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Kerry Wood, Big Z & Tank

By bullpenbrian at 05.19.2012 Leave a comment.

Last Saturday I addressed a worse case scenario regarding Kerry Wood’s final days with the Cubs:

Wood continues to struggle and the Cubs are forced to issue an ultimatum to ‘retire’ or accept his unconditional release from the club.

It would be a rather sad ending for a much beloved Cub, but the more Wood struggles, the more likely it becomes Kerry finalizes his Cubs career standing with family members behind home plate at Wrigley Field during a small ceremony held in early September.

No doubt that day is near. But I remain hopeful it’s one that comes next season rather than this one.

I obviously didn’t expect this day would come so soon and somewhat unexpectedly. But give Wood credit for taking a tough decision off the hands of Dale Sveum and the front office.

Wood, more than any one, understood the Cubs were in a precarious situation. His inability to get batters out and pitch on back-to-back days was ultimately forcing the team to make a move it didn’t want to.

Wood wisely chose to end his career on his own terms opting to walk away under the bright lights and heightened awareness of the cross-town series.

It was the right decision, made with perfect timing and concluded with a perfect ending, all things considered.

In another excerpt from the same article I also forecast Kerry would withhold retirement mid-season due to his competitiveness.

Retiring now, on his own will, is no different than quitting. We know Wood’s not that kind of guy or competitor, and is the very reason why he’s so respected by his fans and his peers.

However, Wood’s admission that he can no longer physically uphold to the level expected of him as a major league reliever squashes any notion that the guy’s quitting on himself, the team or the Cubs organization.

If Wood can’t pitch there was simply no better option for him but to walk away.

That’s exactly what Cubs fans suspected following Wood’s glove toss into the Wrigley stands—his bum shoulder was growing worse by the week.

Now we know with certainty our speculation has turned out to be truth. Kerry Wood’s shoulder is shot, his career over, even if he didn’t want it to be.

***

Wood’s retirement made the kind of lasting impression that will have Cubs fans remembering where the were on May 18, 2012.

A lucky few had the privilege of being at Wrigley Field, others listened to Pat & Keith on radio, I watched from home on WGN while the less fortunate were at work keeping tabs on Twitter.

Whatever the case, Cubs fans will forever remember where they were when Wood struck out Dayan Viciedo.

My last ‘where were you?’ Cubs memory is of Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter in Milwaukee against the Astros in September of 2008.

I also watched that game on WGN. Only then it was from my Wrigleyville apartment by Toons bar on Southport Avenue. Still an awesome memory!

***

Dayan Viciedo, the White Sox young 23-year-old outfielder, will have a hard time shedding the memory of becoming Wood’s final strikeout victim.

The good news is Dayan appears to have a very bright and long future ahead of him in baseball.

But what I’m really saying is the kid still has an opportunity to make his lasting mark in the big leagues other than being remembered as the final batter ever to face Wood.

Erasing that memory, even for White Sox fans, will take something big from Viciedo like a three homer game, or a clutch hit in the postseason.

Then again, there’s always the possibility of Viciedo making a worse play to be remembered by other than a magnified strikeout in a 3-2 win.

But I wouldn’t wish that kind of misfortune on any player, even one playing for the White Sox.

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