Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

20Ks 10 Years Ago

One decade later, I still get chills thinking about Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout performance against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. I also feel incredibly sad to think that he never truly reached his potential. So much hope and promise once rested on his shoulders, but it never came to fruition. Injury after injury plagued his career. Little did anyone realize his elbow was detaching during this outing. Still, I enjoy thinking back to that rainy day at Wrigley Field.

Oddly enough, most Cubs fans did not see this performance live. Of course it was a day game at Wrigley Field so most people were at work, but the game was not broadcast on WGN-TV. This game was one of the first broadcasts on CLTV. Back in 1998, CLTV was not available as a standard cable station throughout greater metropolitan Chicago. The game was rebroadcast on WGN-TV the very next day.

On May 6, 1998, I was working at the Elmhurst Park District. In fact, that day our foundation was hosting the Sugar Creek Open, the annual golf outing that raised funds for the park district. I did not play that day, but I was working contest holes, selling raffle tickets, and so on. I remember the rain was heavy that morning and drizzling at the start of our event, but not enough to cancel the outing. Someone on the foundation board realized that she did not tip the pizza delivery guy, so I volunteered to run the cash over to Edwardo's Natural Pizza on Route 83. When I jumped in my car, I turned my radio to 720AM. I thought Pat Hughes and Ron Santo were exploding. At that point, Wood already had five strikeouts. Throughout the outing, I kept making trips to my car just to catch the strikeout total.

At the end of the game, Wood tied a Major League record that Roger Clemens reached twice in his career. Eventually, Wood would land on the disabled list and not pitch until the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves later that season.

It looked like he was finally going to redeem his career in 2003, but as everyone knows, we lost to the Marlins during the National League Championship Series. Now Kerry Wood is a member of the bullpen and is struggling as a closer. Even though it's faded, I still wear my "Kerry Wood 20K" t-shirt to the gym.

Here are the ESPN highlights.


13 Comments
SallyPants
Agreed, it's sad that he never got to live up to all he could have been. Same thing with Prior. As a fan it's frustrating to see them tank a game but I never doubted either one's dedication or desire to give their all.
SallyPants   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
billpearch
I never questioned Kerry Wood's dedication. I question Mark Prior's dedication. There's a difference between pitching with soreness and pain. He always whined when he didn't feel 100%. Pitchers are rarely 100% once the season begins. I was happy to see him leave. I grew tired of all the "if Wood and Prior are healthy," comments. They never were, so there was no sense assuming they would be.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
SallyPants
I guess it could go either way. You don't want a player to aggravate an injury by playing on it, but you shouldn't coddle them either. Of course, a sneezing spell can apparently bench a guy. I would think a player would know his body best and its limits. Sure Prior's got the cry baby reputation, but last season I don't think anyone was more upset than Prior that he wasn't able to perform.
SallyPants   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
betsyradish
Where is Prior now? I was wondering that Sunday night...
Betsy   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
billpearch
Prior was signed by the San Diego Padres to a bare minimum deal.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
daveheinzel
I was happy to see Prior go, but it was a couple years too late. You'd hardly hear his name throughout a season, and when you saw him on tv, he was mumbling some sort of inaudible junk that couldn't sound less sincere. Wood is kind of in that same boat in my eyes. We've been dragging these guys along for a long time, and look what good it's done us. At some point you just have to realize that it's a lost cause and move on.
Dave Heinzel   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
RickMonday
I for one thought Prior was going to be the 2nd coming of Tom Seaver. But his relationship with the fans doomed him. Everyone, including me, thought he was a wimp and couldnt pitch even with a little pain. But, in his defense, he did have some serious shoulder problems that were revealed in his off-season surgery. He is still a smart pitcher and may not throw 95 anymore, but I do expect to see him back next year after rehab and I think he will be effective.
RickMonday   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
markhamrick
Uhh, wouldn't you say Dusty Baker ruined Prior, not his relationship with the fans?
Mark   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
RickMonday
Mark,

I was sitting on a certain seat in my basement and keep an old box of baseball cards on the counter. I was looking at some of the pitchers stats from the 70s. Almost all of those guys were throwing 280-300 innings per year. So, no, I dont think Baker ruined Prior by overusing him. I think his arm was bound to go regardless of how many or how few innings he was throwing. Just my opinion, no proof.
RickMonday   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
billpearch
Dusty Baker didn't know how to manage a pitching staff. I don't think he ruined Prior, but he certainly didn't do him any favors. He left Prior in way too long during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. He should have pulled him before the damage was done.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
SallyPants
Dusty was too busy chewing on toothpicks to worry about his pitchers
SallyPants   Tuesday, May 6, 2008
billpearch
Plus, Dusty never held himself accountable for anything. All of the Cubs' problems were due to someone else. "Dude, you can't win when you don't have your horses."
Bill Pearch   Wednesday, May 7, 2008
ozthegreat
Man, I'm getting old. It's hard to believe that was a decade ago.
ozthegreat   Thursday, May 8, 2008
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