In the early summer of 2014, before Jake Arrieta became Jake Arrieta!, the Cubs played a Friday-night game in Philadelphia. The Phillies were commemorating the 50th anniversary of their 1964 team, a club that had a 6½-game lead with 12 games to go and lost 10 in a row and the pennant. (Don't think this is so strange -- the Cubs have saluted their 1969 team, a similar bunch, on more than one occasion.)
As so many teams, including the Cubs, do these days, the Phillies wore throwback uniforms. The Cubs agreed to go along with the party and wear 1964 throwback uniforms themselves. As I have written before, I like this look and wish the Cubs would adopt it as their regular road uniform, or at least as an alternate. The lettering really jumps out, and the piping on the collar, sleeves and pants is a classy look.
This game was perhaps the first inkling that Jake Arrieta would turn into Jake Arrieta! Jake threw seven innings, allowed just two hits and a walk and struck out nine. Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer to provide all the runs the Cubs would need in a 2-1 win over the Phillies, Friday, June 13, 2014. (Superstitious? Read on!)
It turned out to be an omen, a good one, too. Jake has now thrown six games like that: at least seven innings, no more than two hits, no runs, and nine or more strikeouts. Here are all six of those starts, which of course include his no-hitter against the Dodgers August 30.
The reason I'm telling you this? After games like this, the Cubs put all the jerseys on sale through Cubs Authentics. I check their table at Wrigley every now and again for a deal. Jake's jersey from this game was there one day and at a very reasonable price, so I bought it. I own the actual jersey you see in the photo at the top of this article. Here are photos of the jersey, first the front, then the back, then the tags that ID it as game-worn (the numbers are first, the uniform number, second, the size, third, the year, 1964 in the case of this throwback).
I wore this jersey to every one of Jake's starts at Wrigley Field after the All-Star break this year. That's six outings, in which he threw 43⅔ innings, allowed 22 hits and seven walks (0.664 WHIP), three earned runs (0.62 ERA) and struck out 48. In fact, the only game among those six in which he allowed any runs at all was Cole Hamels' no-hitter July 25; in the five starts at Wrigley after that he allowed no runs at all in 37⅔ innings.
I realize that what I do, say, write and wear has absolutely nothing to do with the Cubs' performance on the field. But I'm bringing the jersey with me to Pittsburgh and will be wearing it at PNC Park Wednesday night.
Superstitions like this are fun, don't you think? Watch for me in the PNC stands, I'll be down the third-base line. Go Cubs.