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




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*

Recent comments

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  • BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.  

  • Yep

  • AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?

  • Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?

  • CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!

  • Lulz

  • Oh what do you know, Cubster? Go back to your day job.

    --- Ducks, puts on Cardinals cap, runs.

  • Russell had a severe hamstring last year while with the A's system, forcing him to miss the first half of 2014. I've even wondered if his injury last year was a component of Billy Beane putting him on the trade market. He was quoted saying that last year's injury was a 10 out of 10 when it happened. Last night he said his hamstring soreness was a 1/1.5 out of 10. Hamstring injuries are tricky though, so I'd expect the medical team to be overly cautious here.

  • ...I want to reinforce the observation that there was no sea of red in the crowd. The usual Cardinal fans roaming the stadium were few and far between.

    Also, almost every 2 strike pitch brought the fans to their feet. Good for those in knee rehab.

  • "1st team hit hit 6HR in a game in the postseason." rises above obvious...i checked it with the official fact-finding commission of Douche, Douche, and Douchestein. they agreed with you, but they're a bunch of f'n douches so who cares?

    btw, the cubs are 2-1 in the post-season series.

  • I should be able to watch the game on the NFL replay app, whatever that thing is called. I've got it on my iPad. This is the first year I haven't forced myself to somehow watch every game - no I take that back, last year was - in quite some time. Last year was so unbearable, no pun intended.

    You make some good points about Cutler, and I was a holdout defender of Cutler for a long time. I gave up on him a bit after one too many dumb interceptions, but last year doesn't count. Trestman was the worst coach in Bears history.

  • Nice little reportage there!. I think you're older than me. Considerably older. Maybe several generations. Working out is so essential, especially as age kicks in, isn't it? I still lift weights, and so I'm confident that when I get to be at the hip breaking age, mine won't be a statistic. But I have a ways to go for that to be a concern.

  • What was impressive to me is that the Cubs won despite poor base running, several defensive miscues, Russell leaving due to injury, Arrieta having an off game and getting knocked out early, and Rondon giving up 2 runs in the 9th. If they can win a game like that... 

  • I was there too. The crowd was absolutely electric. People were standing for every big and semi-big moment, from the first inning on. It felt incredibly strange and exhilarating to see the Cubs (the Chicago bleepin' Cubs!) score playoff insurance runs on the Cardinals. What a game. One to remember.

  • 14 in attendance. What's the record for attendance in the fall? I guess I should ask what the record attendance listed is in one of your recaps.

  • I was there too, with my grown son. This is my miracle year-- I rose to the top of the season ticket list after eight years, completely unexpectedly, and my wonderful wife agreed to put the ticket fee on the emergency credit card. The whole point of course was that the Cubs were going to be good this year, and then for a while, so to get season tickets with the guaranteed shot at the postseason was incredible timing. We got to the remote lot at 4:10 after stopping at Nhu Lan for our usual banh mi sandwiches, only to find the lot full, way earlier than normal.