Digits and benchmarks are important for baseball fans, namely in Chicago.
If a batter drives in 98 runs, it can be said that he had a very good year. But I promise you that he, his teammates, his coaches and the fans of his team will all wonder why there weren’t another two RBIs somewhere over the course of the season.
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What about a pitcher hitting 99 on the radar gun? That is very exciting, but once the gun reaches triple digits, the buzz in the ballpark is electric.
This holds true in going from single digits to double digits wins, too. I was hoping that last night, Travis Wood would reach that plateau from nine games to ten games. during last night’s game in St. Louis.
Ten wins in a season is a modest total, in a sport that values twenty. But in year two of the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime with the Chicago Cubs, there hasn’t yet been a single ten-game winner on the Cubs’ roster. It’s sad–and sad isn’t even the best word for it–but it’s all too true.
So five innings and some early run support would have given Travis Wood a shot. However, that was never in the Cubs’ game plan for Friday night. Instead, Wood pitched one inning–so that he could reach 200 on the season–and was removed from the game. A personal milestone (one that seems nebulous to me) that was more important than putting up a battle against the Cubs’ main rival. It feels wrong on so many levels.
Pitching 200 innings isn’t such a great feat to me. Nolan Ryan threw over two hundred innings at the age of 43. When Travis Wood is 43, he won’t be anywhere near a baseball field. So let’s don’t put any stock in that for Travis Wood.
A baseball game is scheduled for nine innings but the objective isn’t to play every inning. No, the reason why nine, or seven, or sometimes even 18 innings are played is so one team can score more runs than the other team. That’s what baseball is. And to the extent that it becomes a way for an individual player to pad his own numbers, it diminishes the game on some level.
There has been several things happening with the Cubs over the past two seasons. Losing comes with the territory and I’ve been through enough of it that it doesn’t bother me like it probably should.
Nevertheless, this one-inning outline that Travis Wood was allowed last night makes me angry. It’s a meaningless game at the end of a forgotten season. But in a situation last night, why not shut Wood down for the season, instead of trotting him out to record three more outs. It puts the player above the team, and it’s an example of how badly lost this franchise is.