I was just gonna say something vague.
You know, "That Jim Leyland guy used to always beat the Cubs".
Because that's what happened.
But look at the numbers.
From 1986 to 1996, Leyland pretty much had his way with the Cubs.
The only years he didn't beat the Cubs?
- 1989, a magic year for our favorite team.
- 1995 when the Cubs took 8 of the 13 games played.
- The strike-shortened '94 season when they went 5-5 against each other.
Otherwise, the score was Jim Leyland 105, Cubs 71.
Players win the games, but...
Leyland, he'd be over in the visitor's dugout, smoking a cigarette and out-managing Jim Frey and... well he actually out-managed 10 Cub managers during his time as the Pirates' skipper.
Jim Frey, Gene Michael, Don Zimmer, Jim Essian, Jim Lefebvre, Tom Trebelhorn and Jim Riggleman.
There were 3 others that managed 28 games between them. (Can you name them? Answer at bottom)
I could go off right here and now about the Cubs and their history of managing managers leading right up to the awkwardness of the present, but this post is for Leyland so... nevermind.
Just looking thru an old one of my Cubs Journals, I found this passage written on May 25th, 1992:
(remember, your basic mode of Cubs information was a Chicago newspaper, and I'd just gotten back from Los Angeles)
"I swear it says this on the front page of the Trib: CUBS BACK IN NL EAST RACE!
Lets open the sports and read about this.
Maybe it's just Gil Thorpe talking...
Says right here: "...despite a 19-23 record, (the Cubs) suddenly find themselves back in contention..."
Man, I'm getting excited.
Actually, we watched yesterday Ryno hit his 2nd homer in as many days, and young Frankie Castillo looked pretty good for about 4 innings.
And here's what they've done on their 12-game road trip: won 7 of 12, jumped from last to 5th, came from 9 games out to 5 1/2.
Here's some semi-good news, too: the Cardinals have taken first place from the Pirates.
The PIrates and their genius manager, Jim Leyland, are getting right up there with the Dog Ass Mets on my personal hate-scale."
That's called "respect", sports fans.
And Leyland had plenty of that back then and still does as he steps down from managing the Tigers.
BTW, after the Leyland shout-out in the journal, I go on to dream about what if the Cubs can actually go all the w... but then at the end there's this drawing:
Some stuff never changes.
But anyway, here's to you, Jim Leyland.
And the answer is: John Vukovich, Frank Lucchesi and Joe Altobelli.
I wouldn't have gotten any of 'em.
Lastly, Leyland and his other teams, the Tigers/Marlins/Rockies - they beat the Cubs 17-15 so...lots closer there. But I'll always think of him as a Pirate.