Another day, another Chicago White Sox victory vs. the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. That’s two in a row for those of you scoring at home and/or elsewhere. For the 7-4 decision Saturday (May 19), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — an avowed Cubs fan from Park Ridge — was in the house. President Barack Obama, who reportedly was supposed to be in the house, was also. Kind of. Sort of. OK, not so much.
Obama flew over Wrigley during the game on his way from Washington to Chicago for the NATO Sumit.
Meanwhile on the field — well, at the Friendly Confines — Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein earlier had held a session with the media as part of the day’s non-baseball playing activities: pitcher Kerry Wood held an official retirement announcement gathering complete with his soon-to-be former teammates in uniform standing behind him, his wife Sarah and their three children.
Observed Epstein, who was part of the process that led to Wood re-signing with the team for 2012 shortly before Cubs Convention in January: “If you’ve got $3 million, and you’re looking for a veteran reliever with swing-and-miss ability who has a chance to really perform and help, you could do a lot worse than Kerry Wood.”
OK, so maybe that isn’t a quote Wood would want on any plaque hanging in the Cubs Hall of Fame (once such a facility exists). Wood’s signing was a concession to previous regimes and a Cubs tendency to worship at the past (as in Wood’s 20-strikeout one-hitter from his rookie season in 1998).
“It made sense from a baseball standpoint, and it just didn’t work out,” Epstein said. “That’s the way things go. Kerry didn’t know it wasn’t going to work out either. He really handled himself well, and I don’t really regret it.”
To say so publicly would incur the wrath of loyal Cubs fans who consider Wood the next generation of team icons. Those fans also happen to buy tickets that help pay the salaries of the players — and those in the front office. Plus at a time when Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the family that owns the team, has been linked to some rather extreme political practices (planning stage rather than actual implementation regarding a campaign that some would regard as race-baiting), it makes no sense to fan any flames of any anti-Cubs sentiment.
“Obviously, no one has a crystal ball, but I think you can never go wrong investing in good people as a rule.”
It may be a while before Wood descends from the pedestal upon which he has been placed to rejoin the team for a front-office job as a special assistant that awaits him.
“That’s all whenever he’s ready to talk about it,” Epstein said. “I always recommend the guys take a period of time completely away from the game.
“It’s important to get that separation to stop seeing the game as a player and start to see it from a little bit of distance. But he knows that the door is completely open, whatever he wants to do. I can only imagine the benefit that he’ll have for young pitchers in our organization.”
Consider yourself warned: The following video may be a bit gruesome for some folks. Then again, that’s pretty much the idea behind the whole thing — a bunch of women warriors battling it out in gladiator fashion. Among those featured is Maria Kanellis of pro wrestling fame. Those in the audience who are familiar with Maria’s body of work will recognize here. Enjoy it for what it is: fantasy pure and simple. Well, maybe not pure, but you get the idea.
Consider yourself warned, part II (particularly for Chicago Bears fans): Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver is among the three celebrity finalists on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” The lovely and talented Maria Menounos was eliminated last week. Tsk, tsk. Not only is Driver still thriving, he is the favorite to win — according to odds from Bovada (www.Bovada.lv):
Who will win the Dancing with the Stars Season 14 Finale?
Donald Driver: 3/2
Katherine Jenkins: 7/4
William Levy: 2/1
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