Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The day Kerry Wood was (nearly) unhittable

It must be a slow afternoon when most of the major baseball sites are all jumping on the same theme and making matters stranger, that it happened a decade ago.

Ten years ago, Kerry Wood made his biggest impact on the game, striking out 20 Houston Astros in the rain at Wrigley Field and giving a generation of Cubs fans false hope that their long journey towards a championship was nearly over.

I remember the minor controversy that kicked up immediately following the game because some fans felt that the rain made it more difficult for the Astros to see the ball and, even if they did, to make solid contact.

For a few years it was a record that Cubs fans felt a little uneasy boasting about, afraid of the inevitable, "Yeah... but..." that followed. Still, to strike out 20, regardless of the weather is a feat that has stood for a decade and is still talked about when discussing the Cubs and their recent history.

Moreover, it's stood to define Wood and his star-crossed career. The promise of total domination that slowly eroded over the course of two or three injury-riddled seasons seems to fit the pattern set by the franchise as each year's squad finds a way to fall short. Sometimes it's by a little and sometimes by a lot, but it's tough to deny the parallels between Wood and his team.

It's a little strange to look back at that day today and see just how babyfaced Wood was then, but still found a way to keep it all together as the game ground on. Of course, this only adds to the pressure he feels from fans today as he tries to cobble together this chapter of his career as a closer.

I know I still hold onto the memories of the 20K game when trying to rationalize why Wood should be the closer over Carlos Marmol or the other pitchers on the roster. It's hard to forget the power and utter mastery he had that day, although Wood has yet to achieve that level since.

Deep down, we know Wood can't pitch forever and that his usefulness is drawing to a close, even for the Cubs, but it's hard to let go of that one game 10 years ago.

Judging by the response of the Wrigley faithful so far this season when Wood enters in the ninth, I'm not the only one.

(Image from:

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home