From Bear Down and Get Some Runs
October 26, 2005: Part II
For Part I (the Geoff Blum game), click here
About a month ago, I got a call from my editor at NUVO. The newspaper was launching a blog section on their website, and he wanted to know if, as one of their regular contributors, I’d be interested in writing one.
Now, I don’t like blogs. I don’t like the idea of blogs, and I don’t like the word blog. But I figured I could dedicate it to sports and use it to write about all of the lesser items that I wouldn’t be able to publish in the paper, like my All-NBA team of the ’90s, for example, or my five favorite video game athletes. I called it “It’s Gotta be the Shoes” as a nod to one of my favorite old t-shirts: my Mars Blackmon/Michael Jordan black nike IT’S GOTTA BE THE SHOES…IT HAD TO BE THE SHOES shirt. And since I have such a strong aversion to the b-word, I decided to refer to it as a blip, something small, fun, and ultimately insignificant.
But some nights The Blip is significant, and that’s when it is documenting Significant Things, and beyond being exciting and somewhat unifying, Game 4 is Significant. The White Sox’—and the city’s—first World Series title in 88 years. That’s Significant. The Blip has been lots of fun, and as my friends have taken to reading it and leaving comments, I decided to do a running commentary for Game 4, Sports Guy style. Here it is:
I just got off the phone with my grandmother. In a shocking and unsettling development, Nana stayed up for the entirety of Game 3—all 5 hours, 41 minutes, and 14 innings of it—while Meghan and I fell asleep in the 13th.
End of the first inning (author’s note: some of these moments are not time-stamped, because I recorded them while re-watching the game)
This was a real tense at-bat. After Jermaine connected for a two-out double, Konerko and Backe went eye-to-eye. When Konerko fought off a pitch to bring the count to three and two, the Houston crowd stood and applauded; it really felt like an eighth inning at-bat. Minute Maid Park’s energy is way up.
Start of the second inning
George H-Dub Bush and Babs are in the house, sitting behind the backstop.
It’s very early, but already it’s clear that Brandon Backe is going to pitch a game somewhere in the solid to good range. He was interviewed on the Score Friday night (the night before Game 1), and just from that interview I got the sense that this guy has got it together. Perhaps he’s able to be loose since he’s on a staff with Clemens, Pettitte, and Oswalt.
According to baseballreference.com, every position player for the White Sox (Pierzynski, Konerko, Iguchi, Crede, Uribe, Podsednik, Rowand, Dye) is the only guy in the majors with that last name, and except for Uribe, each one is the only guy in major league history with that last name.
End of the Sox’ half of the third
Podsednik just legged out a two-out triple…very risky play by Pods, who wasn’t flying out of the box and looked to be on “doubles speed” as he rounded first, but then…BAM! He just turned it on around second and beat Biggio’s throw to third with a beautiful head first slide. Then Iguchi gounded to short on the first pitch. Still scoreless.
Ozzie Guillen is the Venezuelan, baseball version of Mike Ditka, and the only thing that will keep him from being as loved as Ditka will be that everybody is a Bears fan, but only half of the city is White Sox fans. However, the way this Sox love-fest is going, Ozzie might match Da Coach. He’s already reached first-name status.
Also, in ten years, when non-Sox fans think of this Sox team, they will think of Konerko, the four straight complete games (and the pitchers who threw them), the near collapse, and Ozzie. (Upon further review, they’ll also think of Jermaine, AJ, Pods, and probably Jenks.) (Upon further further review, they probably won’t think of anything, because they were probably being bums and not watching.)
Jermaine just ripped a ball to left for a leadoff single. He’s 2-for-2.
FOX just ran a clip of an interview with Backe, and once again he gives off the impression of being talented, loose, and intelligent, with a proper sense of perspective. I think I’m starting to like him.
Backe just K’d Rowand to strike out the side. After giving up the single to Jermaine Dye, Backe took Konerko down swinging on a 2-2 breaking ball, finished A.J. on a “diving slider,” and then polished off Rowand…Astros look tough…they’re very professional…
You’ve got to hand it to the Astros’ fans. They’ve been great, despite being in an awfully difficult spot, having just watched their team lose a heartbreaker/backbreaker in Game 3 less than 24 hours ago. Then to show up back at the park for Game 4 down 3-0 and come out cheering straight from the opening pitch? You gotta love that.
