered.
Brace yourselves for a shitload of videos this week. Sorry in advance to you office chumps. Most of these are worth getting fired over. Some pretty awesome things have happened on the internet in the past week. Here are all of them. Oh, and the Cubs did some things. Or didn’t do some things. Oh, and ticket packages are on sale this afternoon. And tickets to see Billy Joel at Wrigley Field go on sale tomorrow. SO MANY THINGS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CHAMPIONSHIP BASEBALL ARE HAPPENING AT WRIGLEY FIELD!!!
If there’s one thing Jim Hendry was good at during his tenure with the Cubs, it was eating an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies without using his hands. If there were two things he was good at, the second one was getting weird career years out of mostly-bad middle infielders. Mickey Morandini lives here. Mark DeRosa made the BBC team as a bench player. And overall, DeRosa was a better player in Chicago than Mark Grudzielanek. However, screw Mark DeRosa. More was expected of him than Grudzielanek, and he had nothing to do with the Cubs being able to throw Todd Hundley on a tire fire, where his booze-soaked sweat went up like kerosene. Plus, Grudzielanek played on a team that actually won a playoff game. Plus, just look at him playing chess against Eric Karros. Shove your Ivy League education, DeRosa. Also, I’m just going to say it. Grudzielanek has piercing blue eyes, and if memory serves, he had a really hot girlfriend/wife when the Cubs clinched in 2003. Because that somehow affects me, and I’m ignoring the existence of Heidi DeRosa. For those reasons, Mark Grudzielanek is the starting second baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
This was a tough position. There are quite a few good/bad first basemen who have played for the Cubs. Julio Zuleta, Phil Nevin, Eric Karros, Manny Trillo (1987 ver.), Carlos Pena, Xavier Nady. And go ahead and cry for Randall Simon, crybabies. It’s my list. If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past 9ish years, you’d know there was only one clear choice for this position. Hell, you might even ask yourself if the only reason I started this list was to have a reason to write an article about the greatest Cub player of all time, DARYLE WARD. And I shan’t provide an answer to that musing, good sir. Daryle Ward is an awesome, lovable teddy bear, and he is the clear choice for the starting first baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.