When Kerry Wood agreed to a new deal with the Chicago Cubs last Friday that was announced during the annual Cubs Convention, fans had no idea as they were cheering the announcement of his signing that he nearly left his long-time team to play somewhere else.
While published reports indicated that the teams that were after Wood included the Cincinnati Reds, the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers, multiple sources have confirmed to me tonight that had Wood not re-signed with the Cubs he would most likely have agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox.
The Sox and Wood had multiple conversations during this years free agent process and unlike last offseason when he clearly chose the Cubs' 1.5 million over the White Sox' 2-year10 million deal, this winter, Wood seriously considered the Sox and only re-upped with the Cubs after a conversation with Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein that resulted in the North Siders increasing their offer.
Wood had a solid 2011 season when he appeared in 55 games for the Cubs and while he lends tremendous experience to the back end of the bullpen, his leadership in the clubhouse was also a huge factor in the number of teams that were interested in his services.
The Sox have long respected Wood and were interested in having him as part of their revamped bullpen that has a major question mark that needs to be answered after the trade of closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Wood would have had a legitimate shot at closing for the White Sox but in the end, he chose to stay with the organization that was in his heart.
As one source told me, the Cubs were truly the only place that Woody wanted to pitch. However, if the Cubs had not increased their offer, he would have been willing to move.
In terms of overall satisfaction for a fanbase in total, it'd be hard for any team could beat the Cubs' faithful right now.
Ending a 108-year drought will make even the most pessimistic of fans ecstatic.
So it's no surprise Wrigley Field would be considered one of the happiest places on Earth.
To counteract "Blue Monday," CNN discussed 15 of the world's happiest places and Wrigley was included.
But the kicker is — CNN doesn't even mention the World Series championship.
Here's the rationale:
"Wrigley Field, on a warm summer night when the breeze off Lake Michigan makes the flags flutter and your cheeks flush with relief from the damp heat.
"No matter where you sit, you are close to the field, which makes you feel both the intimacy of the game and the immensity of it.
"The players, standing just feet away from you, feel like giants. And the vendors in the stands hawking hot dogs and beers and Italian ice really are a study in that particular species of Chicago native."
Don't know many people who would argue with that.
The only other American location on the list was Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Other worldwide locations include Bangkok, Japan, New Zealand and Copenhagen.
Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony.
President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.
Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.
"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together."
This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.
"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."