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Things To Say In Chicago When You're Stupid
by Derek Smart
One of the tendencies of the blogging community, something we do with regularity and lustful aplomb, is take comments by players/management/MSM writers that are, in our humble opinion, intellectually substandard, and with our combination of rapier wit, flawless logic, and overwhelmingly massive capacity for holding onto petty grudges, craft a response that leaves the originator bleeding and trembling jelly-like on the point of our word-swords (a construct we know is imaginary, since it requires the target to have read the salvo, and as all of us who read blogs know, nobody reads blogs).
I bring this up because the other day I ran across a piece I wrote for Beyond The Boxscore last March as a preview of Cub pitching for 2006. Being an odd combination of narcissist and masochist, I decided to take a tour through the beast and see how I did, and things were going well enough until I reached this gem of a graf about Wade Miller.
Whatever the club's final record at season's end, when the post-mortem on the 2006 campaign is performed, the offseason move that will have clearly returned the most value will be the signing of Miller. For a team that began the winter with rotation question marks, and is heading into the start of that season with more of them, having this type of cheap, high-upside insurance is vital. Let me put it this way: it is perfectly conceivable that from mid-May on, Wade Miller's performance will be equal to, or better than, that of A.J. Burnett. I'm not saying it will happen, but I don't think it's crazy to say that it could, and that possible upside alone makes this deal a steal for the Cubs, and a necessary one, at that.
I try to lay off mind altering substances while writing, but when I read this again it was clear I'd picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue. It's not that I don't get why I wrote it - Miller's pre-injury work and my feeling that Burnett was pretty starkly overvalued combined to make me believe that the above was at least possible - but I had clearly yet to learn the lesson that became abundantly clear to all Cub fans in 2006: shoulder injuries are a bitch.
This is well worth bearing in mind for the season to come and beyond - at least until there's a treatment protocol for shoulders that's as predictable as the one for Tommy John procedures. As relatively simple as were the surgeries that both Miller and Kerry Wood underwent, the recovery was a far dicer proposition, and my failure to take that into consideration resulted in a statement that in hindsight was abjectly ludicrous. Of course, my expressed optimism was only the ranting of an obsessed fan. Jim Hendry's apparent attack of the Pollyannas left the Cubs with a severely depleted rotation for an entire campaign.
Still, I'm not writing this to take a parting shot at the debacle that was 2006, but rather to expose myself as the sinful owner of a particularly shiny glass house, one that I built all on my own on a piece of property surprisingly and disturbingly convenient to multiple stone quarries. I'm not suggesting that I or others should stop pointing out the silliness inherent in other's statements, particularly when they come from people in a position of power - whether it's power within baseball, or power though a voice in established media - but purusing the chronicle of my own folly brought home the fact that I, and the rest of us in this community, should remember when we're hoisting that there's a record of our own words out there, and it could just as easily be us on the business end of that petard.