A Start and a Stop

 

Hello again from Des Moines, the soggy branch office of the Chicago Cubs National League ballclub.

A bizarre homestand that began last weekend with a flood-delayed game played behind closed doors as a public safety precaution ended last night with the season's largest crowd witnessing the latest episode in the unraveling of Rich Hill.

One night after Sean Marshall required only 87 pitches to get 24 outs, Hill scatter-gunned 45 before he was taken into custody after a mere two-thirds of the first inning.

He hit batters, batters hit him, he walked #'s 29, 30, 31 and 32 in 28 Iowa innings, threw in a wild pickoff throw that seemed almost gratuitous and generally made a[n] [Steve Bl]ass of himself before being ushered to the showers by tepid applause that was as unwarranted here as it would have been at a gallows.

How appropos that the opponent for the Iowa Floods was the New Orleans Hurricane.

The visitors' operatic lineup sparkled with Gustavos and Casanovas and Rauls and Valentinos and Pascuccis.

Understudies to Marshall on Thursday night, they killed Hill in the first act on Friday before the concessionaires had beaten back the first charge of a crowd in excess of 11k.

Marshall apparently won't be here much longer. He's ripe and ready for the call. As for Hill, he's best-suited right now for casting as Nuke Laloosh in a 'Bull Durham' remake.

The anti-climactic pitching note of the evening was the appearance of a young moose named Estrada for the I-Cubs. Recently promoted from Tennessee where his #'s were ordinary, he's listed at 6'8" and 260#. So far in two stints here he's allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings while walking zero and fanning 10. File him under future reference.

Following the good example of their parent club the I-Cubs now hit the road still in first place - high and, more importantly, dry...MW

 

 

Comments

Funny, I was just going to comment on the "Steve Blass Disease" before you mentioned it - perhaps it's time to see a sports psychologist at this point? No one has said anything about a mechanical or physical problem, so what else can the club suggest? It would be a damn shame if he can't work this thing out, we don't need another Rick Ankiel in the makings here.

Have you seen Rich run or swing? His only chance is pitching. The Rink Ankiel analogy definitely only goes as far as the meltdown.

Rich Hill, you say? He's a lefty, correct?

When I was a kid, and the Cubs were mediocre to terrible every year (yes, we all share a common history), I focused a lot of my fanboy energy on individual performances. Because, really, what else was there to root for, especially when August rolled around? So it meant something if Madlock was gunning for the league batting title or Sutter was in line for a Cy Young, or Rick Reuschel was going for his 20th win. And I was just a kid.

As I got older and more forlorn over the state of the Cubs, I became less enamored of the individual players (they ain't family and they ain't friends) and more concerned about how they were actually helping the team win games. DLee's 2005 was special because his awesomeness was helping the team win more games than it probably should have, but once the team started to swoon (around the time Barrett threw down to third in Philly to allow the winning run to waltz in), I couldn't have cared less if Lee won the Triple Crown. To paraphrase Al (DeNiro) Capone: "Individual performance...eh, it's not so good."

Which brings us to Rich Hill. Do I want him to do well? Sure. But only in the context of him helping the big club. Even if he threw 7 shutout innings for Iowa, who cares? (Other than Iowa Cubs fans?) If it meant he got his shit together and yet still crapped his pants in the Bigs, what's the point? Even if he never throws another pitch for the big team, I could care less about the guy. Because if he never makes it back, then that means he's continued his descent into uselessness at the MLB level and he'd only be a drag on the team. Is it a waste of talent? Not really. I mean, either you got it or you don't.

I'd feel the same way if it was DLee, Aramis or Zambrano. If you're not helping the team win, adios. Once you've outlived your usefulness, you're dead to me. Get someone else, even if your last name is Sandberg, Williams or Banks. What the Astros did to ensure Biggio got his 3000th hit last season was ludicrous. The guy was an anchor dragging the entire offense down.

For all the time and money invested in Hill, he's given the Cubs about 1.5 seasons (if that) of effectiveness. Is his career circling the drain? Hard to say. But I wouldn't stay up nights worrying about it.

