Central Park: The Fall of Slammin’ Sammy, Sweet Lou, and Pete Rose


For this week’s look around the NL Central, we spend some time on the Chicago Cubs problems past and present, Pete Rose will be celebrated by the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates clinched another losing season to add to their record in futility, and more.

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Magazine wrote a great piece examining the hard and fast fall of Sammy Sosa. The once beloved slugger is now hated in Chicago and forgotten by the Cubs organization. Sammy wants to return to Wrigley and to have his No. 21 retired for his accomplishments, but the Cubs have zero interest in patching things up with him. He was disliked by his teammates for nearly his entire tenure with the Cubs but got away with it because he filled the seats. Think LeBron James before LeBron James — loved by everyone, a king really, who got endorsements and looked like a great guy, but in reality he was as big a jerk in sports at the time.

Lou Piniella retired after Sunday’s game in which the Cubs were hammered by the Braves. Piniella was emotional in leaving the game that has meant so much to him since his playing days. He was a heckuva hitter for the Yankees and a heckuva manager for 23 years. He won the 1990 World Series with the Reds and managed some great teams in Seattle. He also managed the Yankees and Rays. His final stop in Chicago was successful, but playoff failures and the last two frustrating seasons left an empty filling on his time there. He retires as a great baseball man and a great character who always made things interesting with his fiery personality. He will be missed but not forgotten. His Hall of Fame merits are already being debated. What do you think?

His replacement is also a hot topic. Right now, it appears Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is the leader, but the Cubs aren’t tipping their hand. Joe Girardi remains on their wish list even though it appears highly unlikely he leaves the Bronx.

Cincinnati Reds

Pete Rose will be honored in Cincinnati September 11. The Reds will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his record-breaking 4,192 hit. Rose will be there which is great for him and the game. These celebrations that involve Pete beg the question from baseball: How is he banned from baseball but allowed to be celebrated too? It doesn’t make sense and the game should make a decision. Either honor Rose as one of the all-time greats at events like these and in Cooperstown or never ask him to participate in a Major League Baseball event again. You can’t have it both ways, Bud.

Meanwhile, current Reds star Joey Votto is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The leader of a new Red Machine is in the mix for the Triple Crown along with Albert Pujols and has his team in first place as August comes to a close.

Milwaukee Brewers

Bud Selig was honored by the Milwaukee Brewers with a statue for his contributions to baseball and for bringing the game back to Milwaukee. The statue has been at the center of debate on whether he deserves it. Mike Bauman of MLB.com says he is deserving. Rick Reilly did a nice Riled Up piece on why the Commish doesn’t deserve it while examining the problem with a lot of statues today.

Pittsburgh Pirates

With their 82nd loss of the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched their MLB record 18th consecutive losing season. Rob Biertempfel, along with Pirates manager John Russell, explains the disappointment and frustration thats comes along with owning the worst record in the big leagues. The Pirates front office says that they plan to increase their payroll with hopes of pursuing some big name free agents in 2011, but you have to wonder who would be all that interested in playing for them. However, there are two positives for this team. First, they have a number of young, talented players with a bright future. Second, they can’t get much worse than they are right now.

Houston Astros

Evan Riney does an excellent job of explaining why the Astros were more than happy to trade veteran third basemen Pedro Feliz to the Cardinals. From a Houston point of view, this trade was nothing more than a joke, considering Feliz is hitting just .221 while making $4.5 million. This very funny story features a simulation of how the conversations might have played out between the general managers of both teams. All joking aside, Feliz drove in two runs in his debut with the Redbirds and helped them snap a five game losing streak.