Way back in elementary school, the musical “Cats” was all the rage. Our music teacher, the way hip Mr. Vaanenen, got us all excited about this incredible musical performance that Broadway had never seen the likes of. Naturally, my sister and I were all wound up about it, and my parents decided to take us when the show came west to Chicago. To this day, and I’m not a huge fan of musicals or plays, but I remember being mezmorized by that show. The lights, the scenes, the make-up, and of course, the music.
OK, before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, and I’m talking Broadway musicals on a baseball blog, allow me to segue. I’m trying to tie this into good old boy, Mark Prior. How you had me all excited and full of visions of you carrying the Cubs to the promised land. You had me mezmorized. In some cases, I think you may of had me delusional. A rotation of Prior, Wood, and Zambrano had me drooling so hard, I’d need a feed bag to contain it. This was it, the pitching that would take the Cubs to the long awaited World Series and end a drought that even Boston, and the White Hose have been able to vanquish.
When the Cubs selected Mark in the draft, I could hardly contain my excitement. The Cubs had selected a pitcher that would not only be good, but be ready for the Major League in a hurry. With Wood being healthy, and this young stud joining the ranks, we had nowhere to go but up. Then it happened.
What seems to be a reoccurring dream, or nightmare depending on how you look at it, the injury bug hit, and Mark couldn’t get his poop together. Arm and shoulder injuries, and freak accidents. Flipping over Marcus Giles between 1st and 2nd base? A line drive off the elbow? How does this stuff keep happening? Somewhere in there, I lost my faith in number 22. He seemed pampered and couldn’t get his mind over matter. Baseball is a grueling sports that spans over six months a year. Bumps, bruises, muscle strains, pinching, you name it, occurs on a daily basis. It takes mental strength to get through some of it. Mr. Prior, I do not believe you had an ounce of that.
They keep showing clips of Mark’s Cub career on Comcast Sports Net, and a majority of them are him calling to the dugout for the trainer. It irks me a little bit. What should of been an anchor for our rotation for years to come, was over in five years. In actuality, he was really only useful two of those years. What a waste.
Of course, now he’ll go onto some west coast team, which is where his heart really wanted to be anyway, and probably come back to have a semi-successful career. It is what it is. Another blip on one of the many touted pitchers that have come through Wrigley Field with high expectations, only to flame out quicker than you can make an overkilled Bartman reference too. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even that upset by Prior being released. I just don’t think he’d work well with the current roster. I’m not sure he would fit into Piniella’s hard nosed system, where “sallies” aren’t appreciated, and you better come ready to play.
I can sum up Mark’s career quite simply. I laughed, I cried, but it most certainly wasn’t better than Cats.