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A Tale of Two Eras: Chicago Cubs Management Reacted in Opposite Ways to 1970, 2021 Losing Streaks
William S. Bike -- Historical Commentator William S. Bike -- Historical Commentator
Chicago, IL
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Anthony Rizzo was one of the stars the Chicago Cubs traded in 2021. But should they have held onto him? Photo courtesy USMC.

The Chicago Cubs were sailing along in first place. Then beginning in June, a losing streak of more than ten games motivated Cubs management to make some blockbuster player moves.

Those facts are true for both the 1970 and 2021 Chicago Cubs. But management's reaction was totally different in each of those seasons, according to William S. Bike, who wrote the new book The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, published by The History Press.

"It's national news among baseball fans that in 2021 after the 11-game losing streak dropped the team out of first place, Cub management figured the team couldn't come back and traded its three biggest stars, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez," Bike noted.

"But interestingly, when the first-place Cubs had a 12-game losing streak in 1970, management decided to go out and acquire three top-flight players, instead of getting rid of three," Bike noted.

In 1970, the Cubs acquired pitcher Milt Pappas, outfielder-first baseman Joe Pepitone, and pitcher Juan Pizarro at mid-season.

"These guys had been stars with other teams, and Pappas and Pepitone immediately played the Cubs back into contention," Bike said. "Pappas won ten games as a starting pitcher, Pepitone jacked 12 homers and contributed 44 RBI, and even Pizarro, who contributed less, gave the team a seasoned lefty reliever. Thanks to these guys, the Cubs got back into a tough three-way pennant race with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. They nearly overcame that big losing streak to win the pennant."

Bike noted that "some sports fans think that 2021 Cubs management made a mistake trading their three biggest stars in mid-season, pointing to the 1970 Cubs as an example of how a good team can come back. Others argue that the game has changed too much and dumping Rizzo, Bryant, and Baez was the right move. Salaries were low in 1970 before free-agency and multi-year contracts, so it was easier to acquire good players at low cost. In 2021, Cub management argues, they needed to trade these players for good young prospects, because free agency loomed for their stars and if the Cubs would have held onto them, the team would have gotten nothing" when the stars departed for the free-agent market after the season.

But it is interesting to see how in two very similar seasons, Cub management behaved diametrically opposite, Bike said.

"Should the Cubs have backed up the truck instead of acquiring players in 1970?" Bike asks. "After all, they didn't win the pennant and maybe could have gotten some good young prospects for their stars like the 2021 Cubs did. On the other hand though, 1970 provided a fun year, and nearly a pennant, for Cubs fans. Could the 2021 team have done the same? We'll never know."

Offering a fast-paced look at the season month by month, The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow moves beyond wins, losses, and statistics to relive Ernie Banks's 500th home run, the addition of "the basket" to the outfield walls, good trades and bad trades, how manager Leo Durocher's radio show caused clubhouse chaos, death threats against third baseman Ron Santo, outfielders Billy Williams's and Jim Hickman's best season, the great Cubs pitching rotation, and statistical and computer analyses of how the Eastern Division Cubs would have done playing in the Western Division— and in the playoffs and World Series.

The book shows how the baseball, pennant races, and Wrigley Field of 1970 differed from the modern era. It analyzes "what might have been" if different scenarios had played out, and reveals what happened to each of the players. For Chicago Cubs fans of that era or any era, the book is a must-read.

"My book is both fun and analytical," Bike said. "You'll feel the heat of the pennant race and figuratively smell the popcorn and hot dogs and hear the crack of the bat in Wrigley Field in 1970."

Bike also wrote the books Streets of the Near West Side, Winning Political Campaigns, and Celebrating a Proud Past. He also edited the book Essays on Earl Renfroe: A Man of Firsts. Associate editor of the newspaper Gazette Chicago, he also works as a freelance writer. Formerly, he directed communications for Loyola University Chicago, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry. Bike has earned more than 50 awards in journalism, publications, media relations, and alumni relations, including three Peter Lisagor Awards, the top honor in Chicago journalism.

The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, published by Arcadia/The History Press of Charleston, SC, is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other book purchase websites, in bookstores, and at https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467149082 ISBN: 97814671-4908-2, paperback, 160 pp., $21.99. For more about the book, log on to www.1970chicagocubs.com.

Bike is available for broadcast, internet, and print interviews. Email Bike at anbcommunications@yahoo.com, call him at (773) 229-0024, or contact Haley Johnson at (843) 853-2070 ext. 204 or hjohnson@arcadiapublishing.com.

Buy William S. Bike's latest book, The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, at www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/97814671490827.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: William S. Bike
Title: Senior Vice President
Group: Central Park Communications
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 773-229-0024
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