News broke Friday morning that long time player for the Chicago Cubs, and fan favorite, Kerry Wood would be announcing his retirement from baseball. Every sporting news outlet has spread the word of his retirement, though Wood himself has yet to confirm the report. If the news is true, and I do not have any reason to doubt that he will retire, the exact time the announcement will be made is unknown. The word going around is that Wood wishes to have one final pitching appearance in front of the fans who love with, and for whom the feeling is mutual. That final appearance will likely come today, with the announcement coming at some point after the game ends.
With his retirement forthcoming, the time has come to say our dearest goodbyes. If you are a follower of our blog, we tend to give our final farewells to the players who fans have loved for one reason or another, such as Marlon Byrd and Koyie Hill, but those are usually filled with snark. Personally, I think Wood deserves better than that treatment.
Woood’s career was filled with injuries, and he was never able to reach the greatness everyone expected from him after his amazing 20 strike out game in what was only his fifth start in his major league career. Many people will call that one hit shut out the greatest game ever pitched, because Wood was so filthy that no one ever stood a chance to hit the ball. The game should have been a no hitter if Kevin Orie was able to make a fairly routine play, and then there would be no argument.
One of the reasons Cub fans love him, is because he had the heart that everyone claims to love from their players. Wood was someone who, just like the fans, bled Cubbie Blue every day of his major league career. He was also viewed as a kind of Warrior, because no matter how many times he got injured (and there were several times) he always fought as hard as he could to get back as quickly as possible to help his team.
He spent 10 years with the Cubs before leaving in free agency after the 2008 season to sign with the Cleveland Indians for a grander pay day than the Cubs could afford. He also played with the New York Yankees before returning to the Cubs for the 2011 season, in part to close a circle and to pay tribute to the late great Ron Santo, whom he was very close with throughout his career. Many thought the 2011 would be his last, but he was brought back for the 2012 season despite not having the greatest season, and he was called a mascot (even by us here at World Series Dreaming) and were against the signing.
With his recent struggles, no one can really be surprised that he chose to retire. I am surprised by the timing though, as I thought he would at least finish out the year, but this move does make sense. Wood has always been a good guy and he knows he has nothing left in the tank and does not want to hold the Cubs back anymore. So with his retirement, he can look forward to the future and what that holds.
If you remember back to the offseason when Wood was brought back, there were rumors of an extra clause in his contract that would make him a Cub for life. The love Tom Ricketts has for him is no surprise, and neither should the rumor of that clause. According to Dan Bernstein of WSCR, the rumor was that he would take Santo’s place in the radio booth, a position currently held by Keith Moreland. Whether or not that rumor turns out to be true, or how soon things will be put into place if they are, is anyone’s guess.
In the meantime, we can have one last debate about Wood. Regardless of how poorly he pitched in his final two seasons, Wood is still one of the most beloved Cub players of all time. So what do you do with his jersey? Knowing how much the Cub fans love him, and how much Ricketts admires and respects him, do you think the team will retire his number? Whether or not he deserves that honor, I feel he will see his number flying on a foul pole. While that honor is normally reserved for Hall of Fame players who had greatness, Wood holds a place in everyone’s hearts and may very well be the exception to the rule.