Sox haven’t been working the count, and Backe looks very strong…still scoreless going to the bottom of the fourth.
Garcia just walked Berkman on five pitches to start the fourth, and though ordinarily I’d be opposed to walking the leadoff hitter, Berkman’s been so good in this series (.417 with six runs knocked in) and Backe looks really good right now, so perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.
Nope. Didn’t matter. Ensberg struck out swinging, Berkman was retired at second on Lamb’s fielder’s choice, and then Lamb went down the same way to end the inning.
Backe just struck out Crede, his fourth consecutive strike out.
They’re interviewing the Houston pitching coach…these are getting old. Why would Hickey even agree to another interview after the Crede HR see-you-later job that FOX put on him last time? Perhaps he’s simply excited to be In The Spotlight, particularly the national spotlight, something that is out of the ordinary for a pitching coach. Still…not as annoying as Leiter in the booth in ’03 describing a curve ball.
Backe just K’d another and got Garcia to ground out 5 to 3 to end the inning. The five consecutive strike outs were one shy of a World Series record. Backe looks terrific.
Wow! What a play by the Sox’ infield. With Ausmus taking off from first on the hit and run, Adam Everett ripped a ball down the line towards Crede. Crede knelt down and gloved it and then fired to Iguchi, the ball beating the sliding Ausmus by a step…and then with plenty of time, Iguchi turned and made a sharp throw to Konerko at first.
Also of note: Joe Buck reminded me that Ausmus’ single was the fourth time in five innings that the Astros had put their leadoff man on base. This makes the Sox’ pitching and defense even more impressive. Like a defense continuously inheriting lousy field position but stuffing the opposing offense anyways. This is how the Sox have won all year.
FOX just finished their in-game interview with Ozzie Guillen. Ozzie’s always fun to listen to, even if the merits of the format escape me.
Great play by Adam Everett on the Tad Iguchi slow-roller, with Everett making a bare-handed scoop and throw, and a nice stretch by Lamb at first to get Iguchi.
Backe just struck out JDye to end the top of the sixth. Still scoreless. Astros fans are entranced in this game; they’ve been standing for every important two out/two strike AB, and that strikeout of Dye just sent them through the roof…er, the great big opening in the top of Minute Maid Park. They look like they truly believe they’re gonna win at least the game, if not the series. I can’t help but assume that having the Red Sox comeback against the Yankees still fresh in their collective heads is keeping Houston fans optimistic. They are as optimistic now about their team’s chances as they were pessimistic yesterday during the fifth inning meltdown.
Biggest AB of the game thus far: bottom of the sixth, second and third, two out, Mike Lamb up, scoreless game…
They’re walking Lamb to get to Jason Lane and the force out. Bases loaded…
0-2 on Lane. FOX just ran their A.D.D. “RIGHT NOW!” graphic of who’s pitching, who’s up, and who’s on.
ON 1ST: LAMB
ON 2ND: BERKMAN
ON 3RD: TAVERAS
FOX just posted a graphic that says that Jason Lane is 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position this postseason. Doo-fair.
Yes! After seven pitches that included four fouls and only a single ball, Garcia just K’d Lane to get out of the inning. What a big time at-bat. Garcia “climbed the ladder” on that one, and Lane “chased it” up in the “zone.” Just a tremendous pitch, with the normally-reserved Garcia pumping his fists Bobby Jenks-style. Now that’s a Big Baseball Situation.
FOX just showed a Sox crowd cheering at a Chicago bar called Jimbo’s…this will be a running theme. “And down to Chris Myers to check in with the locals.”
McCarver: (chucking a bit) “Backe backed up and then came forward.”
Buck: (laughing) “He did.”
Back to Jimbo’s. They’re still happy.
Two out, top 7, second and third, Uribe up, still scoreless. George and Barbara look nervous, though it looks as if Barbara doesn’t have quite the keen sense as to what is actually happening.
