This is like one of those Japanese sci-fi movies that populated "The Big Show" at 3:30 weekday afternoons on the old WBKB-TV (Channel 7), former home of the editor of this site. And back in those days of yore, when WBKB was fourth in a four-team news race at 10 p.m. But in TV -- unlike in North Side baseball -- the shall be first, forevermore.
"Attack of the Cubs Killers" would be the title. No translations or sub-titles needed. Body English says everything. The show would be in black and white, of course, in keeping with the technical capabilities of WBKB, but Red all over.
Hard on the heels of a monstrous performance by Ryan Braun, a certified new Cubs Killer, comes Bronson Arroyo, a long-haired young man who once created a stir by getting a haircut in a Boston suburb while pitching for the 2004 Red Sox. Arroyo got his ring, moved to the Reds and found a patsy -- the Red Sox's former mirror image, the Cubs.
First he slugged two homers against the Cubs' Glendon Rusch in consecutive starts, one in Cincinnati, one in Wrigley. Now he simply throws his glove down on the mound, in the manner of such aces of the golden era as Steve Carlton, Steve Blass and Doc Gooden, and beats the Cubs with ease.
When Arroyo threw seven shutout innings of five-hit, seven-strikeout ball against the Cubs Friday, he extended his scoreless pitching streak at Wrigley Field to 18 innings dating back to the the third inning on Aug. 20, 2008. On the Reds' last trip in a few weeks back, Arroyo tossed six shutout frames. He boosted his lifetime mark in Chicago to 6-3 and overall against the Cubs to 9-6 (124.2 innings, 104 hits and 34 walks allowed, 2.74 ERA) in 21 career games.
Since that 2008 game, Arroyo has been even more parsimonious to the Boys in Blue. He is 4-0 with an 0.81 ERA (three earned runs in 33.1 innings) against the Cubs.
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano all have lifetime averages of .235 or less against Arroyo.
Now that's a Cubs Killer.
Who will follow Braun and Arroyo? There will be plenty of opportunities and candidates.
With all deliberate speed, the season is swirling down the drain, to perhaps the 95-loss mark. Strange things will begin to happen and unlikely names will do unusual things to the Cubs. The only difference between the 21st Century gilded losers and the typical stumblebums of a generation and a half ago is Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers won't be wooing and echoing his chants off 33,000 empty seats as he did on September weekdays in 1974: "Fanzone Woo! Fanzone Woo!" Even reduced crowds into the 20,000 mark in the final month won't provide the echo chamber for Woo Woo.
Even more omens can be seen 700 miles away. Watching TV, I spy both Corey Patterson and Felix Pie batting in the same lineup for the Orioles. Will Ohman was just traded from the Orioles to the Marlins, so he'll likely face the Cubs in September when they travel to South Florida.. Isn't Freddie Bynum lurking somewhere? Mark Prior is available for Andrew Bowen MacPhail, as he's pitching for an independent team in southern California. More "Big Show" fodder -- a ghost Cubs team in the majors.
Bottom line is what Lou Piniella proclaimed before Friday's game. "Two months," he said of the death-march time remaining on his managerial tenure. He sounded wistful. He should have sounded hopeful.
Piniella couldn't explain after the game why Arroyo was so unhittable for so long against his Cubs. Ask the hitters, he suggested. That's my Sweet Lou. After the first weekend in October he won't have to pass the explanation buck anymore. With apologies to Lou Gehrig, Piniella will then be the luckiest man on the face of the earth then. No more Cubs Killers.