Some days it doesn’t pay to be busy. Â I was tied up all day, and so this morning, when I read Al Yellon’s open letter to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer about re-signing Kerry Wood, I tried the old, “clear my calendar, THIS is all I’m doing today.” Â It didn’t work.
So I’m just now getting to enjoy it fully. Â I’m sure Theo and Jed’s response came marked “cease and desist” and included some court orders about the distance Al has to stay from….everyone. Â Given the Cubs attendance prospects this year, Al can still sit in left field and not violate it.
The man can write a headline, can’t he? Â Sharp. Â Concise. Â Stilted. Â Amazing.
Hi! How are you doing?
I’m fine. Â How are you? Â Wait, what is he doing?
Enjoying Chicago so far? We haven’t had much of a winter here yet, so it’s probably been easy and comfortable for you to get to work at the corner of Clark & Addison.
You know, from your multi-million dollar townhomes that are blocks away. Â And it’s good thing the weather’s been so mild, we know how sensitive to cold and snow you northeast pussies are. Â Yeah! Â Tell ’em, Al! Â They haven’t lived through a winter until they’ve lived through a Chicago winter. Â One where it snows every day, the “hawk” blows 90 miles an hour six days a week and Lake Shore Drive always looks like something out of an ill-advised sequel to “I Am Legend.”
I hear you two have been pretty busy working late nights, examining the organization from top to bottom; so far I like all the deals and signings you have made in re-making the CubsÂ major league roster and acquiring additional depth for the minor league system.
You know who else hears about guys working late and night and keeps tabs on their comings and goings? Â Stalkers.
But I’m glad Al approves of the moves so far. Â And, I’m sure Theo and Jed are happy, too.
THEO: Just got off the phone with Byrnes, he’ll do Cashner for Rizzo, finally.
HOYER: Great news. Â You call Ricketts to get his sign off, I’ll call Yellon.
THEO: I hope Al says it’s OK. Â He is the voice of Cubbie Nation after all. Â We can do nothing without his tacit approval.
HOYER: I know. Â I wish he’d have signed off on the Dempster for Verlander trade.
THEO: He was right, though. Â This team can’t win without a yukkster in the clubhouse to keep everybody loose.
I’m excited about the future.
You guys had success together in Boston and I know you know what you’re doing and believe me, I understand your method.
Believe me…you don’t.
You can’t just go for the quick fix as the Cubs have for the last decade; if the two of you and Jason McLeod and the others you have brought in can build a strong top-to-bottom organization, then the Cubs can become a team that can contend for the postseason every year, and win a couple of times in a decade like your old team in Boston did.
You don’t know that. Â Nobody KNOWS that. Â Past performance is not predictive of future results. Â Anyway…why, does your whole butt kissing preamble feel like it’s going to have a big BUT at the end.
(Insert joke about Prince Fielder, here.)
I get it. And I like the way you’ve begun the process. It’s the right way to go.
More ass kissing, but where’s the but?
I have only one question this morning. Why haven’t you signed Kerry WoodÂ yet?
Bazinga! Â I’m glad it’s his only question this morning. Â Usually he has several. Â “Why haven’t you signed Kerry Wood yet?” Â “Which cap did I wear to Jewel the last time I got those week old plantains for pennies on the dollar!?!” Â “Have I taken all of my Zoloft yet?” Â “Why does this pill box have two compartments that say T?”
Theo, in 1995 when Wood was drafted, you were just graduating from Yale. In 1998, whenÂ when Wood struck out 20 in his fifth major league startÂ in what is arguably the most dominant pitching performance in major league history, you were just starting out in baseball with the Padres. Jed, you were still working at your alma mater, Wesleyan University.
You know what’s relevant to how much you spend on a middle reliever? Â Where you were 17 and then 14 years ago. Â Jim Hendry signed John Grabow to that three year deal because it reminded him of how much tail he used to pull at the Pensacola strip clubs in 1987. Â It’s a fool proof system.
Sure, you know all about that. But you didn’t feel the energy it brought to the ’98 team after a horrific 1997; you weren’t there when Wood gutted out five shutout innings on what turned out to be an arm that needed Tommy John surgery in Game 3 0f the NLDS, leaving trailing 1-0 in a game, and series, the Cubs eventually lost.
