Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Cole Wright
What if you were tasked with winning one — and only one — baseball game and you were responsible for putting together the lineup to get you that W?
Here’s the thing: You can only form the lineup from guys who have suited up for the Cubs, even if it was for only one game or part of one season. This isn’t a list of the greatest Cubs players. It’s the Ultimate Cubs Lineup to win one big game.
That means you can select Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown (who pitched for the Cubs from 1904-1912 and again in 1916) or Anthony Rizzo (who led the Cubs to end the 108-year World Series drought).
You can choose Hall of Famers, All-Stars, role players, whoever. You can prioritize power, contact, defense, intangibles or whatever you think is necessary to win this one imaginary game. You can even hit the pitcher 8th or anywhere you see fit in the lineup.
Since the Cubs are a National League team, we are forming the roster with no designated hitter. To add another wrinkle of strategy, you can select one reliever to come in after the starting pitcher and one player off the bench who could come into the game at any point.
So which 11 current or former Cubs would you choose to go to battle with in a must-win game?
Marquee Sports Network host Cole Wright provides his take:
1. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
2. Ernie Banks – SS
3. Billy Williams – LF
4. Andre Dawson – RF
5. Derrek Lee – 1B
6. Jim Edmonds – CF
7. Aramis Ramírez – 3B
8. David Ross – C
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Aroldis Chapman
Bench player: Sammy Sosa
Sandberg is one of the best to ever play the game at second base — he won 9 Gold Gloves, he was a 10-time All-Star and he also took home a National League MVP. When it comes to the guy that’s going to lead off and hold down second base duties for my Ultimate Cubs Lineup, it has to be Ryne Dee Sandberg.
“Let’s play two!” It’s the sentiment we heard from Ernie Banks almost every single time we saw him on the field. For that reason, he’s batting No. 2 in my Ultimate Cubs Lineup. He earned the nickname “Mr. Cub” for good reason.
When you look at a Hall of Famer like Williams, the numbers speak for themselves — 6-time All-Star, NL Rookie of the Year, a batting champion in 1972 and you see his No. 26 on the flagpole. Nobody well ever wear that again in the Cubs franchise and that’s why Billy Williams is batting 3 in my Ultimate Cubs Lineup.
Dawson was my favorite player as a kid when I was coming up because of that captivating 1987 MVP season. When it comes to arms, nobody threw frozen ropes from right field like Dawson. An 8-time Gold Glover, he led the league in home runs and RBI in that MVP campaign.
You can’t teach size and D-Lee has to be the biggest in my lineup. He was a 2-time All-Star in Chicago and while he wasn’t able to win a World Series here, he won a championship with the Marlins in 2003. He did some special things with the Cubs, especially in that 2005 season when he won a batting title, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove.
I know Edmonds only played for the Cubs for one season, but when I think of Jim Edmonds, I think of the stellar, Gold Glove-caliber defense. Unless you go way, way back in Cubs history, nobody really stands out in center field so for that reason, I have to go with defense and Edmonds here in my lineup.
Ramírez and I were born in the same month and from 2004-11, the man hit 25 or more home runs 7 times and he went yard 30 or more times 3 times. To do so at third base is no easy task.
Here comes a very tricky pick — at the backstop duties, I had to go with the current manager. He was the catcher on the team that was able to break the curse. If he’s able to call a game back there and lead his team’s to a commissioner’s trophy, I think he can do it as manager and in this game.
Maddux wasn’t able to win a World Series with the Cubs, but his No. 31 is retired with the franchise. While pitchers want to throw harder, harder, harder, Maddux pitched smarter, smarter, smarter. He kept batters off balance with the best of them and he’s my starting pitcher for my Ultimate Cubs Lineup.
I’m still sweating a bit from Game 5 of the World Series, but Chapman was the closer you want in that game with his ability to get up to triple digits. I’m expecting Maddux to give me 8 strong innings and then Chapman coming in to close the door.
I’m not going to talk about Sosa’s sense of style, but he will be my guy off the bench. Sosa has more 60-homer seasons than anybody else in history and he can electrify the Wrigley crowd.
I love the power in my order, but the thing I like most about my Ultimate Cubs Lineup is the athleticism throughout.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!