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Kip walked Brendan Ryan on five pitches, moving Molina up to second base. Kyle Lohse sacrificed the runners to second and third, even though if he had just stood there he could have walked as well. Up came Schumaker, and Kip walked him. Up came Colby Rasmus with the bases loaded, and what does Kip do? Walks in a run. Dusty Baker came out, gave Kip the hook, and I finally started to feel okay again.
So I'm here to give a big, hearty thank you to Kip Wells. You helped make what had been an awful day a little better. Sure, I was scared you were going to turn out one of those occasional flashes of brilliance for a while there, but in the end, you just didn't have the heart to break mine, did you?
I'm not trying to make fun of Kip Wells, I swear. It probably sounds that way, but I'm really not. Tell you the truth, I was really excited when the Cardinals picked up Kip before the 2007 season. At the time, those two great seasons he had in Pittsburgh in 2002 and 2003 were still only a couple years back; Kip posted a 3.58 ERA in '02, and was even better in '03, with a 3.28 ERA. (That 2003 season was also Kip's only winning campaign; he went 10-9 in 31 starts for a Pirate team that actually wasn't as bad as I remember
.) His next couple years were bad, but then again, he was also pitching on a team that defined the term sinking ship. A couple weird circulation issues in his pitching shoulder didn't help matters, and Kip found himself in St. Louis, a Dave Duncan Special if ever there was one.
That's why that start in Houston really sticks with me, I think; at the time, I was sure we were seeing Wells finally put it all together, and that talent which had always been so apparent was just going to pour out of him. And then, of course, Kip Wells did what Kip Wells always does, and ended up being a big part of why 2007 was such a miserable slog.
I can't imagine Kip is going to get too many more chances; no matter how talented, he's beginning to reach the age when good pitchers start to take a downward turn, much less guys who have managed to be all potential for more than a decade. It isn't really a sad story, by any means; I'm sure Kip has made enough in his life he'll never have to worry about finances, and he's done it all playing baseball. Not too bad a life, all things considered. But when you watch Kip pitch, even when he's on the verge of sending your Kung Pao shrimp back up, you can't help but marvel at how much potential is still there, and wonder why no one has ever been able to really tap into it.