Friday, June 19, 2009

Throw Out the Stats: Wood, DeRosa Brought Fun

Forget about any links to baseball-reference. Statistics really don't help understand the loss we as fans have felt since Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood were sent packing unceremoniously, Wood via free agency, DeRosa via a trade, but both to the Cleveland Indians.

I have argued against the statistical impact of both players (DeRosa is an average hitter who, for all his versatility, can play only one position at a time; Kerry is a constant injury risk whose ERA can soar faster than you can say "persisting blister problem"). But the difference both players made struck me in the 8th inning of yesterday's come-from-behind win over the Sox (right about the time Soto was blasting a spheroid into orbit over Scotty Pods and company).

Both guys were fun.

At the moment the Cubs tied the game against the Sox, I realized that I could live with a loss because I had my fun. Losing is one thing. Losing a heartbreaker is worse. But losing without scoring more than a run or two, day after day—that's just brutal. I've arrived at the point at which, with runners on 1st and 3rd and no outs, I cheer for a double play, just to see a Cub cross home plate.

But DeRosa and Wood, win or lose, provided lots of fun. The stats might not be overwhelming, but the memories of DeRosa's clutch hits are myriad and precious. And Kerry Wood's style, when he was on, is something I'll tell my grandkids about. He could get lefthanders to swing at sliders that wound up hitting them in the knees. And I was among the 15,000+ who saw him K 2o Astros ($6 for a seat in the bleachers . . . don't get me started).

Baseball games run about 3 hours. To make it through, you need to get excited a few times. I've yet to see a stat that can track the WOW factor, but DeRosa and Wood were among the Cub leaders in WOW. I'm glad they're coming back to Wrigley this weekend. I just hope they leave a little bit of fun behind when they go.
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