Yesterday was Saenzday, April 24th 2010. The last 5 years the Brewers were 4-1 on April 24th, however, as you know the Brewers lost yesterday to the stupid Cubs 5-1. Perhaps I can take a little sting out of yesterday's lost by sharing with everyone the origin of Saenzday, and the legend of Chris Saenz.
For those of you living under a rock or Lou Pinella's gut, "Saenzday" is the celebration for Brewer fans of Chris Saenz's explosion onto the MLB scene in 2004.
April 24th, six years ago, a clueless Ned Yost found himself without a starter for an afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Clearly one of the worst managers in MLB, Yost did not deserve any help from the heavens or even the earthly realm, yet perhaps the fans of the greatest franchise in MLB the Milwaukee Brewers, deserved a better fate. Yost, without any options to start the contest with the Redbirds, began filling out the paperwork necessary to forfeit the game to the evil mongrels from St. Louis. Exactly 22,222 innocents had shown up that afternoon to glorify Milwaukee baseball, many of them women and children whose happiness would be sacrificed to feed the dark heart and hunger of Tony LaRussa and his legion of depravity from the level of hell that is Missouri.
Manager Yost began his trek over to the fax machine to submit his forfeiture to the MLB offices. After sending 3 blank faxes to a random number in New Mexico, (Yost never quite grasped the concept of faxing), he felt a hand a shoulder, and a voice he heard with his soul as well as his ears call out, "Ned I can help you". Hope, began to make it's way through Ned soul, and allowed him to say, "Thanks, I always forget which way to put the paper in, and I can never remember if I have to dial a 1 or a 9 to get an outside line...". "Not with the fax machine, you dipshit", the voice interrupted, "I can make the start for you this afternoon".
Ned turned around to find himself face to face with Chris Saenz. A tall slender right-hander wearing number 38 on his Brewers uniform. Ned wondered where this man had come from, and how could he pitch without being on the 67-man roster. Realizing, that understanding roster rules and the game of baseball were things entirely beyond his abilities, Ned put down his 12th cup of coffee, handed Saenz a baseball and said,. "You better warm up." Chris Saenz simply smiled and said "I don't need to warm up coach, I am always ready to go." With the rest of the team on the field waiting to play Chris Saenz headed out of the clubhouse to take the mound.
Home Plate umpire Jeff Nelson had just started to raise his hands to signal that the Brewers would have to forfeit the game to the Cardinals, when he noticed Chris Saenz emerging from the dugout to take the mound. Umpire Nelson looked at Ned Yost and asked "Are we ready to do this coach?". Ned Yost returned Nelson's question with a blank stare, which was all Jeff Nelson needed to bellow "Play Ball".
Batting first for the Cardinals was St. Louis legend Bodhi J. Hart. Bodhi Hart was a mercenary, that Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa had summoned from his dark underside, to begin his 2004 war on the National League. Saenz started the game with a fastball over the middle of the plate for a called strike. Bodhi Hart laughed loudly, knowing that he would have to take that pitch, also thinking he would be able to hit the next pitch out of Miller Park. Hart flexed his muscles, kissed the inverted cross hanging from his neck, and swung mightily at Saenz's next pitch. He missed. Immediately the crowd roared at Miller Park, the roof burst open, and the clouds parted allowing the sun to shine on the field, dispersing the shadows of gloom. Perhaps understanding that his end was near, Bodhi J. Hart was only able to buckle his knees, and wet his pants a little, when Saenz's third pitch, a curve ball over the outside black of the plate was called for strike three.
Saenz retired the rest of the Cardinal batters in the top of the first inning, but as he walked backwards from the mound to the dugout, he pointed at Cardinal pitcher Woody Williams, and said "they will score on you". Chris Saenz, then went to the back of the dugout, and grabbed two bats, handed one to Scott Posednik the other to Bill Hall, and said "use these to start the fire". He then turned to the rest of the Brewers in the 1st base dugout and stated, "All of you will soon be replaced, by better and younger players. Players with more talent, more promise, and the ability to win more ballgames, however, today victory will be yours." Inspired, the Brewers went on to score 2 runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The game remained 2-0, as both teams struggled to reach base. In the third inning, a young player for the Cardinals, Jose Alberto Pujols, stepped up to the plate. Pujols trembled in fear in the batter's box, awaiting the pitch from Chris Saenz. Saenz's pitch hit Pujols in the left hip, as Pujols fell to the ground, writhing in pain and tears, Chris Saenz declared, "By hitting you with my fastball I have blessed you by making you, at this moment, the best hitter in all of baseball, but I have also damned you to an eternity of affiliation with St. Louis baseball.
Another 3 innings concluded, and in the top of the seventh, with the score 2-0, Chris Saenz beckoned to the dugout for Ned Yost to join him on the mound. "It is time for me to go Ned" Saenz said. "But Saenzy," Ned started, "I don't have the ability to manage our bullpen correctly to win this game". "That is true, you are entirely inept" Chris Saenz said, "however today, victory will be yours, and everyone of the 22,222 Brewer fans here today will leave with a little more hope than they came in here with."
Ned Yost then motioned for Brewer closer Danny Kolb to enter the game, Chris Saenz corrected him, and told him to bring in Jeff Bennet to finish the 7th inning instead, and use Kolb in the 9th. Saenz then handed the game ball to manager Ned Yost and walked off the field, never to be seen again, but into the hearts of many Brewer fans for an eternity.
No one knows what ever became of Chris Saenz, or if he is still pitching to this day. Some people like myself, believe that Chris Saenz simply transcended this earthly existence. What is known however, is that Chris Saenz remains the only pitcher in MLB history to pitch in only one game, make a start, and have a 0.00 ERA. Whatever became of Chris Saenz is really not important, what is important was the hope he brought to Miller Park, paving the way for less-sucky players like Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, and enjoyable baseball for the good fans of Milwaukee.
It was a magical afternoon, and one that should never be forgotten. Enjoy the game this afternoon, and like that Kratos guy from that God of War game, allow hope to be your best weapon. Let the spirit and teachings of Chris Saenz be your guide when watching today's game with the stupid Cubs.