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36 year-old Kerry Wood plays the “back in my day” card

Aug 8, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

kerry-wood-cubs Getty Images

I don’t mean to take anything away from this wonderful feature on Kerry Wood by Jeff Nuich of CSNChicago.com. It’s really quite excellent, as is what we learn about Wood’s commitment to community and underprivileged kids in Chicago since he retired last season. And of course Wood was a fantastic pitcher. No criticisms of him at all.

But I must chuckle at what is perhaps the longest-lasting, most unbreakable pattern in baseball history: a retired guy lamenting how the young major leaguers these days don’t respect the game the way he and his fellow veterans did. Here’s Wood’s response when asked about the stain of the Biogenesis scandal, Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension and the scourge of performance enhancing drugs:

“You have to play with respect and respect the game,” said Wood. “When I came up and when guys like Todd [Hollandsworth] came up, we all felt the game didn’t owe us anything and we respected the game for what it was and kept that integrity. I think over the last few years we’ve seen that change. A lot of guys will get [to the big leagues] and it’s almost like baseball’s been waiting for them and they feel like the game owes them something.

Kerry Wood is only 36 years-old. His rookie season — “when I came up” — was the year of the Sosa-McGwire home run race, for which Wood had a front row seat in the Cubs dugout. It was a time when PEDs were plentiful and their use went unpunished. He is younger than Alex Rodriguez and, were he still in the game, would have less service time than A-Rod does for crying out loud.

I fully appreciate and credit Wood for respecting the game, but man, this is not a generational thing the way he couches it. The kids coming up today are far less accepting of PEDs in the game than Wood and his teammates were. If anything, an argument can be made that the attitude of today’s players with respect to this topic is leaps and bounds better than the attitude of Wood’s generation.

But it has always been thus in baseball: old timers — even relative ones like Wood — recalling a better day that never was and lamenting a present day that is actually much better.

  1. El Bravo - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Correction: Wood was “fantastic” from 1998-2003.

  2. ndnut - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Back in my day we didn’t have no sun. We had a bunch a hillbillies stand in one spot with flashlights. When the batteries ran out, we called it nighttime.

  3. cohnjusack - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    That quote is beyond ridiculous for so many reasons
    –Steroids were obvious much more prevalent back when Wood came up.
    –Wood’s first season was A-Rod’s 5th season in the bigs
    –Some great moments of Wood respecting the game are:
    1). After a tough outing, throwing his glove and hat into the stands, then cursed at a reporter and walked away from the post-game interview when asked about it (http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/7909991/chicago-cubs-dale-sveum-condone-kerry-wood-tantrum)
    2. Earning a reputation as one of the games worst headhunters.
    3. Having to go to court and pay a $90 fine for urinating in public
    4. Going all David Ortiz in the dugout in 2005. To quote the Chicago Tribune: “Wood went on a bat-swinging rampage in a corner of the Cubs’ dugout, taking out his frustration on some inanimate objects shortly after being removed from the game after six innings. ”

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually give a shit about any of those things, but maybe step off your cross there for a moment Mr. Wood.

  4. baseballer28 - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Bryce Harper is one of those little bitches that doesn’t respect the game…or other players.

    • mckludge - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      Bryce Harper is 20 years old. He has yet to learn what respect really means.

    • bigmeechy74 - Aug 9, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      you seem pretty cool…. not

  5. largebill - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    No one younger than myself should pull the “back in my day” card.

    • paperlions - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      Well, it depends. If Woods wants to talk about “back in my day” within the context of how elementary schools have changed, that is fine (e.g. back in my day every 10 yr old didn’t have a cell phone)….but “back in my daying” about people that are older than you (or about the same age) while also clearly being wrong (steroid use was at least as common in his day and obviously more accepted by players/fans/media).

  6. jaysfan64 - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    “We walked 30 miles to school…each way…uphill….in 3 feet of snow…barefoot…”
    Thanks, Craig. You’ve made me feel officially old.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      I once asked my father for $0.50 to go see a movie. He told me a story of how he once killed a grizzly bear with his loose leaf notebook.
      -Bill Cosby

      • capsboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:05 PM

        “…and that’s how I met your mother.”

  7. rbj1 - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Back in my day we didn’t cotton to no sissy-boy glove wearin’. You caught the ball with your bare hands. And the horse-hide was still attached to a livin’, breathin’ horse.

