Chicago Cubs: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood a nod to what might have been

Mark Prior / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Mark Prior / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Kerry Wood / Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Injuries dealt a fatal blow to both guys’ careers

But injuries lingered, hampering Wood for the rest of his career. Those ailments wound up costing him a spot in the Chicago rotation, as he transitioned to a reliever beginning in 2005. He earned the lone All-Star selection of his career in 2008 as the Cubs closer, slamming the door 34 times that year.

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Prior didn’t even make it that long. By 2006, he had thrown his last pitch in Major League Baseball at just 25 years of age. He never truly recaptured the dominance he displayed in 2003, but still put together a solid 2005 campaign in which he led the league with 10.2 strikeouts per nine in 27 starts. After a handful of comeback attempts, he finally hung it up for good in 2013.

Of course, Wood spent a few years with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees before returning to the Cubs in 2011.

His final moment on the mound was emotional, to say the least, as he struck out Dayan Viciedo during the Crosstown Classic, walking off the mound to his son, who awaited him near the Cubs dugout to the raucous cheers of a packed Wrigley Field, who had learned earlier in the day that the day would be Wood’s final appearance in baseball after he announced his retirement.

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Prior to the team’s 2016 World Series title, this was what being a Chicago Cubs fan consisted of: asking ourselves ‘what if’ – over and over again. 1984, 2003, 2008 – the list went on and on. But the one-two punch of Wood and Prior can be looked at with a bit more comfort now, knowing the drought is over and we can now perhaps appreciate what we had on our hands back then with a a more peaceful mind.