The End of an Era?

Well, here we are in the second week of Pomp Culture. You know, we started this whole deal to get away from being just another Cubs blog. Leave it to Jim Hendry to throw a wrench into my planned post for the week by doing something so completely stupid, it can't be ignored. Thus I find myself writing about the Cubs on my very first Pomp Culture post.

That 'something stupid' would be the dismissal of one Kerry Wood, the longest tenured Cub. Last season, Kid K resurrected his career, rising from the ashes and casting off the barnacle of Mark Prior, by reinventing himself as a stud closer. Aside from a few blown saves and a blister that just wouldn't die, Wood was a complete badass. He even grew a top-notch Closer Beard and looked every bit the part of the 9th inning hammer the Cubs needed. Throw Carlos Marmol out there in the 8th and the Cubs had a duel pair of flamethrowers in the bottom innings that would have made Hank Scorpio proud.

So the transition from starter to stopper was made with very few hiccups. Kerry proved to Cubs fans that he wasn't a whiny little bitch like Mark Prior and that he still had the stuff to help this team put away ballgames. Like a lot of fans, I rallied to Wood and felt bad I had ever lumped him in with the USC prima donna to begin with. Kerry came up in 1998, the year I graduated from college, and it was he and Rod Beck, along with my all time favorite Cub, Mark Grace, that really made me a true Cub fan. My dad had always had his guys while I was growing up and with 1998, I finally had some guys of my own.

Last week Jim Hendry traded for Marlins' closer Kevin Gregg. I was really excited about that trade because I knew the Cubs needed some bullpen help to replace the departing Bob Howry and Gregg seemed like a great option to fill that role. But then Jim came out and said that the Cubs wouldn't be resigning Wood, that they had decided to go in a "different direction". To that, I have to say, "Are you high?" You don't let a guy like Kerry Wood walk away after ten years, not when he still has the stuff to shut down ballgames for you. Not when he's the fucking face of your franchise. Besides, how sick would a Gregg-Marmol-Wood 7-8-9 look? If I'm a Cubs starter, that looks pretty damn good to me.

Since then, it's come out that Wood would do pretty much anything to stay in Chicago, including taking a one year deal. How can the Cubs not resign this guy? I know the game is a business, but how is this good business, Mr. Hendry? This reeks of the same "don't let the door hit you in the ass" treatment that Mark Grace received after the 2000 season. And Woody is a hell of a lot more useful than Grace was at that time, so this makes no sense to me. You have a guy who's basically lights out who wants to be on this team more than anywhere else in the league, a man who could instantly make teams like say, St. Louis, better and you're willing to let him walk? I love Carlos Marmol as much as the next guy, but having Wood makes the pen that much stronger. And if his arm does explode, you have Marmol OR Gregg in the wings to take over if need be. Wood gives us a depth and more to the point, a presence in the 9th. People are scared to bat against this guy. Effectively wild works a lot better over one inning than 5-7 innings.

To sum up, Kerry Wood should be our Craig Biggio. He's proven he can be a force in the bullpen and I say the Cubs should keep him until his damn arm finally gives out for good. And Kerry's such a team player, you know he'd keep closing, pitch middle relief or batting practice, anything to stay in Cub blue. Mr. Hendry, I'm begging you, don't let this end with Kerry Wood in a Cardinal uniform. I don't want Kerry to avoid Wrigley as Grace did until the folks who let him walk were gone. After Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS, a distraught Kerry Wood told the world that he choked, when in fact he had left everything out there on the field that day. His heart is out there still. Please don't take that away, Jim.

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