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OK, maybe the Cubs are jerking Andre Dawson around

Jan 11, 2010, 1:24 PM EDT

1:24 P.M.:  OK, I sort of laid off the Cubs on this earlier today because the story below seemed to be more a failure of reporting than of the Cubs decision on the matter (i.e. it seemed entirely possible that the Cubs had every intention of retiring Dawson’s number regardless of what cap he wore)  but now ESPN is reporting that the Cubs really are going to wait and see what cap he wears before deciding if they’re going to retire his number.

Let me refine the point I made this morning, this time directed at the Cubs:  someone please tell me why the Cubs would retire Greg Maddux’s number despite the fact that he’ll wear a Braves cap into Cooperstown while they now apparently won’t retire Dawson’s if he wears an Expos cap.

Maddux won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and pitched in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Andre Dawson won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and played in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Maddux had three more seasons with the Cubs than Dawson did, but of Maddux’s nine years in a Cubs’ uniform one was a late season callup, one full season was a far below average (ERA+ of 76 in 1987), and two were average, end of career years.  All of Dawson’s six years were above average years.

I see no reason for the differential treatment here, and I would like someone with the Cubs or familiar with their thinking to explain it to me.

11:00 AM: Chicago Breaking Sports News reports that “[Andre] Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub.”  They go on to note that there’s “No word on whether the Cubs would follow through with retiring his number if Dawson is inducted as an Expo.” Query: Does the reporter here really need official word from the Cubs on that last point? They retired Greg Maddux’s number last year, and he’s almost
certain to go into the Hall as a Brave, so they’ll almost certainly do
it for Dawson. 

But even if that’s not a given, the cap some committee of anonymous whoevers decides should appear on Dawson’s plaque can’t be the determining factor for the Cubs, can it? I mean, if they stand willing to retire his jersey anyway, they’re going to retire it regardless, right? I mean, what possible difference would it make to the Cubs?  It’s not like they can’t still sell 40,000 “Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer” seat cushions or foam fingers or whatever on “Andre Dawson Day” anyway, and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m generally unimpressed with the practice of retiring numbers in the first instance.

  1. lar @ wezen-ball - Jan 11, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    This has little to do with anything, but I figured I’d share anyway. My one trip to Wrigley Field was on Memorial Day a couple of years ago (2008, I guess). The Cubs were playing the Marlins. That meant that Andre Dawson got to be the Take Me Out to the Ballgame guy for the afternoon. He got a hearty cheer from the crowd. Everyone seemed happy to see him.
    I still don’t think I’d put him in the Hall, but it doesn’t really bother me that he got elected. And now I think it’s kind of cool that we got to see the HOFer sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame that afternoon. It’d be ludicrous for the Cubs to let his HOF plaque determine whether he gets his number retired.
    (and, really, Craig? Maddux is only “almost certain” to go in as a Brave? That sounds a little too cautious on your part… That’s about as safe a bet as the sun rising in the east.)

  2. N - Jan 11, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Yep, this is a story created from thin air. The Cubs always retire the number of players who go into the HOF as a Cub, so no reporting is needed there. All they need to write the story is not actually ask the Cubs about Dawson’s number. Instant dumb controversy to fill some pages – they can ask everyone about at the Cubs Convention next weekend.

  3. MikeJ - Jan 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    I’m a Cubs fan, but I don’t think Andre Dawson should have his number retired. I loved the Hawk as a kid, but his time & service doesn’t stack up with the other retired Cubs. Here’s the list:
    Banks, Williams, Santo, Sandberg, Jenkins & Maddux (both wore number 31 – not sure if they both would have had their individual numbers retired.)
    Dawson spent 6 years with the Cubs, and really only 3 or 4 were any good. Even Aramis Ramirez has more home runs as a Cub.
    If they retire Dawson’s, there’s a lot more numbers that they better get ready for. Sosa being the white elephant no brainer, but Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Aramis…and that’s just the last 25 years. These are the guys they created the Cubs “walk of fame” for. Not everyone needs their numbers retired.

