My New Favorite Player


It's doubtful that any of you folks know me. I've lurked here for years, but never posted before a couple of weeks ago. Though I've been silent, I feel that I am a member of the community. Just thought I'd share something uniquely personal...

While I was looking something else up earlier tonight, I came across an item about Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Jeff is a good young pitcher, improving steadily in his grasp of how to win at the major league level. Jeff also has a full head of hair.

As a fully-haired person myself, I am behind that. Some announcers and fans lament Jeff’s locks. I like them. I hope he continues to grow them. He’s got a little bit of sass in him too. He’ll give a reporter the whatfor if the questions gets too stupid. I like that too. I even forgive him for playing at Notre Dame, and I forgive me for wishing he had chosen football and had Jay Cutler throwing him slash routes. That bridge burned long ago...

More after the jump

His improved play has already made me a fan. My wife thinks he’s awesome. I’m not quite sure she knows what position he plays. To her she’s Errol Flynn, I think. That’s ok by me.

The Cubs, well, they’re bad. They’re in a full-on rebuild and most of their best players are getting seasoned down in the minors. Former Tucson Padre Tony Rizzo is among them. I missed getting to see Tony because I was in the hospital last spring. I certainly knew who he was and would have enjoyed watching him play, but it just wasn't possible. My illness had been a life-threatening respiratory condition called ARDS, and I was in no shape to go anywhere. I was unconscious during all of March and most of April, which made that even more difficult.

And now we’re getting back to Jeff Samardzija, and why he’s my favorite player. When Jeff was in high school, his mom, Debora, who was only forty-six years old, died of ARDS. Here’s the article, from the South Bend Tribune: Samardzija Honors Mom

I survived. I was lucky. Go Jeff go. I’m glad you’re doing better. I truly am sorry about your mom. I’ve been there. But it gives me plenty of time to watch baseball. As I like the sport, I do. I've been a Cubs fan since I can remember. I used to watch the games with my grandfather, which would make my earliest views of the Cubs during the "College of Coaches" period. You do the math.

Not enough people are aware of ARDS. It's a deadly affliction that hits approximately 270,000 people annually. The rate of survival varies depending on which source you consult-I was given a 10% chance because of the severity of my condition. I'd say that an average of the various sources would be between 25-33%. It's a hidden assassin with some famous victims-Jeff Conaway, most recently. Jim Henson, some time ago. Let's not go into details of the syndrome or the treatments here. It isn't my object to spoil anyone's day. If you're interested, there's good information online. I helped to write some of the wikipedia stuff. There are a couple of foundations that are not too good at getting the word out but have good data.

The reason why this is all relevant is that the Cubs are playing in Phoenix on the anniversary of Jeff's mom's passing. I just found this out. I live in Tucson. I'm sure I can handle the trip as I can plug the converter into the cigarette lighter, and we'll haul a few of those shortie tanks.

So I grabbed a couple of tickets and I'll rent a car. Dunno if he'll be pitching that night, but we're going to try to meet Jeff. I donated a little bit to his foundation (he gives a scholarship annually "to a Notre Dame student who has endured the death of a parent or other family member while continuing to strive for academic achievement"). Couldn't give much, but you do what you can do.

And, go Jeff go.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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