Jerry Reinsdorf went on record early and often about how he would trade all six of the Chicago Bulls’ NBA championships for one White Sox World Series championship. Well, now he doesn’t have to. The White Sox win 10 out of 11 playoff games and sweep the listless Astros to win their first World Series since 1917. Unbelievable.
Any columnist, especially the ones in Chicago, will tell you that the Sox didn’t stand a chance in hell in going the distance. They needed another bat, maybe two, that was the conventional wisdom across the board. And yet, like they always say about playoff baseball, good pitching always beats good hitting. In this case, though, it was more a matter of good pitching beating aggressively mediocre hitting. I mean, what on earth happened to Morgan Ensberg? Dude hit 75 home runs during the season.
Some other observations:
A Low Down Dirty Shame: Jeff Bagwell doesn’t bat in Game 4. They’re an out away from being eliminated. How on earth does Phil Garner not give Bags a chance to save the day? There’s a runner on second, for crying out loud. They don’t need his cybershoulder to rip a dinger, they just need a single. It must have killed Bags to sit there and watch his team lose the last game of the Series, and not be able to do a damn thing about it.
The Other Low Down Dirty Shame: Frank Thomas doesn’t play in the payoffs. Sure, he’s not the most well liked player in the Sox clubhouse. But the guy has HOF numbers across the board, and he’s about to receive a ring that he did not earn. Some will tell you that the ring is reward alone, no matter your part in the grand scheme of things. But you know that Thomas would have sold Reinsdorf’s six NBA titles for just one at bat in any of these games.
What Have I, What Have I, What Have I Done To Deserve This: Brad Lidge. The guy was the #1 closer in my fantasy league, with 103 K’s, an ERA under 2.30, and 42 saves. The guy gives up a run here, a run there, and that was all the Sox needed, and Lidge instantly becomes a bum. He’s taking the fall for the fact that the Astros couldn’t hit, something that Roger Clemens would have told you about this team back in May.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother: The defense of both teams. You will be hard pressed to see two teams flash so much dandy glove work in four games in a row like the Sox and ‘Stros did. The highlight of the Series, fittingly enough, took place in the bottom of the 9th in Game 4, when Juan Uribe pulled a Derek Jeter and dove into the seats between third and left to snag a ball a good two or three rows into the seats. (The fans in Chicago would never have allowed that to happen, I can tell you that.) But there were about a dozen other spectacular plays as well, including the double play that the White Sox turned on a ground ball during a hit and run. Amazing.
It’s Oh So Quiet: The Juice Box. When Willie Harris scored in the top of the 8th, you would have thought that the Astros were down by ten runs, not one. Joe Buck made frequent mention of it throughout the broadcast, and I can’t say I blame him. The fans acted like they knew it was over before it had even begun, and whether they want to believe it or not, the players do feed on that.
Who Stole the Soul?: Jermaine Dye. The Series MVP, for my money, belongs to Joe Crede. He played ridiculous defense, and came up with a litany of clutch hits in nearly every game. Good for Dye for stepping up in Game 4 when no one else could put a bat on Brandon Backe, but as far as I’m concerned, Crede was their rock, day in and day out.
Congratulations to the 2005 Chicago White Sox. Chicago Cubs, you’re now on the clock. Anything less than a World Series next year will feel like a disappointment.