Paul Sullivan recently wrote a good column about the five loudest Chicago’s sports moments he’s experienced in person. He and I have two in common: Miguel Montero’s grand slam in Game 1 of the 2016 NLCS against the Dodgers and Kerry Wood’s home run in the ill-fated Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins.
I’d round out my personal top five with any time I saw Michael Jordan introduced in Chicago, Paul Konerko’s grand slam in the World Series and Patrick Kane putting a backhander past Roberto Luongo in that first playoff series against the Canucks in 2009. (Watch this before you get at me about that last one.)
Back to that Wood homerun, though: It got me thinking about the great Chicago sports moments that were ultimately deflated because they happened during a loss.
Wrigley exploded when Wood hit that homer. The Cubs had tied the game at three.and it seemed as if we’d just seen history.
But by midnight it meant nothing.
Here are a few other moments that could have been Chicago classics but faded by game’s end:
Toews forces OT in Vancouver
Game 7 — 2011 Western Conference quarterfinals
Do you remember this effort? Go ahead and watch if you don’t. With the shorthanded Hawks down a goal with less than a minute to play, The Captain somehow fought through two Vancouver defenders. Toews got a pass to Marian Hossa, then cleaned up Hossa’s rebound from his knees to silence the crowd of Canucks fans.
It was a perfect microcosm for that series, which the Hawks trailed 3-0 only to fight back at the last possible second to force a Game 7. Sadly, Alex Burrows’ goal ultimately made us remember Chris Campoli’s circus shift more than Toews’ heroism.
(Truth be told, this goal was probably always destined to be relegated to the back of our memory. If Patrick Sharp lifts that puck against Luongo in OT, we’re talking about that goal and not Toews’ until the end of time. Still can’t believe he missed this.)
Sammy Sosa ties game in ninth
Game 1 — 2003 NLCS
How different is the Sammy Sosa in Chicago timeline if the Cubs win this series? Does the implosion at the end of 2004 still happen? Does his current Exile from Wrigleyville ever begin? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.
Only the boombox can say for certain.
Still, it’s hard to deny just how exciting it was to see Sosa hit a two-run homer with two outs off Ugueth Urbina to tie the series opener. Were it not for Mike Lowell’s 11th inning home run off Mark Guthrie, the Cubs might’ve swept the series, leaving Steve Bartman with a great seat for a game that never happened.
Kerry Wood’s home run
Game 7 — 2003 NLCS
As someone who was there for Montero’s grand slam, Kyle Schwarber’s bomb against the Cardinals and this home run, I can attest the crowd reaction to this one might have been greater than the other two put together. Wrigley Field had been an anxious mess since the eighth inning the night before and Wood giving up a three-run home run to Miguel Cabrera in the top of the first didn’t help matters any.
You feel all of the park’s stress instantly depart as Wood clobbered a Mark Redman pitch into the left field bleachers in the bottom of the second to tie the game. A two-run homer by Moises Alou an inning later gave the Cubs a 5-3 lead.
Wood, though, wilted in the fifth, allowing the Marlins to tie the game. The bullpen couldn’t pick up the slack for one of the horses that had dragged the team that far. Unfairly or not, a crying Wood took the blame for the loss at his locker afterward.
Devin Hester’s Super Bowl touchdown
First quarter — Super Bowl XLI
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say this would be considered the greatest play in Chicago sports history if the Bears win that Super Bowl.
As it is, I think it still might be the greatest play in Bears history. After an entire week of saying he wouldn’t kick to Hester, Colts coach Tony Dungy lost his mind and kicked it straight down the middle to No. 23.
Hester immediately made him regret it by becoming the first man to start the Super Bowl with a kickoff return for a touchdown, a distinction he still holds by himself.
But here’s how much losing to the Colts hurt the play’s legacy: When the NFL released its top 100 plays last year, there were six Bears plays represented.
Hester’s return wasn’t among them.
I don’t think it’s fair to keep the return off this list because the Bears lost … but it certainly makes it hard to win an argument for its inclusion.
What other great Chicago moments faded because the team lost? Let me know on Twitter or click on the button below to comment!