Back in 2013, when he was traded from the Orioles with reliever Pedro Strop to the Cubs for right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger, right-hander Jake Arrieta had a lot of qualifiers by his name, none of them good.
‘‘Underachieving,’’ ‘‘eternal prospect’’ and ‘‘disappointment’’ were a few.
But look at him now.
After beating the Brewers 4-0 on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, using a bunch of 94 mph fastballs and sharp-breaking curves, Arrieta became the major leagues’ first 20-game winner of 2015.
His ERA dropped to 1.88, and if he isn’t the National League Cy Young Award winner this season, well, let’s send him back to the Orioles. That’s a joke.
In fact, the trade that brought Arrieta to Wrigleyville just might be the best in Cubs history. It’s easier to start with the worst trade of all time — Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio — than to think of anything even close to this magnitude of success.
As Arrieta walked off the mound after the final out, having thrown a three-hit, 11-strikeout, 123-pitch complete game, he was greeted by a mighty roar from the standing Cubs fans in the packed house, all of whom knew how lucky the team had to be to get an ace like this.
The first Cubs pitcher to win 20 games in a season since Jon Lieber in 2001, Arrieta might be a symbol of rebirth as much as anything. We know he’s reborn, but maybe the Cubs are, too.
‘‘I really think it’s just preparing us for a postseason atmosphere,’’ he said on the field afterward. ‘‘Keep moving forward.’’
Then he got ice dumped on him. Soon enough, he turned, doffed his cap and saluted the crowd.
Oh, yeah: The man walked only one batter. His control is crazy.
And his 20 victories are insane.
On second thought, Maddon takes it back
This is where sports, nature, rock ’n’ roll and profiteering intersect.
The Cubs will turn over every blade of grass, every thimble of dirt, to — as the business people say — ‘‘maximize potential revenue streams.’’ That includes hosting rock concerts at Wrigley Field, home of — oh, that’s right — the Cubs.
So AC/DC played a gig Sept. 15 at Wrigley, and there was lots of noise, guitar-wanging, screaming and Angus Young-charging-around-in-his-schoolboy-outfit nonsense. None of this was good for the field upon which — oh, that’s right — the Cubs play baseball.
On Monday against the Brewers, second baseman Starlin Castro was charged with an error on a ground ball, and manager Joe Maddon laid the blame squarely at the sparkly feet of rock ’n’ roll.
‘‘That was not his fault,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘That was a bad hop. Since the AC/DC concert, we’ve had a little bit of trouble. I don’t know if they were out there taking ground balls before the game, whether they had 9-inch heels or spikes, but they have totally messed up our infield.’’
And corrupted the morals of our youth, he forgot to add.
Not to mention causing young men to wear silly hairdos, dreadlocks, beards, tattoos and gold necklaces.
(Oh, wait. That’s Major League Baseball. My bad.)
Maddon was close on the 9-inch heels, only that’s Steven Tyler of Aerosmith or one of those Kiss dudes. Or he might have been referring to Nine Inch Nails, which is a different band altogether.
‘‘We’ve just got to get that ironed out,’’ concluded Maddon, who says he’s more of a ’60s and ’70s classic-rock kind of guy. (We won’t bring up Disco Demolition Night in 1979, which was to Comiskey Park as a tank is to a sand castle.)
On Tuesday, Maddon backed off his mini-rant against the evils of electric guitars and lousy fields and, by extension, Cubs management forgetting its baseball team actually is trying to win this season. And has a real chance to do so.
‘‘It was an attempt at weak humor yesterday,’’ he declared. ‘‘I was guilty of that. And I can be very weak at times regarding the bad hop. And so I have no problem with the concert whatsoever — none, zero, zilch, nada.’’
Wow, that’s four disclaimers, the last one in Spanish (which Maddon is good at). OK, we’ll let him reel it back in. It doesn’t change the silliness of a ballpark sometimes being used as a revival tent.
This all will blow over anyway. Until Guns N’ Roses and Slipknot play a demolition derby at Wrigley on the night the World Series begins.
Kidding! I think.
Think the Bears are missing Marshall yet?
You could say Brandon Marshall talked his way out of our town. And that’s a pity.
The blabber-mouthed former Bears receiver was a one-man variety show, and you never knew what he might have on his agenda — from pages of deposition testimony to a monologue about mental health to snapping photos of the assembled media at his news conferences.
Oh, or jetting off to do a cable-TV show in New York every Tuesday.
None of that was a great thing in a business defined by the management mantra of ‘‘Shut up and play until you get carted off.’’
Now Marshall is with the New York Jets, who are 2-0 for the first time in four seasons, having humbled the Indianapolis Colts 20-7 on Monday in Indianapolis.
Marshall had seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the game. On his touchdown, he caught the ball, then used his 6-4, 230-pound body to bull his way past two defenders and cross the goal line. Tough, fast, huge, strong.
How nice it would be if the Bears had a receiver like that, huh?
Marshall has had seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his 10-year career, and he is averaging 82 yards in two games this season, which puts him on pace for another 1,000-yard year. His two touchdowns so far have him on pace for 16, better than his career-high 12 in 2013 with the Bears.
Bears receivers this season are on pace for nothing. The leader is injured Alshon Jeffery with 78 yards. Next is Eddie Royal with 49.
Oh, and it’s not like Marshall is catching his passes from a Hall of Fame quarterback — or even a particularly good one. The Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick gives new meaning to the word ‘‘journeyman,’’ having played for six teams in his 11-year career and four in the last four seasons alone. But maybe he’s smart, given that his alma mater is Harvard.
At any rate, it’s times like these when a Bears fan might grow wistful for an offensive threat such as Marshall, nonstop chatter included.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.