Kerry Wood is memorable for many reasons, but this one thing stands out to me
Kerry Wood, who is expected to retire tonight, had a varied and interesting career. And he deserves credit for his priorities as well as his pitching.
The thing I'll remember about Kerry Wood isn't that he was one of the most talented righthanders I ever saw pitch, though he was that. And it isn't that he threw one of the best games ever pitched, a 20-strikeout, one-hit game when he was 20.
It isn't that he twice led the league in strikeouts per nine innings. And twice, too, in fewest hits per nine innings.
It wasn't the arm trouble Wood overcame to pitch into his mid-30s (though, interestingly enough, his more fragile ex-Cubs pitching partner Mark Prior is still giving it a go in extended spring with the Red Sox). It wasn't that he's the one pitcher in his era who pitched effectively as a starter, closer and ultimately set-up man.
The thing that's memorable to me is that Kerry Wood didn't care about the money. Wood, who according to reports out of Chicago is expected to retire tonight, is the one player who could utter the phrase "it wasn't about the money'' and be telling the truth.
Wood signed back with the Cubs in 2011 for $1.5 million, a figure so small it looked like a missprint, following an excellent year in relief for the Yankees. He could have pushed the Yankees to give him $6 million a year, and maybe even done it for two years. He just wanted to be in Chicago, and to be a Cub.
And now word comes Kerry Wood is retiring midseason with more than $2 million to go on this year's $3-million deal.
Some will recall the game he had against the Astros in 1998, when he was just 20, and how he whiffed 20 while walking none and allowing only one infield hit to Ricky Gutierrez (he also hit Craig Biggio). That day he became only the second pitcher ever to strike out his age (he was exactly 20 at the time), following Bob Feller, who struck out 17 in a game when he was 17.
Some will remember how he and Prior were going to lead the Cubs back to the World Series for the first time since 1945 in 2003, and how it all fell apart so quickly. How Wood won two games in the Division Series against the Braves but lost Game 7 of the NLCS to the eventual World Champion Marlins.
Some will recall all the strikeouts, the versatility and maybe even unfilled expectations.
I'll mostly remember that he wasn't in it for the money. Good for him.