Take a good hard look at that sex machine. It's the face of a man who throws 88mph and hasn't smiled for 14 years. He doesn't give a shit about starting opening day so I'll go ahead and make a big deal about it on his behalf.
Personally this is about as chalk of a blog as it gets coming out of March Madness for my Illini. Opening Day announcement? Let's fucking ride. I've been making a lot of noise about my bball squad and had high hopes they'd bridge the gap to Opening Day a little stronger but as I said yesterday, That's Life. You want things to go one way and the end up going completely different and there's nothing you can do about it.
Another good example would be the way the Cubs fumbled the farm system and player development, generally. You want the Cubs to consistently reload with good young talent but turns out we just don't have it. So instead we have to trade away Yu Darvish and hope Zach Davies doesn't blow and now I'm starting to get sad. That's not the point of the blog.
Point is I needed some good old fashioned Feel Good sports news to pick me up today and this is in the sweetspot. Kyle Hendricks in all of his glory will be taking the ball for the Chicago Cubs on opening day for the 2nd year in a row. And with it, the legend behind one of my favorite Cubs (all time) continues to grow each and every day. It's amazing. He truly and sincerely has evolved into the face of being a good pitcher. I'm talking the legitimate #1 pound for pound "If Kyle Hendricks can do it, you can do it" guy.
You may think I'm being dramatic but I'm not. Let me put some context behind it.
Greg Maddux always held that torch for my generation in baseball. If you had a kid who could locate 83-85 and throw a decent breaking ball, chances are he won a ton of fucking games for your high school team. He wasn't taller than 6 feet and had absolutely zero ceiling. But throughout his career, countless coaches encouraged him with something that sounded like this:
Just look at Greg Maddux.
If you played high school baseball from 1993-2010 then there's a very good chance you're nodding along. It's the rally cry for any pitching coach in need of a professional example of how far you can go in baseball with brains and location. Nevermind the plus plus changeup, location and two-seam fastball. Greg Maddux appeared to be average and to a lot of coaches that appearance was more than enough to justify some of the most baseless encouragement in the history of amateur sport coaching.
You already throw harder than Greg Maddux. Now all we need to fix is your location
That's youth baseball instruction at its finest and you can officially put Kyle Hendricks's name in that sentence. He's taken over. It's his position to lose now that he's the poster boy for succeeding sub-90mph.
In the words of Rizzo on a Red Line last season, the dudes who throw mid-80's and carve are the real bad asses in baseball. To me that's way cooler than gassing 100 and trying to get into a pissing match with sliders and velocity. End of the day nobody can make a hitter look as defenseless and vulnerable the way Hendricks does with his changeup. You can certainly overpower hitters but from the perspective of sheer stupidity, Hendricks has that category locked down.
There's a bunch of other reasons I love this man that you already know about. He's basically the perfect starting pitcher to me and yet my only complaint is he doesn't have Yu Darvish backing him up this season. That was a good 1-2 punch but like I said That's Life and we gotta move on.
For now congrats to Hendricks on getting the ball again on opening day. It would be cool to look back years down the road and see if he could string a bunch of OD starts together for us. I'm always jealous of those teams that run the same guy out there 7+ years in a row. That was always so sweet about Buehrle so maybe we'll get that out of Hendricks. Who knows.
I'll have a lot more on his numbers and shit this week on Red Line Radio so go subscribe and download now so you don't miss it.