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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Dream Post-season!

by
Guy Bacci

So maybe this isn’t quite the ALCS of your fantasies, presuming you ever had the audacity to dream of winning the ALCS. Certainly your concoction didn’t involve a dropped-third strike that wasn’t (or maybe was). Certainly you didn’t foresee failed sac-bunts and base-running miscues. Or a catcher’s interference that should have been called. Or a broadcast booth paying more attention to lousy umpiring than the stellar play of your Chicago White Sox.

And your daydream probably didn’t involve blowouts in an eerily quiet Edison Field, but rather walk-off homers that rattled The Cell to its core. You probably never envisioned three consecutive complete games, but had thoughts of the Sox closer, whomever he may be at the time, nailing down victories in dramatic fashion.

No, this hasn’t been the most fantastical ALCS that a White Sox fan could have imagined, but you are loving it all the same. Because by the time this column is posted on flyingsock.com, your Chicago White Sox could very well be in the World Series.

Of course, this writer knows all to well the mysterious ways of Chicago baseball fate, so as he writes this on Saturday evening, he refuses to celebrate. But there’s no harm indulging in what has already taken place, which has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Sure, the first game was a little ugly. After a long layoff, the Pale Hose were a bit stale. Joe Crede and Jose Contreras probably should have gunned down a pair of runners at home plate. AJ Pierzynski should have known better than to think he saw a hit-and-run sign. Ozzie Ball was at its worst, turning potential rallies into failed bunt attempts and free outs.

But it got much better.

The second game turned into a surreal celebration that earned a dubious place in baseball post-season history. With the fans at U.S. Cellular Field entering a state of delirium following Crede’s walk-off double, the Fox broadcast team muttered somberly about the tragic blunder by home plate umpire Doug Edding. The end result was a disconcerting contrast that stripped the joy out of the victory, at least for those Sox fans watching from their living rooms. Lost in the chaos was the fact that the Sox had won an ALCS home game for the first time in history.

The next day, as Sox fans may have feared, the talk was not about Mark Buehrle’s amazing performance or Crede’s clutch hitting, but about The Call. And what was rarely mentioned was the fact that the Sox likely would have won the game in extra innings anyway, considering their bullpen was completely rested, while Anaheim’s was in shambles. Possibly the most horrendous piece of “reporting” came from Michael Ventre of NBCsports.com who wrote, “If the ninth inning had ended the way the home-plate umpire initially signaled — and he did so not once, but twice — the Angels would have been traveling back to Anaheim with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.” Mr. Ventre, in his haste to write something bold and dramatic, must have forgotten that when the score is tied after nine innings, the visiting team isn’t awarded a victory.

But despite the focus of the conversation, there was something mildly exciting about what was happening: The nation was taking about a White Sox game. Sure, everyone was mostly discussing a bad call, but still, it was a bad call in a White Sox game. Poor Cardinals fans were shocked to discover their team’s victory over Houston—which had taken place at the same time as Game 2 of the ALCS—was being ignored completely.

Best of all, those who were shedding tears for the Angels after Wednesday night’s “unfair” loss were promptly smacked upside the head by a pair of Paul Konerko homeruns, one in each first inning of the next two games. Konerko’s blasts put the Sox up 3-0 in both contests, effectively ending the affairs before they had a chance to begin. On the downside, each heroic bomb by Konerko possibly pushed him further and further away from Chicago for 2006. But at this moment, who really gives a rat’s tush about next year? Paulie’s dingers had Angel fans sitting on their hands for six hours, and the pitching of Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia—18 innings worth—was so dominant that the Rally Monkey was too busy crapping his pants to inspire any actual rallies.

That didn’t stop Joe Buck and Tim McCarver from railing on about the unjust hand dealt to the Angels. Admittedly, the umps missed a catcher’s interference when Steve Finley’s bat nipped Pierzynski’s mitt in the second inning of Game 4. And it did appear Scott Podsednik was picked off first base in the fifth inning. But the Sox won the game 8-2. How much of a difference did those calls make? Remove Podsednik’s run and generously give the Angels three runs after Finley’s at bat, and the Sox still win 7-5.

But that didn’t stop the AP from picking on a check-swing ball thrown to Konerko in the first inning. Replays showed it clearly was not a swing by Konerko, but the AP chose to call it out anyway. And Buck and McCarver started looking for any chance to pile on the umpires, picking on a call after a stolen base by Podsednik late in the game, which didn’t result in a run anyway.

The best way to silence all the madness is to dominate the series, and the Sox are doing just that. With the state of the Angels’ pitching staff, and the hot Jose Contreras on the mound, there’s a very good chance the ALCS is history by the time you read this column. Which means that fantasy you had about the walk-off homer in Game 7 to send the Sox to the promise land isn’t going to happen, sorry.

But while this may not be the ALCS of your dreams, there is an upside: Where one fantasy ends, another one begins…


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back. He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player. His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay). Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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