Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Scrounging for Leftovers
2004-11-27 11:14
by alex ciepley

It's been a great, slow Thanksgiving weekend for me so far. For the past couple years, I've spent Thanksgiving with some high school friends down in Brooklyn. Our hostess is a vegetarian who prepares a turkey anyway, and she invites some former teacher friends who add some of your usual sides to the spread along with chinese goods like Ma Po Tufo.

Sometimes I bring along typical Thanksgivingish fare -- creamy Brussel Sprouts, sweet potato pie -- though I've been known to add some more unique flavors as well. Tomatoes in a sesame egg sauce. Mussaman yellow curry. Ground pork with chilis and basil.

This year I didn't add anything at all, because the party plans fell through. Something or another about an out-of-town aunt and travelling to Jersey. Bummed but not distraught, I planned on having dinner out with my best friend.

The city's actually big on restaurant-style Thanksgiving, with a huge variety of choices for a holiday prix fixe dinner. Most places offer traditional fare at big prices -- $45 to $85 per person -- so my friend and I, each on a budget, settled on the classic, inexpensive grub offered by the deli Artie's.

Right around the corner from my apartment, Artie's offered up chicken noodle soup, turkey with gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry creation, roasted veggies, and pumpkin pie for the sweet price of 19.95. We realized as we ate that the food was probably a lot better than what we would've cooked up (it's so hard to get a turkey right).

I hope everyone here had a great meal, and is continuing to have a restful weekend.


I'm trying, searching, scrounging for Cubs news, and the barrel's pretty empty at the moment. Newsday has a nice article detailing the relationship between Omar Minaya and the Cubs slugger he signed once-upon-a-time, Sammy Sosa.

I found this quote by former Rangers general manager Tom Grieve (the man who shipped Sosa from the Rangers to the White Sox) interesting:

"Anyone who has said they envisioned what happened for Sammy is an incredible liar. No one could have figured that he would put on 60 pounds and hit balls 500 feet."

This reminded me of what Bill James wrote in his Historical Abstract a few years back:

"Was it foreseeable that Sammy Sosa would develop into a star? Two teams gave up on him before he broke through in 1993 with the Cubs. They didn't foresee that he would become a star. Should they have?

Absolutely they should have. It was not inevitable that he would become a star, but it was always at least a 50/50 shot, and baseball men should have known it. Sosa hit .257 in 58 games when he was 20 years old, hit 15 homers and drove in 70 runs at age 21, before the hitting explosion of the 1990s. There are few examples on record of players who were regulars at age 20 who didn't become stars. Sammy had no idea of the strike zone, and he struggled for a couple years to control the damage that was doing. He could have continued to struggle; he could have devolved into Juan Samuel or Claudell Washington. But his work habits were always good, and his attitude was always good. One should never promote such a player as a star, because that increases the pressure and complicates the player's development, but the Rangers and White Sox were short-sighted not to realize that he was probably going to be a very good player."

I don't think anyone would argue that Sosa's mid-career discovery of plate discipline wasn't surprising: it's just extremely unusual for such a wild swinger to suddenly learn how to take a walk. But James' point is that Sosa's potential should have been seen more clearly by those around him in the early portion of his career. What do you think? Is hindsight 20-20, or is Tom Grieve just trying to cover for a professional boo-boo?

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