Friday, September 11, 2009

The Nightmare 9 (and a closer to choke on)

On Wednesday, MLB took advantage of 09/09/09 by inviting me (and millions of other people, but whatever) to come up with my dream lineup of 9 Cubs. Tonight, the dream is over. This is my all-nightmare team. The worst possible lineup I can conceive. The team I couldn't bear to watch (and I have watched some real crap over the years).

For this list, I didn't go old school. I'm limiting the squad to players I've watched play, because as fabulous as the baseball historians are at waxing eloquent about the greats of yesteryear, they don't quite pack the emotional punch with their yarns about the Aaron Mileses of long ago. I need to remember that punch-to-the-gut feeling I'd get when Todd Hundley would strut to the plate, top two jersey buttons flapping in the arrogant wind. The stats alone don't tell that story. So here they are. The worst team I can imagine, and the reliever who would blow the few leads he ever could inherit from the Sultans of Suck:

Leading off, playing CF, it's Corey Patterson, 2005. .215 AVG / 13 HR / 34 RBI / 15 SB
This was the year that the Cubs uber-prospect, lead-off man of the ever-loving future posted an OBP of .254. Regardless of how bad this team might look, the potential in the leadoff spot would forever be through the roof.

Hitting second and playing 2B, everyone's hero: Aaron Miles, 2009. .180 AVG / 0 HR / 5 RBI / 3 SB
Do I need to write anything here? I'm kind of shocked by the 3 stolen bases. I'm still waiting for the official scorer to change them all to defensive indifference, but hey, I'm glad there's a stat that likes this guy. He's got a 1.000 SB average. Yaaaay!

Batting third in RF, Roosevelt Brown, 2002. .211 AVG / 3 HR / 23 RBI / 2 SB
I didn't dislike Roosevelt Brown, but like Corey Patterson before him, he epitomized the never-blooming prospect mentality of the Cubs organization in the '90s and beyond.

The cleanup hitter on this sinking ship would be 1B Ron Coomer, 2001. .261 AVG / 8 HR / 53 RBI / 0 SB
This one is hard because the Cubs first basemen during my time as a fan, while not powerhouses, haven't been too bad. Grace was great. I love Lee. Hee Seop Choi and Julio Zuleta were kind of fun. Leon Durham and Bill Buckner were both good hitters, even if both had their fair share of colossal hope-crushing ground balls in the postseason. Coomer wasn't even predominantly a first baseman in his one year as a Cub, but whenever he was there, I knew what to expect. Stank.

In the five hole and out in LF, it's the 1992 version of Luis Salazar. .208 AVG / 5 HR / 25 RBI / 1 SB
Like Coomer, Salazar actually played the most games as a third baseman, but the competition at third for worst I've ever seen is heavier than a Hector Villanueva lookalike contest. I award this spot to Luis because I once attended a game in which Salazar watched a line drive sail over his head, turned the wrong way as the ball ricocheted off the wall behind his back, and then threw up his hands to signal for a ground rule ivy-eaten double. He realized that the ball had trickled toward the infield, picked it up, and threw the ball in too late to prevent an inside-the-park home run. Welcome to the team, Luis.

Todd Hundley, C, 2001. .187 AVG / 12 HR / 31 RBI / 0 SB
Todd Hundley had been good with the Mets. He was Cubs family, Randy's son. We weren't supposed to boo him. But he was a tool. On his best day, he was as likable as Milton Bradley on his worst, just without the 2nd half surge. I remember going to the game on Todd Hundley key chain day. I'm still saving it for the worst white elephant gift in the history of Christmas.

Jeff Blauser, SS, 1998. .219 AVG / 4 HR / 26 RBI / 2 SB
The Cubs wanted the Cub killer. They got him, and he lived up to his reputation.

Gary Scott, 3B, 1992. .156 AVG / 2 HR / 11 RBI / 0 SB
Gary "Great" Scott didn't play in a lot of games, but his Cubs career spanned two seasons of hopeless potential that he would be the one to break the since-Santo 3B drought (the one that is so long, it made this the toughest decision in the lineup). He didn't end the drought. He was a goatee away from being Aaron Miles. The list of dishonorable mentions is legendary.

Mike Morgan, P, 1994. 6.69 ERA / 2-10 / 1.810 WHIP / 1.3 HR per 9 innings
I liked Mike Morgan. I did not like seeing him on the mound to start the game. As tough a century as the Cubs have had, the 1990s was a brutal decade and Morgan's 1994 season pretty much defined the era of futility.With Morgan, expectations were never as high as his ERA and WHIP.

Pointless Closer: Mel Rojas, 1997. 4.42 ERA / 0-4 / 13 SV / 6 BLSV
Kevin Gregg doesn't really hold a candle to Mel Rojas. In '97, the Cubs very rarely had leads to begin with, so acquiring 6 blown saves by mid August was no easy task. But God bless him, Mel got the job done. The job, of course, was sucking, and he pretty much taught that freaky German Dyson dude everything he knows about never losing suction.

I would ask you to include your own suggestions for your own Nightmare 9, but I must warn you: this exercise took a lot out of me. I had to relive a lot of pain, and I was not ready. Don't face those demons unless you're willing to let them inhale your soul just one . . . more . . . time.
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