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Chicago White Sox

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All for One
Chicago White Sox
World Series Champs

“Once you get one, you just want another one.”
–Jerry Reinsdorf

 

Every April, my father and I have the Baseball Talk, a miserable conversation in which we moan about the White Sox’ chances for the upcoming season. “We’ve got no hitting,” he grumbled last April. “Our starting rotation is a mess,” I countered. “Pierzynski, Podsednik, Iguchi, and Dye?” he asked. “It sounds like the name of a bad law firm.” We agreed: second place at best.

As a city, our baseball identity is built on heartbreak, which means that the Sox’ miraculous 2005 season was no pleasure cruise. It was a brutal seven months—and the fact that the Sox were in first place only made it worse. If the season didn’t end with its usual whimper, it surely would end in disaster. The question was: how would our hearts be broken this time?

For the first time since 1917—when the Sox became the last Chicago team to win a World Series—our hearts would not be broken. Instead, they would pound a thousand beats per minute while Orlando Hernandez pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam during the playoffs in Boston. They would stop completely as A. J. Pierzynski “stole” first on a disputed dropped third strike against the Angels. They would swell with pride when Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Freddy García, and Jon Garland all pitched complete games in the American League championship. Finally, our hearts exploded, first when Paul Konerko hit a grand slam in game two of the World Series—and then again an hour later, when Scott Podsednik hit the biggest, unlikeliest home run in Sox history. By the time Bobby Jenks got the final out in Houston, we were so shell-shocked, it was impossible to celebrate.

It wasn’t until October 28th, when Wacker Drive turned into the biggest cocktail party the city had seen in years, that it hit Chicagoans: we’ve got a World Series champion—a ragtag bunch of underdogs without a genuine superstar among them. In truth, the Sox were the only ones who foresaw this outcome. From opening day, when Buehrle pitched masterfully and Aaron Rowand’s scrappy single scored Konerko for the game’s only run, they had the unmistakable look of a winner. But right up to the end, even the staunchest of fans—blinded by 88 years of misery—were too jaded to see it.

We, and the rest of the doubters, owe the Chicago White Sox an apology. We’re sorry, Jerry Reinsdorf; we’re sorry, Ozzie Guillen. We’re sorry, Kenny Williams and Frank Thomas. Even Carl Everett and Geoff Blum. All of you proved us wrong.

So what does their World Series championship mean to this city? It didn’t cure a disease. It didn’t stem the crime rate or fix the crumbling public school system. It may not even satisfy some of you (“Once you get one, you just want another one,” Reinsdorf has said). But what it did was something else completely: it gave us an indelible moment of pride—and it showed Chicago, the nation, and the world the meaning of the word “team.”
–Jeff Ruby

 

 

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