Picture taken 1.2 seconds before a 3-run home run.
This is Friday Five, our erratically-updated list feature. After witnessing Wednesday's Coleman/Berg/Russell shit sandwich, we cast our collective Cubs fan mind back to the awful bullpen pitchers of yore. The only caveat was no closers - those are way easier to hate, and if we were allowed to, the list would have been four Kevin Greggs and one LaTroy. Given his mostly "oh shit" duty due to lack of skill, the much-reviled Samardzija didn't even make the cut. No, these is a series of relievers put in the game mid to late to get important outs. And they fucking sucked.
Dishonorable Mention - Chad Fox
He wasn't really around much - he pitched fewer than 12 innings with us over three years. I'm not sure what we ever saw in him. He was often-injured throughout a career that really only had one really good season and three decent ones. He's on this list solely for the single worst pitching performance I've ever seen. It was like a contest winner was out there throwing an actual big league inning.
It was during the 2009 season, before it went completely to shit. May something or other. We were up 8-2 on the Astros, game in hand. Aaron Heilman himself hadn't managed to fuck it up. In comes Chad Fox, facing 6-7-8. He walks the first guy on four pitches. Then Ivan Rodriguez - roughly 98 years old at the time - triples. Fucking triples. Jeff Keppinger grounds out to bring in Pudge. Darin Erstad hits another triple next. Good night, Chad. ERA? 81.00.
Two nights later, he somehow gets another opportunity in the 8th with us way behind at Miller Park. Walk. Wild pitch. Aaaaand that's a career.
5. Kevin Hart
He came as a spare part in the Freddie Bynum deal, and no one really gave a shit. He was the player to be named later. But then all of the sudden, he was keeping the ERA under 4 in Tennessee and Iowa and there was talk of a steal. He got some decent time in 2008, putting up a horrific 2.00 WHIP in mostly inconsequential situations. In 2009, he became a full-time crappy Major League pitcher, seeing an unconscionable 81 innings during a horrible year and giving up 10 hits per 9 innings pitched when he could hit the damn zone. You shuddered if he ever came in during an important situation. He was Rocky Cherry with more innings.
We finally unloaded him in 2010, as he had decent ERA numbers despite being mostly crappy as ever. In return, we got starter/swingman Tom Gorezelanny, as well as left reliever John Grab.... OH FUCK!
4. Will Ohman
The original despised crappy pitcher with inexplicably high inning count. He hasn't played for the Cubs since 2007, but the rage is still as fresh and palpable as ever. One decent season in 2005 failed to make up for pitching like a raging sack of shit the rest of his career. I rejoiced when he left town, and wondered if any team would be stupid enough to put him in a uniform. Turns out the Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, and Marlins were. And the White Sox. Of course.
3. Neal Cotts
Neal Cotts couldn't hit the strike zone if you paid him a hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's just literal. He aims for the outside corner, he delivers it high and inside to the catcher. He aims his hand toward his junk for some self-pleasure, and ends up with a class ring inside his rectum and an embarrassing visit to the ER. He aims to pick up a lady at a singles bar and ends up being escorted out of Chuck E Cheeze by sheriff's deputies.
At one point during an early season Cubs/Cards game at Wrigley I was attending, he came in with the game tied and threw 11 straight balls. By the end, I was gibbering like the protagonist of a Lovecraft story. Fucker.
After we released him, he never saw the majors again. He did fail to make it out of Spring Training with the Pirates, though. HA!
2. Aaron Heilman
We all knew it was going to be bad. We had some big wins over the (then-contending) Mets in 2008. Two of them specifically came because we hit the holy shit out of Heilman and his stupid fat face. Then we failed hard in the playoffs and Big Hendo decided that signing this tire fire of a pitcher would be the thing to get us closer to the series.
Clearly, that was not the correct decision. After a good early start, he hit the skids. Hard. A bad part of a bad season. At the time, he may have been the most hated former Notre Dame pitcher on the roster. Shocking, I know.
1. Bobby Howry
The one and only example of how shitty Jim Hendry is at assembling bullpens. Nominally a setup guy (Marmol what?), he came over from a decently successful AL career and started failing hard. Real hard. But don't let me tell it. Let me and Steve in the past tell it.
In describing a classic Howrification:
"With a runner in scoring position and two outs, historical Cub-puncher Carlos Lee settled into the box. So we're all imagining the intentional walk that is going to bring up some priss named Geoff Blum for a soft 3rd out. Instead, Bob Howry thinks he can go at Lee ... Ron Santo, the Wrigley crowd, and Bob Howry's shitty pitch are all crushed."
After Howry made an 11-2 game an 11-7 one with a single inning:
"I know that occasionally we deal in exaggerations and hyperbole on this fair site, so let me briefly shake off the cloak of wild rhetoric. I'm not going to say something like 'I hate Bob Howry,' or 'I want to eat his babies,' or 'If he gives up one more 3-run home run, I will make a change-purse out of his taint skin.'
What I am going to say is that no matter the lead, I begin feeling ill when he lopes off of the bullpen mound and starts lobbing little league fastballs at the plate."
After a patented Howry Classic (TM)
"Can someone explain to me how we make Backe throw 30 pitches in the first inning, hit four home runs, and still lose ... to the damn Astros? Oh, wait, I know how - Fucking Bob Fucking Howry. 0.0 IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB."
Here's to you, Bob Howry. My fondest memory of you is when we cut you once and for all in 2010. It's perhaps the only happy memory that year.