Because Ted Lilly was always making me laugh no matter what he did, I just want to start out by posting this very special (and slightly disturbing) Seeing Double image…
Ahem. On to serious business.
The Chicago Cubs have a very rich tradition of letting go of my most favorite players… at least one goes per year. 2006: Todd Walker and Greg Maddux. 2007: Michael Barrett. 2008: Matt Murton, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa. 2009: Reed Johnson. 2010: Ted Lilly. It isn’t that I don’t understand why any of these guys were let go, because I do (with the possible exception of Mr. DeRosa.) It doesn’t make me angry or upset, just sad. It’s never fun losing your favorite player, whether it’s to a trade, free agency, or even retirement.
With me, there are favorites, and then there are favorite favorites (Mark DeRosa, for example, was simply a favorite. Kerry Wood was a favorite favorite.) Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III was a favorite favorite. I will attempt to outline my love in the following list of my favorite Lilly-moments. Think of it as his “greatest hits,” if you will.
1. In late 2008, the Cubs played Milwaukee in an afternoon game that was blacked out for me. I was listening to Pat and Ron on Gameday Audio. Ted was at bat against Ben Sheets with the bases loaded and, according to Pat, hit a blast that ended up being about 10 feet short of a homerun. Neither Pat nor Ron could contain their chuckles at such an unlikely almost-grand slam, and I was laughing hysterically. I can’t explain why exactly this is such a memorable moment in my mind, but I just LOVED it. Ever since, I have been predicting that Ted would hit a home run. I’m still waiting…
2. Who could forget the Yadier Molina incident? At the time it happened, this was not something enjoyed at all, fearing for Ted’s safety. Now it seems to have become the personification of Theodore’s Cubs tenure.
3. Ted Lilly carried no-hitters into late innings what seems like countless times in his three and a half years in Chicago. The closest he came, I think, was earlier this year. But my favorite of the almost no-nos took place on September 15th, 2008. It was the day after Carlos Zambrano had no-hit the Astros. Not to be outdone, Ted didn’t allow a base-knock until the seventh inning. I don’t know if I’ve ever giggled so much during a baseball game in my life. I just enjoyed that game more than words can say.
4. That stolen base, Arizona, 2008. Ted was a total cat on the basepaths.
5. At the end of 2008 (all the cool stuff happened in 2008) fan-favorite Mark DeRosa gave a lengthy interview on ESPN radio’s local Chicago station. His comments on Ted Lilly were absolutely priceless. If having them in print would have done them justice, I’d have transcribed them. Unfortunately, I don’t think Mark’s sentiments can be properly captured that way. The basic idea was, Ted Lilly is awesome. The phrases “gamer,” and “quiet crazy guy” are thrown around as well. He spake the truth.
6. There are a dozen other little things I could bring up to illustrate the infinite awesomeness of Ted Lilly. Cubs fans know these things, so I’m just going to skip ahead and close out with my own personal experience. Last year I went to the San Francisco area with my siblings to visit our family out there. We were fortunate enough to be able to take in a great Cubs game at AT&T Park while we were there. There weren’t nearly as many Cubs fans there as there have been at any other place I’ve ever visited. We were pretty much the only people decked all out in blue standing down by the field during batting practice. Ted came out of the dugout to throw a bullpen session (we were directly in front of the bullpen) and noticed our little group immediately. He smiled, said hi, and was just very charming in general. After his throwing session, he signed autographs and talked some more. He just absolutely could not have been nicer, and that experience is something I will treasure for as long as I live. I’m throwing this photo in, even though I look completely doofy in it. I love it.
Ted Lilly: thank you, sir, one last time, for your stellar pitching, your bulldog mentality, your sense of humor. For all you did for us while you were in Chicago, I am truly grateful. You will not be soon forgotten by the Cubs faithful.