After an exciting play-in round that saw a fictional player, a Bull, and Domingo Ramos move on to the next round. Sure, it's a little funky. But if loving the Cubs, and having a little fun with it, is Wrona, I don't wanna be Ryne. Wait. Scratch that, reverse it.
Most of the casualties from yesterday were names that many wouldn't have included in the list anyway, but now we're getting into the big boys. These are the prisoners we've locked away in our friendly mental confines without chance for parole. But don't worry; even if this bracket breaks them out, the recidivism rate for Cubs fans is incredibly high.
This edition will cover both the PK Wrigley and the Tribune Co. Regions, with the next two regions finishing up play tomorrow. So turn off those TVs, because you're going to want to devote your undivided attention to the gloriousness that awaits you in the words below. Okay, that was really overwrought; you can keep the basketball games on. After all, your boss will better understand that than the idea that you're spending time at work looking at a fake bracket of the all-time greatest Cubs players.
PK Wrigley Region
1 Ryne Sandberg vs. 16
This really doesn't need any explanation, does it?
Jimmy Ryan vs. 9 Bruce Sutter
As much about setting up a 2nd-round matchup as it was their respective Cubs careers, Sutter's super splitter made him one of the game's most-feared closers. While he's probably best-known to most modern Cubs fans as the man who helped to launch Ryne Sandberg's legend, he's also half of the trade that brought Leon "Bull" Durham to Chicago. Durham supplanted Tom Loxas's beloved Bill Buckner at first base, eventually helping to lead the team to the 1984 NL East title and a pennant shot. Of course, Bull and Buck became best known for booting balls burying dreams.
Charlie Root vs. 12 Henry Rowengartner
Funky butt lovin'! How can a fictional 12-year-old fireballer uproot the great Charlie? Even Reds great Joe Nuxhall was 16 when he made his MLB debut. Ah, but these are the Cubs, and it's just about as likely that a fake player could make his way through the bracket as the team could go more than a century without a title.
Phil Cavaretta vs. 13 Aramis Ramirez
Cinderfella is alive and kicking in this region, as Ram-Ram pulls the upset to secure a matchup with Runamucker in Round 2.
6 Lee Smith vs. 11
Who could forget Big Lee Smith strolling lazily from the bullpen? He was Heath Bell's polar opposite and one of the game's best
3 Andre Dawson vs. 14
Sorry, Rebel, but you're no match for Hawk.
Stan Hack vs. 10 Don Kessinger
Not a very sexy matchup, this was a grinder.
2 Mordecai Brown vs. 15
Perhaps a more fitting matchup would have pitted the 3-fingered Brown against the 6-fingered Antonio Alfonseca. Either way, Mordecai's digital deficiency didn't slow him down in dispatching Sanderson.
Tribune Company Region
1 Ron Santo vs. 16
Wrona's run stops with Ron.
8 Frank Chance vs. 9
In the same region as his famous double-play duo, Chance is the first to move on, easily defeating the 9 seed in Larry Corcoran.
5 Bill Buckner vs. 12
Ah, sweet redemption. Okay, winning a fake matchup with Durham isn't going to earn back either the World Series or his pride, but at least it's a start, right?
4 Hippo Vaughn vs. 13
Dude's name is Hippo, no way he loses. D-Lee put in work, but simply couldn't overcome his opponent in this one.
6 Riggs Stephenson vs. 11
I honestly have nothing to say about this matchup. I could look up all the exploits of each player and provide a comprehensive breakdown, but that would really go against the spirit of this whole exercise.
3 Joe Tinker vs. 14
Joe Tinker, the seminal point man in the most famous double-play trio of all time, moves on over a man I know virtually nothing about. Perhaps that's because he played in the 19th century. But in this battle of old-school Cubs, being the titular figure in a famous poem and winning the last Cubs WS titles carries some weight.
Johnny Evers vs. 10 Shawon Dunston
Alas, it would be too easy to see all three legends pass through to round 2. But before any panties get twisted, I just need to ask one question: did fans ever construct a John-O-Meter? No? Well, how great could he really have been. Shawon Dunston had his right arm replaced with a Howitzer and was turning infield hits into doubles well before anyone had heard of Billy Hamilton. The unique spelling of his and having a son in the Cubs organization were also points in Dunston's favor.
2 Hack Wilson vs. 15
Basically a fire hydrant with legs, Wilson could advance on the strength of his 1930 season alone. That is, if you consider a .356 BA with 56 homers and 191 ribbies to be an exceptional campaign. I mean, that's pretty good, I guess. Plus, the dude was 5'6" and 190 lb and played CF; that's badass, no matter what era we're talking about.
And with that, we've made it halfway through Round 1. Join me tomorrow for a look at the Spalding and Weeghman Regions, narrowing the field to 32.
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