Results tagged ‘ Sammy Sosa ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Sosa surpasses Maris

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the seventh part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

9/13/98 — Sosa hits home runs No. 61 and 62

Fans around the country were riveted all season long as two NL Central foes, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, engaged in an epic (though now tainted) home run battle for the ages. For decades, 61 had been the magic number.

McGwire was the first to reach 62, hitting his historic blast on Sept. 8 off the Cubs’ Trachsel. Then, on Saturday, Sept. 13, a sunny afternoon at the Friendly Confines, Sosa ripped a pair of homers that also tied and surpassed the hallowed total compiled by Roger Maris in the summer of 1961.

The first was a fifth-inning blast off Brewers righty Bronswell Patrick. Then, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Sosa took a 2-1 pitch off right-hander Eric Plunk deep to left field that put him in a temporary tie with McGwire for the all-time mark.

“I said to McGwire, ‘Wait for me,’” said Sosa at the time. “He listened to me. Now we’re together. We’ll see where we go.”

As it turned out, McGwire didn’t wait long. Sosa would eventually fall four short of the St. Louis slugger in the home run chase (70-66), but just being part of the race made the 1998 campaign all the more special.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Sosa’s 20-homer June

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the fifth part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.

Sosa

(Photo by Stephen Green)

June, 1998 – Sammy Sosa’s 20-homer month

June was all about Sammy—and that wasn’t just on the North Side. Throughout baseball and all around the country, every time No. 21 stepped to the plate, it was appointment viewing. Sosa clubbed a pair of homers on June 1, one a day from June 5-8, three on June 15, two on June 19 and two more on June 20.

Sosa finished with a major league-record 20 home runs in the month, surpassing Rudy York’s previous record of 18 in a month—set in August 1937—with a blast on June 25.

“All I remember about June was that Sammy seemed to hit a home run every single day. It was just unreal,” said pitcher Steve Trachsel. “It was just going into games wondering, ‘OK, how many is he going to hit today?’”

Diamondbacks lefty Alan Embree was the victim of Sosa’s 20th bomb, which he hit at Wrigley Field on the final night of the month. The moment was so exciting a pair of fans crashed the playing field and waited to congratulate the surprised slugger as he neared third base.

From the Page of Vine Line: WAR All-Stars—Right Field

All month, we’ve be unveiling the best single seasons by a Cubs player at each position in the team’s more than 100-year history, using the advanced statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR). We conclude our WAR All-Star team in right field, where one of the Cubs’ most polarizing players covers the corner outfield spot. Bill Nicholson manned the tricky right field corner at a high level in the ’40s, and Andre Dawson racked up his MVP award at the position, but Sammy Sosa’s 2001 campaign was tops in franchise history.

Here’s how we chose our team.

What WAR essentially does is aggregate everything an individual contributes—offensively and defensively—into one definitive number that conveys his value, typically ranging from -1 to 10. The purpose of the formula is to quantify how much a team would lose if a player was swapped for an average replacement player.

In order to qualify for our team, each player had to spend the majority of his time at a single position during the season being measured. And because the team wasn’t officially christened the Chicago Cubs until 1903, players who represented the Orphans, Colts and White Stockings were excluded.

For more information or the entire team, be sure to pick up a copy of July’s issue of Vine Line.

Part 1: WAR All-Stars – Pitcher

Part 2: WAR All-Stars – Catcher

Part 3: WAR All-Stars – First Base

Part 4: WAR All-Stars – Second Base

Part 5: WAR All-Stars – Third Base

Part 6: WAR All-Stars – Shortstop

Part 7: WAR All-Stars – Left Field

Part 8: WAR All-Stars – Center Field

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Right Field: Sammy Sosa, 2001—9.9 WAR
Say what you will about Sammy Sosa. He certainly had some indiscretions and didn’t exactly leave the game in the Hall-of-Fame manner people expected circa 1998. But he undeniably put up some of the most statistically exciting, video game-like seasons in Cubs history. And if you were a North Side fan between 1992-2004, you likely loved No. 21. Though he’s probably best remembered for his magical two-step with Mark McGwire during the 1998 season—a season that ultimately netted him the NL MVP award—his 2001 campaign was actually better. His home runs and RBI were comparable, but he had 14 more doubles, five more triples, 43 more walks and 18 fewer strikeouts. This all led to a significantly higher OPS. The statistic OPS+ takes OPS and normalizes for outlying variables such as park effects. A 100 OPS+ is considered league average. In 2001, Sosa’s OPS+ was an astronomical 203.

Rob Neyer’s Take:
“The third season in which Sosa hit 60-some home runs … and somehow didn’t lead the National League in homers in any of those seasons. In ’01, though, he did lead the league in both runs and runs batted in.”

Other Notable Seasons:
Bill Nicholson—7.3 WAR (1943)
Sammy Sosa—7.1 WAR (1998)

15 Years Ago this Month: Slammin’ Sammy makes history

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Despite what we now know about PED usage, the 1998 season will forever be remembered as one of the most exciting in major league history, as two heavyweights “saved the game” by engaging in a titanic home run battle for the ages.

