Since Alfonso Soriano’s strike out to end the Cubs playoff run in 2008, there haven’t been many happy day for Chicago fans. Since then, the Cubs have not been back to the playoffs and have continued a steady decline, losing 101 games last season. Still, there have been some silver linings along the way, including the growth of Starlin Castro and the debut of Anthony Rizzo. But today might be the best day the Cubs have in the past five seasons. Today, July 2, 2013, will always be remembered as the day the Carlos Marmol Era ended.
If you think I’m being overdramatic, you haven’t been paying attention to the Cubs. Not that anyone could blame you, as there really isn’t much to see at Wrigley right now. Still, seeing Marmol shipped away to the Dodgers, the very team that swept Chicago in 2008, brings nothing but smiles across the Windy City. You could easily make the argument for Marmol being the worst pitcher in baseball, and few would be able to put up much of a fight: he boasts a 5.86 ERA this season and a number of other gaudy stats. Perhaps most embarrassing is his base on ball average of 6.8 per game.
But stats really don’t even do justice to how bad this pitcher truly has been over the past couple seasons. Things started off well enough for the right hander, entering the majors in 2006 as a starting pitcher. After converting to a closer, he dominated with a stellar fastball and one of the most devastating sliders in the game, leading the Cubs to back-to-back playoff appearances.
Then something broke. He was never injured. Never suspended. There is no true reason for how come he has regressed so much. Maybe he just lost it. No matter the reason, the fastball lost its giddy up, the slider lost its break and Marmol lost his job while Chicago fans lost their minds.
Every single time Marmol entered the game, it was an absolute experience. Even when he could manage to get the save, it was never without drama, whether it be walking the bases loaded or giving up two runs before finally securing a rare Cubs victory. Chicago has since found success with Kevin Gregg in the closing role, but manager Dale Sveum and the rest of the franchise kept trying to hold on to what Marmol used to be, rather than looking at what he is now.
The breaking point came after he gave up four runs to the New York Mets on June 16th, blowing a three-run lead. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the batter who homered to win the game was Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is tearing up the National League with a .128 batting average.
There may be no pitcher in franchise history that sums up Chicago more perfectly because they don’t win much, and even when they do, it’s never very pretty.
The simple fact that the team was able to get more than a bag of balls for Marmol is shocking. It doesn’t matter what the Cubs got for him (relief pitcher Matt Guerrier); it just matters that he is gone.
As I sat with a big fat smile across my face after hearing that years of torture and torment from Marmol were finally in the rear view mirror, I came to a seemingly sad conclusion: this is the best day for the Cubs in 5 years. Castro and Rizzo emerging as young stars is great, but even better is getting rid of the pitcher who truly symbolizes the sad state my favorite team currently endures.
Now that we are finally ridded of the Marmol stench, it is time to move forward with the hopes of one day finally breaking that damn curse. However, chances are that he will find his form again and be a dominant force for the Dodgers in the playoffs. This is the life of a Cubs fan.