What's that noise? Ah, it must be that knacking sound of nostalgia...with a side of goofiness!
It's hard to believe it's been nearly a decade since the days of Grunge, William Jefferson Clinton, and scandal-free Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. But to us Cub Fans, the 90's were...forgettable.
Sure, the 90's brought us Doug Dascenzo, but with a .476 winning percentage, the ever lasting "Hunt For The Next Santo" at the hot corner, and with a grand total of one playoff win, the 90's were a rough decade for Cub Nation.
Without further ado, here is my Chicago Cubs Team Of The 90's
Around The Horn:
1B: Mark Grace— A no-brainer, Grace was Mr. Cub of the 90's. By compiling 1754 hits (most doubles by any player of the decade, by the way), three All-Star Game appearances, and was the perennial gold-glove winner at first base, Gracey represented the organization and the City of Chicago with class.
2B: Ryne Sandberg— Another no-brainer, the Hall of Famer's humble approach to the game symbolized class, integrity, and a charming respect for the game. Prior to Sammy Sosa, Ryne Sandberg was the face of the Chicago Cubs.
3B: Steve Buechele— Unfortunately, Buechele is most remembered as being one of seven players who failed to live up to expectations at the hot corner. He peaked from '86-'89 with the Texas Rangers, then a few years later joined the Cubs in '92 before returning to the Rangers in an injury-plagued 1995 season. He would go on to retire at the conclusion of that season.
SS: Shawon Dunston— You can't help but smile when the name "Dunston" is mentioned. Despite giving Grace head-aches with his frantic throwing-accuracy, Dunston's hustle and charisma made him the Toast of the Windy City. Dunston enjoyed his best 90's season with the Cubs in 1995, where he hit .296 with 14 homers and 69 RBIs.
LF: Henry Rodriguez— Oh Henry! H-Rod played a crucial part of the Cubs '98 Wild Card season, belting 31 home runs, while providing protection for Sosa in the lineup. Henry brought the ever-popular "Oh Henry Bar" to Wrigley, and for 2 seasons, he sported Cubbie Blue.
RF: Sammy Sosa — Sosa over Dawson!? This was a tough choice for me, but Sosa's production in the 90's cannot be denied, even if his ethical standards are questionable. He led the team in homers, RBIs, and even stolen bases for the decade. Don't worry, Dawson gets his due a few picks later (it'll be controversial!).
CF: Brian McRae— Although Brian only played a couple of seasons, the Cubs had very few bona fide centerfielders. Acquired in a trade with the Mets that included Mel Rojas (yuck), McRae provided a spark-plug and winning attitude. Lance "One Dog" Johnson or Dwight Smith are worthy as well, but I'll take McRae.
C : Joe Girardi — Girardi never had a big bat, but he sure could call a game. His leadership and guidance helped develop Greg Maddux into a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
DH: Andre Dawson— A DH for a Cubs team!?!? Well I just couldn't put Dawson on the bench, so I'll swallow my NL pride and bat him cleanup as my DH. The Hawk is hands-down a Hall of Famer, and his loyalty to Cub Nation was evident when he once signed a blank check to remain a Cub. Gotta love The Hawk!
MI: Rey Sanchez — A versatile glove-man, Sanchez spent a bit of time in the 90's providing excellent options for Cub managers. Rey's stats never jumped out at you, but small ball was his game.
CI: Jose Hernandez— Much like Sanchez, Hernandez was a valuable role-player for much of the 90's. He peaked on the '98 Wildcard squad, where he hit 23 homers and drove in 75 RBIs while starting at the hot corner. But Cub fans will most remember him for grounding into the NL Central-clinching double play in 2003 as a member of the Pirates.
C : Scott Servais— Scott Servais was certainly serviceable. Although he didn't catch Wood's 20 K game in '98 (Sandy Martinez holds that distinction), he helped Wood in his development.
Power Bat: Glenallen Hill — This is all I got to say
Speed/Clutch: Doug Glanville— Great glove/range, as well as tremendous speed, Glanville was a solid ballplayer. He never reached his potential, but his talent, and brains, got him on my squad.
SP: Greg Maddux — Bar none, the ace of the 90's squad, or any squad, for that matter. Compiling 50 wins in just three seasons ('90-'92), Maddux was on his way to becoming the best pitcher of the 90's, and arguable of his generation.
SP: Kerry Wood — Even though he pitched only two seasons in the decade, he certainly left his mark on the franchise. Not only did he strikeout 20 batters in 1998, his Rookie of the Year campaign helped elevate the Cubs into their lone playoff appearance. The lone Cub remaining from the decade, and his loyalty make him an all-time great Cub.
SP: Kevin Tapani— After Maddux and Wood, it really drops off. Tapani was the ace of the '98 squad with a 19-9 record. His experience and command contributed to the Cubs '98 success. Unfortunately, Tapani went 6-12 the following season, and never repeated his success.
SP: Mike Morgan — Along with Maddux (20-11), Morgan brought stability to the '92 club, going 16-8 with a 2.55 ERA. Morgan compiled 30 wins in his four seasons with the Cubs, which included two stints (he was dealt to the Cardinals in '95, then returned to Chicago in '98).
SP: Jamie Navarro— Although he only spent two seasons with the Cubs before going to the South Side, Navarro was an impressive 29-18 with a 3.60 ERA. Like Glanville, Navarro never reached his full potential.
Achilles Heel of the Decade, oops, I mean the Bullpen:
LHP: Paul Assenmacher— Probably most remembered for his super-cool last name, Assenmacher served as a reliable lefty-specialist. Paul struck out 117 batters in just 102 innings in '91.
SU: Rod Beck — It's all about the mustache, baby! One of the best closers of the 90's, Beck saved 51 games in the '98 campaign, with an impressive 81:20 K/BB ratio. Even though he struggled mightily the following season, and was dealt to Boston, Rod Beck's '98 season was remarkable. RIP Rod.
CL: Randy Myers — The most superior closer the Cubs had in the 90's, Myers devastation left batters flustered. Racking up 112 saves in three seasons, Myers was nearly unhittable, and his impressive 3.59 ERA makes him one of the more under-rated closers in MLB history.
Side Note — I couldn't find two more relievers to fill out the bullpen...it was that bad folks.
Honorable Mention: Doug Dascenzo, Luis Salazar, Turk Wendell, Mickey Morandini
Not So Honorable Mentions:Jeff Blauser, Kevin Orie, Todd Hundley, Anthony Young, Mel Rojas
Broadcasters:Harry Caray, Steve Stone
I'm sure you guys will disagree with these picks, so feel free to give me some feedback. I want to spark some conversation. Thanks for reading.