Party like it's 1969?

Party like it's 1969?

Posted by Bruce on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 21:21
This year's Cubs have drawn more than one comparison to the fabled 1969 club, which stormed out of the gate and led the eventual world-champion Mets by 8 and a half games on June 15. By the middle of August, the Cubs led the Cardinals by 8 and a half and the Mets by 9 and a half. We all know what happened after that. My pal Murph over at the Score complains often that manager Leo Durocher didn't "play Popo" enough, referring to utility man Paul Popovich. In looking at one key stretch of games, from Aug. 19-31 (with no off-days), Leo started Don Kessinger at short every day and Glenn Beckert at second. The Cubs went 7-6 during that stretch, and many Cubs historians said the team wilted in the August heat, causing them to collapse in September. Murph's boy Popo made pinch-hitting appearances in five of those games, but that was about it. It's also interesting to note that Kenny Holtzman tossed a complete game on Aug. 23, an 11-5 Cubs victory. Imagine a manager doing that today. (Holtzman tossed a no-hitter on Aug. 19, and we're sure Leo didn't talk of "shortening him up." Back to the future, current Cubs manager Lou Piniella seems to have a grip on the idea of resting his regulars. Kosuke Fukudome got Tuesday night off, and already Piniella is looking ahead to the weekend, with a day game Saturday following a Friday night game. "In this last homestand and even on the prior road trip, we've been resting people all along," Lou said. "Fontenot's been in there. Blanco. Cedeno. Johnson. They've all played. So we're resting our regulars as much as possible. I like the idea of shortening up our starting pitchers from time to time. It just so happened that we got about five of them shortened, and that makes it really rough. And because of it, we've basically had to go with 13 pitchers for a while We're not going to stay there. But now, we can take a few more liberties and let them go." As far as Saturday and Sunday in L.A. go, Lou also is looking ahead to the off-day in the schedule Monday. He's been pretty good this year in giving a key player a day off right before and off-day in the schedule. "The game we're looking at specifically is the Saturday game," he said. "It's a 1 o'clock game, and we play a 7:40 night game (Friday). Friday and Saturday are the two games we have to work at to rest our team and hopefully put the best lineup out there that matches up against their starting pitcher." With regard to closer Kerry Wood, Lou said he'd hold him out of tonight's game. He also seemed to be looking ahead to the dog days, which hounded Leo and the Cubs in '69. "We got to rest him," Lou said. "He's ready to go. You don't see the effects of this until the hot-weather months of July and August. So you've got to be very careful, and we've got to make sure we space this out." We're sure Murph and Popo would approve.
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