When it became official, the moving from closer to starter thing, well... I sure didn't think it would actually work.
Then I saw him at the Cubs Convention and I thought man, that guy's been working out.
He came into camp in the best shape of his life, and look what happened.
17 wins and the honor of starting game one of the NLDS game vs. the Dodgers.
The other thing about Ryan Dempster is his mouth.
He's funny, he's honest, and twice this year he's made bold predictions.
One came true when he called the impossible Rockies Comeback Game.
The other is uh, still up in the air.
That's the one where he said the Cubs would go to the unmentionable series this year.
So, just hoping he's truly clairvoyant.
He'll be starting tomorrow night against 14-11 Dodger starter Derek Lowe, who's given up 9 runs in his last 10 games so he's kinda hot.
But Mr. Dempster has been sort of the Wrigley Goalie this year, winning an incredible 14 games at home (Fergie Jenkins holds the record at 15).
There are a handful of guys who get to be Chicago Icons.
You can't touch Jordan or Ditka, but that next level down is pretty impossible to get to too.
The one with Walter Payton and Ryne Sandberg.
Big Z can get in that club.
First off, he's amazing. He got the no-hitter against the Astros. The movement on his pitches is insane. He learned from Greg Maddux that you don't have to strike out every batter, he has the kind of fabulous outspoken personality we all spark to here... he's literally this close to icon.
But there's the "emotional" part.
Not saying it holds him back because it seems to fire him up, but sometimes (like in the most important game of his young life) he needs to learn to count to ten.
I'll be counting on him to do just that on Thursday night.
Carlos, you can be as good as you want to be.
What's it gonna be, bro?
When Jim Hendry got Rich Harden, I had to ask around to find out more about him.
I heard 2 basic things: "best pitcher in baseball" and "he gets hurt alot".
But this trade happened at the exact moment when you were saying God, please get us one more pitcher.
And I think he's the missing piece.
I've seen him be conservatively brilliant, and to have him start the third game of any series is an emormous advantage because nobody's got a 3 as good as Rich Harden can be.
This year Ted Lilly has come into his own as a Cub.
Everybody I know loves this guy.
He swings the bat kinda funny and he looks like he could maybe be a TSA guy at the airport.
But I doubt you'll find anybody on this team who is more of a competitor.
When he took out Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina going shoulders first into home plate, well of course it scared the hell out of you.
But then you went, "Damn, that guy isn't kidding around."
Thus the nickname.
You can make yourself crazy trying to figure out who the ace of this staff is, but the fact is they're the most talented total group of Cubs starting pitchers I've ever seen.