    /Grumpy old geezer.

    • penale52 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      Old Hoss, is that you?

  8. El Bravo - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Back in the day when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore, but sometimes I sit and wish I was a kid again….

  9. Arods Other Doctor - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    I really hope that Trout or Harper start using the phrase “back in my day” next year.

    • km9000 - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Harper does seem like the type who would call someone a year younger than he is “kid.”

  10. tfbuckfutter - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    First, yeah it’s a good thing entitled assholes didn’t exist before Kerry Wood’s day. Guys like Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco. Respectful to a fault.

    Second….I blame it on backwards baseball caps and to a lesser extent saggy britches.

  11. beefytrout - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Sorry guys, but 15 years ago is a damn lifetime.

    No Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, iPhones (or even iPods), etc.

    20 year olds in 2013 may not act that different than the ones in 1998, but now they have the ability to put that behavior out there for the world to see. With that comes a sense of entitlement that they all seem to have. Add in the element of playing professional sports, and yeah… Wood is exactly right.

    • tfbuckfutter - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      I will counter that by pointing out that Paris Hilton is 32 years old, and was starting to get national attention around the year 2000.

      Age groups are the same as they have always been. It’s not even more exposed. You just notice it more because you’re getting older.

      You can look at Justin Bieber’s fans and say “What a bunch of jackasses”….but you can look at, and say the exact same thing about the Backstreet Boys and NKOTB in the previous two generations.

      People aren’t done being idiots until the age of around 25 when their brains finish developing (and many stay stupid long after).

      • beefytrout - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        First of all, you seem to have missed the part where I said kids in 1998 act pretty much like kids of 2013. But I do appreciate you mentioning over and over that exact same point.

        Secondly, I have no idea what your point is about Paris Hilton.

        And finally, if you don’t think that posting texts, pictures, and videos of all the dumb shit you do because you’re in that jackass age group makes it more exposed, well… that might explain the first two parts of my response here.

      • tfbuckfutter - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM

        You said “may not”.

        My point was that not only “may they not” but they DO not….and you only notice it more, not because it’s easier to broadcast but because you’re a fuddy duddy.

        My point about Paris Hilton was about both exposure, jackass behavior, and entitlement since she came to “prominence” in the same era as Kerry Woods.

        And the exposure is not making kids, for the most part, more entitled or anything else. It’s not affecting their behavior (for the most part), it is just getting some of them recognition FOR that behavior (and I will concede that does lead to the a minor change in the TYPE of jackassery, but not in the frequency of instances of jackassery).

        20 year olds act like 20 year olds, the same as the generation of 20 year olds before them because 20 year olds are, by and large, entitled self-centered dumbasses. And those younger are worse.

    • jwbiii - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      It’s just about time for Grinnell College’s list of things to make old to come out. Things that the incoming freshmen don’t or don’t remember being without.

      • tfbuckfutter - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:08 PM

        We hang out with a recently married couple who are 23 and 24….and we were sharing some stories about our early days of marriage (we’ve been married for 12 years this October) and after sharing one story the girl of the couple said “What’d he do? Text you a picture to make you mad?” and I said “Umm….phones didn’t have cameras then. In fact, our phones didn’t even text.”

  12. millmannj - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    Just finished reading the book, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” written by Jimmy Breslin in 1963 about the inaugural season of the New York Mets. There are several passages in the book in which he laments about the circa early-60’s player, how they only care about the money and fame, not like the old timers who played for the love of the game.

  13. lazlosother - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Back in my day we didn’t play the “Back in my day’ card.

  14. 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Back in my day, we didn’t have these fancy sporting events. We had to make up our own games, like ‘eat the bark off a tree.’ And we liked it. We LOVED it.

  15. StottsEra - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    i think he’s talking about guys tino martinez coaches

  16. tjg25 - Aug 9, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    Saw Kerry Wood in a commercial recently. He looked like a patient at a cancer treatment center. Seems to have lost a lot of muscle. Why I wonder if he was clean…

  17. danaking - Aug 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    “But it has always been thus in baseball: old timers — even relative ones like Wood — recalling a better day that never was and lamenting a present day that is actually much better.”

    That’s true of most people. Why should ballplayers be any different?

    You should have been here before. The Atlantic Ocean was really something then.

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