OK. Two things you should know before you say, "HOW COULD YOU?!?"
1. I'm a diehard Cubs fan, and I was raised to believe that you can't be a Sox fan and a Cubs fan. As a result, I am always quite uncomfortable at U.S. Cellular Field. I feel like an impostor, a poseur, and that at any moment, someone will yell "J'accuse!" They'll cut my arm, see that I bleed Cubbie blue, and throw me out on my head.
2. Though I am a huge baseball fan, I did not go to the game to watch the White Sox take on the Rays. I went there with my seven-year-old nephew Payton to see the top mixed martial artist, Miguel Torres, throw out the first pitch. I had recently done an extensive interview with Torres, and I wanted pictures of him to go with the story.
Payton, on the other hand, had one priority for the day — to see the exploding scoreboard light up with fireworks. If just one member of the White Sox hit a home run, he would see that and could head home happy. He's already had more amazing Chicago sports experiences than most people will have in their lives. Payton has been to several Bulls, Blackhawks and Cubs games, received autographs from his favorite players, and even gave the Bulls' starters high-fives before a game. He was at the United Center for Johnny "Red" Kerr night, also attended by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and in Milwaukee for Carlos Zambrano's(notes) no-hitter.
Though he was impressed to be on the field for Torres' first pitch — I stood next to Ozzie Guillen during the national anthem — he grew restless waiting for me to finish my job. Payton was extremely well-behaved, but he just wanted to see that scoreboard light up. After the first-pitch hoopla and media afterwards, he and I headed to the bleachers and snuck into unoccupied seats. It was the second inning, the sun was shining, Payton was enjoying Dippin' Dots, but I couldn't focus on the game. I was sending emails and text messages, looking around at the crowd, taking pictures, doing anything but noticing that Buehrle's pitching was electric. Not long after we sat down, Josh Fields(notes) nailed a grand slam to the far left-field bleachers, and Payton got his wish. The scoreboard lit up, the fireworks went off, and my nephew was a happy camper.
We sat through a few more innings, still feeling strangely out-of-place. "Is it OK that we cheered for the Sox?" Payton asked. I answered him that we should cheer for good play. When Gabe Kapler(notes) made a diving catch, we cheered, because it was an excellent play.
But by the fourth inning, my mind started to wander to the traffic that was building on the Dan Ryan. I also noticed a chill in the air, and clouds gathering overhead. I couldn't help but think of the work I had to get done. Finally, when a drop of rain hit Payton in the head, I said, "Come on, buddy. Let's go." He and I had discussed that we would probably leave early, so he was OK with it. As we walked to my car, he said, "I had so much fun! Can we come back to another Sox game?" I promised him that we would on a day when we had more time.
As we drove home, I called my mother, Payton's grandmother, to brag about how well-behaved he was. He got on the phone with her and told her how we was on the field, how Torres had been so nice to him, and how he had overheard Ozzie Guillen use "a bad word." Payton was still glowing when I neared his house and my mother called back.
"Do you know what's going on?" she asked.
I was confused, and said no.
"Mark Buehrle is throwing a perfect game. The alert came up on the computer. It's in the eighth and it's still perfect."
Suddenly, guilt washed over me. Here I was, too busy to enjoy a baseball game and see what was going on before me. History was happening before my eyes and I was too blind to see it. Payton, an avid sports fan, would understand that I had just pulled him out of a stadium where a once-in-a-lifetime feat was in the making. What kind of an aunt was I?
Immediately, I apologized to him.
"That's OK, Maggie," he said. "I was there for Big Z's no-hitter, so it's no big deal to me."
Personally, I hate that I missed history. There isn't much chance that I will ever be in the stadium for a perfect game again. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet, but it will. I know I will kick myself in 10 years, when the next pitcher throws a perfect game, and I read that the last one was Buehrle's gem in 2009. My first instinct will be to brag that I was there, but then I'll remember that I watched Dewayne Wise's(notes) amazing catch and the post-game celebration on the news that night, not live and in person.
Check out more of Maggie Hendricks' writing at Cagewriter, Yahoo! Sports' MMA blog.