|Here's Ernie at the tender age of 24. (source)|
And he brought a measure of joy to a business that can still feel like a game sometimes. That's the kind of player that makes watching baseball fun and working in baseball easy. All this leaves a bigger empty space without him.
By my count, only four people are still alive on that list of all-time great Cubs hitters. I think that's both a testament to the age of the franchise, and the paucity of great players recently. As comparison, the Red Sox have 7 of their top 11 hitters still alive and kicking.
In other news: Joe Maddon's advice to Javier Baez is both (1) typical of Joe Maddon and (b) just amazing:
"He's trying way too hard," Maddon said. "I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. ... I said, 'Hit a couple singles and, above all, I want to see you smile.'"I wrote about Baez for the 2015 Hardball Times Annual, and basically I said: Holy crap, this kid is off to a very scary start. He was striking out like a tee-ball kid in bad need of sports glasses.
I think/hope Maddon is the right guy to get Baez on track, and fast.