29 Days to Opening Day and a look at number 29 shows me that the man who currently dons it – Jeff Samardzija – is about as good as it’s gotten on the North Side. Sure, there have been others you could talk about. Guys I had no idea even played for the Cubs.
Hall of Famer Tommy Davis wore Cubbie blue briefly in both 1970 and 1972. He played a grand total of 26 games for the Cubs – all of them past the twilight of his career. It was so far past twilight that I think he missed curfew.
He also played a in celebrity travelling USO softball game in Naples, Italy in the late 1990s. Against my Navy cohorts and I. My lasting memory of Tommy Davis? When he was introduced he shook the hands of the other “Legends” on his team – then he came to our team and, instead of shaking our hands, he simply looked at us all and said, “Hey, f*&^ you guys…” and moved on. He meant it in jest, of course. That’s my kinda sense of humor – it likened him to me immediately, to be honest.
For every Tommy Davis in 29 history, there’s a Brock Davis. And a Tom Veryzer. Or Bobby Molinaro. The cupboard has been pretty bare with number 29. Didn’t that Molinaro guy star in Hill Street Blues or something?
Which brings me to the present in Samardzija. He’s considered the “ace” of the staff. My apologies to Samardzija lovers out there, but the only way this guy is an ace is if you go ace, two, three, four and five - not 10, jack, queen, king, ace. Cub fans, your alleged “ace” has won 17 games as a starter – over the last two seasons combined. Bottom line about Samardzija is this: he’s about as good as it’s gotten with number 29, he’s our guy right now, and he most likely will be wearing another uniform by the end of the year. In fact, some rumors would tell you he could be wearing another uniform before you’re done reading this column. Enjoy him, or suffer through him, now because he may be dealt quicker than a hand of poker in Las Vegas.
Let’s just hope that whomever comes calling for Samardzija’a services believes he a “face card ace” instead of a “bottom of the wheel ace”.