Kerry Wood and Dusty Baker on Last Chances?

Lou Piniella officially named Kerry Wood the closer for the Chicago Cubs yesterday in a combination of classic fastball seduction and wishcasting about Wood’s health in the limited role. Wood’s reign as closer will be measured with an official Chicago Cubs egg timer before his arm explodes magnificently, taking out Mark DeRosa and Aramis Ramirez with shrapnel.

Kerry Wood and Dusty Baker

Cubs GM Jim Hendry, the man responsible for pairing up mankiller Dusty Baker and Kerry Wood, isn’t taking gentle criticism of the move well. In fact, he is quite happy to call out reporters that have done so and humbly remind them that “I don’t give a f*** what you think.” Twice. Look what happens when you set a bad example, Sam Zell!

As Hendry gets in touch his inner bully, the other man responsible for shattering Wood and Mark Prior’s career chose another path to redemption: historical revisionism. Dusty Baker now claims he never hurt a pitching fly.

REDLEG NATION spotted the most blatant convenient memory gaps from Baker so far this spring:

“It’s the same thing I went through with young pitchers in Chicago,” he said. “They’d pitch five shutout innings and I’d take them out and they’d ask me why and I’d say, ‘Dude, he threw 100 pitches.’ “

Cubs fans may need to step away from their screens to prevent damage to their monitors and/or fists. Reds fans, on the other hand, should read on to brace themselves for the future of Homer Bailey and Edison Vólquez.

REDLEG NATION pulls up the game logs for Wood, Prior, and Carlos Zambrano’s starts under Baker and finds absolutely zero evidence that the scenario spouted above ever happened, much less repeatedly. Perhaps he’s confusing this with the time J.T. Snow pulled Darren Baker from a start.

Still, it doesn’t matter; as long as Dusty keeps telling the tale with that folksy charm and throws in an occasional scientific theory, Cincinnati reporters will be distracted long enough to allow him to shred a few more young men and then ride Corey Patterson into the sunset, waving his ball cap farewell while Reds fans chase him with sticks. You know, like in Chicago.

All of this swearing, lying, and rending of cloth certainly gives the appearance of rats fleeing a sinking ship made of dead arms. Are these the same Chicago Cubs that most favor to win the NL Central or the last acts of a front office chief waiting for the Zell-led bloodbath?

None of this seems to phase the man in the middle of the maelstrom, though. Kerry Wood’s just thrilled to have a job in baseball, it seems, and ready for the challenge of facing his final opportunity at age 31:

“I appreciate the fact that I’ve been given another chance to get out there and play the game I love. I’m going to take full advantage of it.”

If Wood’s ready to move on without fabrication or foul-mouthed diatribes, maybe Hendry and Baker could try a little of the same. After all, this is probably their last shot at success in Chicago and Cincinnati, respectively. They could consider going out in style.

(Not Reds fans, though. Start working on your chasin’ sticks.)