Saturday, October 29, 2005

Chicago White Sox 2005 Season – Final Thoughts

I promise, this will be my last 2005 White Sox posting. Of course, spring training is only a few months away…

No real theme here – just some random thoughts.

The Sox won their first game this year 1-0 and their last game this year 1-0. And, for good measure, they won the first game after the All Star break 1-0. Of the 12 post-season games they played, only 2 were decided by more than 3 runs. I don’t have the exact figures in front of me, but they led baseball this year in both 1 and 2 run games played and won. It’s a nail-biting way to do it, but we White Sox fans will take it any way we can get it.

The Sox pitching in the post-season was little short of phenomenal. In the 12 games they played, they only allowed their opponent 31 earned runs, 33 runs in all. That’s an ERA of well under 3.00. The highlight, of course, was the 4 consecutive complete game victories that Buerhle, Garland, Garcia and Contreras threw at the Angels.

The Sox had the best road record in baseball this year. They clinched their division on the road, they won the ALDS on the road, the won the ALCS on the road and they won the World Series on the road. In the post-season, they were a perfect 6-0 on the road (to go along with a pretty special 5-1 record at home, too). This team, truly, was a great road team.

Was there ever a classier move than what Paul Konerko did in game 4 of the World Series after the fans interfered with him when he tried to catch a foul pop-up? Rather than melting down like Moises Alou of the Cubs did in a similar situation, he retrieved the ball (which had dropped on the field), handed it to a child in the seats and went quietly back to his position. Talk about grace under pressure… I freely admit that had it been me being unable to make a crucial play because of fan interference, I would have resembled Alou much more than I would have resembled Konerko.

The White Sox have done a good job in locking up most of their players for next year. The only Free Agents or non-protected contracts they have among their “Starting 25” are Geoff Blum, Chris Widger, Carl Everett, Frank Thomas, Pablo Ozuna, Cliff Politte and, of course, Paul Konerko. Even if they lost ALL of these guys, they’d still be in pretty good shape next season as their pitching and defense would still be intact. If they can get a healthy Frank Thomas for the 2006 season, which I think they have an excellent chance of doing, then the potential loss of Paul Konerko would be mostly mitigated.

I know I have no chance for this to happen, but I’d really like to see post-season games broadcast by the local announcers as well as the National ones. Joe Buck was, at best, so-so. Tim McCarver was better, but both of them suffered from not really knowing the teams like the local announcers do. I would have much preferred to hear Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson broadcast the games – they know the White Sox inside and out and their comments are much more relevant than the ones you’ll get from a National crew. Oh well, if that’s the price we have to pay to get into the post-season, it’s a bearable one.

Baseball really needs to do something about balls and strikes calls. Too many times, bad pitch calls affect crucial at bats and affect the course of a game. One cannot blame the umpires for this as the problem is caused by a) not the best vantage point and b) having to watch out for too many things. I’ve umpired a few games myself and believe me, it’s not easy calling balls and strikes. This is a topic all by itself and one which I will take up a some future date. And I hope that the other questionable/bad calls in these series will ratchet up the pressure for implementing some sort of Instant Replay system in baseball. I touched on this earlier; I think that allowing a manager to make up to two requests for Instant Replay per game, with him not being charged with one if it turns out he is correct, would greatly add to the integrity of the game. Pro Football has a system like this and it seems to work pretty well. It’s still not perfect, but they get far more calls right now than they used to and that’s the whole point. Umpires should never decide the outcome of game, only the players should.

Enough rambling. Thank you Chicago White Sox for a wonderful season. Let’s do it again next year…

GO SOX!!

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