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Opening Day "classics" on Marquee
Showing the 2000 Cubs should be an FCC violation
One of the things Cubs’ fans were supposed to look forward to when Marquee Sports Net launched this spring was when they would dig into their deep vault of classic games. I’ll admit that the two-week “Run for the Ring” (brought to you by a sham memory supplement) where they showed all of the 2016 NLDS and NLCS wins and all seven games of the World Series was fun to rewatch.
But that’s over, so what are they showing?
It’s time for our regular segment: MARQUEE SPORTS NETWORK - ARE YOU MISSING ANYTHING?
No. No not really.
Here’s how they followed up Tuesday night’s airing of the greatest World Series game ever played.
They are now in what they are calling their “Opening Day Classics” series.
They have an odd definition of classic.
Wednesday, April 1 - Opening Day 1996, Mark Grace walk-off
Thursday, April 2 - Opening Day 1994, Tuffy Rhodes three homers off Dwight Gooden
Friday, April 3 - Opening Day 2000, Cubs v. Mets in Japan
Saturday, April 4 - Opening Day 1989, Mitch Williams loads the bases then strikes out the next three
OK, so what is that one for four? Nobody needs to revisit the 1994, 1996 or 2000 Cubs. I mean sure, if you watch the ‘94 opener you get to see Tom Trebelhorn’s boys lose to the Mets, and you even get to see the great Blaise Ilsley pitch.
The 2000 Cubs were an unwatchable mess. Sammy Sosa hit 50 homers, the first time he didn’t hit 60-plus in three seasons, and finally led the league for the first time. Three Cubs pitchers lost at least 10 games. You could eventually guess the first two. Jon Lieber lost 11 games, Kevin Tapani lost 12 and…Ruben Quevedo also lost 10. You have to admire Ruben’s effort. He only pitched in 21 games and made just 15 starts.
The rotation was so bad that The Farns made six starts, including the second game of the season which was also played in Japan.
How weird was the 2000 Cubs’ roster? Dave Martinez and Corey Patterson both played big league games that year. The opening day centerfielder was neither guy, it was Damon “Sleeves” Buford. And Gary Matthews Jr. played in 80 games and hit a robust .190. How many guys did Don Baylor play in center every game, three?
Third base was manned by such luminaries as Willie Greene, Shane Andrews, Jeff Huson and Augie Ojeda!
Brant Brown returned. He came over in a trade for Martinez. The Cubs traded him after the 1998 season-which had gone great for him until he did this:
The Cubs somehow traded him to the Pirates for Lieber. Then he bounced to the Marlins and Rangers before coming back to be really bad.
Brian Williams pitched for the Cubs in 2000. No, not Bison Dele, a different one.
The bullpen was so bad that Rick Aguilera was the closer, the only reliable relievers were Todd Van Poppel and Tim Worrell and at times some of the most hated Cubs relievers of all time were wasting time on the stools down there: Felix Heredia, Matt Karchner, and Will Ohman all in the same ‘pen. Oof.
Imagine this, the Cubs pitching staff had six guys on it with ERAs over 5. I mean, that’s just unbelievable.
You know why it’s unbelievable? Because they didn’t have six guys with ERAs over 5. They had SIXTEEN!
Sixteen! And it’s not like a bunch just made one or two appearances.
Tapani - 5.01 (30 starts)
Scott Downs - 5.17 (18 starts)
Quevedo - 7.47 (21 games, 15 starts)
Ismael Valdez (not Valdes anymore) - 5.37 (12 starts)
Farnsworth - 6.43 (46 games, 5 starts)
Daniel Garibay - 6.03 (30 games, 8 starts)
Jamie Arnold - 6.61 (12 games, 4 starts)
Andrew Lorraine - 6.47 (8 games, 5 starts)
Williams - 9.62 (22 games)
Jerry Spradlin - 8.40 (8 games, 1 start)
Karchner - 6.14 (13 games)
Joey Nation - 6.94 (2 starts)
Phil Norton - 9.35 (2 starts)
Ohman - 8.10 - (6 games)
Danny Young - 21.00 (4 games)
Oswaldo Mareina - 18.00 (2 games)
I mean, holy shit. The 2012 Cubs only had 14 guys do that, and they were trying to lose. And the 2000 team set the bar for terribleness either really high or really low, depending on how you look at it
The 2000 Cubs had 13 guys with at least a 6.00 ERA, seven guys with a 7.00 ERA and six guys with an 8.00 ERA. You can’t top that.
