Great job, Kerry. A fantastic ending to a brilliant career. World Series title or not, one of the best to wear the uniform.
I think of all the videos of Kerry Wood I have watched in the past few days after Kerry announced his retirement, these three sum it up best.
The 20 strikeout game is likely the first thing baseball fans in general would mention when hearing the name Kerry Wood. His desire to stay loyal and committed to the Cubs throughout his career and to be here as one of those select few men who get to not only play the game of baseball for a living but also claim the privilege of the right to say that they helped bring a title to the starved fans of Chicago after all these years is another commendable part of Kerry’s time as a professional baseball player. There will of course also be those who will dismiss all of these things – his character and stats – and only take a look at his fingers. No rings. Those people will classify Kerry as a loser. Just another lovable loser on the North side of Chicago who came into the league with enormous potential and gave the fans unbelievable hope yet when it came down to it, in the end he failed to deliver. Looking forward to hearing what’s next for Wood and the Cubs as I’m sure the Ricketts will find an appropriate place for Kerry to continue to be a part of the Cubs push to end the drought and win their next World Series title.
As a Cubs fan, would I have loved to have seen Kerry help bring a title to Chicago in his time with the team? Yes. Of course. Not only would seeing the team win a championship be the number one sports request of all Cubs fans, 1a would have been to have Kerry Wood as a member of the club that made it happen. Too many years have gone by where our teams have been the perfect example of unrealized potential. Sometimes, they have been the ideal to point to as samples of misdiagnosed talent as well. Talent that wasn’t necessarily unrealized, simply built up as able to more than was truly with their ability.
Some of these players were only easy to root for when they cleared the bases with a home run over the ivy covered walls of Wrigley. Otherwise, they weren’t exactly the type of person you would want to hang out with or want your children to idolize with t-shirts with their names on it or posters of said player in their bedroom.
However, some of the men that have worn the Cubs uniform have been downright upstanding people. We’ve had a few to root for as of late in guys like Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. Wood ended his time with the Cubs a man who can be respected for the way he carried himself while representing himself, his family and the team. He entered the league in a Cubs uniform a boy with great potential and even greater expectations. He never did anything to dishonor himself, his family or the opportunity he had as a big league baseball player. For that reason, while the baseball contributions can always be appreciated, it is the person that Kerry Wood is that I respect the most. While he can no longer throw the way he used to and is no longer the reliable arm to put in the starting rotation or bullpen, he is still the type of guy you want around this organization. To help move the team forward in years to come and to set the example in a face to face scenario for future young Cubs that come up through the system who will also have high expectations and may need some assistance in learning how best to handle such demands from the front office, the fans and their family.
The last video, featuring Kerry as the Father of the Year honoree is my favorite of the three. Kerry came up through the ranks and burst on to the scene as the guy that could make the difference for the franchise. Along with Mark Prior, their two arms were to carry this club to the promised land. It was an amazing amount of pressure to deal with and he only made it tougher on himself with the 20 strikeout performance and winning Rookie of the Year honors. Yet, Kerry handled it like a pro and while he just missed getting the Cubs into a World Series, he was spot on with keeping the respect of the organization, the fanbase and most importantly, his family.
The traveling and the schedule has to be brutal on a ballplayer and his family. For his wife and children to look at Kerry the way that they do still to this day is an honorable thing. I enjoyed seeing how excited his kids were talking about what it was like to see their Dad play and I understand completely what Kerry meant in his concerned statement worried that his son will never see him pitch in the major leagues. I understand that feeling. I want my son to be a part of all that I do in life and I want him to respect me and the choices I’ve made and look up to me the way Kerry’s son does. You can tell his son thought it was cool to have a Dad who plays baseball for a living but more importantly, you don’t get the impression that he felt neglected at all. That must be a super hard balance to find as a father and professional with a crazy schedule. I hope that I can find professional success in the years to come that not only satisfy me creatively in this industry, however also allow for my family to understand how much they mean to me and for my son to know how much he is loved. That balance is something I’m sure Kerry didn’t always have come easy. Of all his achievements over his time as a professional ballplayer, it would appear as though he managed to find it with his family and it is the achievement I admire the most.
Watching his son give him a giant hug after coming off the mound at Wrigley, following a strike out of the final batter he would ever face, in front of the home crowd puts it all into perspective. As much as the fans’ standing ovation says how much he meant to the city of Chicago and Cubs fans all over, that hug symbolizes how much Kerry meant off the field to his family. It was a touching moment and quite possibly will end up being the best moment of this Cubs season. A hug that seemed to be saying, I love you, congratulations and I’m so glad you’ll have even more time for us all with the drama of a great career ending in front of fans who love Kerry for all he has done for them will actually likely end up being one of the best moments of this MLB season overall.
Congratulations on a brilliant career, Kerry Wood. Enjoy your family, thanks for the effort and if you choose to stick around in some type of role with the Cubs off the field going forward, I’m sure they’d love to have you. Kerry Wood. All class. The more guys we can have around the team like this, the better. Looking forward to seeing what’s next for Wood and the Cubs.
Go Cubs Go!