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Tag: Tug McGraw

The Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time #1: Mike “Piece of” Schmidt

Schmidt head.

Eat Schmidt.

Finally, the T79 comes to a glorious end with a Hall of Famer. The idea behind the T79 was to pick out players who were at their best against the Cubs. A lot of these guys were schlubs who put up Hall of Fame numbers exclusively against the Cubs. Mike Schmidt put up Hall of Fame numbers against everyone in the MLB. Everyone except the Cubs. Against the Cubs, he put up numbers above and beyond the Hall of Fame. If there were a T79 Hall of Fame, Mike Schmidt would be the only person in it. He would be the only plaque on the wall. He would be the curator. He would tear your ticket when you walked in, and he would shush you in the library. All while wearing that damn, haunting mustache. Say hello, at long last, to the Top Cub Killer of My Time, Mike Schmidt.

Schmidt is one of those obnoxiously loyal characters like Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell who spent their entire career with one team. For Schmidt, that team was one of the more obnoxious ones in the history of American sports. The Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies drafted Schmidt in the second round of the 1971 draft. All of their fans gathered around and booed and then chucked rotten eggs at Schmidt. PROBABLY.

Schmidt didn’t need much time in the minors to prove he was ready to hit Major League pitching. As a 21-year-old, he spent the season with the AA Reading Phillies. He was promoted before the 1972 season to the AAA Eugene Emeralds. Because he apparently had dreamy green eyes! In Eugene, he hit .291/.409/.550 with 26 home runs and 91 RBIs in 531 plate appearances.

His minor-league performance earned him a September call-up, and Schmidt made his Major League debut on September 12, 1972. 5,057 AMAZING Phillies fans were in attendance to see the debut of one of their all-time greatest players. Because fuck you, Philly. Yogi Berra’s Mets came to Veterans Stadium with Andy-Dolan-favorite Don Money starting at third base. Money’s ankle probably exploded, or something, because Schmidt was called in to replace him in the top of the second inning. Schmidt went 1-3 with two strikeouts and a walk as the Phillies lost 4-3.

Schmidt didn’t exactly Wally Pipp Money, but he saw quite a bit of time in the Phillies’ remaining games of that 1972 season. In fact, Schmidt was in the starting lineup on October 2, 1972 when the Phillies came to Chicago to face Rick Reuschel and Whitey Lockman’s Cubs. Schmidt went 1-3 with a strikeout before yielding to poor Don Money, who tripled and drove in a run in his only at-bat. Schmidt’s Major League career against the Cubs was afoot.

By the end of the 1972 season, the Phillies had seen enough of Schmidt to ship Money off to the Milwaukee Brewers (I wish they had sent Money along with cash) prior to the 1973 season, and the starting third base job was Schmidt’s.

Over the course of his 18-year MLB career, Schmidt compiled Hall of Fame numbers, batting .267/.380/.527 with 548 home runs and 1,595 RBIs. He was elected to twelve All-Star Games, won three MVP awards, and ten Gold Gloves, including nine in a row from 1976-1984. He won the World Series MVP Award in 1980 when the Phillies bested the Kansas City Royals in six games. He won six straight Silver Slugger Awards from 1980-1986. And, oh yes, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

He has a lot of accolades, and he was a hell of a good player. But holy balls, just take a look at his numbers against the Cubs.

In 1,142 total plate appearances against the Cubs, Schmidt compiled a .292/.387/.598 slash line. That’s impressive, but not crazily impressive compared to his career numbers. But just look at those numbers in comparison to what he did against the rest of the league.

Schmidt hit 78 home runs against the Cubs, sixteen more than he did against his second-best opponent (the Pittsburgh Pirates). His absurd 207 RBIs were 19 more than he had against the Pirates and 45 more than against his third-best opponent, the Mets. To put Schmidt’s numbers against the Cubs into perspective, if you prorated them out to a 162-start against the Cubs, he would have hit 49 home runs and driven in 129 RBIs.

Schmidt was far, far more deadly at Wrigley Field, where he batted .307/.396/.653 with FIFTY home runs and 124 RBIs in 611 plate appearances. Project THOSE 134 starts to a 162-game season, and suddenly Schmidt hits 60 home runs and drives in 150 RBIs.

