Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko, Ryan Dempster reflect on Blackhawks, Stanley Cup coming to Wrigley

Paul Konerko, Ryan Dempster reflect on Blackhawks, Stanley Cup coming to Wrigley

When the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks brought the beloved trophy to Wrigley Field for a Crosstown Classic game between the Cubs and White Sox, parading it up to the pitcher's mound for the game's first pitch and an iconic photo with both rival squads, they helped make Chicago's rich sports history even wealthier.

After a memorable celebration with the Hawks before the game on June 13, 2010, a cut-throat pitcher's duel ensued. Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth before Juan Pierre led off to pinch hit a single.

South Side pitcher Gavin Floyd had a no-hitter of his own going before Alfonso Soriano doubled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Chad Tracy followed it up with a single, yielding the game's only run.

The Cubs held on to beat the Sox 1-0. 

The experience with the Blackhawks left a lasting impression on former White Sox first baseman and six-time MLB all-star Paul Konerko.

"That was probably one of the coolest nights of all my White Sox games. It was a great night, beautiful night, beautiful weather," Konerko, the 2005 ALCS MVP told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. "When it comes to the Blackhawks and the Bears, obviously the Bears haven't won one in a while, the city of Chicago is a great sports town, maybe the best, but you have this thing with baseball where there is a division [with] how many are on each side, it's not everybody for one team, there's a split there.

"But when it comes to hockey and football, they're all those fans. There's nobody that's going to be disappointed if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup or the Bears win the Super Bowl. That feeling of it's like everybody, the whole Chicagoland area is happy. Whereas, the Cubs win the World Series, our fans probably aren't very happy and if we win the World Series Cubs fans probably don't even care."

Related: Why '05 White Sox were similar to 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks

When it comes to sports, hockey was Konerko's first love. He saw time at center and right wing as a kid before he took up baseball.

"To see the trophy, I'm not sure how many guys knew about the history of the Cup and kind of how big of a deal that is, but it was great," Konerko said. "I don't have the picture, but I know the picture with everybody there, like everybody around it, that was pretty cool."

For former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, a native of Sechelt — a village in British Columbia, Canada — the pregame event was incredibly meaningful.

"They brought the Cup out to Wrigley Field and brought it around and the Cup threw out the first pitch. I have a picture that's in my office of all the Blackhawks, the Cubs and the White Sox, all together on Wrigley for a Sunday night baseball game. It was amazing. I'll never forget these moments," Dempster told NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan on the podcast.

"And I remember Jonathan Toews having the Cup and passing it to me and I know the rules, you don't put the Cup over your head unless you've won. I go, 'What do you want me to do with this?' He says, 'Put it over your head.' I said, 'I can't do that.' He goes, 'If you don't do that 40,000 people are going to boo you right now.' I said, 'Alright, well if the captain's giving me permission...' I got this great picture of me holding the Cup up.

"You want to talk about a really heavy piece of hardware that felt weightless at the time, it was just such a special honor. I still pinch myself and can't believe that that happened."

Dempster had received word the Cup would be in attendance for the game in advance.

"Oh yeah, I was ready," he said. "I couldn't wait and I knew it was coming and I was there early. We've had a lot of really awesome moments at Wrigley Field, ones I've been a part of as a player and away. But as a player in uniform, outside of the playoff games in 07-08, that was as energetic as I've felt the stands.

"The energy in that place, as those guys came in the right field corner and went around the warning track and made their way through, it was magical and then to have both pitchers for the White Sox, I think they took a no-hitter into the 7th and Ted (Lilly) took one into the 9th inning until Juan Pierre led off with a base hit in the 9th inning, I think it was Juan Pierre.

"It was an incredible, incredible moment to be a part of something so special. Here we are trying to do that very same thing and bring a championship and they were able to do that in 2010 and share that with everybody in Wrigleyville, I get goosebumps and the hair standing up on my arms just thinking about that."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Paul Konerko, Ryan Dempster talk Blackhawks dynasty

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Paul Konerko, Ryan Dempster talk Blackhawks dynasty

It's a cross-sport edition of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast as a pair of former Chicago baseball All-Stars join to talk about their love of hockey and their perspective of the Blackhawks dynasty during their time playing in Chicago. 

First, Ryan Dempster shares stories of his wild night partying with the Stanley Cup in 2010 and his incredible feat on the diamond the next day. Then, Konerko discusses a pair of drought-ending championships in Chicago, comparing his 2005 White Sox title to the 2010 Blackhawks. 

(1:42) - Dempster's stories of hanging out with the Stanley Cup

(9:05) - Dempster's love for the game of hockey and the Blackhawks

(17:31) - Konerko's upbringing playing hockey as a kid

(19:57) - Konerko's memories of the Blackhawks renaissance

(26:25) - The time the Stanley Cup came to Crosstown at Wrigley

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Paul Konerko says White Sox are well equipped for short season: Is he right?

