Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The final chapter

Kerry Wood's final Cub season looks to be more and more in jeopardy. This afternoon the Tribune published this Paul Sullivan article on their website. In the article a somber Kerry Wood told us this:

"With each day I get more and more doubts," Wood said. "You can't just give up. You've got to keep going. (Trainer Mark O'Neal) has worked hard with me all year long. So we'll just keep going and keep working at it and hopefully it gets better."

Thus Kerry Wood would end his season with the following line:
4 G, 4 GS, 1 W, 2 L, 19.2 IP, 19 H, 13 R, 9 ER, 5 HR, 8 BB, 13 K, 4.12 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and hitters hit .253 AVG against Wood this season.

Here are Kerry Wood's lifetime stats in his 8 seasons in 9 years with the club:
189 G, 178 GS, 71 W, 56 L, 1128.2 IP, 875 H, 492 R, 461 ER, 128 HR, 546 BB, 1299 K, 3.68 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and batters have hit .215 against Kerry in his career.

It looks like the star crossed Cub career of Kerry Wood is at its end. The Texas native at times had unhittable stuff, but injuries and control issues never allowed Kerry to become the dominant pitcher most Cub fans envisioned. The most games Kerry won in a single season remains the 14(this has been fodder for local sports media for years) he won in 2003.

Woody did have his moments of brilliance though, moments that we will never forget. The 20 strikeout game in 1998 and the two games in Atlanta(Game 1 and Game 5) in the 2003 NLDS when Kerry put the team on his back to get the Cubs their first postseason series win since 1908.

We imagined only bright days lay ahead for the franchise behind Wood and Mark Prior. The Cubs imagined the same thing. After 2003 the Cubs signed Kerry to a monster deal that paid him $32.5 million over three years, and there is an option in 2007 for $13.5 million which the Cubs won't pickup. At the time Jim Hendry was gambling on the fact that Wood would stay healthy and anchor the staff. After signing the contract in February 2004 Wood stated what we all wanted to hear at the time:

"We're going to be a good team for a long time," Wood said. "That's the determining factor for me. I love Chicago, Chicago's been great to me and we're going to be good. That's the whole reason we play this game is to win and we're going to be good for awhile."

And as they say the rest is history. It seems like from that moment on, Kerry Wood has been on the disabled list or rehabbing from surgery. We fans have grown frustrated, and I think Kerry Wood has grown frustrated. The promise and the hope, as often happens in Cubdom, were smashed, like a wax paper Old Style cup on the concourse concrete.

Story book careers are rare on the Northside, Wood's career will sadly just be another "coulda-woulda-shoulda" career in the Cub history books. This is a sad ending to a Cub career that many of us imagined would include bigger years after his ROY season in 1998.

Kerry Wood, we hardly knew yah.

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