Kerry Wood, creator of energy. Â The energy Rod Beck and Terry Mulholland needed to pitch every day for the last 60 games of the season, because the pitching staff was so thin…given Kerry’s injuries and all. Â I’m sure Kerry appreciates you pointing out his history of arm trouble goes back a decade and a half. Â You’re quite the agent. Â Now remind them that the Cubs have already paid him $50 million in his career and watch them throw their wallets at you.
You weren’t there when Wood made his triumphant return on May 2, 2000, throwing six strong innings against the AstrosÂ and hitting a home run in his first at-bat.
Triumphant return for a Cub equals minimum needed to qualify for a quality start. Â Sounds about right.
You weren’t there when he nearly threw a no-hitter on May 25, 2001Â against the Brewers, allowing a leadoff single to Mark LorettaÂ in the seventh and striking out 14.
Now’s a good time to list times he almost did something historic. Â “You weren’t there the time Kerry struck out the side on seven pitches. Â Mostly because it never happened, and isn’t actually possible.”
You and Jed were in Boston, leading your team to the postseason in your first year there, when Kerry won his last four starts in 2003, posting a 0.93 ERA, helping lead the Cubs to an unlikely NL Central championship, and you were watching your Red SoxÂ make the ALCS when Kerry won two games against the BravesÂ in the NLDS that year, including Game 5, which clinched the first postseason series for a Cubs team in 95 years.
You guys were in Boston pissing away your own pennant while the Cubs were doing the same thing. Â Kerry was awesome in that NLDS. Â What the fuck it has to do with signing him in 2012, I have no idea.
And you weren’t there when Kerry cried at his locker after failing to win Game 7 of the NLCSÂ against the Marlins, even though he hit a home run inÂ thatÂ game too, patiently answering every reporter’s questions, and taking full responsibility for the loss, something players rarely do in the 21st Century.
You missed the crying! Â Oh, the crying! Â It was the most manly crying ever! Â If you had been there, instead of getting ready to let Grady Little obliterate your postseason the next night, you would have been moved to tears by his tears, and you’d have seen a true 21st CenturyÂ renaissance man in action. Â You missed the manly tears of taking responsibility-ness.
Â Yes, I know about all the injuries, Theo & Jed; they kept Wood out of baseball for most of 2005 and 2006. But we also know that Kerry came back — after almost retiring — in 2007, and was a key part of the 2008 NL Central championship team, posting a save total (34) that coincidentally matched the uniform number that’s sold a ton of replica jerseys over the years.
(Why does Al randomly use & instead of and?) Â Hey guys, don’t worry about those little injuries. Â It’s not like Kerry’s spent more time on the disabled list than any other Cubs player in history. Â Oh, wait…he has. Â But did you see he saved his uniform number in 2008? Â How cool was that. Â Let’s give him 99, think of how many games we’ll win!
All of these are the reasons I love Kerry Wood.
This is an even more awkward way of coming out than going on Maury to do it.
I don’t have a lot of favorite players, but Kerry Wood is near the top of the list.
My list is not long, it’s not distinguished, but Kerry’s on it. Â Right after Tom Glavine.
Having met the man on a couple of occasions, I also know he’s an outstanding human being who would be a credit to any baseball organization. This is what he means to Cubs fans and what he represents to the history of the organization, and also as a transition to the future that you are building.
You know what that sounds like, Al? Â Sounds like Kerry ought to be in the bullpen. Â As the bullpen coach.
Yes, I know he’s almost 35.
Al 1. Â Calendars 0! Â Nice job, Al.
Yes, I know he has occasional blister problems that can keep him out of action for a couple of weeks at a time.
You know who else has occasional blister problems that can keep them out of action for a couple of weeks at a time? Â Ryan Braun and anybody he’s ever sexed up. Â Amirite?
But he can also still flash the dominant fastball he had at age 20; he’s an excellent clubhouse leader, and he can help mentor some of the younger pitchers who will make up the 2012 bullpen. With your trades of Sean MarshallÂ and Andrew CashnerÂ — both of which were very good trades, don’t get me wrong — the bullpen needs at least one man with experience.
First off, no. Â Kerry doesn’t have the stuff he had at 20. Â That stuff was put in a biohazard bag in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1999. Â Second, I like how Andy Cashner’s six relief appearances last year left such an experience void in the bullpen.
Kerry Wood is that man.
That man has a lady’s name.
Further, with all the new players coming in, Kerry is the face of the franchise.
Umm. Â What? Â I’ve seen that logo a lot, and it looks like a baby bear to me. Â But you’re a season ticket holder, so you’d know better than anybody.
