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What's In A Word
by Derek Smart
For your enjoyment/information/commiseration, here are a few choice definitions of a word that's insidiously seeped into the Cub fan vocabulary this year:
stiff (stf) adj.-er, -est.
- Difficult to bend; rigid.
This one is interesting, because it seems to have two applicable meanings to the current situation. Obviously, there's the one that has to do with Kerry Wood's most recent bout of, shall we say, "rigidity" in his previously problematic shoulder, but then there's the open question of whether Wood is too "rigid" about the way he throws the ball to make the alterations in his mechanics necessary to avoid this type of injury.
I don't know what the answer is, but the fact that this problem keeps cropping up, despite recent supposed changes, serves as circumstantial evidence that more needs to be done to address the issue, and until the necessary work occurs - whatever it might be - I fear more of the same is what we have to look forward to.
- Drawn tightly; taut.
Ah, yes. I recognize this. It's the feeling in the pit of my stomach every time Wood has to leave a game early.
- Potent or strong: a stiff drink.
What I needed last night.
- Firm, as in purpose; resolute.
What the Cubs must be in order to stay in the playoff hunt this season, in spite of this recent misfortune. There's no question that a healthy Wood would be extremely beneficial to the team's chances, but if he does go down longer term, it's not the end of the season.
Glendon Rusch has been very helpful as a spot starter, despite his recent struggles out of the bullpen, and with Rich Hill on the same throwing schedule and doing good work in Iowa (last night's game notwithstanding), he's a viable option to come forward and take the ball as well. The loss of Wood might be a difficult blow to take, but it wouldn't be a knockout punch.
- Excessively high: a stiff price.
What Wood's contract is looking more like every day.
- Difficult to comprehend or accept; harsh or severe.
I've simply lost the ability to process this kind of information. I love Kerry Wood, as evidenced by my now seemingly misguided recent jersey purchase, so I want to believe that everything will be alright. That one day, it will all come together and these hours of pain and anguish will be but a memory - a misty recollection that only makes the taste of victory sweeter.
But my faith in that rosy future is being shaken to its core these days, and while it's not totally gone, it will take a lot more than some platitudes and a decent start or two to solidify, to firm up, to stiffen its sinews once more.