Congratulations, Jacque Jones! You’re no longer the stupidest player on The Bottom 126! Nossir. Kyle Farnsworth just ran in and body-slammed the remaining smart out of himself, dropping you down to number two.
You see, Kyle Farnsworth was one of the most maddening Cubs of my time. He had a million dollar arm, but you could buy his brain for a buck and get enough change to send a sympathy card to Paul Wilson (with Paul-Wilson-face-punching video goodness).
Farnsworth’s problem is that he treated his pitching like I treated my college years. When Farnsworth first came up in 1999, he took pitching very seriously, and he listened to everyone trying to teach him how to pitch, and he didn’t let himself get distracted by all the bars and the girls.
After a year of being a good student of the game, Farnsworth decided that pitching well was too hard, and that he was going to get paid the same no matter how he pitched, so he started hitting the bars, staying out too late the night before he was expected to perform, and making an ass of himself.
At the end of the 2000 season, he realized he had a 6.43 ERA, and would likely have no job if he kept this up. So, he resolved to clean up his act, keep hitting the weights, and be the best damn pitcher he could be.
In 2001, he was. Farnsworth rammed his 100-mile-per-hour fastball straight down the throats of the National League. He was one of the best relievers in baseball, stacking up 107 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched and walking a surprisingly low 29 batters. “Farnsworth is the closer of the future!” they shouted on Clark and Addison. Everyone was happy. Farnsworth’s hard work had once again paid off.
But hard work is sooooo hard!
Farnsworth took his newfound fame to the bars. Again and again and again. The result was a steamer of a 2002 season, during which Farnsworth posted a 7.33 ERA, and struck out only 46 guys in 46 2/3 innings. So long, closer of the future. Hello, most wildly inconsistent pitcher in recent memory.
Farnsworth of course rebounded for his (fifth year) senior year of 2003. I imagine Farnsworth did the whole, “I swear I’m never drinking again. And this time, I mean it!” some time toward the end of the 2002 season. Once again, it worked for the guy with the rocket arm. Farnsworth rebounded nicely from the debacle of the 2002 season with a 3.30 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings.
If you’ve been paying attention to the pattern, you’d know that Farnsworth’s 2004 season would be garbage. You’d be right. All of Farnsworth’s numbers once again regressed to the point where, by the end of the 2004 season, the Cubs had enough. They traded Farnsworth to the Detroit Tigers for Roberto Novoa, Scott Moore, and Bo Flowers. Farnsworth took his linebacker pedigree to Detroit, tackling Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Affeldt (with video goodness!). The best part is that there was no real fight until Farnsworth, running out of the bullpen, tackles Affeldt, who was not even pitching at the time. Ah, meatheads.
Farnsworth is now with the New York Yankees, and he apparently has taken it upon himself to defend the virtues of truth, justice, and the Yankee way against
arrogant piece of human waste future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens. Keep fighting the good fight, Kyle. Or the bad one. It’s what you’re best at.
Before I wrap this up, we absolutely have to have some Farnsworth Meathead Moments.
Meathead Moment One:
During his time in Chicago, Farnsworth was allegedly known to frequent the Forest Park bars. Doc Ryan’s, in particular, was apparently Farnsworth’s Wednesday home. Knowing this, one of my buddies went to Doc’s on a Wednesday during the Cubs season and allegedly saw Farnsworth there with his girlfriend. My buddy said that Farnsworth could not have acted like a bigger knob. Suffice it to say, the young lass was asked on numerous occasions to pull Farnsworth’s finger. The outcome was the same each time.
Meathead Moment Two:
In 2004 Farnsworth landed on the disabled list with a sprained knee after kicking a fan. No, not the kind of fan that says, “Boo for blowing the game, Kyle Farnsworth!” The kind that circulates air.
Meathead Moment Three:
Farnsworth was allegedly the pitcher who, in 2002, was caught napping in the clubhouse in the middle of a game. And by “napping,” I mean “sleeping it off.” And by “it,” I mean “a hangover.”
Low Point: It would be easy to cite each and every even-numbered year of Farnsworth’s career, but I can’t help but go back to Game 6. Don’t forget that Mark Prior left the game in only a 3-3 tie. It was Farnsworth who gave up the bases-loaded, bases-clearing double to Mike Mordecai that really doomed the Cubs. You know. In case you forgot. Just reminding you. It really sucked, that game did.
Did You Know? Farnsworth is a black belt, and he has a brother named Jeff currently playing for the White Sox affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. Here’s hoping he gets to the big leagues in time to punch Ozzie Guillen in his smug, greasy face.