Backe K’s Uribe. Wow. This guy has been awesome. In fact, given the circumstances, I’d go so far as to say that Backe is putting up one of the best postseason pitching performances that I have ever seen.
Also…I was right about George and Barbara. They just showed their reaction to the Uribe strike out; George yippee’d excitedly, lifting up as he pumped his fist. Barbara’s face remained uniformally blank throughout. Poor George. You could see that as he got to the top of his fist pump, he was looking around for one of The Guys so that he could share the moment, and then it was like he thought for a second and remembered “Oh, that’s right. I’m the 81-year-old former President of the United States. I don’t roll with my friends. I’m here with my wife and the secret service. Damnit.”
Garcia just retired Bagwell to end the inning. HUGE at-bat. Still scoreless as we head to the eighth.
Willie Harris pinch-hitting for Freddy Garcia to start the eighth. A wonderful performance for Garcia, as with Backe. Meanwhile, Backe’s done and Lidge is in. Let’s hope for the sake of Lidge’s sanity that he can help his team this time around.
Harris just singled to start the inning. Beautiful. He’s now 2-for-2 in the postseason.
YES! Two out RBI single for JDye off Lidge, scoring Harris. BEAUTIFUL! Dye has been invaluable. Top tier in the playoffs with Konerko and Crede. 1-zip Sox.
Back to Jimbo’s. They’re very excited.
A “Let’s Go White Sox” cheer is growing in the stands.
Oh by the way…
Buck, calling Jermaine’s single: “There are over 42 thousand people packed in here, hoping Lidge can get Jermaine (Dye connects with Lidge’s 1-1 pitch, sending it up the middle.) Dye. (And immediately Buck’s voice goes up off of the word “Dye.”) That’s up the middle and the White Sox take the lead!”
Paulie just struck out to end the inning. We head to the bottom of the eighth leading 1-nil. Interesting note: the Sox have outscored their postseason opponents 20-3 in the seventh inning or later.
FOX is now playing “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
FOX is running a “White Sox Season Recap” clip. That can’t be good for Houston.
After a wild pitch from Politte, Taveras takes second. Now they’re putting Berkman on intentionally with one out. This is all kinds of bold, considering they’re putting the winning run on base in the eighth inning.
FOX shows Jenks staring at the field rather menacingly while warming up in the bullpen. Meghan: “Dude, Jenks looks like a junk yard dog in there, waiting to be unleashed.”
First and third, two outs in the eighth, pitching change. Cotts coming in to face Mike Lamb. Another key at-bat…
Now it’s Cotts against Jose Vizcaino, who is pinch-hitting for Lamb.
Broken bat slow roller to Uribe…back handed grab by Uribe…out at first, end of inning. We go to the ninth. Holy hell…
A.J. singles to start the ninth. Jimbo’s is pumped. The “Let’s Go White Sox” cheer is spreading, and already much louder.
Uribe grounds out to third. End of inning. On to the bottom of the ninth, 1-0 Sox, with Bobby Jenks coming out of the pen to close it up. This guy is my age, started the season unemployed, and now he is about to try to clinch a World Series for a team that hasn’t won one since 1917. Wow.
Buck: “Astros need a spark…or a blast.”
McCarver: “Anything to inspire this crowd. Anything.”
Lane drops a single into center on a 3-2 count. Houston fans sounded good on the AB, and sound better now. They’re not giving up. Honestly, I’m really impressed with their fans…and with Old Bush, who stood to applaud that hit.
Ausmus sac bunt; Lane to second. Nicely done.
McCarver: “I think the White Sox are happy to get that out.”
(Incidentally: Barbara appears to be sleeping.)
AMAZING! Uribe makes the catch on the Burke pop out in the stands while facing the crowd. Two down. Just incredible…he and Crede were both charging it, and Uribe just leaned in and grabbed it and then flipped over the wall. Wow.
Phone rang immediately. It’s Meghan’s dad, Don, a big Sox fan. He’s pacing.
