Perspective is everything in life. OK, maybe not everything but certainly one of the keys in our daily existence. And so it was that from Wrigley View Rooftop that some of us witnessed the end of the Kerry Wood era with the Chicago Cubs.
The former “Kid K” had a farewell day Friday (May 18). Everyone in the crowd knew Wood was going to make one more appearance on the mound before he retired after being bothered by injury and ineffectiveness this season. And so it was that he entered the game in the eighth inning to face Dayan Viciedo. Three pitches later, Wood recorded the final strikeout of his career against the final batter of his career.
“It’s just time,” Wood told the media after the game. “It was time. We saw how things were going this year and just not being able to recover and bounce back and do my job, essentially. You know, do what I’m supposed to do, day in and day out. Just the grind of getting ready every day. To go through it, hours to get ready for 15 pitches and go out there and not be successful. You know it was just time, time to give someone else a chance.”
Wood took the lineup card to home plate before the game, tipped his cap to the crowd as he left the field for the last time and came out for a curtain call. Wood’s son Justin greeted him with a hug as he approached the dugout after his final on-field effort.
“I felt like I was getting ready to pitch my first inning,” Wood said. “The adrenaline was the same, the nerves were the same. I can’t give enough credit to the fans, just a tremendous feeling.”
Wood went 0-2 this season with an 8.64 earned-run average. Among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings, Wood is one of three in big-league history to strike out more than 10 batters or more per nine innings:
Randy Johnson: 10.6
Kerry Wood: 10.3
Pedro Martinez: 10.0
Wood is expected to remain with the Cubs in some capacity with that announcement expected to come Saturday.
As for Friday — as beautiful a day as you could ask for (give or take a few degrees that made the rooftop breeze slightly cooler than some folks’ idea of perfect) — Sox fans went home happy, and Cubs fans went home happy. Some even went home sober, although those might have been in the minority.
It was something of a storybook ending to a career that had begun with Hall of Fame hopes after a 20-strikeout, one-hit performance on May 6, 1998 against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field in the fifth start of his rookie season. Or as storybook as the Cubs generally manage. The Sox did prevail 3-2.
But Cubs fans have learned not to predicate happiness on winning. The new regime under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is trying to alter that mindset. For one day — for one batter — everyone seemed perfectly willing to hold onto the past and embrace it. Some people might have given a thought to the future; most gave a thought (or more) to the past and what Kerry Wood meant to the Cubs and to them.
He and fellow prized pitcher Mark Prior were going to lead the Cubs to their first World Series crown since 1908. Such was not their fate, as injuries destroyed that dream.
Wood, who also pitched for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, finished with an 86-75 won-lost record and a 3.67 ERA. Those are not numbers that will enable him to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, a destination that Cubs fans were certain of when he was the 1998 rookie of the year.
But it is not the numbers that Cubs fans cared about as he made his farewell journey from the bullpen to the mound and ultimately to the dugout. Wood had provided sufficient memories to be welcome somewhere else, somewhere even more special: in their hearts. Schmaltzy perhaps; accurate definitely.
At least it sure seemed that way from the perspective on a rooftop high above Wrigley Field.
Speaking of figures (and even if we weren’t), here is some video from a bikini competition. How this fits precisely with the theme of today’s effort is not clear. Fortunately, the video is clear:
The Chicago Sky opens its WNBA season Saturday on the road against the Washington Mystics, a team that the Sky defeated in the preseason. Hopes are high that the Sky will earn its first postseason berth this year. Among the reasons for such optimism is center Sylvia Foweles. The 6-6 former LSU standout averaged 20 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last year in her fourth season in the league. Here she is in a video assessing the team’s chances:
Advertising opportunities are available on ElliottHarris.com. For information and rates, contact email@example.com.