Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
8 1/2 Hours is a Long Time!
So, I actually got to go to the game yesterday. Cubs/Cardinals is always a lot of fun, so some friends and I managed to get some decent seats and decided to take in a ballgame on a lovely Labor Day afternoon. At least, that was the plan. The four hour seventeen minute rain delay took a little bit of steam out of the day, and since I had arrived at 12:30, I was actually in the ballpark for five hours without seeing any baseball. Don't cry for me, though. I got to hang out in Wrigley Field and just talk about baseball, and plenty of other subjects, with good friends. That would have been enough to make it a good day, but since we stuck out the weather, we got to see a fun ballgame as well. Talk about icing on the cake!
The Cubs really played a sharp game (if you don't count all the men left on base in the first couple of innings). While it didn't look like Mark Prior had his best stuff early on, he really started to get it going in the middle innings, and the Cardinals, as a result, never looked like they were threatening much. The only issue I had with this game was Prior's pitch count. We were commenting in the stands that he seemed to have thrown a lot. We weren't keeping score, and there's nothing at the park to tell you where anyone's counts are at, so we didn't have a good idea of where he might be while we were there. Needless to say, I was horrified this morning to find that he had 131 pitches in his eight innings. Look, I'm not a pitch count alarmist, and I certainly hope that there aren't any ill effects from this outing in the long or short term, but I'm really starting to become concerned about Prior's next few years. Yes, he has fantastic mechanics, and yes, he seems to be able to stay strong deep in games, but I just worry that in a couple of years his shoulder or elbow will give out, and while we won't be able to trace it to outings like this, I'll definitely have my suspicions.
The Cubs have a shot at winning their division, admittedly, an opportunity that comes along fairly rarely. However, Prior is the key to their hopes of winning for the forseeable future, and since he's come off the DL, he's thrown 116 or more pitches in 4 of his 6 outings (one of which, the first one back, he was on a strict pitch count during). Someone in the Cubs front office needs to decide how much they are willing to pay in the future, for the hope of success today.