Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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It's probably best that Mr. Burns got those ringers. He wanted Honus Wagner to play third base, but he was really a shortstop. I was probably nine when I was first saw this, but I was thrilled to hear the names of Cap Anson, one of the greatest hitters of the postbellum period, and Mordecai 'Three Finger' Brown, who nonetheless managed to pitch his way to a career 2.06 ERA. Brown also pitched for the 1908 World Series champion Chicago Cubs. He went 29-9 with a 1.47 ERA, finishing 27 of his 31 starts and blanking opponents in nine of them.

Thanks to the Dead Ball Era, one of those quaint charms of turn-of-the-century America, he allowed one home run all year. The vaunted Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance infield behind him combined for eight. Overpaid ringers and team psychologists may have worked well for Mr. Burns, but the Cubs have since gone on to lose seven World Series. Given that the last time they made the World Series was about a month after the end of World War II, maybe it's best that the Cubs exhume Anson and Brown along with Reconstruction-era slugger Ned Williamson, Ernie Banks, Mark Grace and even Greg Maddux.

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