Land of 10,000 wins
Well, I just came back in from the hoisting of the 10,000-win flag high above the centerfield scoreboard. It was a bit anti-climactic in the sense that there was no crowd, no applause, no grandiose announcement, just a handful of front office employees.
Nonetheless, the accomplishment was huge, from a baseball standpoint. The Cubs joined only the NY/SF Giants as the only teams in baseball history to reach the 10,000-win threshold.
Last night was a night of milestones. The 10,000th win aside, Lou Piniella tied Ralph Houk for 14th on MLB’s all-time managerial wins list and fifth among active managers. And the Cubs’ current 15-6 record in April has been achieved by the team just four times in the last century. That, besides the fact that we haven’t won a World Series in 100 years, is most telling about some of the tough times the Cubs have endured during that century.
After the successful homestand that included taking 2-of-3 from the Reds and sweeping the Pirates and Mets, those tough times seem long ago. There’s nothing to feel blase about now!
One thing I did feel sad about was seeing Angel Pagan while the Mets were in town. Pagan was an unassuming guy, who was very approachable–when he was not injured and on rehab in Iowa–and possessed a very interesting back story. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Pagan was a boxer and translated his training for pugilism to baseball. More than that, I once asked Dusty Baker what the most debilitating injury was for his 2006 team. He replied: “Angel Pagan. I had him penciled in as my ‘everything’ outfielder. He can hit for decent power, has speed and plays all three positions.”
I said he was a “poor-man’s Carlos Beltran.” Dusty agreed. Watch his swing and Beltran’s and they are very similar. It’s too bad he’s no longer a Cub–I thought he was a steal when we bought his Triple-A contract from the Mets at the end of Spring Training 2005. Now he’s hitting .304 with 12 RBIs in 69 early season at-bats.