If you wondered whether the Cubs and White Sox still had any juice left, it didnt take long to get the answer.
There couldnt have been many bigger headlines than the new Mr. Cub walking away. The fans chanted Pauley, Pauley. There was a purpose pitch in retaliation and a manager unhinged.
Friday began with word spreading about Kerry Woods retirement, and ended with another farewell news conference in the Wrigley Field dungeoninterview room. In between, the White Sox won a wild game 3-2 in front of 34,937 fans that couldnt have left disappointed.
Paul Konerko staggered to his feet, but didnt want any help walking back to the dugout, a towel pressed against his face. This wasnt the time or the place to show weakness.
No one can question Konerkos toughness. The White Sox captain got up after Jeff Samardzijas 85 mph splitter smashed into his face, leaving a small laceration and swelling above his left eye.
It was a scary scene in the third inning. Konerko had opened the game with a two-run shot, the 404th home run of his career. Samardzija said there was no malicious intent.
There are lot of superstars in the league that put up big numbers, get paid a lot of money, Samardzija said. Pauleys one of those guys that does (it) the right way. Theres not too many of (them) out there. Hes not about show. Hes not about himself. Pauleys a great guy.
That ball got away. Unfortunately, it hit him up high. If I could take it back, I would.
Philip Humber responded by throwing a ball behind Bryan LaHairs back, and this was a game played with a real hard edge.
When David DeJesus tried to stretch a single into a double in the fifth inning, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham took the throw and barreled over him.
Beckham, an All-State free safety and quarterback in high school back in Georgia, knocked DeJesus off the bag. The out call set off Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who seems to greet everything else by shrugging his shoulders or rolling his eyes.
As far as I know, you cant shove people off the base, Sveum said. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it all the time.
The fuse was lit and Sveum rushed out to argue and got ejected. In the run-up to Cubs-Sox, everyone wondered if it would be boring without Ozzie Guillen or Lou Piniella or Carlos Zambrano playing the instigator. Not so much.
There was Wood striking out Dayan Viciedo, the only batter he faced in the eighth inning, and leaving to a loud ovation.
It was a very special moment, Sveum said. I wish I could have been out there to be the one that took him out of the game and made that decision. I wish I would have thought about that before I got carried away.
Even Samardzija who says things like whatever, dude became a little emotional.
Samardzija gave up the go-ahead home run to Beckham in the eighth, but submitted another strong performance, giving up three runs in 7.1 innings and notching eight strikeouts, again showing he can be a frontline guy.
Samardzija watched both these teams while growing up in Indiana and wanted the spotlight. He has vivid memories of how dominating Wood could be.
I remember being a kid and my dad reading an article or something about Kerry Wood working out in the pool, Samardzija said. Thats why he threw 98 mph. And so my dad has me in the pool the next day kicking floaties around and stuff.
That was the dude you wanted to be. Thats how you wanted to throw. You wanted to throw hard. You wanted to throw a big curveball.
No, it wasnt a sellout. But, yes, the drama was definitely back in this crosstown rivalry. Even one of its villains had to give props to the modern-day Mr. Cub.
I love Kerry Wood, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He had a tremendous career. I wish he wouldnt have had the injuries he had, because he would have been one of the best ever. Classy guy (who) was good for the game.
He worked his tail off every day and wanted the ball in big situations. He had a great run and its sad to see the way it ended.
Its kind of poetic justice that he struck out the last guy he faces.