In the sixth inning of his favorite team’s 13-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, 46-year-old Chicago Cubs fan Larry Gunderson confirmed many fans’ suspicions when he declared that he was a better pitcher than 30-year-old Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. “I could get these guys out,” said the former pitcher and first baseman for McCloskey’s Plumbing and Heating of the 9-10 Little League Division. “All he has to do is keep the ball low.”
Gunderson, who once threw an 85-mile-per-hour fastball in 1991 (the radar gun said 65, but it was obviously broken) knows that years spent watching Cubs games, playing fantasy baseball, and eating peanut-butter pretzels have made him a more capable pitcher than Jackson, a 2009 All-Star who signed a four-year deal for $52 million in 2013. This season, Jackson sports a 5-11 record with a 5.46 ERA, numbers that municipal bus driver Gunderson, who was named Cook County Public Transit Employee of the Month in November 2012, is confident he could improve upon. “These players get big guaranteed contracts and don’t even care how they play. It’s all about the money, and they’re a bunch of babies. Pay me the league minimum and I could do just as good as him,” said Gunderson, who had just finished berating a pizza delivery man for delivering his meat lovers breakfast pizza without scrapple.
When asked by his friend about Jackson’s 2010 no-hitter, Gunderson, an occasional cigar smoker and owner of three Ratt tour shirts, responded “that ain’t nothing. When I was his age, my curveball dropped like an elevator. If I were as good as him, I’d throw a no-hitter, too.”
Later in the game, Gunderson shifted his criticisms to catcher John Baker, whom he noted was “slow as my grandma.”