We have reached the midway point of the 2008 Cubs season and the season has gone about as well as any of us could have hoped. Great pitching, solid clutch hitting and contributions from every player has led the Cubs to the top of the National League Central and tied for the best record in baseball with the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem of California of the United States of North America of the Planet Earth.We have reached the midway point of the 2008 Cubs season and the season has gone about as well as any of us could have hoped. Great pitching, solid clutch hitting and contributions from every player has led the Cubs to the top of the National League Central and tied for the best record in baseball with the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem of California of the United States of North America of the Planet Earth.
With a record of 57-38, the Cubs sit 4.5 games ahead of the suprising Cardinals and a full 5 games ahead of the surging Brewers. With all of this said, here are some first half awards going out to a variety of Cubs players, coaches and GM’s. Crack open an Old style and sit back and enjoy.
MVP of the First Half: Tie between Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. I like to call this year’s version of Dempster and Wood the “Bizarro Pitchers”. Who exactly thought at the beginning of the season that both Wood and Dempster would a.) be key contributors to the best team in the National League and b.) make the All-Star game? If you did, I would like to contact you for some lottery numbers.
Dempster has been mostly lights out for the Cubs as he has transitioned flawlessly from closer to starting pitcher. With a 10-4 record and a 3.25 ERA, Ryan has been the surprise of the first half for the Cubs.
Wood has established himself as a bonafide closer with 24 saves and a 3.02 ERA. Throwing heat like he did in his old days as a starter, Kerry has consistently reached 97 and 98 on the radar gun and perplexing hitters with his nasty slider. It is a joy to see him healthy again.
The “I Am The Anti-Christ” Award: This one definitely goes to Mark DeRosa. If it isn’t misjudging a fly ball in the outfield (granted, he is an infielder), striking out on three consecutive sliders or grounding into yet ANOTHER double play, DeRosa has caused me to wish harm upon him many times this year. BRING BACK GRUDZIELANEK!
The “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” Award: Carlos Marmol. Unhittable in the first 3 months of the season, Marmol has suddenly turned into a bad version of Bob Howry. A solid outing in the All-Star game last night hopefully brought his confidence and swagger back and he will ride that to becoming the Carlos Marmol we all love and adore.
Most Exciting Game of the Season: While there are a few to choose from, I have to give this one to the Friday, May 30th game vs. the Colorado Rockies. Down both 8-0 and 9-1, the Cubs staged a comeback of gigantic proportions when scoring three runs in the 6th and six runs in the 7th to take the game 10-9. I remember it being a Friday afternoon game and, when getting off work, rushed to a bar to watch the game. When I arrived, the Cubs were down 9-1. What a roller coaster ride that was when the comeback begun!
(Runner Up: White Sox at Cubs – Friday June 20th. Ramirez with the walk-off homerun!)
The “TAKE THAT” Award: To Jim Hendry, for pulling off the trade for Rich Harden just a day after the Brewers acquired C.C. Sabathia. With Sabathia now living in Wisconsin, I fully expect him to gain 50 pounds and turn into “Fat Bastard” from Austin Powers. (Points also given to Hendry for including Matt Murton in this trade. Now I do not have to watch the worst player to ever play in the Majors. Thanks Jim!)
The “I’m Sorry I Called You A Horrible Human Being” Award: Ryan Theriot. In the words of Bryan Adams:
“Please forgive me I know not what I do
Please forgive me I can’t stop lovin’ you
Don’t deny me This pain I’m going through
Please forgive me If I need ya like I do
Please believe me Every word I say is true
Please forgive me I can’t stop loving you”
The “I Can’t Believe I am Rooting for this Guy” Award: To Jim Edmonds. I don’t think you realize how much I despise this guy. He was the most hated Cardinal of the past decade and was ALWAYS a Cubs killer. When Hendry took a chance and signed this guy after he was let go by the Padres, we all thought “Dear GOD what is he doing? This guy is done!” We were wrong.
Adding his glove in centerfield has been a welcome addition and, lets face it, the guy has been absolutely CLUTCH. Do I expect this to continue? Absolutely not. But right now Hendry looks like one smart man.
The “Weirdest Email Conversation” Award: Myself and George Vecsey. After the well-known journalist pretty much half-assed an article about the Cubs back at the beginning of June, I took him to task on why, in a paper such as the New York Times, he would just mail an article in. His response made no sense whatsoever and did not answer the questions I had for him. A journalist friend of mine emailed me and said “Um, yeah, he’s probably drunk”. I still do not understand his response and how an esteemed writer such as himself could write such a P.O.S. article.
The “These Guys Aren’t REALLY Rookies, Right?” Award: To Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome, the leaders right now for the Rookie of the Year Award. While we can probably agree that Fukudome is not a rookie after playing years in the Japanese major leagues, Soto is a natural rookie. Not only is Geo’s defense behind the plate and handling of the pitchers been absolutely amazing, his bat has been great as well. Both Kosuke and Soto were rewarded with starting positions in this year’s All-Star Game. It will be a tight race to see which Cub wins the hardware in October for Rookie of the Year.
(Note: Last Cub to win Rooke of the Year? Jerome Walton in 1989. This, obviously, is not counting Henry Rowangartner).
The “Cheer up Charlie” Award: Ted Lilly. Please, for the love of all things holy, smile once in awhile. I am not sure this guy has teeth. Not only has Lilly struggled at times, he also sent a seven-year old kid to the hospital and into a coma last week after striking him with a foul ball. (The kid is fine and will be leaving the hospital soon.) With that said, Lilly, along with Derrek Lee, did visit the kid in the hospital and present him with a gift package full of autographed items from the Cubs.
The “You Are a Bigger Disappointment than Will Ferrell’s Last Few Movies” Award: Rich Hill. What in Sandberg’s name happened to this guy? Not only was he sent down to the Minors after a few lackluster starts, now he is in Double A after struggling in Iowa. In the words of Mike LaFontaine in A Mighty Wind, “Whaaa happened?”
A few quick awards:
Cub I want up with Game on Line: Aramis Ramirez
Cub I want pitching Game 7: Big Z
Cub I am most likely to Kill: Derosa
Cub I would Most like to have a Beer With: Tie between Piniella and Dempster
Half of the season is over and the mighty Cubs are on their way to either fulfilling millions of fans wildest wishes or once again building up their hopes and “crushing them, like so many paper beer cups”. (Thanks Steve Goodman!)
What do I think? I think this is the best Cubs team I have seen in my lifetime and they have the talent and will to win it all.
Let the 2nd half begin and end the season like the 1907 and 1908 Cubs did: in the winner’s circle!
This is the Year!