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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cubs Preview #2- 3/11/08

Roster Spot 20- C- Henry "Hank White" Blanco #24
Ht:5'11'' Wt: "220" (bullsh*t) Bats: Right Throws: Right

Such grace..such poise..

To have been a Cubs fan since the 2005 season is to have witnessed the rise of one of baseball's greatest heroes. Henry "Hank White" Blanco is more than just a ballplayer. Hank is hope in human form. When we see his mulleted head, his tribal arm tattoos, and his wispy goatee kneeling down behind the plate, we know that we have a damn good, if not guaranteed, chance to win that ball game. From the moment of Hank's arrival, he has inspired his own fervently devoted group of Cub followers, the Hank White Fan Club. (

While that group, with its hallmarks such as the Hank White Equivalent Batting Average, and the Hank-o-Meter can give far better justice to our warrior, I shall do my best.

But if Hank is this team's greatest player, you ask, how can he not even be the starter at catcher? Hank's rare combination of good looks, powerful throwing arm, and poise at the plate cannot be unleashed every day. No, he must be reserved for the situation that is truly his calling: Carlos Zambrano.

Except on opening day, whenever Carlos strides the mound this year you'll most likely see Hank walking out to home plate. Together they are the Cubs unbeatable Latin Gladiator duo. If Carlos is indeed El Torro, or The Bull, as he has named himself (and everyone else fell in line in sheer terror), then Hank is The Matador, for only he can truly tame Carlos. Many would say that the rise in Carlos' era and losses last year can be attributed to his contract situation, I attest it solely to the fact that Hank spent most of the campaign on the DL and played in only 22 games. In 2005 and 2006, with Hank as his near-fulltime catcher, Carlos was 14-6 and 16-7 with era's of 3.26 and 3.41. In 2007, with Hank on the DL and Carlos left at the mercy of the Michael Barrett/Jason Kendall/Koyie Hill/Rob Bowen four-headed catching blunder, Carlos finished 18-13 with a 3.95 era.

But besides statistics, which can be manipulated by anyone to suit any purpose and 35% of people know that, Hank has one true talent for managing Carlos: Balls. I remember a game in 2005 in which Carlos was struggling to throw a strike. I mean couldn't find the strike zone with GPS. Hank responded by coming out from behind the plate, meeting with Carlos, exchanging a few words, and going back. Carlos struck out the next batter, ended the inning, was calm throughout and the Cubs won the game. What were Blanco's secret words of wisdom? Zambrano went on record as saying, quote, "Henry said he would slap me if I didn't throw a strike". The power to instill fear in the Bull himself. The power of Hank White. A power notably lacking in a certain former Cubs catcher who found himself paired up with Carlos last year, resulting in this:

Another power of Hank's not shared by most other Cub catchers include the ability to throw out baserunners. In his career Hank has thrown out nearly 43% of all attempted base stealers, well above the major league average of 27%.

Thus we come to the conclusion that Hank White=Baseball God. But why no start? Well, Hank is a weary man, who has come to the conclusion that he must extend his greatness beyond the baseball world soon, and has graciously decided to stay along with the Cubs long enough to train their current starter and his apprentice, Geovany Soto. I mean seriously, is there any better mentor for this guy:

Than this guy:

Viva Hank White!

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