Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
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Pain and Joy, Joy and Pain
by Derek Smart
A win is a win is a win, but having victories constantly tainted by wrenching injury is starting to get me down. Here's to the good health of the team from here on out, and the devout wish that the club has gotten the horror show of hurt out of its system.
And now, considering what their namesakes do to the human body, the unfortunately labeled: bullet points.
Again, I refuse to declare The Franchise completely healed and fully re-formed as his naturally Herculean self, but it's getting more and more difficult with each outing to resist the temptation. It's particularly difficult since he didn't look like he had his 'A' game - he was still good, but maybe more like a 'B' - yet still held the Reds to two tallies while striking out ten.
Being able to mow down the opposition when you've got all your tools in order is expected, and really nothing special. It's when a pitcher can take charge of a game without complete ownership of his personal excellence that you know he's got it going, and while we have yet to see him really struggle, how he handled last night's good but not great outing is definitely a step in the right direction.
Of course, any glee I might feel due to the win or the work of Prior is overshadowed by the fate of poor Chad Fox. It's not as if his eventual injury was unexpected in general - one doesn't compile a health history like he has without being a veritable ticking time bomb of affliction - but it's one thing to hear or read about it, and quite another to see it happen in front of you.
There was no doubt from the moment he came off the mound that he was hurt, and badly at that. But as horrible as I felt when Nomar went down, I feel so much worse for Fox. True, he's a less important part of the team - I think if the Cubs put Mike Wuertz in the closer role they'll actually be better off - but he's also not a star, not an icon, and if the injury turns out to be severe enough, maybe not even a ballplayer anymore.
In a way, I hope this is the end for Fox, not because I wish him ill, but because he's already been through so much, worked so hard to continue to play this game only to have his body betray him at every turn, that I fear one more trip down that road could break the poor guy's heart, and mine besides.
He wasn't a Cub for long, but as far as I'm concerned he's one of us now, and as a member of this large, extended family I just hope that whatever happens, however he decides to handle this latest setback, that he's able to find comfort and peace.
On a lighter note, the vision of Neifi! and Jose Macias on the bench talking hitting during the fifth would ordinarily be cause for some sort of deeply snarky comment; perhaps a metaphor about the blind men gleefully leading each other toward a deadly precipice, or how such a conversation is reminiscent of similar talks hypothetically had by the likes of FDR and Louis Howe over the proper approach to a penalty kick.
But how can one seriously say such things when confronted by this: The Cubs scored 10 runs on a night with the wind howling out, and the team's only homer was had by....Neifi! It's come to the point where I'm strongly considering forswearing showers lest I encounter a naked Bobby Ewing.
Aramis Ramirez looks like a desperate man at the plate, like every pitched ball is food and he hasn't eaten for weeks. As was mentioned during the broadcast, Aramis is feeling the effects of his success, as pitchers are no longer willing to challenge him in any situation, preferring to either put him on or have him swing at their pitch.
I think Aramis understands this, but it's critical that he starts to apply this understanding to his approach at the dish. He's anxious right now, maybe even trying to justify the big deal he just signed, but he needs to relax and let the pitchers come to him, and if they don't, simply take his base and let his teammates do the work. After all, they'll have to do it anyway if he's sitting on the bench after making an out, so why not let them do it with him standing at first?
I know I'm bad for thinking this, and even worse for sharing, but I have to find out if I'm all alone in my sickness:
Last night, after having mentioned his bout with stomach flu during the broadcast, Corey Patterson pinch hit for Mark Prior, and try as I might, all I could think of were the possibilities for humorous yet disgusting gastrointestinal episodes.
I won't share the details of my imaginings - they are foul - but thankfully none came to pass and Corey struck out sans incident. Here's to Mr. Patterson's full recovery, if for no other reason, to save me from myself.
Game two of the series tonight, and Carlos Zambrano has a chance to put the Cubs two games over .500 for the first time this season against the taterific, Eric Milton. If the wind's blowing out like it was last night, we may be in for a show.