Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kerry Wood Retires

What an arm and what promise, back in the late 90's everyone was talking about Kerry Wood and how he was a lock for the Hall of Fame.

In just his fifth career start, he struck out 20 batters, allowing only one hit in the process and walking none. Wood had many more impressive strikeout feats in his career and was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game until the arm problems started. After his 29th birthday, Wood would not start another game in the majors.

Wood re-invented himself as a relief pitcher in his early 30's and racked up 63 saves, mainly over the course of two seasons as a full time closer. Wood finishes his career with an 86-75 record with a 3.67 ERA. The most impressive stat line is his 1582 strikeouts in 1380 innings pitched, good for well over a strikeout per inning.

The 2003 one two punch of Wood and Prior is perhaps one of the greatest one two punches in a single season ever. Both pitchers combined for over 200 innings pitched each, while recording a combined 511 strikeouts.

The Cubs had a great team in 2003 and seemed destined to move on to the World Series when the famous "Steve Bartman" incident occurred.

I've followed the incident since and it deeply saddens me that the incident seems to have driven Bartman away from the game. He has been offered large amounts of money to do interviews as well as invited back to Wrigley as a VIP guest. He has turned down all of these requests.

It came as no surprise that Wood had decided to retire. He was suffering through a poor season, most likely due to arm problems again. Earlier in the week, Wood announced he would appear in one more game and then call it a career:

Wood ended his career in grand fashion: striking out his final batter, being cheered on by the crowd and having your son come out to greet you. While I thought it would have been more special for Wood to strike out his final batter on a fastball, he decided to go to a curveball instead, a smart move because the White Sox batter was most likely expecting Wood's trademark fastball.

While Kerry Wood never lived up to the enormous hype during his career, he provided fans with the some very special moments and great games. He was very entertaining to watch and while he may not make it to the Hall of Fame, I can be certain, for all of us baseball fans lucky enough to see his final moments in a Cubs uniform, it will be a moment that will not be easily forgotten.

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