Letting the Goat Off the Truck: Chicago Cubs Try in 2009

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IApril 6, 2009

There are many goats. One of my favorite is an old goat comes from middle school memories.

This goat was brutally beaten by an old drunken man and constantly tied to a truck, by a three-foot rope. That was until three young men snuck in and untied him from the truck and played football with him.

I am referring to the goat in Adam Sandler's song, "The Talking Goat." The contents are explicit, but you can listen here.

And then there was Earl "The Goat" Manigault. A 6'1" guard who was said to be able to jump high enough to retrieve money off the top of a regulation backboard. His signature dunk was actually two dunks. While in the air, he would dunk the ball, catch it, and then dunk it again.

Many that seen or played against him, said that he was the best player they ever played against.

This includes NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who during the retirement of his number at the Los Angeles Forum was asked, "Who was the best player you ever played against?" only to hear him respond after a pause, "It would have to be Earl "The Goat" Manigault."

It was a surprise to some, since you wil not find any professional statistics on Earl Manigault. His story later was portrayed on HBO in 1996, when they cast Don Cheadle to play him in a movie called Rebound.

Then there is the dreaded Cubs curse. I need not say anymore.

This time, I think the men in blue could take the goat off the truck for good in 2009.

I have been saying it all winter, I believe that the Cubs are better than they were last year. What many of you do not know is that I do not let personal feelings cloud my judgement.

If the Cubs are bad, I have no problem publicly saying so. 

I also have no problem, even though it has caused me to look dumb numerous times, to express when I think they are good.

Right now, I think they look like one of the top three teams in all of baseball. IMO, they are the best looking National League ball club going into the season.

On top of that, I think any problems that look like they need addressed come July, will be addressed in a big way. The organization and new owner, know the same that the Cubs fans are getting uber-impatient with the continued "close but no cigar" success over the past five seasons.

It is time to finally win that World Series, before Chicago is burnt to the ground.

While many fans on B/R didn't like the trade for Gregg or the signing of Bradley, the non-sign of Wood or the trade of DeRosa, I supported all the moves.

Gregg, whom I have said since day one would end up the closer, looked great this spring, and did indeed clinch that role. The man that was traded for him, Jose Ceda, was sidelined with shoulder issues this spring. 

While he has great potential, he was eating a roster spot on a team that he may not have been ready for for another year. So the Cubs got someone that can come in and help immensely right now.

Bradley, though he had an early injury scare, had a fantastic spring. I think the Cubs can make it to the playoffs even if he only plays 100 games during the regular season.  Being healthy during the playoffs is the biggest concern.

Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles look to form a solid second base combo. In fact, I have predicted that Mike Fontenot's numbers will be very similar if not better than the ones Derosa had one year ago. I think he is capable of hitting 15-20 home runs, 40 doubles, with a while batting .290. 

Miles, will play all his positions well and could very well hit for a higher average than Derosa, probably .300 to .310.

Then there are the three guys that I see rebound from years that were hard to watch at times (some more than most) last year. Fukudome, Lee, and Zambrano all look to have solid years. 

Out of the three, I think it is most important that Zambrano becomes more consistent than he has been the past two years.  He is the only one that doesn't have a viable replacement. 

If Derrek Lee struggles, gets hurt, or for whatever reason can't be in the line-up, he has a formitable replacement in Micah Hoffpauir (whom I personally wish was the starting first baseman).

Then, Fukudome has Reed Johnson backing him up.  Most of you feel strongly that Johnson should be starting, I like that they are giving the OBP man another shot at starting, I think Fukudome will hit .280+ with 10+hr with a .390 or so OBP.

All in all, I think this team is not only a little better, but a lot better than they were one year ago. With the impatience riding, mid season acquisitions will most definitely be made to even better the club for the August-October stretch.

The club is now more balanced, which I have felt the Cubs needed to be since the LA Dodgers threw exactly zero left-handers in their playoff sweep of the "Lovable Losers."

The power hitting right-handers can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing they have some left-handed protection in the lineup.

A relatively healthy year, a few "Rebound" years, and maybe, finally, the Cubs and their fans could forget about the truck.

I know we are all sick and tired of the old man beating the s*&t out of us. Most of you, like me, have only endured this for a short time in the scheme of things.


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