Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kerry Wood If He Could

It seems like it was yesterday. But it was really a decade ago. Kerry Wood striking out 20 Astros at Wrigley Field on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. Back then, it seemed like the sky was the limit for his potential. But as it turned out, he never once won 15 games in a season.

I remember Wood being asked about his 20-strikeout game on the tenth anniversary of it. He replied that he does watch it from time to time, such as when a friend will call him and say it's on ESPN Classic or something like that. One of the things that Wood said he notices about that game is how big the strike zone was. (Hmm... I'll keep that in mind the next time I hear of a pitcher striking out 20 major league batters in 9 innings.)

The moment for which I'll most remember Wood's time with the Cubs was when he hit the game-tying 3-run homer in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. Unfortunately, his pitching arm had reached its limit for that season, and he couldn't quite carry the Cubs into the World Series. He gave it his all, though.

Sadly, injuries bogged down his Cub career. For me, Wood's low point came when he was involved in criticizing Steve Stone and the media a few years ago during spring training. I remember Stoney's response was, "We already know that Kerry's mouth is in shape. The question is whether or not his arm is."

Sometimes the truth hurts.

From a business perspective, I can see why Hendry is letting Wood go. Yeah, he had a great season last year, but his history of injuries is still looming. That, coupled with the emergence of Carlos Marmol, meant that Wood wouldn't get the "big bucks" from the Cubs. Even though Wood says he would have accepted a one year deal with the Cubs, it seems that the organization is comfortable turning the page.

It's just another reminder that major league baseball is a business. We'll see where Wood ends up. The crazy thing is that he could go on to become one of the game's top closers over the next five years. Wouldn't that be just like the Cubs?

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