It’s not that I haven’t gotten over the trade. It was forty-three years ago. Even in Cub time, measured in centuries, you get over a lot of things in forty-three years. The problem is that before and since the trade, the Cubs have been cursed with a lack of speed. They got fifty stolen bases from Brock and traded away another 888. Some Cub teams in the late sixties could have used that speed. The ’69 team, very good on paper, was groaningly slow: only the shortstop could run at all.
Last year the Cubs had two regulars who could run. One of them was nicked twice, spent some time on the DL and stole six bases in the second half.
When I hear about Cub curses, I picture former speedsters running with a limp: Buckner, Dawson, Soriano.
Of the Cubs’ top-ten career base stealers only one of them, Ryne Sandberg, played in my lifetime, which I’ve indicated is longer than forty-three years. I’m old enough to remember when the Chicago sports press got excited–and got me excited–about a young phenom hitting .360 in Class C ball in St. Cloud, Minnesota. That was 1962, LB’s rookie year.
Trendy research purports to show that speed on the bases is less important than we used to think. If that’s true, cool: the Cubs were ahead of their time. But I doubt that it’s true.
The good news is that like Don Zimmer–alone among former Cub managers that I can think of–Piniella favors the speed game. When Lou retires, Sandberg may take the reins. His teams will run. So there is some hope.