Not much has gone according to play for Wade Miley and the Chicago Cubs this year.
The 35-year-old lefty was claimed off of waivers in the fall because the Cubs loved the idea of being able to bring him in on a one-year, $10 million deal. It was basically a free agent signing where the Cubs got to jump the line thanks to their position on the waiver wire. If Miley helped the Cubs surprisingly compete in 2023, great! If the Cubs instead struggled, but Miley was his usual steady self, then he might be a useful trade chip at the deadline.
Instead, Miley has dealt with elbow and shoulder issues that have kept him on the shelf most of the year, and the Cubs have struggled their way to a deadline that will definitely see them be sellers, but without a healthy Miley to market as a rental.
Through all that, though, Miley has clearly been of value to the Cubs. I say that after reading this wonderful piece from Marquee about those black boxes with an ace of spades on them that we’ve seen periodically popping up in players’ social media feeds for big moments. I didn’t know that it was Miley who made that happen (though he insists that it all comes from all the players, because it’s not about him):
“It’s all about how I felt in a moment and what they gave me and I want other people to feel the same way I did,” [Christopher] Morel said. “[Miley] made me super happy and I would like to make someone as happy as I was in that moment.”
That was the case for Narciso Crook. After his big-league debut, Miley came up to him with his Ace of Spades box and congratulated him on his big day.
“It’s a very special gift. It means a lot. I was very happy with it and I thanked Wade,” Crook said. “It sounds cliché, but to have a veteran guy realize that it’s a special moment for a young guy like me and to do that for young guys on this team, it’s special.” …
For the players receiving the black box with gold lettering, it’s more than just a bottle of nice champagne. It’s the gesture that carries so much meaning and makes a profound impact.
“That speaks more than words,” Morel said. “Miley is a good person on and off the field, on the team, off of it. I have seen that he is a man with a good heart and a good person.”
There’s so much more in there, and I strongly encourage you read it. I’ll admit that I got a little emotional reading the piece, thinking about the impact these simple – but thoughtful – gestures could have on a young player, or on an older player who has been grinding for years.
Just because these guys are playing professional baseball at the highest level doesn’t mean they aren’t, on some level, people like the rest of us. It’s nice to feel like others are thinking about you. Caring for you. Helping you through your career. Wade Miley just went up a click in my estimation, and I suspect he’s done a lot of good things for that clubhouse, even when he hasn’t been able to pitch.