It's not like he lost his stuff. Rich Hill is still virtually unhittable. But thanks to meddling with his delivery, he's got no idea where the ball is going anymore.

I suspect the only person staying up nights & worrying about Rich Hill is Rich Hill, if even him...

I don't stay up at night for Hill, but I hate to see the team tinker with the guy and steer him in the wrong direction. If he's that fragile maybe he'll never make it for other reasons in the future.

Once the Cubs release the guy, another organization will give him a contract, a baseball, and tell him to throw the ball his way. He'll have another chance in MLB, and either make a career or start selling used cars (he went to Michigan, right?)

He'll have another chance in MLB, and either make a career or start selling used cars (he went to Michigan, right?)

*plays Notre Dame Victory March*

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  • so...

    anyone else ready for the all-star break? =p

    it's been a tough past couple weeks...except that reds series. i miss playing the reds. that was cool.

    crunch 2 hours 17 min ago view
  • To take my mind of this latest disaster...wow, I thought baseball money was crazy, but NBA money is now super-wacko crazy. Joakim Noah is 31 with bad knees and absolutely no offensive game. He can't make a layup. The Knicks just agreed to pay him $72M over 4 years. Holy crap.

    billybucks 3 hours 13 min ago view
  • "if"?

    billybucks 3 hours 17 min ago view
  • Thank you, Jason, for allowing me to get to bed at a decent hour. Very thoughtful.

    It will be very interesting to see what Theo does at the deadline. Of course, if Jake doesn't get straightened out, it really doesn't matter. A lot of Jake's comments this year, and his posing for nudie pics in the ESPN magazine, rang some alarm bells -- after one great year (and it was amazingly great), his head has swelled tremendously. Jake, look up the word "hubris", then look in the mirror.

    billybucks 3 hours 18 min ago view
  • ...and we're back from the 3rd rain delay.

    crunch 3 hours 19 min ago view
  • at least the cubs have a decent backup of...ummmm....well the minor league system has...uhhh...hmmm.

    maybe adam warren can manage to throw less than 100 pitches in 5 innings? no?

    well damn.

    crunch 3 hours 27 min ago view
  • Not to worry -- I'm sure Hammel will finish strong in the 2nd half of the season (~sad chuckle, reaches for Scotch bottle~).

    billybucks 3 hours 32 min ago view
  • Hammel has had a rather challenging last month. I am hoping post-break that Hendrix gets pushed ahead of him. They'll be lucky to win a game in NY

    The E-Man 3 hours 51 min ago view
  • hey, alright...cubs losing by 9 and a 3rd rain delay. awesome.

    crunch 4 hours 1 min ago view
  • If baseball does not work out for Patton, I think he's got a future in Civil War re-enactments. He's got a solid Johnny-Reb look to him.

    Eric S 4 hours 5 min ago view
  • David Ross - the mound awaits you.

    Eric S 4 hours 13 min ago view
  • RIP jason hammel's awesome ERA.

    10 ER in 4ip...almost a full point tacked on tonight, alone. 5HR given up tonight. oogly.

    crunch 4 hours 16 min ago view
  • Nimmo certainly does not want to see the Cubs leave town. His first MLB rbi last night and now his first HR.

    At least Hammel is eating some innings ... this is the kind of game Peralta should be used if at all.

    Eric S 4 hours 25 min ago view
  • OK, the hell with it.

    It's July 1 -- Hammel starting to suck right on schedule.

    Other than sweeping the Reds -- a bad team actively trying to lose -- this will make 8 losses in 9 games to good teams (Cards, Marlins, Mets). Not good at all.

    billybucks 4 hours 28 min ago view
  • Belicheat a consultant for the Red Sox?

    Eric S 4 hours 49 min ago view
  • And, so, Jason Hammel decides to test my new resolution right away. Sheesh.

    No Wright, no Duda, no Granderson -- no problem for NY. Ugh.

    billybucks 4 hours 55 min ago view