clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A Blast From The Past

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

The old San Diego/Jack Murphy/Qualcomm/Whatever Stadium was a house of pain for the Cubs for many years, and worst of all was the 1984 NLCS, of which more anon.

So it was with great anticipation that I was looking forward to seeing the first Cub game in the new stadium in San Diego, (Insert Corporate Name Here) Park.

When I turned on the game, to my horror I saw the Padres decked out in precisely the same uniforms they were wearing on Sunday, October 7, 1984, the day they beat the Cubs to make the World Series; it was Turn-Back-the-Clock Day in SD, and the Padre marketing department apparently decided they'd twist the knife a little bit, to their eternal discredit. Twisting it even further, the Padres had the nerve to ask the Cubs to wear their 1984 uniforms, which they had the good sense to decline.

The Padres stopped wearing those uniforms after 1984, and thank goodness. The lettering and numbering style was odd (and by my recollection, the numbering style used last night was just slightly different than the one in 1984 -- check out this hideous batting practice jersey from that year, for example, and the Padres have had at least three other uniform changes since then.

Good riddance. I was at the cursed 1984 playoffs in San Diego and rarely have I seen such nasty fans. They almost seemed happier that the Cubs lost than that their own team won.

This time, the curse didn't work. The Cubs brought back someone from the past, too, Greg Maddux, and he turned in his finest start of the year so far, an 88-pitch, 8-inning, no-walk gem and the Cubs beat the Padres 6-1 and so started their first series in the new ballpark with a convincing win.

I fell asleep after the sixth inning, but I probably could have stayed up even though I had to get up at 3 am for work; the game only ran 2:09 and so must have ended at around 11:15. Homers by Sammy Sosa (the 548th of his career, tying him with Mike Schmidt for ninth place on the all-time list) and Corey Patterson gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead by that time, and it felt like a win.

Maddux also reached a milestone last night, his 2800th career strikeout. He's never really been known as a strikeout pitcher, but he does have 35 in 50 innings so far this season, which would put him on pace for about 100 more, and thus he'll get to 3000 about the middle of 2005.

Sosa's home run came after he came into the night 4-for-46 against ex-Cub Ismael Valdez, and struck out looking bad against him in the first inning.

And if you're sharp-eyed, you'll note that I spelled his name "Valdez" instead of the way he spelled it when he was with the Cubs (and the Dodgers, Angels, Rangers and Mariners) -- Valdes.

Apparently he learned over the winter that his name had been incorrectly spelled on his birth certificate, so he changed it. That raises the question -- how can you not notice this when you're a professional athlete who has to get visas to come to the US from your native Mexico each year?

Perhaps this question is better left unanswered.

Patterson's homer came in the second game in a row in which he's been dropped into the seventh spot in the batting order, a spot to which he's much better suited than batting second. Dusty Baker has apparently finally figured this out, from this quote in today's Sun-Times:

I need speed at the top of the lineup, but [No. 2] is usually a position for a bat control guy, a guy that moves runners over and stuff. That's a pretty big chore for him. The only places he can hit in our lineup are basically second and seventh.

To which I can only say, "Well, DUH!" Speed doesn't really help you unless you can get on base in the first place, and while I think Patterson is capable of hitting .300, he has walked only nine times and struck out 30 in 133 at-bats so far this season. Hitting seventh seems better, plus the Cubs have won both times that he's hit in that spot in the order.

Someone wearing Jose Macias' uniform had three hits last night, including two triples (raising his average to .281), but as I mentioned the other day, He Still Sucks. Learning the Patterson way, he has walked exactly zero times in 32 at-bats. Todd Walker, who hurt himself the other day with a too-intense workout (what will they think of next?), should be available to play today.

As for the new San Diego ballpark itself, it has a number of interesting quirks, not the least of which is an historic 1909 building which the Padres were required to incorporate into the design, so the Western Metal Supply Company building is now part of the LF corner, and it includes bleachers and suites. There's also a grassy berm in the outfield where you can watch the game for $5, and two towers with more suites that are reminiscent of the tower above Dodger Stadium. It's got a huge right field, and all the Padres left-handed hitters are cursing it.

Credit where credit is due: the oddly-named Padre SS, Khalil Greene, not only has the best hair in the NL (yes, better than Craig Wilson's curls), but man, can he pick it. He made at least three outstanding diving stops, throwing the hitter out each time, or the Cubs might have had many more than the six runs they got.

This bodes well: The Cub pitching staff is now second in the NL (and also all of MLB) in fewest runs allowed -- to, oddly enough, the Phillies. The 175 runs scored (5 runs per game) is presently good for sixth in the NL (fifth among all teams not named Colorado). This is a ratio that ought to get the Cubs to the postseason. And this despite constant complaints that the offense is sputtering.

Finally, the Cubs and Kerry Wood lucked out due to his minor injury, and so he began serving his five-game suspension last night, dropping his appeal, since he was going to be sitting on the bench anyway. This is an indicator that he won't have to go on the DL, and will most probably miss only the one start (tomorrow, with Glendon Rusch going in his place), and will most likely start next Saturday against the Cardinals, which will be the first of nine appearances the Cubs will make on regional/national Fox-TV.

As the cliche goes, "check local listings".