Jay Cutler on White Sox Wears No. 44: Jake Peavy Also Victim of Unfair Criticism

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Jay Cutler on White Sox Wears No. 44: Jake Peavy Also Victim of Unfair Criticism
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Whether you're a Bears fan or just a fan of football, you're aware by now of the Jay Cutler saga from the NFC Championship Game.

How injured was he? Should he have played through it? Could he have played through it?

Those questions all fall within the bigger picture of Jay Cutler, which is he's a big-name QB who has his own way of doing things, and that rubs people the wrong way. That's why it's no surprise that so many who disliked him before he hurt his knee are eagerly jumping on him now.

The Chicago baseball player that has recently experienced his own version of "Cutler bashing" is Jake Peavy.

The Cy Young Award winner arrived on the South Side after rejecting a trade to the White Sox earlier in the season. While his motives for that seemed pure enough—he wanted to win in San Diego, where he had played his entire career—it still left a bitter taste in many White Sox fans' mouths.

When Peavy did finally put on a Sox jersey and take the mound, he was nothing short of marvelous. He went 3-0 in three starts while striking out 18 in 20 IP and only giving up 11 hits.

Everyone should be happy, right?

Wrong.

Peavy started the 2010 season out poorly—very, very poorly.

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April/March 0-2 7.85 ERA 1.84 WHIP

May 4-2 5.09 ERA 1.10 WHIP

Those numbers from a guy who is making $15 million per year aren't good enough, and the majority of White Sox nation started turning on the right-hander.

"He can't get it done in the AL."

"Have you seen the numbers Clayton Richard is putting up?"

"We gotta trade this guy even if we have to eat some of the salary."

These critics were only further fueled when Peavy announced that if the White Sox were going into rebuilding mode, he wanted to be traded.

Now I was a huge fan of the White Sox getting Peavy, and I didn't overreact to his struggling because a pitcher of his quality is only going to struggle for so long before he turns it around. But when I heard him say that about wanting to be traded...I was ready to join the angry mob with torches that already seemed to await his every start.

Peavy turned it around in June and posted a 3-2 record to go with a 1.75 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.

Our Cy Young had arrived.

All was forgiven. I could listen to sports talk radio in Chicago again without getting frustrated by the constant stream of callers demanding the most talented pitcher on the White Sox be traded for a bag of balls.

Until he got hurt.

That seemed to reopen the illogical bottle of hatred that had finally been closed up.

Now as we approach spring training, there are still wisps of steam coming out of that bottle, as people that I generally regard as smart baseball fans swear to me that Peavy just doesn't have what it takes to pitch in the AL Central. That if the Sox make the playoffs he won't be of use in the postseason (he sports an 0-2 record with a 12.10 ERA in two postseason starts). That he's a bust and the Sox should cut bait and use the money elsewhere.

It's just like Cutler.

Maybe it's just a Chicago thing, or maybe this goes on in other sport cities. It seems that in Chicago we treat the most talented of our players with the unreasonable expectations of a spoiled child on his or her birthday. Not everything is going to be perfect. Jay Cutler isn't going to be Peyton Manning when it comes to handling the media, and Jake Peavy isn't going to be Greg Maddux when it comes to being the ideal pitcher.

But these two athletes are at the top of their respective games when it comes to talent. Unfortunately for them, my fellow Chicago fans may never recognize that.

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