Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chicago White Sox - WORLD SERIES CHAMPS !!!

Pitching and defense; pitching and defense; pitching and defense; the pitching staff shutting out the Astros in Game 4; Juan Uribe, unable to contribute with the bat but making two stellar plays in the ninth inning to preserve the victory. And just enough offense, one lonely, solitary run, to win the game, the series and the Championship.

It’s never easy with this team – every game was a nail-biter. Tonight a base-running gaffe by Aaron Rowand, inexplicably slowing down when heading into second base after Joe Crede’s wall-shot, even though there were two out, may have cost them a run. And, in the ninth, they wasted a lead-off double by A.J. But this is what they’ve done all year; score just enough runs to get a lead, and then let the pitchers and fielders finish it off.

There are no super-stars on this team, but a lot of hero’s. Every night in the playoffs (and all year, for that matter) there was a different hero. In game one, it was Joe Crede, making outstanding plays in the field and hitting the home run that broke a 3-3 tie. In game two, it was Paul Konerko with his grand-slam and Scott Podsednik with his walk-off. In game three, it was Geoff Blum with his home-run and the bullpen – bending but not breaking. Tonight it was pinch-hitter Willie Harris getting a single to start off the eighth, Jermaine Dye driving him in with the games only run and Juan Uribe making two stellar defensive plays in the ninth inning to help Bobby Jenks close it out. The theme all year was pitching, pitching, pitching and defense, defense, defense. The Sox only scored 20 runs in this series, but they held the Astros to just 14 runs. No game was decided by more than two runs.

There are a lot of things one can quibble about – all the walks issued in game three, the run-scoring opportunities missed in all of the games, etc. But these things happen in all major league games. Baseball is like chess in that way. The rules are easy to learn, but the game is hard to master. The team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins and this series was no exception. Ozzie Guillen was, once again, spot on when he said (before game 3) “the team that gets the most hits with two-outs is going to win this series”. Blum’s home run in game three was with two outs. Dye’s single tonight was with two outs. The Astros had more scoring opportunities tonight than the Sox did, but couldn’t cash in any of them. Credit fine starting pitching by Freddy Garcia and good relief pitching by Politte, Cotts and Jenks.

Once again, Ozzie made the right moves. In the eighth inning, with Freddy Garcia scheduled to lead off, he chose to send up Willie Harris to pinch hit rather than Carl Everett or perhaps Timo Perez. Harris came through with a single and eventually scored the go-ahead and ultimately winning run. Ever since he was recalled to the roster late in the season, Harris has been a real go-to guy.

There are a million more things I could write, but I’m going to finish my celebratory adult beverage and watch the party on TV. Congratulations White Sox – you made us all proud.

GO SOX !!!

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