Saturday, June 26, 2004  
Why It Stinks To Have a Great Pitching Staff

As I was at work today, unable to watch game 2 of the Cubs/Sox series, I turned on ESPN 2 to get a score update. I was reduced to scanning the bottom line scores scrolling by to see how the team was doing. I fully expected the Cubs to win this game. We had Zambrano on the mound, and the Sox were featuring a kid who had just been called up from the minors. I felt pretty confident it would be a low scoring game for the Sox and that the Cubs would get the job done. However, when I first caught the score, it was 3-0 in the third inning. I was very confused. How could the Cubs be down 3-0 with Big Z on the mound? Eventually I saw that the final was 6-3 in favor of the Sox. I was very disappointed, and it got me to thinking about why it stinks to have a great starting 5. Here are a few reasons that I came up with.

1) When the Starters give up more than 3 runs, I get angry - I actually expect every starter we march out there to be spotless every game. Our staff is that good, that it is entirely possible for any one of them to pitch a shutout on any given day. As a result, when the staff gives up a bunch of homers as Zambrano did today, or walks a bunch as Prior did yesterday, I get frustrated to the point that it is painful to even watch when they are winning. I expect so much from these guys that when they fail just a little, it hurts. I am really going to need to just not expect as much from these guys. After all, is it possible that one year we could have four 20 game winners? Its definitely a possibility, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

2) With a great pitching staff, the offense seems to be too relaxed at times - To me, it seems that our offense over-relys on a great pitching performance at times. They come out sluggish and fail to play good, fundamental, run scoring baseball. They get leadoff hitters on, but don't seem to score. They have bases loaded and no outs or one out, and somehow only come away with 1. I think that if our team knew that the only way we were going to win was out slugging the other team, we'd be putting up a lot more runs. Our offense needs to play with a little more urgency. Last year, down the stretch, it seemed like we were jumping in front every game. We were always putting a run or two on the board in the first inning or two. This is something that gave our pitchers some breathing room and comfort. If we can start doing that a little more, the second half of the year will be very enjoyable.

3) People seem of overestimate our guys - We have such a great staff, that they are noticed in the league. People talk about them day in and day out. As a result, they are so hyped up that they can't possibly live up to ALL of it. As a result, people get disappointed with above average years.

In closing, don't get me wrong. I LOVE our staff, but I just wanted to show you a different perspective.

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