Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Staci's wondering why Cubs fans were ever so hard on current Phillies reliever Brandon Kintzler!!
If I told you the Cubs could have a reliever with a 2.68 ERA who gets a ton of soft contact, keeps the ball on the ground and in the yard, is good for a double play when you need one, and even has experience closing if you need it in a pinch, would you want that pitcher in the bullpen?
Thing is, the Cubs had that guy. Don't remember? Here, let me refresh your memory.
You might not remember a whole lot about Brandon Kintzler's time with the Cubs, and it might at least partially be because his first half season with the team was relatively unremarkable. When Kintzler came over from the Nationals in 2018, he walked a lot of guys, gave up a lot of long balls, and struggled to get guys out to the tune of a 7.00 ERA. He was also another victim of some of Joe Maddon's issues at the time with bringing new pitchers into the staff mid-year--a lot of guys struggled with the Cubs when they were acquired mid-season under Maddon's leadership during his last few years with the team.
Kintzler signed a $3.25 million deal with the Marlins for 2020 and was worth every penny--the kind of pitcher whose peripherals truly don't matter, Kintzler eventually wound up closing for the Marlins and logged 12 saves with a 2.22 ERA as the fish made the postseason and knocked the Cubs out in the Wild Card round. This season Kintzler scored a deal with the Phillies and is on track to be their lock down guy. And with good reason. See, I just don't think Cubs fans ever really appreciated Kintzler's attitude the way we should have. The guy nicknamed "Salt" for his sometimes surly demeanor was quoted thusly last month in The Athletic ($):
I've seen Kintzler's saltiness up close. In 2019, my then 10 year old daughter was trying to get her baseball signed at a Cubs game in San Francisco. She wasn't picky--she would have been thrilled if any Cub walked up and autographed that baseball. As a sea of kids yelled out to players to sign their baseballs, Kintzler walked by and heard my daughter say the one word that got his attention: "Please." "Brandon, will you sign my ball please?" And being that she was the only child to use the magic word, she was the only one to get an autograph. No, see, Brandon Kintzler sauntered over to my daughter, signed her baseball, didn't even look at the other kids, and walked away. Salt will shove it up your a@@, but your kid better have manners or they're not getting an autograph. And you know what? I can respect that all day long.
I know he's from Las Vegas, but I could swear he has New Yorker energy. Swagger, if you will. Attitude.
In hindsight, I think we kind of owe Brandon Kintzler an apology. Or 100. His 2019 season with the Cubs was awesome, and I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for being consistently good. Typical Cubs fans, though... we never seem to know what we've got until it's gone.