Every once in a while our minds wander to bygone days of yesteryear...
The hours of loneliness are forgotten because we are pleasure orientated and memories are always sweeter....
But we must never go back because imagination knows no time and reality is harsh enough to spoil the best of events....
Let's talk and remember and laugh and cry; let's not relive, but live life every new day because soon enough, everything will be past and all we'll have are the memories.
Stone is one of the Cubs who spoke out in a team meeting toward the end of spring training, calling for a go-getting attitude. "The press was saying we'd be lucky to finish in the National League," he says. "We decided not to let the media bury us. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain." With that attitude the unburied Cubs seem hungry and eager for work; it is a pleasure to watch them attacking the ball and taking flyers on the bases. "We don't have one Big Boomer to fall back on for a lot of runs," says Stone. "We're going to basically have to steal a lot of games."
Monday, who is batting .346 and whose matured cleanup and center-field skills, whose forthrightness and hustle make him as valuable as most any Boomer, does not seem a likely thief, but he set the team's brazenly scrounging tone in the second game of the year by scoring the winning run from second on a sacrifice fly. In Stone's fifth victory, 2-1 over Houston, the Cubs' runs were scored by Third Baseman Bill Madlock's dash home on a passed ball which skipped only a few feet from home plate and by Kessinger's clever sudden jump off third which startled the Houston pitcher into a balk. "We've just decided," says Kessinger, "if we're going to get beat we're going to get beat getting after somebody."
Something which helped the Cubs get after the Cardinals, against whom they are 4 and 1, was Card Reliever Al Hrabosky's calling them "Teddy Bears" in an interview. "That allowed us an avenue of possibly a little extra adrenaline flowing," says Monday. Not wanting to give Hrabosky such an avenue, the Cubs make it a point to say what a fine pitcher he is, but they take great relish in having beaten him in the clubs' first meeting. Last year a brawl grew out of Madlock's refusal to stand in the batter's box while Hrabosky, as is his custom, turned his back to the plate for long self-communing moments. Then the Cubs cost St. Louis a chance to win the division pennant by losing to Pittsburgh on a dropped third strike the last day of the season. It should be a fine rivalry between the Cubs and Cards this year.
In 1974 Madlock hit .313 without attracting much notice. He is again hitting over .300 and is also winning affection from Cub fans with his fielding and base running. Second Baseman Manny Trillo, acquired in the off-season from Oakland in the Billy Williams trade, is batting .301 and turning lots of double plays, which the Cubs had been hurting for. In a sense Trillo is more than one person. His full name is Jesus Manuel Trillo-Marcano, and playing winter ball back home in Venezuela he is known as Jesus Marcane And then there are the two stars with the same nickname. For reasons of their own, roommates Monday and Kessinger call each other "Road," short for "Road Apple." Many of their teammates are too new to have learned that Kessinger's long-time nickname among the old Cubs was "Pete," dating back to his first big-league at-bat when he was mistakenly announced as Pete Kessinger.
If the Cubs keep on winning, these irregularities of nomenclature will doubtless be straightened out, or complicated further, by the media. And the fact that few people outside Chicago have heard of most of the Cubs—for instance, Right-fielder Jerry Morales, batting .282 with 20 RBIs—will be rectified.
The team's credibility as a first-place club is bolstered somewhat by the number of former Oakland A's on the roster. Besides Manny-Jesus, these refugees include Monday, reserve Outfielder John Summers, Catcher Tim Hosley and Relievers Bob Locker and Darold Knowles. Knowles and journeyman Oscar (Z) Zamora have been particularly strong in relief, which is a good thing because starters Reuschel, Ray Burris and Bill Bon-ham have performed unevenly. "Our starters fall into the category of improvement," says Manager Jim Marshall, who is in his first full year as a big-league pilot and who looks something like Gene Hackman. That the starters need to improve would seem to be the thrust of Marshall's remark. Against Houston last week Burris fell into the category of a five-run hole while failing to finish the first inning. The Cubs eventually lost that game 11-7, but they kept trying to make a contest of it. "The Cubs're chipping away," said the fans to one another. "The Cubs aren't dying."
Knowles feels that the infusion of A's—"guys who know what it's like to win"—has helped the Cubs' attitude, and the ex-A's tend to see their new team in sharp contrast to the old one. "Here everybody's pulling for each other," says Summers. "The last time I struck out for Oakland I felt like my world had dropped from under me. I came back to the bench and maybe somebody said something but most of them looked away. Here, everybody's patting you, saying, 'Hey, tomorrow.' "
"On this team," says Monday, "I can get on a young player for not running something out and he won't take it wrong. Not like the other team."
Indeed there seems to be an atmosphere of bubbly good nature around the Cubs, as if they haven't realized yet the terrible pressures of being Eastern Division leaders. "I'm losing my hair," Coach Jim Saul exclaimed suddenly last week, "but I don't care. My wife still loves me, and I can still hit fungoes."