not because i gave a shit about the pussy ass beatles, but because the cubs had traded away their star, reliever Bruce Sutter.
good ole number 42 had been a Cub since day one in in 1971 and broke in with the big club in 1976. however in ’77 he came into his own with his trademark split fingered fastball, the deadliest sinker ever in the sport and the numbers proved it – 107 1/3 innings, 1.34 ERA, 129 strikeouts, 31 saves, only 69 hits and a measly five homers allowed. and this for a .500 team.
sutter was a cub all star from 77-80, but when the Wrigley-owned Cubs didnt want to pay a relief pitcher $1 million they traded them to the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals for aging 3B Ken Reitz, young buck Leon “Bull” Durham and a player to be named later.
i cried that december day harder than any of the moptoppers because the winds of change were blowing and how did i know that big Lee Smith was working his way into the closer roll?
i liked bruce sutter because he was the everyman. it took him so long to make it up through the minors because his fastball wasnt very fast and his curveball didnt curve. so he tweaked the traditional forkball grip to make the splitter whose secret was right when the forkball was to be released the thumb pushed the ball through to add to the topspin.
the result was a pitch that looked like a weak fastball flying straight and true at the heart of the plate until the very last second when it fell off the table.
since Sutter’s fastball wasnt very fast, you never knew if the ball was going to keep going straight for a strike or die in the dirt.
the only time that i ever remember someone guessing right and beating sutter while he was a cub was Mike Schmidt in 1979 in the 10th inning of the 23-22 game.
once bruce was traded to the cardinals i watched him from afar and cursed the Cubs for not keeping him, but was happy for him when he won a world series ring.
so now the debate is whether Sutter will be inducted as a Cub (where he came up and had better seasons) or as a Cardinal (where he had a few good years but won it all). to me the choice couldnt be easier, he wasnt signed by the cardinals, he didnt learn his bread-and-butter pitch with the Cards, and the cards suck.
so a Cub he will go into the Hall as, im betting.
this was his 13th year of eligibility and the first true reliever to be elected – true meaning he never started a game.
so from all of us at the busblog, congrats Bruce!
and if you go in as a cardinal may you slip in the shower.