  4. Old Gator - Jan 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    How dare you come on here to talk about something that has little to do with anything?
    .
    Personally, I would like to see Dawson go into the hall wearing a three-pointed fool’s sock hat with glass eyeballs at the end of each peak. Guys wear eyeball hats on the field all the time but not one of them has been depicted with them in Cooperstown. And yes, I have been to Cooperstown. There are no plaques with guys wearing eyeball hats anywhere in the main hall. Seriously.
    .
    You think maybe Pete Rose and Barry Bonds would shift the odds of getting in in their favor if they agreed to be depicted wearing eyeball hats? I do.

  5. MikeJ - Jan 11, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I’m a Cubs fan, but I don’t think Andre Dawson should have his number retired. I loved the Hawk as a kid, but his time & service doesn’t stack up with the other retired Cubs. Here’s the list:
    Banks, Williams, Santo, Sandberg, Jenkins & Maddux (both wore number 31 – not sure if they both would have had their individual numbers retired.)
    Dawson spent 6 years with the Cubs, and really only 3 or 4 were any good. Even Aramis Ramirez has more home runs as a Cub.
    If they retire Dawson’s, there’s a lot more numbers that they better get ready for. Sosa being the white elephant no brainer, but Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Aramis…and that’s just the last 25 years. These are the guys they created the Cubs “walk of fame” for. Not everyone needs their numbers retired.

  6. smsetnor - Jan 11, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Dawson was the inspiration for any Cubs fan born between ’78-’83. The guy played the game right and fans LOVED him. Sometimes you gotta sit back and say statistics, schmatistics. Sometimes it’s about being a fan and having fun. Retiring his number is thanking Dawson for his hard work andsays to the fans that we understand what you appreciated. Sometimes, it’s OK to just be a fan. Let’s not let the numbers get in the way.

  7. gumbercules - Jan 11, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Craig – I think you meant ERA+

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 11, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    D’oh. Thanks gumbercules!

  9. Alex K - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    31 wasn’t retired just for Maddux. As MikeJ pointed out, it was duel retirement- Maddux and Fergie Jenkins. That being said, I don’t think it should matter which hat he wears. If you’re going to retire the number, retire the number. I’m not sure I think they SHOULD retire his (or any, for that matter) number. It’s not like someone else wearing #8 is going to lessen what The Hawk meant to Cubs fans. Nobody was up in arms about Barrett wearing it for a couple years….
    smsetnor- We both know you can’t be rational about Dawson. There are other ways to thank Dawson, and show fans that they care. Hang a flag on the foul poles, have a ceremony honoring Hawk, and let people wear the number for instance.

  10. smsetnor - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    It’s true. I am a Dawson truther. I am biased here. No doubt. But I’d still like to see HAWK #8 flying on the flag poles. And I think it’s a garbagetown move to wait to see if he’s a HOF or not. Man up and make a decision!

  11. Alex K - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    I would like that too. It doesn’t mean that they have to retire the number though. Why can’t someone else wear it. People won’t forget that Hawk wore it.

  12. Howard M. - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    Maddox shared a number with Furgie Jenkins, another hall of famer.

  13. Bill@TDS - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I guess there’s no chance this is actually the Cubs’ thinking, but mine would be that Maddux is an all-time great, a top 10 pitcher who had one absolutely brilliant (Cy-winning) year and two more really good ones in his parts of ten seasons with the team, while Andre Dawson is the very definition of a borderline Hall of Famer who, MVP award and all, was really just a slightly above average player in six years as a Cub.

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    But if that’s the case, Bill, they shouldn’t be saying that they’d retire the number if he goes in as a Cub. Don’t do it at all.
    It’s just so effing provincial.

  15. Jack - Jan 11, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Probably the strongest arm I have ever seen wear an MLB uniform. Bar none actually.

  16. Omega in Colorado - Jan 11, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Now, I am not sure if he is actually eligible to go in as an Expo, because as far as I can tell noone ever actually saw him play in his home Expo uniform…so you have to take away 81 games for each season he played with them.
    by the way, I was just kidding with my last runon sentence.
    I still love my Cubbies, always will, but it seems the management of the team is strictly bush league and devoid of any class the last few years.

  17. cubfan48 - Jan 11, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    It really doesn’t matter in the end what any of us think about it. I would love to see Andre Dawson wear a Cub hat into the hall of fame because to me he just means baseball and it makes me proud that he was a Cub. The fans loved him, he was totally professional on and off the field, and in his years as a Cub he played his heart out. In an era where you were never sure who was being honest and above-board about much of anything, we never doubted Andre Dawson – he was the real deal.

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