So what’s the holdup? $1 million or so?
A mere pittance for a man of Yellon’s ilk! Â Why not just scrounge around in your couch cushions and pull out enough to meet Kerry’s demands? Â Have a car wash!
Seriously, if Wood wants $4 million or $5 million, what does that come to? About 3 or 4% of the payroll?
Yeah. Â And that’s a lot. Â That’s several overslotted draft choices and international free agents. Â But you’re right, spend it on a mid-30s relief pitcher.
It’s a relatively small amount of money that isn’t going to damage the longterm future of this team and might get some casual fans feeling good about having a player they genuinely love on the roster.
You know what gets casual fans feeling good? Â Old Style. Â And sure, genuine love. Â But mostly Old Style. Â And wearing their hats backwards and pretending that a Volkswagen TDi isn’t just a fucking Golf with a spoiler on it.
If you’re going to charge marquee prices, you have to have at least one guy who will light up the marquee. Yes, I know Kerry Wood is a middle relief guy or setup man, and he’s not going to pitch in every game, and people aren’t going to buy tickets based on maybe being able to see Kerry Wood pitch.
Here’s the real crux of the argument. Â I, like Al, am gay for Kerry. Â I have been for a long time. Â But nobody…NOBODY…pays money to watch a middle reliever. Â It’s pure folly to think that attendance with Kerry will be higher than attendance without him.
Wait, what? Â Al isn’t arguing that anyone will pay to watch him pitch?
THEN WHAT IS HE ARGUING? Â That was the only argument…albeit a wrong one…and he’s not making it.
But if you blithely toss away a pitcher and man who has meant so much to this franchise and Cubs fans over the last 14 years, thinking you don’t “need” him, some of those people might say, “Well, I’m not buying tickets this year.”
What? Â The argument is that people won’t pay to watch him pitch, but that THEY WILL NOT PAY TO WATCH HIM NOT PITCH? Â Did Yoda guest write this?
Just to be clear. Â Al just said that signing Kerry won’t bring anyone to the park, but not signing him will drive people away. Â So these people are so excited about Kerry coming back that they won’t buy a ticket, but if he doesn’t come back they won’t buy a ticket? Â You just sold me, Al. Â I’d give him a 10 year deal.
Kerry Wood has value to the Cubs in many different ways. He’s committed to the city and has made it his permanent home. Theo & Jed, can’t you squeeze a little extra money out of your budget and get him signed before Friday’s opening of the Cubs Convention?
Gotta excite the fucking idiots who already bought tickets to Loserpalooza. Â Can’t send those sweatpants wearing shut-ins home unhappy. Â Then they’ll really never come outside again.
Having Wood introduced at the opening ceremony would create some enthusiasm and buzz that you guys very much need.
Because the Cubs “win January” every year! Â Yay! Â I’m so excited! Â Just a few more months before they prove they’re terrible again! Â Thanks, Kerry! Â Thanks, Theo! Â Remember that time that Kerry got introduced at the Cubs convention! Â Holy shit, it was awesome! Â I was so excited I didn’t buy a ticket to see him pitch that year! Â But if he hadn’t done that, I’d have been so depressed that I’d have bought negative tickets! Â Savvy business move, guys!
(And incidentally, no matter what you two have been told about the convention, you won’t really get it until you’re there. Not a single newcomer to the team has ever really understood it until they see it.)
On this, Al and I agree wholeheartedly. Â Until you see the convention, you have no idea what a truly pathetic bunch of losers that Cubs fans are. Â I still have nightmares about it. Â It’s sadder than the last 40 minutes of Shindler’s List. Â I wake up, covered in sweat saying, “I could have saved one more! Â I could have saved one more!” Â It’ll haunt your dreams Theo and Jed…I mean, Theo & Jed.
You might not think you need Kerry Wood.
Mostly, because you don’t.
But for all the reasons above, yes, you doÂ needÂ him. It’s worth a few extra dollars, Theo & Jed. Get it done this week.
No. Â It’s not worth a few extra (million) dollars. Â Kerry should’t want to come back. Â This team is awful by design, as opposed to its natural state of awful by accident, and he’s only got a finite number of pitches left in him. Â Go to Philadelphia and try to win a World Series. Â I’m glad Kerry came back last year. Â It was cool to see. Â But now? Â He needs to be selfish and try to win. Â Nobody’s going to think less of him for it. Â In fact, more people might think less of him if he comes back to this clusterfuck.
You spelled delusionally wrong.