Remember, after today there’s only ONE DAY LEFT to like Baseblog on Facebook, follow on Twitter or Tumblr and be entered to win ten free months of Sports Illustrated. Keep spreading the word and at the end of January we’ll find out who wins! In the meantime, the “Reliving SI Covers” mini-series will feature some of my favorite covers from the NL Central Division since the year 2000. Take a look at today’s installment.
I held out on writing the Chicago Cubs edition of “Reliving SI Covers” until the very end. The Cubbies are my favorite team, and since this mini-series is essentially just a recap of all Sports Illustrated covers that struck my fancy, it seemed only appropriate that the Cubs serve as a finale.
A majority of covers featuring the Cubs make very bold statements. “It’s Gonna Happen” in Japanese graced the cover highlighting Kosuke Fukudome‘s signing. Even more bold, the 2004 baseball season preview said “Hell Freezes Over: The Cubs Will Win the World Series”. They missed the playoffs that year, finishing in third place and 16 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. My favorite covers feature no such statements. Hope and optimism, yes, but no World Series predictions.
Kerry Wood, “Do You Believe?” – October 13th, 2003
Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) I was not a die-hard fan of the Cubs in 2003. I did not experience the excitement and subsequent disappointment the playoffs provide. Kerry Wood is one of my favorite players, and this is my second-favorite issue with him on the cover. The luckier team on this page was the Red Sox, who went on to win their first World Series in 86 years later that October.
Alfonso Soriano and Lou Piniella, “Life Is Sweet, Lou” – February 26th, 2007
The year I started to take a serious interest in baseball was 2007, so this cover sits in a special place for me. The green grass of Mesa brings excitement to an otherwise dim February. The fiery new manager Lou Piniella and the $136 million dollar man Alfonso Soriano were representative of the Cubs’ playoff hopes.
Starlin Castro, “Education of a Shortstop” – May 9th, 2011
After growing tired of aged veterans and highly paid superstars, youth is in at Wrigley Field. Starlin Castro (and now, Anthony Rizzo) are the types of guys that fans can root for during the long haul. The picture here isn’t incredible, or it would have ended up higher on the list. Regardless, it will be exciting to watch Castro grow.
Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, “Chicago Heat” – July 7th, 2003
How can you not love this cover? Lost hopes and dreams aside, this picture of the Cubs’ two young flamethrowers (get it? ha, ha) is pretty badass. Who knows, maybe if Castro and Rizzo start tearing things up in 2013, they can pose crossing bats (also on fire – a hot bat, get it? ha, ha).
Aramis Ramirez, “Welcome to the Party” – September 29th, 2008
2008 was great. I absolutely loved that team, and this picture truly captures the emotion. There’s really not much else to say. If the 2008 season lasted a little longer in Chicago, then this would’ve been even more perfect. In the end, it is my favorite SI cover.
I want to thank everyone for following along lately. Tomorrow, I’ll have one more Top Five covers list. (All the NL Central teams have been done, so this one will be a bit of a surprise.) Then, Wednesday I’ll announce the giveaway winner, and get back to some hardcore blogging and analysis. Thank you.