Blackhawks fever has gripped the city of Chicago, and the baseball team that calls the South Side home is certainly not immune.
Starting pitcher John Danks was one of the 22,000-plus fans jammed inside the United Center on Saturday night to watch the Hawks top the Kings in double overtime and punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I had a small group of buddies, and there was a few of us there,” Danks said. “It was a good time. It was a good game, man.
“We saw right up to the end. It was exciting. It was fun to be in that atmosphere and obviously to see the Hawks.”
Danks, who had pitched wonderfully in his start earlier in the day, completed a pretty epic Saturday with his attendance at Game 5. He said he arrived just in time for puck drop after the Sox topped the A’s, 4-1, at U.S. Cellular Field.
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The atmosphere Danks was referring to was something he knows would be replicated on the South Side if the Sox were to again achieve the level of success the Hawks are currently enjoying. It wasn’t too long ago that U.S. Cellular Field was just as crazy during the team’s 2005 playoff run, but that was two years before he arrived, making it something Danks is waiting to experience.
“It’s fun whenever you’re winning and playing in the playoffs for championships. The city loves it, and they back it 100 percent,” Danks said. “It’s fun to be around. I’m looking forward to the day we’re doing that over here.”
Manager Robin Ventura was similarly wrapped up in the madness created by the Hawks’ second trip to the Stanly Cup Final in the past four seasons. And, in classic managerial fashion, pointed out some lessons that can be learned from the Hawks’ success.
“I think it’s great. You’ve seen what happens when teams win around here,” Ventura said. “You just have a lot of respect for what they’ve done, having started out the season the way they did and then it doesn’t end quite as hot as it did in the beginning. You look at how you pick yourself up. Last night, they had the late goal. A lot of different things can happen at that point, but they stayed with it. I think Coach Q’s done a great job. I’m happy for him, knowing what you go through, and you just pull for him.”
For Danks, he hopes Game 5 isn’t the last Hawks game he attends this season.
“I haven’t looked at the schedule,” Danks said. “I don’t know what our schedule looks like, but I’d certainly like to. Hopefully it’ll work out.”