Former Cubs Soriano, Wood on hand for Game 6

Former Cubs Soriano, Wood on hand for Game 6

CHICAGO -- Seven-time All-Star Alfonso Soriano played in Chicago long enough during his 16-year Major League career to understand the anxiety -- "angst," as manager Joe Maddon described it -- Cubs fans were experiencing in the hours leading up to Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night.

"The city's waited for so long," Soriano said. "I hope they have the opportunity to celebrate tonight."

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Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 15 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 16 LAD 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 18 LAD 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 19 CHC 10, LAD 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 20 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 6 Oct. 22 CHC 5, LAD 0 video

They certainly did, as the Cubs topped the Dodgers, 5-0, to clinch a spot in the World Series against the Indians. The Cubs took the series, 4-2.

Soriano was with his family on the field during batting practice, a guest at Wrigley Field after first baseman Anthony Rizzo encouraged the former outfielder to come to the game. Soriano, who played in nine postseason series, including Division Series with the Cubs in 2007 and 2008, sounded like a typical Cubs fan when he expressed his excitement to be at Wrigley for this game and his hope to witness history with the Cubs' first NL pennant in 71 years.

"I wanted to be here," he said. "This is very exciting for the organization and the fans of Chicago. I hope they win tonight and the city can celebrate."

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While he understands the anxiousness of the fans, Soriano was certain that nervousness did not filter down to the Cubs' clubhouse. Leave the worrying up to the long-time Chicagoans who have experienced their share of euphoria and heartache. The players? They just go out and play.

"The fans are nervous," he said. "Not the players. Being a player, you just have to play baseball. Those guys inside, they have the same mentality. Just play the game. So far, they're doing good. They don't have to panic. They just play the game and they know how to play the game. I hope they can do it, and everybody can celebrate."

Soriano would know about postseason jitters, or lack thereof. He played in three American League DS, two AL Championship Series and two World Series with the Yankees, in addition to his two NLDS appearances with the Cubs. He retired after the 2014 season, following a two-year return stint with the Yankees after a 6 1/2-year run with the Cubs.

"It was an honor for me to play for the organization," Soriano said. "I'm happy to see them again."

Cubs history was again on display during the pregame ceremony, which featured former star pitcher Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, throwing out the first pitch.

Wood, the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner in 1998, pitched most of his career with the Cubs and was part of their postseasons in '98, '03, '07 and '08. He also was with the Yankees during their playoff run in '10.

Chicago native Jim Belushi, as well known for his Cubs fandom as he is for his acting, was the designated "Play Ball" announcer before first pitch. Former Chicago Bulls legend and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen was slated to lead the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.

The pregame ceremony began with the presentation of the colors by the 2nd Battalion 24th Marines. The national anthem was performed by Wrigley Field regular John Vincent.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.