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There are several interesting storylines heading into the 2011 major league season. Among them:
The snow has melted, the days are getting noticeably longer, and the Cubs are playing spring training games in Arizona.
The acquisition of pitcher Matt Garza by the Cubs, along with two minor leaguers, from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for five prospects - that include right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, outfielders Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and catcher Robinson Chirinos - is a brilliant and gutsy move by general manager Jim Hendry.
Consider me among those who has been underwhelmed by the Cubs' offseason activity up to this point, but it seems that every piece of less-than-exciting news has been surrounded by a silver lining.
.259 BA, 34 HR, 156 RBI with Cubs
(Editor's Note: Ninth in a series identifying the 100 worst Cubs of all-time.)
When the Cubs signed Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome to a four-year,$48 million contract before the 2008 season, the outfielder was often described in the media as a cross between Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. In nine seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, Fukudome hit .305, won a batting title in 2002, and was named the Japanese Central League MVP in 2006 after hitting .351 with 31 homers and 104 RBI.
It's a shame, that his lasting image in the minds of many Cubs fans will be an awkward-looking helicopter swing and a miss.
You don't put together a 103-year championship drought without a few infamous and embarrassing moments. Cubs history is full of head-scratching and gut-wrenching moments. I believe these are the 13 worst:
It was a surprise to learn Friday that longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild has left the Cubs after accepting the same position with the New York Yankees.
My grandfather turned 90 earlier this year.
Pops is no saint, but I have always been struck by his ability to make friends. It's a testament to his talent for relating to others that a week does not go by when somebody in our neighborhood asks me how he's doing or tells me a story about a good time they had with him.
But the fact that he has been a Cubs fan since at least the 1930s has to be penance for something. The man has been subjected to more bad baseball in his lifetime than anybody else I know and has not even enjoyed the experience of watching his favorite team play in the World Series since 1938. He was serving in the Pacific while the Cubs participated in the 1945 Fall Classic.
"Wait 'til next year!" my late grandmother would mutter whenever she'd hear a Cubs fan speak those words. "It's always wait 'til next year with those Cubs!"
The improved play the Cubs demonstrated under interim manager Mike Quade during the season's final weeks (a 24-13 record) was encouraging but it doesn't change the fact that the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster.