Rainout fitting end to sad day
CHICAGO -- There was supposed to be a window. There was supposed to be a period between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Tuesday when the rain was supposed to stop, when the skies were supposed to clear and the Cubs and White Sox would take the field for the opening round of the 2009 Crosstown Classic.
But a funny thing happened on the North Side on Tuesday. The storm stalled. The light, persistent rain never quit. And baseball was never played.
In a way, it was fitting. The way it was supposed to be. For perhaps no single player has had a greater impact on the Cubs franchise than record-setting slugger Sammy Sosa. On Tuesday, Cubs fans found out once and for all that their hero of the late '90s was a fraud.
The news didn't come as a surprise. The suspicion had always been there -- whether it was from his explosion in power, his bulked-up frame or his getting caught with a corked bat. Most Cubs fans had written off Sosa when he left Wrigley Field before the conclusion of a late-season game in 2004.
But Tuesday's New York Times report that Sosa tested positive for steroids in 2003 confirmed all those suspicions, cementing this fact: All those leaps out of the batter's box, all those kisses to the fans, all those chest taps to the camera and all those home run balls fans fought over on Waveland? They were a fraud.
So of course there wasn't baseball in Chicago on Tuesday. Of course Mother Nature had to shed a night of tears before letting the Cubs and White Sox get the 2009 version of their rivalry under way. It's the way it had to be.
After all, it was the White Sox, of course, who traded Sosa to the Cubs. It was Sox fans who kicked themselves for the better part of a decade after shipping arguably the greatest player in Cubs history to their rivals for an aging George Bell. It was White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen who always loved Sosa and swore by the outfielder's talent at an early age. And it was Wrigley Field and the Cubs -- and all of baseball, for that matter -- that reaped the benefits of Sosa's chemically enhanced homer-hitting ways.
So of course the Cubs were supposed to play the White Sox on Tuesday. Of course every major columnist and sports personality in the city was packed into the Wrigley press box. And of course Mother Nature refused to cooperate.
Even Tuesday night's ending had a bitter twist of cruelty to it. About 7:15, the showers seemed to let up when Carlos Zambrano, Tuesday's starter, emerged from the Cubs dugout and began playing catch. The fans cheered, thinking the tarp was soon to come off and the game would soon begin. Zambrano was indeed preparing for his next start, but it would come on Thursday, not Tuesday night.
And a few minutes after Zambrano started throwing, the public address announcer had declared that the game had been postponed and the stadium lights had been switched off.
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@Espn3.com. Follow Wayne on Twitter @ESPNWayneDrehs.