I just read Steve Rosenbloom’s piece in the Trib, where he says “Kyle Hendricks is pitching like Jake Arrieta with a learner’s permit.” His words exactly … all the way down to the imitation road-to-the-White-House snarkiness. I’m not quite certain why he felt compelled to say that about the Cubs’ best pitcher, but the piece reads like Rosenbloom keeps a life size blow up from Arrieta’s ESPN The Magazine spread push-pinned to his bedroom ceiling.
To be fair, Rosenbloom does point out that Hendricks is “pretty close” to Arrieta in a number of stats, and that he “pitches efficiently and quickly” and has a brilliant changeup. He’s also actually makin’ an argument in an “excuse me” kinda way for why Hendricks oughta win the Cy Young this year. But man, you gotta read between the Arrieta syrup to tell. Almost every paragraph compares Hendricks to Jake, one statistic after another. And, hey … I wouldn’t have an issue with that at all except for this: Rosenbloom is crunchin’ this year’s Hendricks numbers against Arrieta’s last year. Is that kosher? Not in the Schlombowski deli, it’s not. That’s just a large, economy-size serving of twisted statistical crap with no pickle on the side. It’s the same kinda shady comparison tactics used by this year’s vermin-like presidential candidates. You might wanna just hang onto that $50 Pulitzer entry fee on this one, Steve.
This apples and oranges way of evaluating the effectiveness of anyone is beneath someone of Rosenbloom’s journalistic achievements. I mean, we could just as easily compare the 2016 Arrieta against the ’73 Tom Seaver, the ’00 Pedro Martinez, the ’69 Bob Gibson (among others) and paint a picture that makes Jake look like the bat boy. Hey, I got an idea, Steve, why don’t we put the 2016 Hendricks up against the 2013 Arrieta? Or the 2012 version. Or 2011 or ’10. The only true, honest, level-playin’-field comparison between these two hurlers this year is lookin’ at this season’s numbers. You do that and the balance tips in Hendricks’s favor. Plus, there’s no arguing the fact that Hendricks has picked up a lotta the slack created by Jake misplacin’ his cape this year. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a solid year … he has. But it wasn’t the other-worldly thing he conjured up last year, as you’ll read in Rosenbloom’s piece.
Hendricks came outta Spring Training desperately clingin’ to the 5th starter role, while Jake was struttin’ around Ho Ho Kam like the Cy Young winner he is. I woulda too, if I was him. And for the first couple a months of the season I’d have sworn we were watchin’ instant replay of the second half of 2014. In fact, it wasn’t until Arrieta started chatterin’ about a $250M contract that the wheels started wobblin’ on his wagon. Coincidence? I tend to think focusing on money 2 years before your contract is up puts demons between your ears, which is especially bad for pitchers cuz they’re often borderline head cases already. He seems to have found his cape again, though. Which is good for everyone except whoever the Cubs face in the playoffs.
The fact is, the entire rotation has been mostly great, most of the season. And, with Lester, Hendricks and Arrieta we’ve got 3 of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. But Hendricks has gone from 5th starter to being the man behind the wheel … and it hasn’t been with a friggin’ learner’s permit.
Hey there, lawn darts, this is the venerable Joseph T. Schlombowski, comin’ at ya from the cheap seats. [Sidebar: I don’t know what “venerable” means, but it sounds good whenever I hear it comin’ outta some big shot ESPN mouth piece.] The Reds are comin’ to town and you know what that means — time to break out the foam middle fingers, pal.
Yeah, my normally militant persona is ratcheted up a couple a hundred notches, but when you’re in the Schlombowski zone, does it really matter? That’s like addin’ a couple of extra buckets of water to the Pacific. Know what I’m sayin’?
Annnnnywaaaaay … it doesn’t take much for me to get up for a series against the Reds. Why? Cuz of the pin-headed Marty Brennaman — the uncontrolled fog horn of the Cincinnati Reds. I’ll get back to his mouth in a moment. First, though, I gotta hand it to the guy: In spite of the burr he has permanently wedged between by ass cheeks, Brennaman is definitely on the right side of Rob Womanfred’s new slide rule. Which is to say his brain waves are hittin’ the same beach as mine for a change. In fact in April, Brennaman said he thought the Commish was legislating baseball “into a game of sissies.“ Totally. Almost sent him a thank you note for that one, but then I remembered why I’d rather eat off the floor of a gas station bathroom than hear his name mentioned again.
Which brings me back to Brennaman’s pie hole, and gettin’ up for the Reds.
For those of you who don’t remember: During a game between Cinci and the Cubs in 2008, Adam Dunn plunked one out onto Sheffield. Now you’d expect that one to come flyin’ back over the bleachers somewhere in the vicinity of then right fielder Sammy Sosa (former Cubs superstar turned roided up DB). Instead, Dunn’s blast initiated a symphony of baseballs — not just the one — being tossed back onto the field. Friggin’ laughed my ass off! (Not enough of it according to the missus, though.) But Mr Brennaman and his steel reinforced sphincter reacted to it differently.
Hey there, corn nuts, Joe “I can’t stand the friggin’ Cardinals” Schlombowski here to remind you that we start a 3 game series against the Redbirds tonight. I bring this to your attention cuz if we broom these cupcakes we claim the Division title for the first time since 2008. I’d call that pretty sweet … but doin’ it against the Cards? Well, that’s more like cotton candy pancakes smothered in whip cream covered Snickers-infused molten chocolate syrup. With an Old Style.
