It's a hazy overcast afternoon in southern Indiana. Pop-up T-boomers loom over the horizon threatening my satellite signal. Game time is 4 pm. I am anxiously awaiting the start of another home-stand with the recliner primed and ready, the beverage of choice ( I must confess, I drink adult beverages sparingly, though as a Cub fan you'd think I should be a borderline alcoholic after some of these games) ready for consumption, and the TV tuned to the Cubbie network channel. Press record in advance (just in case there is a fire or tornado.)
And...... the line-up. Valbeuna on two, Coghlan left, Rizzo on one, Castro at short, Sweeney, Schiernholtz, Olt, Baker and .....Popcorn!...Damn. Maybe I do need a beer.
Edwin "Popcorn" Jackson. Yup, that's him.
Where is that beer? I'm definitely gonna need it.
Ever watched a popcorn machine without much of a lid? That stuff flies everywhere. Completely unpredictable. You never know where that kernel of corn will end up or whether it will stay in the machine.
Well, watch Jackson pitch and make mental note of where you think each pitch will go. You can use the catcher's positioning as a guide, or the specific count and situation, or hell, just guess.
I will bet you are wrong most of the time. The pitches will sail high and inside when the catcher sets up low and outside. His pitches get more dirt than TMZ. There are times when the grounds keeper at Wrigley must cringe because he sees Jackson (no, for the sake of the game we will henceforth call him Popcorn), I mean Popcorn, beat the hell out of the brick wall way back behind home plate. I'll bet the Umpire behind the plate is reciting Hail-Marys pleading not to be hit. Hell, the catchers probably draw straws to see who will be the "bruised like a heavy-weight fighter" guy at the end of the night.
Keep in mind, after he has surrendered four or five runs, he will dial it in a bit. When Boz has waddled out to the dirt summit and thrown in his two-cents-worth and Ricky has had enough Popcorn might be replaced by Dos Popcorn (Pedro Strop)... On a positive note, at least Mega Popcorn (Jose Veras) is gone.
Don't hate me for the sarcasm. I love the Cubs. I watch way more games than I miss, follow the news from spring training to elimination and I try to make the pilgrimage to Mecca (Wrigley) when I can. I love an underdog and I love Wrigley.
But Popcorn drives me nuts. He is just like that bucket of popcorn at the theatre. You know the one that looks good in the picture, smells awesome but is way over-priced, has too much butter (hence the wild pitches) and has lots of stale, burnt husks and un-popped kernels in the bottom. Watching him at times is like having a chunk of corn stuck in your gum-line. You know the one you keep poking and clawing at with your finger or pressing on with your tongue. Where is the floss when you need it? Where is that beer?
I have a Halleluiah chorus cued up for the arrival of the first pitcher from the Veal pen (yes, until we have some legitimate Bulls in the pen I will refer to it as the Veal pen. Besides, it is mostly a bunch of young guys walking on the mound awaiting slaughter.) I breathe a sigh of relief as Ricky Renteria slaps Popcorn Jackson on the ass, says, "you've done enough", smiles, raises his right or left arm and taps it.
I would say, " Here comes the Calvary," but we all know that is just not exactly the case.
Yes, Grimm, Schlitter, Ramirez, Rondon, Russell, Wright, and Dos Popcorn are waiting there with Villaneuva to save the day... Edwards, Vizcaino, and Rosscup are coming soon. It is not all bleak and dreary like the sky outside today. And, I see fits and spurts of decent pitching. But it is hard to watch these guys dig their way out of a giant mess of popcorn.
It is game time, God save the Cubs, here we go again... Now, where did I put that Vodka?
The game is over and Popcorn's semi erratic pitching struck a few out and mostly stayed intact. The Veal-pen did have some bulls today and we beat the Pirates. God, this diatribe is beginning to sound like Hello mother, hello father, here I am at camp Granada....Yeh, things work out at the end of that one, too. But it is still as pleasant as finger-nails (if I had any after watching some of these pitching performances) screeching on a chalk board watching Popcorn pop. Gotta go, I think AA is calling to see if I need a sponsor after Saturday and Sunday's games.