Paulie’s grand slam. The dropped third strike. Scotty Pods with a walk-off homer. Four consecutive complete games from four different starters in the American League Championship Series.
Geoff Freakin’ Blum, are you kidding me?
The 2005 Chicago White Sox were a colorful, sometimes maddening, exciting, unforgettable collection of talented young players, veterans who made key contributions and unlikely heroes.
They had three different closers: Shingo Takatsu, the 36-year-old former star reliever for the Yakult Swallows whose every mound appearance was noted by a loud gong ringing on the U.S. Cellular Field speakers; Dustin Hermanson, who recorded 34 saves through September but saw his season cut short by a back injury; and Bobby Jenks, the 24-year-old rookie with a shaky past, a huge heart and a 100 mph fastball.
Frank Thomas, the only future Hall of Famer on the roster, was sidelined most of the regular season and the entire postseason by injury. However, the Sox DID have the veteran wacko Carl Everett, who famously said, “You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve eating apples. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex.” He also questioned the moon landing.
Going into the 2005 season, nobody was picking the Sox to do anything special. Sports Illustrated had them rated the No. 17 team in baseball. An SI blogger added insult to injury when he ranked the worst five teams in all of sports to root for: the Los Angeles Clippers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Cleveland Browns, and at the very bottom, the White Sox. Even after the Sox established themselves as bona fide contenders, USA
Today noted Chicago was still a Cubs town: “In the nation’s consciousness, [the White Sox] are ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ compared to the [Cubs who are like] ‘Oprah.’ ”
Still. We know what happened. And thanks to NBC Sports Chicago, we’re reliving the 2005 season via replays of 70 victories from that championship season, including all 11 postseason wins.
It was a season filled with dramatic, movie-like moments that thrilled this film critic and 2005 season-ticket holder. With that in mind, here are my favorite games from that magical year.
April 4th, Opening Day: White Sox 1, Indians 0
Paul Konerko gets the key hit, a double in the seventh, and Mark Buehrle goes eight innings, allowing just two hits and one walk.
Game time: 1 hour and 51 minutes. These days, at the 1:51 mark we’re lucky if it’s the sixth inning.
May 8th: White Sox 5, Blue Jays 4
Thanks to home runs by Juan Uribe and Jermaine Dye, the Sox race off to a 5-0 lead and hang on, improving their record for the season to an incredible 24-7.
Carl Everett grounds into a double play and is caught stealing, and still doesn’t believe in dinosaurs.
June 24th: White Sox 12, Cubs 2
Hot fun in the summertime! It’s 95 degrees at game time as the Sox host the Cubbies at the Cell. The Sox bust open a tight game with five runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh, bolstered by home runs from Frank Thomas, A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede.
September 25th: White Sox 4, Twins 1
(Also: Royals 5, Indians 4)
Most fans have likely blocked this from their collective memories, but the Sox’ first-place cushion had shrunk from a whopping 15 games on Aug. 1st to a precarious 1½ games in late September. If they had blown that lead, it would have been the biggest two-month collapse in baseball history.
So yep, Sunday 9/25/05 was a pivotal date in White Sox history. The ever-reliable Buehrle threw a complete-game win over the Twins in an economical 1 hour and 53 minutes, and just as important, the hapless Royals improved their record to 53-102 with a walk-off win over the Indians, bumping the Sox’ lead over Cleveland to 2½ games.
October 5th, ALDS Game 2: White Sox 5, Red Sox 4
With the White Sox down 4-2 to the defending world champions in the fifth inning, Tadahito Iguchi takes David Wells deep for a three-run homer, giving the Right Sox a lead they never relinquished.
October 7th, ALDS Game 3: White Sox 5, Red Sox 3
The Sox were clinging to a 4-3 lead when the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth. Manager Ozzie Guillen called on Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who was somewhere between 40 and 100 years old, to come out of the bullpen. Hernandez induced pop-outs from Jason Varitek and Tony Graffanino before getting Johnny Damon on a checked-swing strikeout with the count full.
October 12th, ALCS Game 2: White Sox 2, Angels 1
Bottom of the ninth inning. Score tied 1-1. Two outs, nobody on, A.J. Pierzynski at the plate. A.J. chases a pitch into the dirt for strike three, Angels catcher (and former White Sox) Josh Paul rolls the ball back to the mound and we’re going to extra innings, but wait, Pierzynski is sprinting to first base, and the umps rule it was a dropped third strike, and then pinch runner Pablo Ozuna steals second before Joe Crede crushes an 0-2 pitch off the left-field wall, and BOOM! Just like that, the ballgame is over.
October 16th, ALCS Game 5: White Sox 6, Angels 3
Jose Contreras pitches the fourth consecutive complete game, Sox win 6-3, and they’re in the World Series for the first time since 1959. We never will see four straight complete games again in our lifetimes.
October 23rd, World Series Game 2: White Sox 7, Astros 6
I’ve never heard a South Side Sox eruption as loud as the moment when Paul Konerko hit a seventh-inning grand slam to put the Sox ahead by two — that is, until Scott Podsednik, who hadn’t hit a regular-season home run in 568 plate appearances, hit that storybook walk-off homer.
October 25th, World Series Game 3: White Sox 7, Astros 5
In the longest game (time-wise) in World Series history to that point, Geoff Blum steps up to the plate in the 14th inning for what will be his only at-bat in the Series and just his second at-bat in the entire postseason, and of course, he goes deep to put the Sox ahead.
Mark Buehrle, who’s normally the starting pitcher in shorter games, comes on to close out this marathon.
October 26th, World Series Game 4:
White Sox 1, Astros 0
The one and only Willie Harris (remember him?) gets a pinch-hit single in the 8th inning and eventually comes around to score on
Series MVP Jermaine Dye’s base hit. In the ninth, the Astros put a runner on second with one out, but Juan Uribe makes one of the great catches in World Series history by stabbing a foul pop-up in the stands and then throws out Orlando Palmeiro on a bang-bang play, and just like that, the Sox have their first title in a mere 88 years.
Some 174 games and 205 days after that 1-0 win on Opening Day, it’s only fitting the Sox close it out with another 1-0 victory.
That’s called Winning Snugly.