Clinchin’ in St Louis has a much higher calorie count cuz of the long history of discontent between the Cubs and the Cards. It’s like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, Ali and Frasier, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Takin’ the title on the Cards’ home turf would have the added benefit of rubbin’ their noses in somethin’. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Anyhoo … this reminded me of Sosa and McGwire — two guys that, back in 1998, became a microcosm of this long standing rivalry. That was before they became a microcosm of the cheatin’, roided-up jaggoffs who crapped all over the game of baseball. That aside, their chase for the single season dinger record seemed other-worldly at the time, and it probably did a lot to help bring the national pastime back out from the shadow of the players’ strike, which cancelled the 1994 World Series and part of the next season as well. Assholes.
Seriously. How the hell do you strike when every guy in your industry is makin’ mad money for playin’ a game?! That drives me friggin’ bat guano. Of course the owners pretty much brought it on themselves, and much of that can be laid at the feet of Captain Lame with Lame sauce. Uhh, that would be Bug Selig.
I digress. Point is, Sosa and McGwire spent the ’98 season makin’ like NASA with all the crap they put into orbit. It was mind-boggling. All you had to do was look at either one of ’em to know they weren’t do it the way Maris did, but baseball let it go cuz it was puttin’ butts in seats and makin’ players rich beyond Barry Bonds’s wildest dreams. Anyway, they’re still at it in September when McGwire swats number 62 off Steve Trachsel in the fourth inning of a 6-3 Cubs loss. And what does Sammy do? He makes his way in from right field to embrace his home run rival like a couple of horny grizzly bears. Full disclosure: he wasn’t alone. Hell, half the Cubs lineup practically tried to get his autograph as he was trottin’ around the bases like Secretariat. Which brings me back to the Cubs-Cards rivalry. Or in this particular case, love fest. I’m sorry … I totally get what sportsmanship is all about, but puttin’ your arms around a Cardinal oughta get you fined, my friend. Say somethin’ nice at the press conference, send him a bottle of scotch, maybe. Whatever. But a public display of affection for the arch enemy?! Are you friggin’ kidding me? That’s like Montgomery givin’ Romel a big wet kiss after getting his ass kicked in North Africa. I’m talkin’ oil and water here, my friend. No Cubs player should ever betray the rivalry by doin’ anything that could be construed as “fraternizing” with a Cardinals player.
Fraternization is a term defined as “to become like brothers” and undermines the goals and objectives of war, or in this case a ball game. Providing covert aid or even extending cordiality to the enemy is an offense typically prohibited by military codes of conduct. When it comes to the Cubs-Cards rivalry, I think we’re talkin’ about a similar code, and breaking it oughta be subject to some sort of harsh military-like punitive measures. Like pickin’ up all the sun flower seeds in the dugout between innings, or couple weeks of cleanin’ up Wrigley after each game. I’m just sayin’.
The animosity between us remains intact, though. Should we respect the Cards? Absolutely. They’ve won a helluva lot more Championships than the Cubs have, so they kinda deserve it. Of course that’s just one more reason to hate ’em.
Hey there, turf toes. Do you like magic? I like magic. There’s somethin’ about Siegfried and Roy (before that tiger remembered he was a tiger) or Houdini or David Blaine that makes you say, “How in the friggin’ hell did he/she/they (don’t wanna offend anyone) do that?!”
Uhh … that makes Joey Chestnut a magician, too, by the way.
I know you know that magic also applies to baseball. And if for some you don’t, you musta never seen Ozzie Smith or Roberto Clemente or Brooks Robinson or Willie Mays pullin’ rabbits outta hats like they were Kreskin or somethin’. YouTube ’em. It’s like Harry Houdini and Misty Copeland got busy and had all boys. Those guys could do stuff with a glove that woulda turned Michael Jackson white, and routinely had you scratchin’ your noggin and wonderin’ how in the wide, wide world of sports could any mortal do such things.
The 2004 Red Sox were total magic. Comin’ from 0-3 in the ALCS to snatch victory from the jaws of the Yankees was a way better trick than, say, makin’ the Donald disappear … or turnin’ Hillary Clinton into a pidgeon.
I’d say Jackie Robinson crossin’ that stupid friggin’ line was magic, but I think it was way, way harder than makin’ someone disappear.
I think the fact that the rotund Bartolo Colon can play Major League Baseball is magic.
Most importantly, magic also refers to the number of games you got until you clinch a playoff spot. Yeah, I know you already know that, but I’m shootin’ for the lowest common denominator, here. I gotta account for guys who never heard of Clemente or Robinson — whipper snappers who think bat-flippin’ Bryce Harper is the big bang of the baseball universe. So, now that we’re down to the short and curlies of the regular season we’re startin’ to hear a lotta chatter about magic numbers. (By the way, as a life long Cubs fan, I can tell you with Einstein-like certainty that there’s nothin’ at allllll regular about this season, pallie.) Anyway, the whole subject of magic numbers, as it relates to the Cubs, is borderline euphoric. Why? Cuz most years you’d a needed friggin’ IBM Watson to figure the Cubs astronomical magic number. Not this year, spanky. In fact today’s digit is an 8; an ocho; the number of those things an octopus has; Yogi’s and Ripkin’s and Yastrzemski’s number. In a few hours I think it’s gonna be Mickey’s number, thanks to the Stros.
Anyway, 8 is enough. Seven is better. Zero is just around the corner, my friend, as will be the World Series championship … makin’ the luckiest number of all, 108.