Which is exactly what happened. But his bad mechanics caused more than just injuries that prevented him from even using his natural abilities, they made it a reality that the rest of the league would never have to adjust to Kerry Wood. They would always know what was coming, and if it wasn't that freakishly sharp slider we saw that day in 1998, Kerry Wood was just slightly better than mediocre.
"The difference between the Jaguar and the Lexus is..."
Now Kerry Wood is poised to become an ambassador of Cubs' tradition. My opinion is that seems about right because he exemplifies that tradition. Broken promises, disappointment, unfulfilled potential, refusal to change even when losing. All of these have been hallmarks of the Chicago Cubs I have known in my 43 years. Cubs' fans love a lovable loser. So Kerry Wood will now become a face of the Cubs organization in whatever capacity Theo Epstein finds beneficial. My advice to Theo would be the same advice Alec Baldwin gave Kevin Spacey in Glengarry Glenross: "Fire the fuckin' loser." "Nice guy? Fuck you." Kerry Wood is not only a loser, he's a bad example. He's an example of all those athletes who relied on ability and ignored the craft they were supposed to exemplify.
How to win Cubs fans and influence people and destroy your elbow at the same time
Having seen the example of Greg Maddux, Cubs' fans should know this. With half the talent and a hundred times the competitive spirit and deication to the art and craft of pitching, Greg Maddux had a Hall of Fame career and did it in a way that showed he had a concern for what he was doing. I can't question another person's competitive spirit or desire to win, but I can observe how they approcah their job on a yea-in, year-out basis, and Kerry Wood never seemed to make any alterations or enter any year any better prepared to be a long-term winning pitcher in the Major Leagues.
You keep him if you want, Theo. Most of the Cubs fans will love it. Or maybe you will have noticed on one of the nicest days of the year so far and against the cross town rivals Chicago White Sox, only 34,000 people showed up. Don't let those indiscriminating minority sway you into believing all Cub fans are tolerant of broken promises and unfulfilled potential, accepting of image over substance, tradition over a winning methodology. Go some where and disappoint someone else, Kerry Wood. I'm sure even if you're not very good at what you do next it won't make any difference you'll succeed wildly.