Baseball Under Glass Blog

Kyle Hendricks has out-Madduxed Greg Maddux as a Chicago Cub

Kyle Hendricks came into the NLDS with an excellent postseason statistical line.

Kyle Hendricks came into the NLDS with an excellent postseason statistical line.

Since the well-struck Will Clark baseball disappeared far over Sheffield Avenue into the dark of night, we all lost sight of it. The ball seemed to keep going, so it could be past Neptune by now.

Few have tagged Greg Maddux as enthusiastically as Will The Thrill did in Game 1 of the National League Championships Series on the night of Oct. 4, 1989 at Wrigley Field. The in-orbit fourth-inning grand slam, second Clark homer in as many innings off Maddux and powering the Giants to an 11-3 victory, displayed the one little chink in master craftsman’s armor in his 355-win Hall of Fame career.

He was susceptible to good left-handed hitters early and late in his career. Frankly, in his second Cubs tenure in 2004-06, the aging Maddux was relatively easy meat for southpaw-swinging power men. And before he mastered the string-pulling fastball that headed toward a lefty hitter’s body before darting over the inside corner, Tony Gwynn was Maddux’s “daddy.”

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Dusty rehash unneeded Cubs-Nats distraction in NLDS

Dusty Baker would not be human without time-tripping to his Cubs days during the NLDS. Photo credit Keith Allison, https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/

Dusty Baker would not be human without time-tripping to his Cubs days during the NLDS. Photo credit Keith Allison.

The upcoming National League Division Series between the Cubs and the Washington Nationals should be the crown jewel of the postseason.

Young stars like Las Vegas natives and youth-baseball contemporaries Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper will duel each other as former MVPs. Will a Madduxian craftsman like Kyle Hendricks be able to outpitch super-stuff practitioners like Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg? Wade Davis was 98 percent automatic in the regular season, and needs to continue that mojo without interruption.

And all must be done quickly, as the five-game series is the playoffs’ cruelest round with its abrupt elimination factor.

Too bad some unfinished Cubs business from 2003-04 will provide a sideshow: the Nationals’ Dusty Baker managing against the team he elevated, and then supposedly allowed to disintegrate.

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Fool’s gold for Sox, any team to tank season to snare No. 1 draft pick

Harold Baines (right), MLB's No. 1 draft choice in 1977 who is now a White Sox ambassador, lets longtime Sox season ticket-holder Archie Fletcher try on his 2005 World Series ring.

Harold Baines (right), MLB’s No. 1 draft choice in 1977 who is now a White Sox ambassador, lets longtime Sox season ticket-holder Archie Fletcher try on his 2005 World Series ring.

Rick Renteria would be the last man who’d drive the White Sox in a march toward the rear – baseball’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in the upcoming June 2018 amateur draft.

Although the Sox came into September in contention for the reward for ignominy in their ongoing rebuilding program, manager Renteria knows anything promoting inept play is fool’s gold.

First and foremost, any hint of tanking creates a bad attitude on the field. And Renteria has been all about hustle and playing the game correctly, reflected in the Sox’s on-field efforts despite a shortage of talent. He also is breaking in Yoan Moncada into the lineup and Lucas Giolito and Reynoldo Lopez into the rotation. The latter two pitchers in particular have shown their expected promise. Renteria wants to develop a winning attitude from the get-go.

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’67 Near Miss Sox – under-loved by South-Side fans

The '67 Sox had plenty of hype to appeal to fans via fiery manager Eddie Stanky.

The ’67 Sox had plenty of hype to appeal to fans via fiery manager Eddie Stanky.

The dilemma is never adequately explained or nailed down.

Why don’t the White Sox draw more fans?

Or, more specifically, why didn’t Sox rooters — who supposedly demand winners to spin the turnstiles — turn out in greater numbers when the team was in contention, if not entrenched in first place by large margins?

The issue without an answer carried through my coverage of the Sox in this millennium. Sox management exhibited all kinds of mental gyrations to explain why the 2000 team, cruising to an easy divisional title, had plenty of seats to sell over the Labor Day weekend. Five years later, as the World Series-bound Sox zoomed to a 15-game lead, the ballpark was not bursting with near-sellouts every night.

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Eight-track player among the period pieces in Disco Demolition exhibit at Elmhurst History Museum

Steve Dahl in all his glory revving up the crowd on Disco Demolition Night. Photo by Paul Natkin.

Steve Dahl in all his glory revving up the crowd on Disco Demolition Night. Photo by Paul Natkin.

Maybe it’s just me, but my top highlight touring the Elmhurst History Museum’s ode to Disco Demolition Night 38 years ago was not the treasure trove of period-piece items that included stuff pulled from protagonist Steve Dahl’s storage locker.

Nor did they include White Sox catcher Mike Colbern’s No. 19 uniform he wore for the evening of July 12, 1979 at Old Comiskey Park or the priceless Paul Natkin black and white photos taken during the wildest promotion in baseball history.

What toots my whistle are the vintage radios and TVs which help convey the Disco Demolition story step-by-step. Millennials mesmerized by Star Trek communicators-turned-all-purpose IPhones won’t believe Baby Boomers had to consume much of their information via broadcast signals and recordings conveyed through the AM-FM radios, a retrofitted Seventies TV and an actual eight-track player complete with sample tape.

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