Thursday, October 27, 2005

88 Years Later, The White Sox Finally Get To Kick Sand

Happiness is telling 88 years to go to hell

It’s happened two years in a row now. The million-to-one shot came in. It snowed in hell. The calendar shows a month of Sundays. The coyote caught the roadrunner. Charlie Brown got a chance to kick the football out of Lucy’s hold.

The Chicago White Sox won the World Series, ending an 88-year drought, just one year after the Red Sox put the kibosh on an 86-year streak of no champagne. I can’t wait to see who wins it next year.

It was fitting that the Chisox would win the clinching game in a one-run affair. I don’t know what their record was in such games this year, but it was amazingly good. You have to have that over the course of a 162-game season, of course, to be baseball champions: the ability to win the close ones. It means you find ways to win games, more so than your opponents. And the White Sox won the close ones as consistently and as stubbornly as anyone in baseball in 2005, probably better. They now wear the crown, after all.

I’m not a White Sox fan, which means I haven’t experienced a lifetime void of baseball supremacy, so I wonder what the South Side folks thought all season. As their team won close game after close game, did that breed confidence in the postseason? Or was there still that feeling of dread? I’m sure a September slump that nearly wiped out all of a 15-game divisional lead caused White Sox fans’ stomachs to get queasy, but did that mean they were always nervous, always looking over their shoulder, just waiting for baseball’s Grim Reaper to catch up with the White Sox -- even in the World Series? Even during Game 3’s marathon? Or did the fans sit back, relax, and have the confidence that their team would come out on top, as they so often did in 2005?

It doesn’t matter now. The deed has been done. That chapter of White Sox history -- the longest chapter -- has been closed, finally ending, and on a happy note. It started with an old Remington typewriter and its final period was struck with a 21st century laptop. It started with Joe Jackson and Ray Schalk and Eddie Collins and Ed Cicotte and ended with Jermaine Dye, Scott Posdesnik, Paul Konerko and Jon Garland. In between there was Harry Groh and Ted Lyons and Luke Appling and Luis Aparicio and Early Wynn and Dick Allen and Bill Melton and Wilbur Wood and Ron Kittle and hundreds of others who were not nearly as talented but who nonetheless shared the same thing: the realization that their goal exceeded their grasp. Sometimes the names in White Sox history meant folly and slapstick, other times it meant near greatness. But every time it meant there would be no cigar, no trophy to fondle during the wintertime, no chest to puff out.

This business of eradicating championship droughts in baseball, I could get used to. First, it makes the Tigers’ 21-year gap measly in comparison. Second, enough is enough, isn’t it? After 88 years, how much more fun can it be to see a team fail to reach the promised land? So let the White Sox have their World Series victory, and let them enjoy it. It’s better than seeing the Yankees win, isn’t it?

I wish the Astros would have made a series out of it, though. Four-game sweeps -- and we’ve had two in a row now in the World Series -- leave an empty feeling, unless your team is doing the sweeping. In that case, you’d take it after three games, if you could. But the Astros were in their first Series themselves, and I was looking forward to having Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio getting more than four games after nearly 4,700 regular season games between them without an appearance in the Fall Classic. Oh, well. Some things aren’t meant to be, I guess.

But this is the White Sox’ moment, obviously, and maybe the Astros will be back someday and smash their streak, too. It’s the "in" thing now, apparently: longtime losers kicking the sand back into the bully’s face.

And after 88 years, the White Sox have their own freaking beach.

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