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A Little History Lesson

Nearly twenty years ago, on August 4, 1985, the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees 4-1 at Yankee Stadium.

Why am I mentioning this? Because that was Tom Seaver's 300th win. Seaver won eleven more games before retiring at the end of the 1986 season -- in fact, his last appearance on September 13, 1986 was only eleven days after Greg Maddux made his major league debut.

And now you see why I'm mentioning Seaver, because last night Maddux matched Seaver on the all-time victory list with his 311th, as the Cubs hung on for a 5-4 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee, their first win in Miller Park this season. The crowd of 40,126 was a bit below capacity, but was still the largest so far this season for a Cubs-Brewers game in Milwaukee.

Beyond this I'm going to have to count on you guys. I'm in Cubs TV blackout here on Long Island -- the local cable system doesn't have WGN (and last night's game wasn't on WGN anyway), and by the time I fell asleep watching Baseball Tonight the game wasn't yet over.

The thing I really can't figure out was this, and I did watch some of this game -- the Cubs can't beat the Yankees, but the Devil Rays can? Tampa Bay soared out to a 5-0 lead over the Yankees, and then survived a Yankee assault on their bullpen -- that Hideki Matsui guy again, slamming a three-run homer off Lance Carter -- to win 5-4.

So maybe that's what the Cubs should have done -- shown up in Tampa Bay uniforms this past weekend, even though they are a godawful shade of green. The Rays are 5-2 against the Yankees this year.

Of tying Seaver, Maddux said:

Cool. Because you know what, I watched him. That was one of the guys I was lucky enough to watch. Growing up, I was a huge Reds fan. When he went to the Reds, I was all fired up and everything. So, yeah, that's cool.

Does that sound like vintage Maddux or what?

I'm still kind of puzzled, reading that, about exactly why Maddux, who grew up in Las Vegas, would have been a Reds fan -- though I note that the Big Red Machine glory days would have been when he was about 10 and 11 years old, right in the area where you'd form an allegiance to a team. Interestingly, if you'd ask most major league players about baseball history, you probably would get a blank stare. The reason for this actually has some logic -- most major league players weren't sitting around watching baseball as kids, they were out playing the game.

Anyway, next up for Maddux on the list is Gaylord Perry at 314.

Today, I commend you to Carlos' diary on the right sidebar about Ryan Dempster's success since being converted to closer. Again, if any of you are going to the games in Milwaukee, please post a diary about your experiences there!

I am spending much of my time on vacation finally finishing Gene Wojciechowski's terrific book "Cubs Nation" -- yes, even though I know it doesn't have a happy ending. And at one point, in early August, Wojciechowski interviews Jim Hendry and there is discussion about converting Dempster to closer before the 2004 season even ended.

Wish they had -- maybe that would have avoided the bullpen implosion of the final week of 2004 that cost the Cubs the wild card, in addition to the failures of LaTroy Hawkins that have cost the Cubs at least four games this season.

Anyway, that's history. The Cubs really must win three of four in this series, and they are off to a good start. Jerome Williams will be recalled from Iowa to start against Victor Santos, and a roster move will be made before the game. I heard rumblings in New York that Joe Borowski may be designated for assignment, which is a shame because of JoeBo's history, but is, sadly, the right move to make at this time.

This may be Williams' only start in this recall, no matter how well he does. Further rumblings say that if Mark Prior has no further pain or setbacks, that he will be ready to resume his spot in the rotation Sunday against the White Sox, and after Kerry Wood's successful rehab start Sunday at Nashville, he will make one more appearance for Iowa on Friday and if that goes well, he could face the Brewers on June 29 or 30.

Keep the faith. Yes, that means you, Chuck. The Cubs are only 1 1/2 games out of the wild-card lead (and only one game down in the loss column).