Obviously it’s very disappointing to see the Cubs waste Ryan Dempster’s magnificent performance. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Dempster fan. But I also am a firm believer in giving credit where it’s due, and he certainly deserved a W today with an impressive outing.
Not to be too much of a Negative-Nancy after just the first game of the season, but I’m willing to hypothesize that today’s game offered a glimpse of what we might come to expect over the season, which is namely a team that will struggle mightily to score runs. The simple fact is that no team is going to win many games in which it only scores a run or two, so to some degree it really will not matter how good or bad the pitching is if offensive output is practically nonexistent.
As for the bullpen, it is still a little early to castigate Carlos Marmol. But if he does continue to struggle, then I know we’ll all wish he had been traded when still a hot commodity. All three of Ian Desmond’s hits today were variations of the Texas League Flyball. So of course over time conventional wisdom demands that the law of averages will reduce young Ian’s gaudy .600 average from today’s game back down toward his unspectacular .260 career average. But knowledge of this offers little solace, if only because I instinctively know he’ll offset his productive games against the Cubs with goose eggs against the Cardinals or Brewers.
And then there’s Kerry Wood. I love Kerry Wood. He is one of my all-time favorite Cubs. But honestly, please just retire and walk away from the game with whatever modicum of dignity you have left. Every time he walks out to toe the rubber as a relief pitcher, a little piece of my heart dies. This is the guy I used to wait every fifth day for with excited anticipation to watch him mow down batter after batter. Every time he took his start, you couldn’t help but wonder if he might nab that no-hitter he came oh so close to back on May 6, 1998, and you certainly weren’t surprised when he recorded double-digit strikeouts. I can’t see him trot out as a reliever without thinking of those good times, and even when a serviceable reliever (which he’s been in the past, but that is certainly becoming an open question today) it made me cringe.
To me, it’s kind of like going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert today. Sure the name’s great, and maybe the band sounds okay, but today’s band only has one original member. Really, the heart and soul, the uniqueness that made the band so great, well for the most part those things all died in that plane crash back in 1977. And for me, the things that made Kerry Wood such a legendary hero, well, they died when he could no longer be a starting pitcher. Maybe it wasn’t as obvious at first when he was the closer, because that is such an important role and it was nice to still be able to watch him play. However, once he moved to the bullpen, he was no longer a mythical pitcher but instead closer to just being another guy.
So please, Kerry, try to make this whole situation as painless as possible for us sentimentalists out there.
Well that is quite enough negativity for right now. There’s still plenty of season left for sad nostalgia and biting sarcasm. So go grab a beer and enjoy the rest of the day. After all, we’re only one game out of first.