By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

CHICAGO -- They rolled through the 'Hood like their names were all Robin.

Ventura, to be exact.

Through Bridgeport, Pilsen and Bronzville, they rolled. Caravan like the cousins of Isley. Singing "Sweep Home Chicago" and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," screaming Ozzie's name, giving love to the poor, ignoring the rich.

They rolled through an estimated million, seven-to-20 deep in some parts. All sides South.

They rolled to the Mayor's house, not the one he shares with his wife, the one he shares with the city. They shook confetti off of them, they peeled pride off their sleeves. They looked out into the faces and had no idea it was going to be like this even though they got a hint when the ramp workers at the airport doused their plane down with water acting as if the hoses were bottles of champagne.

As they took the stand, one by one, they all had something to say but were speechless. The man who hurt the most had a smile on his face the city hasn't seen in his 15 years as the face of the organization. So when 26th-man Frank Thomas yelled into the two boom mics that would play Shure to this day's We Are The World: "God Bless this team, God bless Chicago," everyone from Kenny's Ribs to Kinney's Shoes felt what he was trying to express.

Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle, Ozzie Gullien all sang their verses. Blessing the mic with a sound unheard in this city.

But when as-of-yesterday free agent Paul Konerko, black trench coat down, unscripted and unexpectedly reached into his pocket and handed over the last-out ball to owner Jerry Reinsdorf and he began to cry, you knew it was either the most brilliant and timely negotiation move in the history of sports, or there's a sincerity inside this organization that will not allow them to let players leave the way the Red Sox did after ending their own 86-year drought last Oct. 28.

Will they make the cover of Time? No. Will the world stop to do books, movies and dedicate days on ESPN Classic to them? No. Will the nation fall in love? Never.

But that's your fault, not theirs.

And to this team, it's never been about that and never will be. As long as they got to see what they saw today: Got the see the 'Hood and how much deeper that love is than having a nation ride your jock.

With this experience in their hearts, the 2005 Champs of The World can go home. When they got there, they all got a chance to look outside Gate 6 on the side of U.S. Cellular Field, and for the last time this season see the sign that hangs like a badge of honor.

The image is of them piling on each other. Of how their future would be.

It's been there since the playoffs began.

The words above their image reads: Grind Rule #62. There is no crying in baseball ... Unless there is champagne burning in your eyes.

Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines and the author of "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here.


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