Kerry Wood is one of those Cubs stories that make you feel all warm and tingly inside. (No, that's not just the Red Bull you had this morning.) Wood was the Cubs cocky fireballer who lost his arm and suffered through multiple injuries before finally, mercifully returning as a closer in 2008. His success in the role -- and his maturity, which took on sort of an elder statesman-esque feel toward the end of the season -- was the most encouraging storyline out of a season that otherwise left fans wanting to light their expensive replica jerseys aflame.
Then, in the offseason, the Cubs didn't re-sign Kerry Wood. This is a debatable decision. Jim Hendry claimed the Cubs didn't have the money, and that he wanted Wood to go out and get a big deal for his family before his career ended; Wood said he would have been willing to take a hometown discount in order to stay a Cub. The sides didn't meet, Hendry told Wood he would always be welcome back to the Cubs, and off to Cleveland Kerry went.
But that's not the end of the story. Oh no. Why would it be? As a memorial, or something, the Cubs are reserving Kerry Wood's locker throughout the 2009 season. No one will use it. Presumably, Wood's nametag will still hang there, along with any knickknacks he left behind. Perhaps a beard trimmer. Just For Men gel. That sort of stuff.
Is this a weird decision by the Cubs? It feels that way. After all, if Hendry was so attached to Wood, he could have paid him the money. He didn't need to acquire Kevin Gregg. He didn't need to let Kerry fade into the sunset. He didn't, which is fine too, because you don't want sentimentality to affect your baseball decisions. But this? This just seems weird.
Anyway, we miss you, Kerry. Not enough to set up a living shrine in your honor, though. Apparently, that's the Cubs' deal. Just keep the Greek Orthodox priests away, and we'll be good.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who thinks Jim Hendry is a sad panda. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.