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Tuesday, November 9

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

The following interview appears in today's Chicago Tribune. Since not everyone wants to subscribe to the on-line Trib, here it is in it's entireity, after which we shall discuss its message:

Bringing heat
Wood sounds off on Cubs' flop, Sosa's AWOL

By Fred Mitchell
Tribune staff reporter

November 9, 2004

One month after the Great Collapse of 2004, Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood still has a bad taste in his mouth.

"I'm definitely very disappointed in what happened this season," Wood said in an interview with the Tribune on Monday from his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz., after returning from vacation in Mexico with his wife, Sarah. "It should not have come down to the last two or three weeks. We should have had it locked up before then. The last two weeks were definitely disappointing. Seems like we lacked a little bit of fire when we needed it."

The Cubs lost seven of their last nine games and were eliminated from postseason consideration entering the final game of the season against Atlanta at Wrigley Field. Disgruntled veteran Sammy Sosa decided not to dress in uniform and skipped out on his teammates shortly after the game began. He was later fined $87,400 by the team—a day's pay.

Wood's name has been widely circulated as one of the Cubs players who took a bat to Sosa's noise-pulsating boom box in the clubhouse that final day.

"I don't have the balls to do that," Wood said. "There have been times in the past … (when Wood felt like doing that). I came in four or five days later to get my stuff and I didn't notice anything."

Asked if Sosa would be welcomed back by his teammates next spring if he is not traded, Wood said, "It (leaving his teammates on the final day of the season) was kind of what it has been like for the past three years. Sammy does his thing. Especially that last day, a lot of guys were disappointed. None of us wanted to be there, but we all suited up."

The Cubs finished with 89 victories and back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1971-72. Yet the star-studded Opening Day roster did portend a postseason berth following the 2003 season in which they came within five outs of making it to the World Series.

"It's tough when you have four or five guys on the DL at the same time," said Wood, who finished with an 8-9 record and a 3.72 earned-run average. He suffered two of the losses in the final seven setbacks.

While Wood tries to make sense of a disappointing season, Sarah Wood remains upbeat while planning a Nov. 20 cancer research fundraiser at Ten Pin Bowling Lounge in Marina City. The celebrity bowling event, called "Strike Zone," will support Children's Memorial Hospital. The Wood's first charity fundraiser event will be followed by a dinner and concert by Cheap Trick at the House of Blues in the Foundation Room.

The Web site for the event with ticket information is Several current and former Cubs players are expected to take part in the celebrity bowling event, including Mark Prior, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Grace and Ryne Sandberg.

"It was certainly a year that we wished had ended a different way," Sarah Wood said of the 2004 season. "This gives us a lot more motivation for next year. What happened to the Red Sox could happen to us."

"I was glad to see them win," Kerry Wood said of the Red Sox.

The American League wild-card Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908.

The team is likely to have a new look next year. It didn't pick up the options on Moises Alou and Mark Grudzielanek, and the future of starting pitcher Matt Clement also appears in doubt with the Cubs.

"It's tough to replace any of those guys," Wood said. "That's kind of the way the game of baseball goes. You pretty much know what you are getting with Clement. I'm not sure who would replace him."

Wood also commented on the resignations of longtime Cubs broadcasters Steve Stone and Chip Caray. Both moves were fueled by friction stirred by a few Cubs players who complained about the broadcasters' criticism of the team's performance.

"I have heard more than enough about the Steve Stone issue," Wood said. "I think it got really overplayed in the media. I'm happy for Chip; he gets a chance to go work with his father (Skip Caray) in Atlanta.

There was an incident (pitcher Kent Mercker calling the TV booth to complain during a game). But you know what? There have been a lot of incidents that don't get in the paper and the public doesn't find out. Now we look like a bunch of [jerks] to the rest of the league, people saying it would be tough to root for us because we look like a bunch of whiners."

Wood has been outspoken over the years about his team improving its focus and effort. He acknowledges that it is tougher to be a team leader as a starting pitcher than as an everyday player.

"Can it be done? Maybe," Wood said. "The bottom line is to be ready to play every day."

Wood disputed the commonly held notion that the Cubs were uptight throughout the season because of high expectations.

"I hope not," he said. "I have played a lot of years when there weren't any high expectations. That's definitely not any fun."

Wood served a five-game suspension last season following an April 17 incident during which he charged toward plate umpire Eric Cooper and berated him.

He said he has no nagging injuries or surgeries to deal with during the off-season.

"I spent two months on the DL, so I am rested," he said with a laugh.

He said he was frustrated that his arm injury was not immediately diagnosed properly. He was placed on the disabled list on May 12 with a sore right triceps. Wood said he did not think that misdiagnosis and ensuing treatment regimen contributed to the firing of trainers David Groeschner and Sandy Krum.

Wood's message to Cubs fans is that the players are as disappointed as they are that the team did not make it to the playoffs. And he is happy the St. Louis Cardinals lost in the World Series.

"The fact that the Red Sox won should be encouraging as far as ending the [Cubs] curse," he said.

Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune

Well, isn't THAT special? Isn't he CUTE, playing a latter-day Mark Grace?

I had a conversation similar to this after the football game on Saturday, with my son the left tackle. I asked why he thought they lost, and he mentioned the infighting amongst the teammates, the bickering amongst the coaches, and open weeping everywhere. In his opinion, they're all mentally weak, and they can't win that way. I personally agree with him 1 million percent.

OK, I say. You know what's wrong. You're smart enough, do someting about it!

Then, like with Kerry Wood, the excuses came. I'm just a sophomore, I don't start, I can only influence a few guys, but having a few guys pulling in a different direction is worse than not saying anything at all.

Yes, I agree with the pulling analogy. But he missed my point. I don't give a red rat's ass how much he plays! He just said he was smarter than everyone else in the room. (And, this is not a dad talking out his ass. He IS. Just trust me on this one, alright?) Are you not smart enough, I ask, to pull One Fast One by everyone in that room?

Yeaaaah, he said with obvious distaste, like I would even ask.

Alright, then. You're smarter than Shawn the Screamer. Smarter than Kris the Sobber, smarter even than Coach Calamity. IF you're a Leader, IF you're a Winner, whether your name is Kerry Wood or Nick Slothson, FUCKING TAKE CHARGE MENTALLY AND CHANGE THINGS FOR THE BETTER. Convince everyone else in the room that bitching, screaming, crying, and fondling their own tits ISN'T going to beat the other guy.

Are they men or are they bitches? When you're a Man, and you're surrounded by Bitches, you either slap them hoes or you push they ass out the door. It doesn't matter if you're the 2004 Cubs, the 2004 Corn Hole Trojans, or in the boardroom of Acme Widget Corporation. To be The Man, you have to Lead, Rise Above, and pull One Fast One on everyone else, to convince them of doing something that, if left to themselves, they'd have No Chance of doing.

Wood can give all the angry interviews he wants, and say the Right Thing to us, but more importantly, Woody, you gotta convince them Bitches in your clubhouse of the Right Thing.

Which he probably has a decent chance of doing, for all but one big fat swollen infected puspocket who wears Number 21, thinks only of himself, and needs to be beaten to death with a baseball bat with a fucking rusty nail sticking out of the barrel.