Fifteen years ago, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire slugged it out to see who would surpass Roger Maris to become the game’s single-season home run champ. While the Cardinals first baseman ultimately was the first to celebrate home run No. 62, June was all about Sosa.

The Cubs slugger blasted balls out of major league parks one after another, compiling an MLB-record 20 home runs in the month. Over the 30-day stretch, he recorded four multi-homer games, including a three round-trip affair against the Brewers on June 15.

Detroit infielder Rudy York set the record, hitting 18 home runs in August 1937. Sosa surpassed that total on June 25 and added No. 20 in his final plate appearance of the month.

“It was a great time for baseball, especially if you lived in the Chicago area,” said current Cubs outfielder Scott Hairston, who was a high schooler living in Naperville, Ill., at the time. “I remember coming to those games, when Sammy was hitting all those home runs. It was fun to see.”

Though McGwire’s 70 home runs earned him the title of home run king (until Barry Bonds blew past him in 2001), Sosa was crowned the NL MVP, hitting .308/.377/.647 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 66 home runs and a league-best 158 RBI. The Cubs went on to win a one-game playoff against the Giants to advance to the postseason.

—Phil Barnes

Former Cubs come up short on Hall of Fame ballot

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

In a Hall of Fame vote filled with as much drama as checking off a name can produce, not one of the 37 eligible participants received enough votes to earn a Hall call. This is only the second time in four decades, and the first time since 1996, Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters failed to elect any candidates.

The 2013 ballot was headlined by controversial superstars—including baseball’s only seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens—but it was former Astros catcher/second baseman Craig Biggio who led all candidates with 68.2 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Players must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement.

While nobody got into Cooperstown by this vote, there was no shortage of former Cubs on the ballot. Lee Smith spent eight seasons on the North Side from 1980-87, compiling 180 saves. In his 11th year of eligibility, he earned 47.8 percent of the vote. Fred McGriff, who spent time with the Cubs in 2001-02, earned 20.7 percent of the vote. And, most notably, former slugger Sammy Sosa, owner of 609 career home runs (545 with the Cubs), received just 12.5 percent of the vote in his first season of eligibility. Though the total is small, it’s well above the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot.

Below is a list of former Cubs and the percentage of votes they received on the 2013 BBWAA ballot:

Lee Smith — 272 votes, 47.8 percent, eleventh year on ballot
Fred McGriff — 118 votes, 18.6 percent, fourth year on ballot
Sammy Sosa — 71 votes, 12.5 percent, first year on ballot
Rafael Palmeiro — 50 votes, 8.8 percent, third year on ballot
Kenny Lofton — 18 votes, 3.2 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)
Todd Walker — 0 votes, 0 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)
Rondell White — 0 votes, 0 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)

Rud-ee! Rud-ee!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgIt might not have been Rudy Ruetigger and Notre Dame football under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus, but Rudy Jaramillo might just be the patron saint of hitters.

After all, the man the Cubs welcomed as their new hitting coach at a press conference about an hour ago has resurrected the careers of many hitters or at the very least, helped some correct the sins in their swings.

“I’m a teacher first, a coach second,” said the former Texas Rangers hitting coach. “I love to see talent in players and watch them get better….My ability to build rapport with players is good and my communications skills are strong.

“But there has to be a mutual trust between the coach and the player,” Jaramillo added. “You still have to win them over. And when you tell a hitter something, it better work because it’s all about results.”                                                                                       photo by Kelsey Peters


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And that is exactly what the Cubs are hoping Jaramillo will be able to do with a Cubs offense that finished 26th in the majors in 2009, scoring just 707 runs and hitting just .255.

“I think everyone in the game, from players to coaches to managers, put this man at the top of the field,” said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. “There’s no higher standard for a major-league hitting coach than the one he set the last 15 years.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time; we know we had some offensive deficiencies with some outstanding players some of which Rudy has been fortunate to work with in the past,” Hendry added. “We’re excited to round out a great coaching staff, and I know Rudy’s ready to get to work.”

Jaramillo has shown a penchant to work wonders with reclamation projects similar to the Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan. With Texas, Jaramillo pulled career years out of Mark DeRosa, Milton Bradley and Gary Matthews Jr., not to mention one former Cubs slugger looking to hit a milestone.

“We got 94 RBIs and 22 home runs out of Sammy [Sosa],” Jaramillo said, referring to Sosa’s 2008 campaign with Texas during which he hit his 600th homer.  “And he didn’t even get 500 at-bats. So I was very happy to work with Sammy.”

More than anything, Jaramillo isn’t afraid to get into hitters’ faces to make them work harder. He will make sure these players put in their time in the cage, veteran or rookie. He will also make sure they are prepared at the plate, physically and mentally.

“Sometimes players get complacent,” Jaramillo said. “You have to reprogram those hitters. I will get them to believe in themselves.”

–Mike Huang

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