Usually the Cubs’ season doesn’t end until at least May. But this year, it ended on March 14th. That’s the day on which Mark Prior’s shoulder finally decided to call it quits. Is this surprising? Not really. Did anyone in their right mind think that Mark Prior was actually healthy? Not really. Healthy pitchers aren’t throwing 30 pitches off the mound three weeks in to Spring Training. But for some reason, I still couldn’t believe it when I saw the headline on ESPN News. Mark Prior is hurt again.
Here’s what happens over the next two weeks:
1. There will be countless articles on Cubs.com trying to spin Prior’s injury and put it in a positive light. You’ll read about how the Cubs can go with a 3 or 4 man rotation for the first three weeks because of all the off days. Prior will definitely be ready by the time his spot comes around in the rotation the fourth week of the season. You’d be best to ignore these articles. It’s all a bunch of lies.
The articles will be written by Carrie Muskat. She’s the one that wrote in the latest Cub mailbag article: "No. 1, Prior isn’t injured. He’s on a strict program designed to build up arm strength and to avoid injuries. A respiratory infection that forced him to be hospitalized in late December slowed him a little, but that doesn’t qualify as an injury." That was posted less than 36 hours ago. Apparently Mark Prior went from "not injured" to "injured" over the course of a long toss session. That’s very believable. (sarcasm)
2. Mark Prior will have at least one MRI. In fact, he may just have an MRI machine installed in his house. That would save him three or four trips to the hospital each year.
3. Someone in the media will allege steroid use. This is ridiculous, because steroids are supposed to make you stronger. If there was such thing as an anti-steroid, I would be the first one to point the finger at Mark Prior for taking them.
4. Cubs management will take a beating over this recent development. And they should. The USSR was more forthright during the Cold War than Jim Hendry and Larry Rothschild are about the health of the pitching staff.
In January I was outraged that Mark Prior’s name came up in a trade rumor. Now I understand what Jim Hendry was doing. Instead of prolonging the inevitable, he was attempting to eliminate Prior from the rotation via trade instead of injury. And the Orioles didn’t take the bait.
Right now the Cubs’ rotation is Zambrano, Maddux, Rusch, Williams, and Hill. Read that again. The Cubs are rolling in money. They just added a few thousand seats to Wrigley. And with all that money, they’re going to start the season with a rotation consisting of an ace, a former ace that might win half his decisions, and three guys who have stats this Spring that would indicate they’re lobbing 12-inch softballs.
If Mark Prior misses more than a month because of his flu/sore rotator cuff, it’s going to be a long, long season. And if that’s the case, I’m officially done with him, Kerry Wood, and Hendry/Rothschild. I would prefer Jim just give everyone the middle finger after every question instead of spew the same false garbage he’s offered up the last couple years.
ABC News is reporting today that there’s a 50% chance the bird flu will eventually be transferred from human to human. And somewhere in Vegas, the "Date on which Mark Prior contracts the H5N1 virus" O/U has been added to the board. Word to the wise, take the under.