|'05 Sox now permanently in past|
Yet nothing lasts forever. Both of those baseball seasons are most definitely in the past.
AND EVEN THOUGH some of us would like to have our memories overcome reality, we have to admit that while the championship flags will forevermore be displayed in Chicago, the winning is over.
At least for those of us who focus our attention on what is happening now.
I couldn’t help but be amused by the announcement that Kyle Schwarber, the Chicago Cubs hitter whose return from injury at season’s end gave the team a boost that may well be the factor in them beating Cleveland and winning the World Series, is going back to the minor leagues.
While Tadahito Iguchi, the second baseman from Japan whose four-year stint playing baseball in the United States included his performance with the World Series-winning Sox (making him the first Japanese-born ballplayer on a U.S. championship team), is on his way out of baseball.
AS THINGS TURNED out, Iguchi’s U.S. baseball career also included stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres before he returned to Japan – where he resumed playing ball for the past decade.
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He’s now with the Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League, and in fact at age 42 is now the oldest player in the league. As things turned out, his joint Japan/U.S. career saw him get more than 2,000 base hits – making him one of only seven players to achieve that goal.
He’s a Japanese ballplayer who got a taste of U.S. baseball. Although to those of us in Chicago who enjoyed the first local team to win a World Series in this century, he’ll forever be more.
He’s virtually an honorary Chicagoan – that’s what happens when you become a crucial part of a local championship team whose importance goes beyond the .278 batting average with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases he garnered that year.
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TO THE CHICAGO Sout’ Side, he’s as big a name as Ichiro Suzuki – the Japanese star ballplayer who has been playing in this country for 17 seasons now and may well become the first ballplayer to get elected to the Halls of Fame celebrating baseball that exist in both countries.
But Iguchi is now gone, making him the final member of that ’05 White Sox team who was still going to the ballpark to play baseball and getting paid for the privilege. 2005 may be 12 years in the past, but it feels even longer away in the distance.
Then, there’s Schwarber, who got hurt early in 2016, recovered in time for the playoffs and World Series, and had the batting average over .400 and managed to get on base 10 of the 20 times he batted in the World Series.
But that was last year – as much a part of the past as that of Iguchi boosting the White Sox to victory. For 2017, he had a batting average of .171 and had struck out some 29 percent of the times he came to the plate.
THAT BATTING AVERAGE is worse than that of the famed Mario Mendoza, the 1970s-80s infielder who hit .215 for a career, and is considered to be the standard for how bad a hitter you can be PROVIDED you have other positive characteristics.
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Not that it means Schwarber is finished in baseball – even though he’s now a member of the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League. I’m sure Cubs baseball people are hoping he becomes the equivalent of Mickey Mantle – who during his own rookie season of 1951 was sent back to the minor leagues by the New York Yankees following a slow start.
A couple of months of hot hitting (,361 batting average, 11 home runs and 50 runs batted in) and he returned to New York for 18 more years of Hall of Fame-quality play.
So what’s it going to be – Schwarber is the equivalent of “the Mick?” Or further evidence that talk of the Cubs’ dynasty was premature and that ’16 is just as much a memory as 2005?