Hometown hero

Hometown hero

There are few more cultured baseball people in the world than Charlottesville’s own Mike Cubbage. From a second round pick out of UVA in 1971, to an eight-year Major Leaguer with the Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins, to a coach with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, Cubbage is baseball’s embodiment of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Now a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, “Cubby” took a break in his summer travels to share his views on the past problems, present story lines and future stars of Major League Baseball.

Wes McElroy: Is this shaping up to be the Summer of Barry Bonds or the Summer of Cal Ripken and Tony Gywyn being inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Mike Cubbage: Probably Bonds. Those Hall of Fame things are nice, and those two are two great players and very deserving and very much what the game is all about: character and the way they played the game. But this Bonds story is bigger then life because he’s chasing the most sacred record in all of sports.

Will karma, the law, or both come around on Bonds before he reaches 756 or will it be too late?

It’s probably going to come around too late. I think he will be exposed eventually for what he is—one of the all-time great cheats.

You are currently a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, traveling and checking out Minor and Major League teams. Who are “the guys” that baseball fans should get familiar with for a long time to come?

They’re a lot of good young players. I love the young kids on the left side of the infield with the Mets—Jose Reyes and David Wright. Those two guys are going to play together for a long time. Probably 12-14 years. They’re that good, and Reyes is so exciting the way he plays the game with the energy he has.

As a player, manager and scout, who has had the most influence on your baseball life?

It was Gene Mauch. I played for him for five years in Minnesota, and he was just a brilliant man and by far the smartest man I was ever around in uniform. He was ahead of his time. He was the sharpest pencil in the drawer by far.

Commissioner Bud Selig has tagged 2009 for his retirement. Looking back over Selig’s entire tenure, has he been good or bad for baseball?

Well, you’re asking the wrong person that question, because I’m not a Selig fan. He’s done some things he’s going to get praise for, such as interleague and expanding the playoffs. I think along with the good, the bad and the ugly is going to be the steroid issue, and that’s going to be the black cloud that hangs over the Bud Selig regime, and he’s yet to deal with it.

Wes McElroy hosts “The Final Round” on ESPN AM 840. M-F 4pm-6pm