Suffice it to say, if you went to a Phillies game at Wrigley Field for most of the ’70s or ’80s, Mike Schmidt was going to ruin your day. Like, for example…

Why You Should Hate Him: April 17, 1976. Remember how Rick Reuschel threw the first pitches Mike Schmidt ever saw against Cub pitching, and it didn’t go that poorly? Rick made up for it here. So did Mike Garman and Paul Reuschel. Schmidt homered FOUR times off those three Cub pitchers. In fact, no one got Schmidt out after the top of the second inning. In the top of the fourth, the Cubs had built a 12-1 lead off a seven-run second inning and a five-run third. Schmidt got his first hit of many, a harmless leadoff single. Then, Schmidt went to work. In the top of the fifth, with two outs and the Cubs clinging to a 13-2 lead, Schmidt launched a two-run homer to cut the lead…TO NINE. The Phillies were behind 13-6 when Schmidt stepped up again in the seventh inning and launched a solo shot to make it 13-7 Cubs. IN THE SEVENTH INNING. The Phillies were batting with two outs and bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning when Dick Allen hit a 2-run single to make it 13-9 Cubs. Schmidt follow with a three-run blast (his third homer of the day) off Mike Garman to make it 13-12 and to make Cubs fans everywhere groan. The Phillies managed to take a 15-13 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Steve Swisher tied the game with a dramatic two-run, two-out single off Tug McGraw. Well, as dramatic as a game-tying hit can be after your team surrenders an 11-run lead in five innings. Like a mental patient, the Cubs were still going right at Schmidt when he came up in the top of the tenth. This time, it was Paul Reuschel’s turn to serve up a two-run homer to Schmidt. The Phillies scored another in that inning and went on to win 18-16 in a game the Cubs had led 12-1. Ugh.

Did You Know? If you’ve ever wanted to taste a winner, you can try a bottle of Mike Schmidt’s 548 Zinfadel. It’s apparently “vintastic.”

Also, this guy has absolutely no chance to ever make it to the top of a Google search, even if he did write the hilarious radio banter in the first Saints Row game.

The Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time #16: Bob “Why” Walk “When You Can RIDE THIS MUSTACHE?”

Mustache ride first, and then you can do the "Walk of Life."

Bob Walk made 259 starts in his 14-season MLB career, and took only four showers. Perhaps one for each loss he suffered against the Chicago Cubs. It wouldn’t surprise any Cubs fan of the 1980s to know that Bob Walk has a World Series ring. Or that Bob Walk was an All-Star. It might surprise the rest of the world, though. Throughout the course of his career, the mediocre Walk pitched better against the Chicago Cubs than he did against any other team in Major League Baseball, which is why he threw his way to #16 of the Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time.

Bob Walk was the apple of 5th-round drafters’ eyes in the mid-1970s. In 1975 and 1976, the California Angels and Philadelphia Phillies respectively selected Walk in the 5th round of the amateur draft. Walk, however, neglected to sign with either team, probably because his arm was desperately needed on the College of the Canyons Cougars! It’s too bad Walk didn’t choose to sign with the Angels. In a pre-interleague era, the Cubs may have never had to face him. Unfortunately, Walk finally signed with the Phillies on September 7, 1976.

Walk pitched well at the single-A level for the Phillies, posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.276 WHIP in 49 starts. By the start of the 1980 season, Walk had pitched his way to the AAA Oklahoma City 89ers. Not long into their championship season, Phillies manager Dallas Green had decided that Larry Christenson’s collarbone was still messed up from Tug McGraw’s charity bike-a-thon, and that Scott Munninghoff blew. So, on May 26, 1980, Walk was called upon to make his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Veterans Stadium. Walk lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up two hits (though one was a home run), but walking five Pirates and surrendering five earned runs. Oh, he also balked. It seems as though he was a bit nervous.

Walk hadn’t settled down much for his second start, which came against the Cubs. In his first start at Wrigley Field, Walk pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, five walks, five strikeouts, and home runs by Larry Biittner and Dave Kingman. Though Walk didn’t get the decision, his Phillies took a 5-4 loss.

