When Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters as a rookie and went on to win the Rookie of the Year, the Cubs seemingly had found the ace that they had been lacking since Greg Maddux bolted in free agency back in 1993.
Even with the Tommy John Surgery he had in 1999, Wood was still a 24-year old flame thrower with worlds of potential when the Cubs took USC pitching prodigy Mark Prior with the second overall pick in the 2001 Draft.
After 2002 saw Prior make an impressive 19 start-audition and Wood prove his health by starting a career-high 33 games, 2003 would be the first of what Cubs fans hoped would be many seasons that the two spent together atop the rotation.
They didn't disappoint.
Prior, posted a line of 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 245 Ks as he finished third in Cy Young voting and ninth in MVP voting. Wood, not to be out done, went 14-11, with a 3.20 ERA, 266 Ks as he led the NL in strikeouts.
While the team was ousted from the playoffs in brutal fashion, hopes had never been higher on the North Side than they were entering the 2004 season.
However, injury struck and the pair combined for just 43 starts and a 14-13 record in 2004 and the Cubs missed the playoffs.
There would be many more injuries to come, as Wood was forced to the bullpen midway through the 2005 season and Prior would again miss starts due to injury, although he did manage an 11-7 record and a league leading 10.2 K/9.
The 2006 season would be the last straw, as the pair combined for just 13 starts and a miserable 2-8 record.
Clearly unable to rely on the health of their two "aces," the Cubs were forced to go a different direction for the 2007 season, signing starters Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly and moving closer Ryan Dempster back to the rotation.
Wood managed to comeback as a closer, making an All-Star team before leaving for Cleveland. Prior on the other hand has had countless surgeries and has not seen big league action since 2006.
Potential is a dangerous word in sports, and these two had all the potential in the world. They will go down as two of the biggest "what ifs" in baseball history.