With the goateed Matt Clement, we reach the end of the starting rotation of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time. And how. For while Matt Clement initially got a bad reputation after the 2003 playoffs when rumors abounded that he refused to go to the bullpen in the NLCS, we all know that Dusty Baker was the mismanaging nitwit behind that decision. And here’s the thing. Without Clement, the Cubs wouldn’t have been in the 2003 playoffs at all. Not a bad contribution for a player who was a gamble in the Antonio Alfonseca trade. So Matt Clement rounds out the starting rotation of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
If you watched the 2003 Cubs, you would know there was no doubt that Joe Borowski would earn the closer’s role on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time. Rod Beck gave Cubs fans heart attacks in 1998, but he had a pretty great career and wasn’t particularly good as a Cub. Sweaty Joe was the opposite. He had two magical seasons in his career, both of them in a Cub uniform, one of them the most fun season I can remember watching as a Cubs fan (I wasn’t old enough to appreciate 1984). Borowski was the most lights-out reliever to ever trade in his firefighter uniform for a Cub uniform. It was fun watching him set fires on the mound and then successfully extinguish them. Plus, he was great enough to once be traded for Pete Motherfucking Rose(‘s kid). Your bestbadcloser, Joe Borowski.
The final Muskbox of 2012 is mercifully short. Like the Cubs’ 2012 playoff run, Bears fans’ patience, and Dale Sveum’s Book of Interesting Stories. Maybe the Muskbox celebrated a bit too hard during the holiday season. Maybe the normal Muskbox submitters all got new computers for Christmas and will spend the next month figuring out how to turn them on. Maybe there are only so many questions one can ask in the offseason about a 100-loss team that figures to be phenomenally dull in 2013. Whatever the case may be, enjoy the abbreviated Muskbox.
There are a few recurring themes in the Muskbox. The most prevalent is to swap all of the players around despite their success or lack thereof to make room for them in the lineup. Generally, they’re not trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic to get more at-bats for the closer. That’s why I’m here. To think outside the Muskbox.
The Muskbox is a weird creature. No matter what the happenings are in and around Major League Baseball, the Muskbox occupies its own space. It’s a space where people are still interested in Ian Stewart and Michael Bowden. A space where fall baseball is played exclusively in Arizona. A place where Tony Campana draws comparisons to Devin Hester.
When the Muskbox pops up on my feed reader, if I don’t have time to get to it right then, I generally just head to the electronic graffiti that is Cubs.com to find it. If it’s not still on the front page, it’s generally buried in the “News” section behind the ten stories a day that Carrie writes about how, as a fanbase, we undervalue Tony Campana. This week, I couldn’t find the Muskbox. Despite my emphatic CTRL-F’ing. Despite the fact that I was only one day behind its publishing. It was a mystery. So, I went back to my feed reader to search for Old Musky’s gold, and found it hidden within her blog. Mind you, this is not the first time that Carrie has tried to pull the old switcheroo on me, and it certainly won’t be the last. But it makes me wonder. Is she moving the Muskbox around intentionally, or does she just forget where she posts it from week to week?
When I was growing up, baseball was my love. I couldn’t wait for summer, when my “baseball friends” would replace my “school friends” and we’d sweat out long, hot Chicago afternoons in our Riverside Yankees uniforms, taking on the surrounding towns like LaGrange Park, Brookfield, Berwyn, and our arch-rivals from South Cicero. We’d take our place in our third-base dugout, not because the Cubs did it, but because the first-base dugout backed up against the forest preserve, which backed up against the Brookfield Zoo, which made it a paradise for swarms of mosquitoes. Our dugouts had no roofs. They weren’t dug out of anything. They were, more or less (usually less), an aluminum bench that got blisteringly hot in the sun.
Despite appearances, I’m not letting HJE die a slow death. In fact, I’m working on another facelift for the old girl, which will probably take longer than the T79. Also, there may be a return of a beloved feature on the horizon. No, not the Shoutbox. I haven’t gotten around to that yet. In this latest episode of Muskbox, the fans lament Bryan LaHair’s lack of at-bats (DAFUQ?) and wonder what might have been for the Peoria Chiefs if Albert Pujols were still playing there. Yup.
Is sixteen games into the season too early to take stock? Marlon Byrd and his .070 batting average are no longer Cubs. Ryan Dempster, the (shudder) longest-continuous-tenured Cub, and Kerry Wood, the longest-tenured Cub who everyone doesn’t hate are both shelved with injuries. Alfonso Soriano has eleven hits so far, and not a one of them went for extra bases. David DeJesus and Matt Garza are wondering just what the fuck they’re doing in Cubs uniforms. The best hitter on the team is Bryan LaHair. The recently-exonerated Starlin Castro is already setting pace to prove that, yes, he can actually hit. He’s third in the NL with 23 hits so far, he’s fifth in batting average at .365, and under the aggressive Dale Sveum, he’s already nabbed seven bases. He stole 22 all last year.
Before you didn’t watch A.J. Pierzynski cheat the White Sox into the 2005 World Series, there was probably already something in your gut that made you hate him. Your gut was absolutely right. The nicest thing that fellow asshole Ozzie Guillen could say about Pierzynski is, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” For one thing, I didn’t know assholes could smell their own. For a second thing, there is no way Ozzie Guillen said that as eloquently as that quote is written. For yet another thing, when even OZZIE GUILLEN thinks you’re an asshole, it’s time to take some serious stock of your life. Though Pierzynski’s numbers against the Cubs have dropped in the last few years, I have no qualms about placing the infuriating mullet of A.J. Pierzynski at #7 of the Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time.