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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  • Torres a late scratch from the Pelicans game and no word of injury or signs of foul play with the unis. May be a trade a brewing after all?

    Edit: now word he was a late scratch due to a "headache". Hmmm

    Eric S 9 min 48 sec ago view
  • Hopefully Zobrist is regaining his stroke and KB can move back down to third or fourth in the order. Did not realize the zero rbi's in over a week - glad Rizzo and Russell picking up the slack

    Eric S 15 min 1 sec ago view
  • Just had to ask, I guess.

    Haven't had a big comeback win in a long time (at least it seems like a long time). Great feeling!

    Rizzo should hold clinics on 2-strike hitting. Awesome.

    billybucks 1 hour 46 min ago view
  • cubs!!!!!

    cubs lead in the top 7th!

    crunch 3 hours 2 min ago view
  • so nastay...

    triple, walk, domination

    crunch 3 hours 18 min ago view
  • And he gets out of it by K-ing Braun, Lucroy and Carter!

    Let's get some runs!

    billybucks 3 hours 21 min ago view
  • welcome to the cubs j.nathan.

    2 pitches into the inning and there's a guy on 3rd with 0 outs (triple).

    his velocity is hanging around 91/92mph.

    crunch 3 hours 38 min ago view
  • Always a good idea to bring in Richard against a LH batter.

    billybucks 4 hours 17 sec ago view
  • Russell left game with left heel contusion from foul ball on Saturday. Started to bother him during the Sunday game.

    Cubster 4 hours 16 min ago view
  • a.russell out and down into the clubhouse...no one knows why.

    it's very hot on the field, so it might be heat related.

    crunch 4 hours 36 min ago view
  • I blame the All-Star game again, or else Michael Barrett.

    Cubster 4 hours 49 min ago view
  • Miller park roof is closing. Hmmm, might play differently now?

    Lester at 72 pitches through 3. Roof closing might get him through 6.

    Middlebrows pulls a calf or hamstring. Len says he blew a tire rounding 1st. Nieuwenhuis enters game.

    Now roof opening. Dizziness. No AC in the ballpark wrt the field.

    Cubster 4 hours 50 min ago view
  • just to lighten the mood:
    Shark's day: 5.2 IP 5 Runs (all earned), 8 Hits, 2 HR. Left the game down 5-0 to Yankees.

    Anyone expecting game 4 NLCS Shark vs Hammel or Lackey?

    Cubster 4 hours 58 min ago view
  • First inning: two on, no out, Rizz and Zobrist due up. Don't score.
    Third inning: two on, one out, KB and Rizz due up. Don't score.

    This is getting' old, fellahs.

    billybucks 4 hours 59 min ago view
  • KB still with ZERO RBI since the A/S break. Ouch.

    billybucks 5 hours 2 min ago view
  • 62 through 2ip...yow.

    it's an off day for d.ross, too. the wild pitch + passed ball in 2 separate strike 3 calls allowing the runner to reach 1st and the 5sb through 2ip makes for a bad game so far. ross cant shoulder any blame for some of those SBs, especially that villar steal of 3rd while lester watched him.

    crunch 5 hours 5 min ago view