Two days before Christmas in 2011, the Cubs made a huge trade that had many fans feeling like they had gotten a lump of coal.
What they ended up getting was an all-star.
Left-handed pitcher Travis Wood was named Saturday as the Cubs' lone representative to the Midsummer Classic, July 16 at New York's Citi Field. He was chosen by National League manager Bruce Bochy.
The 26-year-old Wood was the key man in a trade that sent highly popular and highly effective setup man Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds. Outfielder Dave Sappelt, recently recalled from the minor leagues, also came in that deal.
Many questioned the trade at the time, but there's no questioning Wood's all-star credentials. Given the nature of the trade, Saturday's news was all the more satisfying for Wood.
"It definitely feels good when you think about it like that, because they did give up a lot," Wood said. "Marshall's an outstanding pitcher, one of the best left-handed pitchers out of the bullpen in the game right now.
"For it to pay off like it has, hopefully it continues over the years to come."
Wood also is proof that you can throw pitchers' win-loss records out the window at times. He's 5-6, but he has a 2.69 ERA and a WHIP of 0.98.
Of 17 starts this season, 16 have been quality starts, including 9 in a row to start the season.
Wood's journey to becoming an all-star hasn't always been a smooth one. He was a second-round pick by the Reds in 2005. When he was traded to the Cubs, he was expected to jump right into the 2012 starting rotation.
Instead, Wood began last year at Class AAA Iowa, and he needed two call-ups before he stuck for good.
The all-star selection also was satisfying for Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio, who has worked tirelessly with Wood along with bullpen coach Lester Strode and staff assistant Mike Borzello.
"It makes us all feel good, because he's come so far," Bosio said. "The road that this guy has traveled, it's a tremendous story. It really is.
"It seemed like he kept on getting overlooked and overlooked and overlooked. Him and Sappelt were the 'other guys' in the Marshall trade, and that's not taking anything away from Marsh.
"I think this is more about Travis Wood today and how far he's come and how hard he's worked. This kid deserves this honor. The one thing I know about Travis and the rest of the team knows about him and the staff knows about him is he's not just going to sit on this.
"He's going to want to continue to get better. He wants to be up there with the Cliff Lees and the Clayton Kershaws."
Wood is the first Cubs pitcher to make the all-star team since Ted Lilly in 2009. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was the other possible candidate to make the team.
The All-Star Game had come up in conversations with Wood in the last couple of weeks, but now it's the real deal.
"I feel amazing," Wood said. "It's kind of a goal that you set as a player to try to play like an all-star and be an all-star. To be selected, it's outstanding."