Tag Archives: Kerry Wood

“Losing is a Disease” – Instant Analysis: Nats 7, Cubs 4

As Roy Hobbs learned, losing is a disease.
Credit: http://nbcprohockeytalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/losing.jpg

From The Natural:

“We must begin by asking it…”What is losing?”  Losing is a disease…as contagious as polio.  Losing is a disease…as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease…as contagious as bubonic plague... attacking one…but infecting all.  But curable.”

Well, it may have been a different day, but it was certainly the same story.  The Cubs batters clearly read our Piecemeal Preview for today’s game  and went about chasing Gio Gonzalez in the 4th inning.  A string of two-out hits in the 4th, highlighted by Reed Johnson’s two RBI triple, put the Cubs in the driver’s seat.

But alas, once the game was turned over to the bullpen, things went south in hasty fashion.  It must be said that Rafael Dolis did a nice job in the 7th, and Kerry Wood actually was looking very sharp before surrendering the two-out bomb to David Espinosa that served as the catalyst for a 5-run 8th inning.  After hesitating the other day, perhaps it is time to castigate Carlos Marmol.  Marmol was his typically wild self, giving up a couple of hits, a couple of walks, and a couple of earned runs without recording an out.  Shawn Camp did well finishing things off once the game was already lost.  I know there will be calls to give Camp an elevated role (which he very well might deserve), but for me at least, his performance today offers little in the way of predictive value for future performance since he came in after the game had been blown wide open.

And so, returning to opening quote from The Natural.  Theo, Jed, this is what you’ve gotten yourselves into.  The last sentence of the quote is very short, stating in two simple words (“But curable”) that losing is not an ailment without a panacea.  Simple words yes, but many Cubs’ fans would probably choose to punctuate that sentence with a question mark instead of a period.  Here we stand, two games in and one hundred-sixty to go and the one constant remains:  the Cubs’ unflagging ability to lose, their indefatigable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.    Two very nice starting pitching performances, yet Dempster and Garza have both been let down by the bullpen in characteristically frustrating style.  So,  Theo and Jed, your job isn’t just about making all the right personnel moves, it’s about inspiring hope in a fan base and showing us that the final sentence in that quote is indeed a statement and not a question.


Opening Day – Nats 2, Cubs 1: Instant Analysis

Obviously it’s very disappointing to see the Cubs waste Ryan Dempster’s magnificent performance.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Dempster fan.  But I also am a firm believer in giving credit where it’s due, and he certainly deserved a W today with an impressive outing.

Not to be too much of a Negative-Nancy after just the first game of the season, but I’m willing to hypothesize that today’s game offered a glimpse of what we might come to expect over the season, which is namely a team that will struggle mightily to score runs.  The simple fact is that no team is going to win many games in which it only scores a run or two, so to some degree it really will not matter how good or bad the pitching is if offensive output is practically nonexistent.

As for the bullpen, it is still a little early to castigate Carlos Marmol.  But if he does continue to struggle, then I know we’ll all wish he had been traded when still a  hot commodity.   All three of Ian Desmond’s hits today were variations of the Texas League Flyball.  So of course over time conventional wisdom demands that the law of averages will reduce  young Ian’s gaudy .600 average from today’s game back down toward his unspectacular .260 career average.   But knowledge of this offers little solace, if only because I instinctively know he’ll offset his productive games against the Cubs with goose eggs against the Cardinals or Brewers.

And then there’s Kerry Wood.  I love Kerry Wood.  He is one of my all-time favorite Cubs.  But honestly, please just retire and walk away from the game with whatever modicum of dignity you have left.  Every time he walks out to toe the rubber as a relief pitcher, a little piece of my heart dies.  This is the guy I used to wait every fifth day for with excited anticipation to watch him  mow down batter after batter.  Every time he took his start, you couldn’t help but wonder if he might nab that no-hitter he came oh so close to back on May 6, 1998, and you certainly weren’t surprised when he recorded double-digit strikeouts.  I can’t see him trot out as a reliever without thinking of those good times, and even when a serviceable reliever (which he’s been in the past, but that is certainly becoming an open question today) it made me cringe.

To me, it’s kind of like going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert today.  Sure the name’s great, and maybe the band sounds okay, but today’s band only has one original member.  Really, the heart and soul, the uniqueness that made the band so great, well for the most part those things all died in that plane crash back in 1977.  And for me, the things that made Kerry Wood such a legendary hero, well, they died when he could no longer be a starting pitcher.  Maybe it wasn’t as obvious at first when he was the closer, because that is such an important role and it was nice to still be able to watch him play.  However, once he moved to the bullpen, he was no longer a mythical pitcher but instead closer to just being another guy.

So please, Kerry, try to make this whole situation as painless as possible for us sentimentalists out there.

Well that is quite enough negativity for right now.  There’s still plenty of season left for sad nostalgia and biting sarcasm.  So go grab a beer and enjoy the rest of the day.  After all, we’re only one game out of first.