About 20 minutes before game time, my wish was granted. Chelsea Dagger was cued and Chicago's world championship hockey team began entering right field, hoisting the Stanley Cup for all to see as they made their way through the outfield. The crowd cheered and cameras were flashing all over the place.
Who says Wrigley Field has never celebrated a world championship?
Both the Cubs and Sox were also out on the field warming up, so there were many opportunities for them to mingle with the Hawks. When I saw Ozzie Guillen hoist the Cup above his head with a big smile on his face, I joined in with 20,000 other boo birds. Nothing against Ozzie personally, but I just didn't like seeing the Sox manager hoisting the Cup at Wrigley. However, after Ryan Dempster caught the opening pitch from Joel Quenneville, Demp got to hoist the Cup and I was able to cheer for that.
Even though the Cubs and Sox are hated crosstown rivals, there was a sense of unity in the ballpark. At least for a moment. In the Blackhawks, there was team greatness in our presence. And whether you're a fan of the Cubs or Sox, you want your team to be more like these Blackhawks.
Group hug: The Cubs and Sox gather with the Blackhawks for a photo before the game. It was a proud Chicago moment. (Wait, what I meant to say was that tempers flared between the Cubs and Sox; then the Blackhawks came in and kicked everyone's butt.)
And perhaps the most amusing moment of the night was seeing the Stanley Cup on home plate during the national anthem:
The Stanley Cup has crossed home plate more times this season than Aramis Ramirez.
Oh, there was a baseball game, too. And much to my surprise, it turned into a pitcher's duel between Gavin Floyd and Ted Lilly. In fact, this was the first MLB game since 1980 where both pitchers had no-hitters through 6 1/2 innings. Floyd's no-no was broken up in the 7th. But before the 9th inning started, Lilly still had his going and a guy in front of me urged everyone in our section to stand up, "Come on, we have a chance for a no-hitter here!"
So we all stood, and I sneaked a peek in my wallet to make sure that I still had the game ticket. (Gonna hold on to this one, I thought.) And so, in the rain, Lilly took the mound in the 9th with a chance at the first no-hitter at Wrigley Field since 1972. The crowd had been electric all night, but especially now.
And just like that, it was over. Juan Pierre, pinch-hitting for Andruw Jones, led off the 9th with a single up the middle. The air basically went out of the ballpark, except for the Sox fans on hand. But that deflated feeling didn't last long. Pierre's leadoff hit actually set up an exciting finish that saw the Cubs lucky to hold on for a 1-0 win.
This was one night at the ballpark that I hope to remember for a long time.
Photos credit: D. Irwin