If nothing else will make Shelby Miller’s head explode – and that area immediately beneath the Depression-era throwback haircut seems bomb shelter solid – then there’s one name that should at least unsettle him.
Kenshin Kawakami. Yes, for the first time I saw that lamentable figure in Braves history connected to Miller. Those are fighting words. That’s up there at the I-just-insulted-your-mother-and-burned-your-crops level.
Kawakami, imported by the Braves in 2009, went 8-22 over a couple Major League seasons while sucking up more than $20 million in payroll. He quietly returned to Japan by way of the Mississippi Braves, where rumor has it he still wears a Chunichi Dragons uniform. His signing, paired with Derek Lowe’s, were among the most significant cracks in the Frank Wren regime.
As the Braves pitcher with the most-ever starts between victories (14), Kawakami was a point of reference following Miller’s loss Saturday to his old buddies in St. Louis. For the sin of giving up two hits and run over 7 1/3 innings to the Cards, Miller marked his 12th start without a victory.
That he has gone winless since May 17 is one of the great injustices in sports. Ranks right up there with that Panama soccer loss to Mexico, I guess.
Miller is the All-Star quality pitcher who has gotten, like Saturday, exactly zero runs of support in nine of his starts. The Braves hitters have gone deadbeat father on him. He has gotten so little support he should change his name to Dukakis. And here comes a Kawakami comparison, when about all those two have in common are opposable thumbs.
That’s the final indignity. Were I Miller, I’d start throwing some four-seam sandwiches at the post-game spread. Water coolers would tremble at my approach. Time to redecorate the clubhouse, give it a Greek ruins look.
Yet he has been the picture of calm and control these past two months.
Nah, I’d go public. I’d start saying things like:
“I didn’t sign up to play with the Von Trapp Family Hitters.”
“What did I do to these guys, anyway? They’re playing like I stole their meal money.”
“Hey, some real nice at-bats today. Hope scouts from ‘The Walking Dead’ were here. They always need more extras.”
“Is it too much to ask for a run every new moon or so? Even a rag like Penthouse produces once a month.”
But that’s just me. Miller’s a better man.