Just five days later, Walk faced the Cubs in Philadelphia. He threw another 5 2/3 innings, and gave up 10 hits and five earned runs. However, he didn’t walk anyone and still struck out five Cubs. The Phillies scored six for him and gave him his first MLB win, a 6-5 glorious triumph over a team he would torment for the next 14 years.

Walk finished the 1980 season with an 11-7 record and 4.57 ERA, good enough to get a vote for National League Rookie of the Year, presumably from the 1980 version of Steve Rosenbloom. Walk’s Phillies made the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals, and Dallas Green made him the first rookie to start the first game of a World Series since the Dodgers trotted out Joe Black in 1952. And they won, despite Walk’s six earned runs in seven innings of work. USA! USA! USA!

Prior to the 1981 season, the Phillies traded Walk to the Atlanta Braves for beloved Cub Gary Matthews. After an underwhelming three seasons in Atlanta, during which he went 12-13 with a 4.85 ERA and spent a great deal of time in the minors, the Braves released Walk. Just before the start of the 1984 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates scooped up Walk for…free, basically. They dumped him into their minor-league system, presumably planning only on calling him up to face the Cubs and use him as a spot starter and reliever.

Walk pitched reasonably well for the Pirates, and by 1988, he was a permanent member of the Pirate rotation. He rewarded manager Jim Leyland (then only 75 years old) with 212 2/3 innings pitched, a 2.71 ERA, a 1.166 WHIP, and an All-Star appearance. He also balked nine times and threw 13 wild pitches (most in the NL). Holy shit, Bob Walk. Your name is PERFECT.

In 1993, Walk was 36 years old and done with Major League Baseball, though no one had the heart to tell him yet. He gave up more earned runs (118) than anyone else in the National League. He walked nearly as many batters (70) as he struck out (80) in 187 innings pitched, which helped him to a 5.68 ERA and 1.519 WHIP. At the end of the 1993 season, to the relief of the Cubs, he was granted his free agency, and rode off into the sunset. The rest of the teams in baseball (those who could actually hit Walk) were so depressed by his departure from the game, they STOPPED PLAYING BASEBALL ENTIRELY.

Despite his rocky debut against the Cubs, Walk finished his career 15-4 against the Cubs. His .789 winning percentage against the Cubs is higher than it is against any other opponent. His 15 wins against the Cubs are more than he had against any team except the Padres (16). He put up a 3.68 ERA and completed more games (3) against the Cubs than any other team. He struck out more Cubs per nine innings (5) than he did against any team other than the Phillies (5.7) and the Reds (5.6). And for a guy named Walk, he did so to only 59 Cubs while striking out 104 of them. Ugh.

Why You Should Hate Him: June 22, 1993. Whether or not you want to make the argument that Walk was actually a pretty good pitcher (and why WOULD you?), by 1993 he was terrible. Yet it surprised absolutely no one when he pitched a three-hitter against the Cubs at Three Rivers Stadium. Walk gave up only two earned runs on a Candy Maldonado pinch-hit, 8th-inning home run. Walk struck out four Cubs and walked not a one of them in the course of nine innings. It took Walk only 90 pitches to record a 7-2 Pirates win, and he only had to throw FIFTY-EIGHT of those for strikes. Probably fewer, if you consider how many times Sammy Sosa swung at a pitch a foot above his head. Oh, and for those of you who think the Cubs’ second-base curse is just as real as their third-base curse, take note. Eric Yelding started at second base for the Cubs that afternoon.

Did You Know? You might recall that in 2007, a band of Pirates fans planned a walkout of a Saturday night game in Pittsburgh. They wanted to visually show their displeasure with the state of the Pirates franchise, and what better way than for 100 people to walk out of a stadium filled with 7,000 people? None other than Desipio message board scourge Ray Ratto pointed out that the protest was scheduled on Bob Walk BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT. The next time you feel bad about being a Cubs fan, bear in mind that the Pirates were once so bad, that now we live in a world in which Bob Walk has a bobblehead.