Unless you count Chad Fox (and really, why would you?) you might be wondering how the Bottom 126 hasn’t included a closer to this point. You would be right to wonder, because the Cubs have had more than their share of closers who handed out runs like Pez dispensers–through their necks. Okay, bad example. But that didn’t make Aguilera any less of a disappointment.
Aguilera, on the left, ignores Dwight Gooden. Not pictured: Heaping mounds of blow.
Aguilera established himself as a successful closer with the Twins and (briefly) the Red Sox before coming over to the Cubs in a trade that also brought the Cubs Scott Downs(yndrome) for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.
But the Cubs, as always, arrived late to the party. In a costume. And no one else was wearing a costume. In fact, they did think it was strange that someone would invite them to a costume party in May. Heck, it was strange that they got invited to a party at all. But they had already driven all the way downtown and found a parking spot, so they stayed at the party. I forgot to tell you what they were dressed as. An over-the-hill closer who forgot how to get guys out.
Low Point: May 6, 2000. The Cubs have a 4-run lead in the 9th at Wrigley, against the Pirates. Aguilera comes out to pitch the 9th, and only records one out while loading the bases and giving up 2 runs. Aguilera leaves runners at the corners for young Kyle Farnsworth, who rewards him by pouring gasoline all over the mound and flicking matches at himself. Farnsworth allows the 2 baserunners he inherited from Aguilera to score and then, just to be safe, gives up 2 more runs. Felix Heredia, of all people, has to come in to stop the bleeding, but it’s too late. Cubs lose 11-9.
Did You Know? Aguilera is a devout Mormon. He attended Brigham Young in lieu of signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s a shame he doesn’t drink, as I know that’s the only thing that got me through his appearances in a Cubs uniform.