The 2012 Cubs had 10 guys with a 6.00, five guys with a 7.00 ERA and three guys with an 8.00. Not even close.
The 2000 Cubs even made a go for it July 31 trade. Well, sort of. I mean why not, they were 49-55, 8.5 games out of first and just eight games and seven teams out of the Wild Card. They traded Downs to the Expos for an actual good player, Rondell White. Rondell hit .328 for the Cubs, and hit .307 the next year when they actually contended. The only problem was the has was more Ron(DL) White than Rondell. He played in only 114 games total in the two seasons.
The best thing that happened all season was when Andy MacPhail canned general manager Ed Lynch on July 19. On paper, MacPhail was the GM for the rest of the year, but in reality he gave the job to farm director Jim Hendry who got the job for good in the offseason.
So by all means, Marquee, let’s re-live as many gems from that team as possible.
The Tuffy Rhodes game in 1994 is, fine, I guess? It’s a novelty. He hit three homers in his first three at bats. Dallas Green was the Mets manager and took Gooden out before Tuffy’s fourth at bat—as if that was going to happen, again. Ryne Sandberg was just 56 more games away from his first retirement. And the Cubs lost the game.
The 1996 opener is also a crap game. The Cubs won it, in extras after Doug Jones blew a save in the ninth. It’s an odd bookend to the ‘94 opener because it was Sandberg’s first game back. After he ruined the Cubs’ plans to sign Craig Biggio because they didn’t have the balls to tell him they didn’t want him to come back.
Then, there’s 1989. OK, that’s a good one. The Williams debut was everything we had feared, and then loved about him. He gave up consecutive singles to Bob Dernier, Tom Herr and Von Hayes. Just three guys all half a decade from their primes. Then he struck out all-time Cubs’ killer Mike Schmidt, then Chris James (on a full count) and Mark Ryal (not an all-time Cubs’ killer.)
If you (can) watch the game, you’ll get to see Calvin Schiraldi in all his glory. He pitched in 54 games for that team before being traded with Phil Stephenson to the Padres for Luis Salazar and Marvell Wynne.
You will not see such ‘89 Cubs’ luminaries as Dwight Smith, Lester Lancaster, or Lloyd McLendon, however. None of them made the team out of spring training.
Here’s the final out.
If you’re going to show crap Opening Day games, show the disastrous Carlos Zambrano start in 2010 when he gave up the three run homer in Jason Heyward’s first career at bat and the Cubs lost 16-5, or even better 2005, when the Cubs were up 9-3 in the fifth and Zambrano didn’t get the win because Dusty had to take him out with the bases loaded and then, after being taken out, Carlos got thrown out of the game for making glasses with his fingers and yelling at home plate umpire Dale Scott.
They could show the 2003 opener when the Cubs beat the Mets 15-2 and Corey Patterson went 4-for-7 with two homers and seven RBI and Kerry Wood beat Tom Glavine. Patterson should have retired immediately after the game.
But, the one they really should show is opening night 2017 when they wore jerseys with the gold numbers and letters, raised the three World Champions flags (all of which are too small), and it rained and Anthony Rizzo walked off the Dodgers. Because of the delay before the game, I may have fallen asleep before it ended. So, I’d kind of like to see it. It was an ESPN broadcast, so they’d probably have to buy it.