Back to Jimbo’s…still pumped. Jenks looks great. Orlando Palmeiro pinch-hitting. Minute Maid Park blasting “We Will Rock You.” Here we go…
High for ball one, and then fouled away for ball two.
Back to Jimbo’s. Buck has finally verbally acknowledged them, and is now listing all of the different neighborhoods and types of people in Chicago.
Strike two to Palmeiro on another foul ball.
Don: “Oh no…oh no…it’s gotta happen now. Don’t let Biggio up.”
Bouncer to Uribe…close play…OUT! Sox win the series!
Don: (awkward screaming and groaning) “And they left Biggio on deck!
And there is Biggio, standing on deck, still waiting for his at-bat, knowing it won’t come.
Frank is out celebrating. That’s awesome. He looks legitimately happy and excited, unlike Bledsoe when New England won in ’01.
By the way, the fucking White Sox just won the World Series…HOLY SHIT!
Buck and McCarver reviewing the last out, just to make sure…
Tight camera shot as Pierzynski and Podsednik hug and celebrate.
Pierzynski (to Pods): “This is so unbelievable man. God damn!”
Useless stat from FOX: Scott Podsednik-5th major league season, 1st World Series title.
Jenks to Pierzynski, the winning battery.
Jimbo’s is spilling lots of water.
On the phone with my mom, who has just walked outside of our house to see, exactly, what all the noise is: “This is insane. Everyone is outside screaming and yelling and shooting off things. Listen to this.” She puts the phone up for me to listen. “Adults are actually outside shooting off bottle rockets. This is crazy.” She’s laughing. “This is too funny. Everybody is walking outside, on their cell phones. Everybody’s on a phone. Oh, shoot, that one went towards our roof. OK, I’m going inside now.”
Jermaine Dye has been named World Series MVP. That’s awesome. He’s got a trophy, and keys to a new Chevy…Jeannie Zelasko is still annoying…JDye is awesome.
This team will be remembered like the ‘85 Bears, not as popular (I don’t think, though I could be wrong—probably not though, because of the whole half city thing), but for sure anyone who was on the roster will still be famous from it in ten years. And folks, make sure to come on out to the Schaumburg Mall this Saturday, where members of the 2005 White Sox Geoff Blum, Neal Cotts, Willie Harris and Pablo Ozuna will be signing autographs. (Clear advantage for the ’85 Bears: their abbreviation (’85 Bears) sounds a lot better than the 2005 White Sox’ abbreviation (’05 Sox).)
On the phone with Luke, one of my two huge Sox fans friends.
“This is unbelievable! I can’t think! Oh my God! I’m gonna sleep really well tonight!”
Jeannie Zelasko just asked Jerry Reinsdorf if he’ll still be around for another one in 88 years. Wow…
Ozzie: “Watch out Mayor Daley. I’m coming for you.”
And finally, the live report from Jimbo’s.
Craig Biggio sticking around for a post game interview as fans chant “B-G-O! B-G-O!” Classy guy, great player…this is what sports is all about.
ESPN.com says that the White Sox won the World Series. I guess it counted. Wow.
Baseball Tonight on ESPN. Beauty.
Awesome stat: Sox become first team to win three straight World Series games after taking the lead in the eighth or later. Wow.
Well, I’m gonna pack it in. Baseball Tonight is over, and I’m getting tired. What an amazing game, series, and season. CONGRATS TO ALL YOU SOX FANS OUT THERE!
Notes and thoughts: First game of regular season is a 1-0 win. Final game of postseason is a 1-0 win…Konerko, the face of the White Sox and last remaining everyday player from 2000 (besides Frank, who’s hurt), ends up with the last out in the ALCS and the World Series…Kenny Williams: great job…I don’t think that Ozzie will actually retire, but he’s just crazy enough to do it…Pierzynski was clearly cursing madly when they made the last out…Hermanson/Jenks tag team was terrific…Mags and Caballo are shaking their heads right now…this is amazing…2006 Cubs to finish the “curse three-peat?”…a great day for Chicago sports…just a beautiful day…a night to remember, and we will.
GOOD NIGHT EVERYBODY!