Paul Konerko says White Sox are well equipped for short season: Is he right?

No matter whether it’s 82 games, 76 games, 50 games, 48 games or some other number, the White Sox aren’t going to play 162 games this season.

Despite both Major League Baseball and the players’ union being appalled every time one side sends the other a proposal for how to get a 2020 campaign off the ground, there’s reportedly still great confidence that the season will happen. Even if the two sides can’t figure out a deal, the league has the ability to sidestep further negotiations and mandate a season the length of its choosing, which sounds likely to be somewhere in the 50-game range and could be as little as 48 games.

And there will be a postseason, too, meaning there will still be something to win. Whether you want to think of a championship won during such a short campaign as legitimate or not, there’s going to be a trophy. These aren’t exhibition games they’re fighting about here.

So with such a dramatic change to the structure of the season due, now only in part, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what does a shortened season mean for the White Sox championship hopes?

Remember, back when the baseball world was readying for its typical months-long marathon, the White Sox were talking playoffs constantly. Some were talking more than that.

“If I said we weren’t trying to win a World Series, then I’d be lying,” catcher James McCann said back in February. “You go into every season with an expectation to win. This season is obviously no different, but there is a little more in regards to the moves that were made in the offseason.

“It’s win now, and it’s not just get to the playoffs, it’s win a World Series.”

Now that the requirements to do so no longer include surviving the typical rigors of a full season, are the White Sox better positioned to do just that?

“A team like the White Sox, I don’t care what they come up with, they were in a good position to have a pretty good year anyway. I think it’s only a help to them because a shorter season, they should be able to run with a younger team and a lot of talent,” former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko told Our Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “If they can get off early and run the table, they could play the whole season without a slump.”

Konerko’s confidence might be stemming from the moves Rick Hahn’s front office made in the offseason and the way the team’s young core broke out during the 2019 campaign. Of course, that well earned confidence has little to do with a suddenly revamped schedule, and in that department he was short on specifics. Yes, the White Sox are young. Yes, the White Sox are talented. But so are a lot of other teams.

RELATED: Paul Konerko fears 2020 World Series champs will get 'a bunch of crap'

The White Sox could be better off in certain areas than they were had the season gone off without a pandemic-induced hitch. Their starting-pitching depth figures to be much stronger with pitchers returning from injury like Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning perhaps factoring into the mix in much bigger ways than they would have when the season began. And that depth could prove extraordinarily valuable if starting pitchers in general aren’t able to shoulder their usual workloads after such a long layoff.

Hahn’s front office has an interesting decision to make on Nick Madrigal, who has yet to play a game at the big league level and therefore hasn’t started racking up major league service time. Is he worth more as the everyday second baseman in an odd season the White Sox could win in, or is he worth more as the everyday second baseman once the sport, hopefully, returns to normalcy and the White Sox are better suited to compete for championships on an annual basis?

More uncertainty surrounds Luis Robert. His big-money contract during the offseason means he’ll without a doubt be on the roster. But will he go through the same growing pains as Eloy Jimenez did at the beginning of his rookie season last year? Jimenez had woeful numbers in April and May (he missed a sizable chunk of May with a high ankle sprain), admittedly a result of him trying to do too much seeing big league pitching for the first time. If Robert’s results are similar, that’s the whole season, not just the opening trimester.

And here's a question: What about a young team needing to learn how to win? While the White Sox certainly look primed to leap into contention mode, their most recent campaign ended with 89 losses. They did a good job importing talent with winning experience — guys like Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion, who have been playoff mainstays over the last half decade — but their young core hasn't had that same experience. With such a short runway to the postseason in 2020, could they figure things out quickly enough to reach October?

An easier, though perhaps unexciting, conclusion to draw is that it’s unknown how any team will be suited to handle a mere 48 regular-season games. Teams can often prove themselves over the course of a full season. Without that luxury, we’ll get a two-month snapshot serving as the entire picture.

For the White Sox, the good news is the many unknowns they were dealing with coming into the regularly scheduled 2020 campaign will now be shared league-wide. And so, yeah, they have as good a chance as anyone to succeed in an environment that could be considered completely foreign. Not one front office constructed a team for two to three months of competition. They’ve all been built for six to seven months of competition.

Through 48 games last season, the White Sox were 22-26. The Nationals were 19-29. One of those teams ended the season as world champions, and the other missed the playoffs and finished 28.5 games out of first place.

In a season only 48 games long, anything can happen.

“I would not doubt it if the winner of whatever they call it, if they call it the World Series or whatever, being kind of a dark horse team that might not have been there in a full season because of the ebb and flow of that,” Konerko said. “But if you talk about a 50-game schedule, anybody could go out there and roll out like a 36-14 (record) and then run the playoffs.”

Listen to more of Our Chuck Garfien's conversation with Paul Konerko on the latest White Sox Talk Podcast.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.