Thursday, July 7, 2016

Remembering the Redlegs of ’57 – are the ’16 Chicago Cubs a redux?

It was all over the newspapers across the nation – rosters for the baseball All Star Game to be played next week in San Diego is going to look a lot like the American League vs. the Chicago Cubs.
Should Ernie have been a '57 all star?
For it seems that seven Cubs players were picked to be on the National League all star team – including the entire starting infield. That is a first; although I have to admit I had to question that fact.

BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO know their baseball history know of the 1957 all star game when fan voting inspired by a Cincinnati Enquirer initiative resulted in the bulk of the Cincinnati Reds lineup being picked as the National League’s best.

Quite an accomplishment for a team that barely won more games than it lost and wound up finishing that season in fourth place.

But it seems not even that year resulted in a ball club’s entire infield being chosen. For the one non-Red who managed to get picked by the fans to start the game was the St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan Musial – who by that point in his career was aged enough that he had been moved from the outfield to first base.

So ’57 was the year that gave us a National League best of Johnny Temple at second base, Roy McMillan at shortstop and Gus Bell at third base. With eventual National League most valuable player Ernie Banks as an infield reserve and the lone Cub representative that season.

IT’S NO WONDER the National League, weakened with an infield like that, managed to lose to the American League 6-5 in the game played at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.
Should Carpenter be all-star starter in '16?
Which makes me wonder if having such a Chicago Cub presence on the National League all star team this year will have some sort of equal negative effect? Is there something similar to the ex-Cub factor in the World Series that applies to the All Star Game?

I know some people are already convinced the Chicago Cubs of the 2000-teens are a baseball dynasty – one meant to win championships galore. Even though I’d argue such boasting is way ridiculously premature.

They haven’t won a thing yet. Even for those Cubs fans who want to think that 2015 was something mighty special, keep in mind that the record books indicate the New York Mets wound up being the National League champions.
The non-Reds starter of  '57 as chosen by "voters"
THE CUBS WOUND up being just one of several ball clubs that came close, but wound up winning nothing.

Besides, the point of the All Star Game is that it is meant to be an exhibition – some mid-season fun to break the monotony of the 162-game marathon that is professional baseball.

I can’t help but think the National League could have done better than to load up the infield from Clark and Addison to represent them come next week.

Besides, while I’m sure that Cubs fans are feeling over-bloated with joy at having their team’s players in such prominent roles, it could wind up being that the most prominent Chicago story that comes out of the All Star Game will wind up focusing on Chris Sale.

HE’S THE WHITE Sox pitcher who currently has more wins than anybody else this season in baseball, and could wind up being the American League’s starting pitcher for the game.
Will Sale be the ultimate Chicago all star?
What happens if Sale winds up being the guy who shuts down all those Chicago Cubs during the few innings he pitches, and winds up being the winning pitcher for the American League?

It could mean that the eventual World Series that Cubs fans already are convinced will be theirs come October 2016 will wind up being played with the challengers getting home field advantage.

That is, presuming that both Chicago ball clubs don’t wind up sitting in front of television sets at home come October while other ball clubs play for the championship of ’16.


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