Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waveland and Sheffield Should Be Hard Hat Areas Tonight

There has been a lot of chatter on Twitter and talk radio about Jeff Samardzija making his first major league start for the Cubs tonight. The radio hosts are talking about how many tickets he has to set aside for this great occasion. Twitterers are hopeful he can end the Cubs losing streak by beating Pedro Martinez.

I'll put it another way: People are hopeful that a rookie who hasn't shown any real ability to throw strikes or get people out regularly since his first couple of weeks in the majors can outduel a certain Hall of Fame pitcher with 214 wins, a .684 winning percentage, 3,114 strikeouts, 2.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and three Cy Young awards in his career.

I know what you're going to say, "But Tim, you're just pissed about losing a 12 inning ballgame last night despite allowing only 3 hits all damn night. Pedro isn't that level pitcher anymore. He had a 5.69 ERA last year and he hasn't pitched in the majors since last September."

To that I say, April 21, 2002. What happened on that day? A Cubs team with a crappy offense went up against the Cincinnati Reds, who dug Jose Rijo out of mothballs to start for them. Rijo had not started a game in almost SEVEN years at that point, and he held the Cubs to one unearned run in 5 innings that day, and the Cubs lost 5-3.

The Cubs started Juan Cruz against Rijo, another Cubs pitching prospect with lots of promise who never really worked out for the Cubs, and has had varying degrees of success since with other clubs.

I am scared out of my mind about this game tonight and the similarities to that 2002 game. I can not make myself believe that Samardzija and his slightly better-than-average fastball, no ability to throw a second pitch, and lack of control will come out victorious simply because he is accustomed to playing in front of large crowds at Notre Dame. That seems to be the best thing people can say about him. He won't get flustered. Oh goody.

He won't get flustered as Howard, Utley, Ibanez and the rest of the Phillies high-octane lineup break windows in the buildings across Waveland and Sheffield. He won't get panicky as they put up double-digit numbers against him. That is awesome news.

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense continues to work under the misguided notion that getting runners into scoring position in almost every inning is good enough. They seem to feel that actually having runners cross the plate would be piling on and uncalled for. Pedro is going to eat them alive if he has anything left at all.

I'm bringing the Rally Hat tonight to try to counteract the suckiness that has found its way back onto the Cubs roster. I don't know how much mojo this hat actually has, but it will almost assuredly be taxed to its limits tonight.

But if Aaron Miles plays, I don't think there is a talisman strong enough in the world to counteract that level of ineptitude.


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