There was a point during last night’s broadcast in the fourth inning where our friend Hawk started into a speech about how certain veteran players need to cinch ‘er up and all that, since there’s still lots of baseball left to be played and let’s not forget about those crucial six games against Detroit.
And, briefly, I cringed.
Not because the Sox are out of it (because they are) and not because they’re headed for the basement (because they’re not), but because this Saturday against Kansas City no longer means win a game; this Saturday against Kansas City will mean the arrival of Jake Peavy, Hawk Harrelson Superhero.
Now, bear in mind that Peavy’s past performance in Games That Count hasn’t been the best, and bear in mind also that the White Sox need nothing less than 1991 Game Seven Jack Morris to do the rest of the work for them.
Jake Peavy is not 1991 Game Seven Jack Morris.
Peavy is good, indeed, and Peavy’s sheer force of will brings at least some glimmer of hope to the next few years, and while he may pitch some fine games he will not put the team over the top; no one man does that when a team is down by 5.5 with 17 games to go.
But what I fear is not third (or second!) place, or even an agitated injury. I fear Hawkeroo, hopping about the booth in between screeds against umpires about how the cavalry is here and the rest of the league might as well pack it in and call it a season. Who knows what wacky name Peavy will have bestowed upon himself? Peaverooney? Peaverino? Leave it to Peaver? How many sliders will inspire great speeches on the lost art of not unpitching your way around the guys who can’t un-outhit you? How many times will we hear about Peavy’s laundry list of great, clutch performances that don’t exist?
When a 5.5-game deficit remains a 5.5-game deficit, how many times will we hear “that Jake Peavy, he’s a competitor, he looks at those five and a half games and says ‘Gimme the ball.’ Because that’s what good pitchers do; they take the ball”?
When Peavy has his first rough outing, what inane comparisons will he hear, perhaps how Peavy is “really just doing what all great pitchers do, and that’s just work the funk out of their delivery. We’ve seen it with Sandy Koufax. We’ve seen it with Don Drysdale. Even our own Mark Buehrle, who I’ll tell you is probably the best pitcher I’ve seen in my five decades of baseball, even he sometimes just says ‘you know what? It’s just not my turn.'”
When Carlos Quentin’s average remains in the .230-.240 range, how many sermons can we expect on how “Some batters, what they need is to not be facing pitchers they might not have ever faced before they came to the team where they don’t have to face them. Carlos, he was terrible against Jake, and that’s saying something when you consider just how good Carlos Quentin really is.”? (This will be doubly hilarious because Quentin is actually 0-for-6 lifetime against Peavy including four K’s.)
He is a man who will turn anyone into a hero, especially men doomed not to be heroes at all, which by most any logical definition fits Saturday Sox starter Jake Peavy. Please Jake, go home this weekend.