One day, when I've grown old and what hair I have left has turned the color of the cold, winter sky, I will tell my grandchildren a story. It will sound like a fantasy epic torn from the pages of Tolkien, Jordan or Howard a long, twisting tale seemingly plucked from the mind of a man with a wild imagination.
But it will be true.
I speak of the story of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, a tale that has more twists and turns than can be counted. Both careers reached their peaks in 2003, but have since spun wildly out of control. And today, each stood at a fulcrum, and each went a separate direction.
Perhaps this day will be remembered as the end of an era when Prior and Wood, tied together for years by performance and injury, finally forged their own separate paths.
Perhaps, in 20 or 30 years, the name Prior will be the answer to a trivia question, nothing more, forgotten by all but the oldest fans.
And Wood will he become the dominant closer we all envision? Or will he, too, be another answer on a game show?
I don't know the answers. I don't know if great performances from Wood and Prior will someday be called legend or myth. Nobody knows.
* * * *
One more start: That's what I'd give Prior before officially giving up on him. Apparently he's healthy, but he reportedly, according to the AP, topped out at 87 today with poor control. Other reports say "mid- to low-80s." I just don't know what to make of it.
Wood, on the other hand, was outstanding, and his future looks bright:
Looking svelte after dropping 25 pounds from his 6-foot-5 frame with a rigorous offseason workout and diet regimen, Wood breezed through a 1-2-3 fifth inning with a sizzling fastball that topped out at 96 mph and was the winning pitcher.
"I felt good," said Wood, who spent the winter rehabbing a partial tear in his right rotator cuff. "I felt confident. It's just nice to get some adrenaline flowing again."