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The Great Week!

Guy Bacci

It’s hard to imagine there’s ever been a better week to be a White Sox fan—at least for the vast majority of living humans who only know World War I through a textbook. And even then, it’s doubtful that Eddie Cicotte or Ed Walsh ever escaped a bases-loaded jam with nobody out to secure a one-run lead in the decisive game of a series. Nor is it likely that Joe Jackson and company ever had a 14-run playoff outburst highlighted by five homeruns, or received a magical ground ball that scooted through the legs of an infielder to set up a lead-changing three-run dinger.

As a matter of fact, in the White Sox last post-season triumph of 1917, the Southsiders had a convincing lead in each victory but one—Game Five, where they scored three in the seventh inning to tie the game, and followed that with three more in the eighth to win it. Otherwise, the rest of the series was a relative snoozer when compared to the joyous sweep over the defending champs in 2005.

The Greatest Week That Was started with an agonizing Monday—agonizing in a good way, filled with giddy anticipation that left Sox fans unable to concentrate on the daily tasks at hand. A few hundred diehards showed up at a rally in downtown Chicago inspired by the promotional department of Major League Baseball, which has suddenly dubbed the day before the start of the playoffs as Rally Monday. While most people could do without the contrived attempt at a new tradition, Rally Monday has always been a part of the playoff experience—a time for fans to pinch themselves and gear up for the emotional games that are forthcoming.

It’s also a day for the experts to overtake the airwaves and re-establish the fact that they have no idea what they’re taking about. With ESPN Radio broadcasting across the country, baseball fans got a heavy dose of disbelieve in the White Sox. From Jayson Stark to Tim Kurkjian, the national shows were filled with love for the Red Sox. On, just one expert out of 14 picked the Pale Hose to reach the World Series.

But it didn’t take long for them to start reconsidering their predictions. Tuesday arrived, and Sox fans ditched work and poured into bars, some undoubtedly thinking back to the last time they ditched work for a playoff game, only to see a bullpen collapse and an Edgar Martinez extra-inning homerun spoil the day. Tuesday would be much, much different. As in: five runs in the first inning, fourteen runs total, tying a playoff record with five homers, and Scott Podsednik (yeah, the guy with zero homers in the regular season) going deep. That kind of different. A kind of different that White Sox fans just aren’t used to.

With a satisfying victory under their belts, Sox fans had a sense of calm the next day. Heck, they’d finally gotten to see a home playoff victory—one big monkey off their backs. Which must be why it didn’t seem so bad when the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game Two, and then a 4-0 lead by the third inning. At the very worst, the series would be tied. No big deal.

But then an error by former Pale Hose Tony G opened up a door that White Sox fans had a hard time dreaming about before this Greatest Week That Was. It was the door to a 2-0 series lead. It was the door to a post-season series sweep. And it was Tadahito Iguchi—the Japanese import who Kenny Williams wisely took a gamble on—who opened that door and let all of White Sox Nation pour through.

Iguchi’s line-drive, three-run homer gave Chicago a 5-4 lead and rocked The Cell like nothing has rocked The Cell before. Bobby Jenks—he of hardly any major league experience—looked as calm as a 10-year vet in shutting down Boston for two innings to secure the victory.

And then, after all that excitement … a day off. Ugh, a day off? The first reaction upon waking up Thursday morning was to yearn for another magnificent post-season party. But as the day progressed, Sox fans enjoyed taking a few breaths and basking in the glory of the previous two victories. Family and friends connected. “Can you believe what’s happening?” Cubs fans called Sox fans to offer congratulations, or maybe Sox fans called Cubs fans to rub it in. Media talking heads started falling over Ozzie Guillen and the rest of the White Sox, laying the groundwork to adopt the Southsiders as the loveable underdogs for the remainder of the playoffs.

Little did anyone know, the most dramatic game was yet to come.

Courtesy of the bogus MLB playoff schedule, Sox fans once again had to find a way to watch an afternoon game on Friday. But those who were lucky enough to do so were treated to playoff baseball at its best. White delivered the first punch with two runs in the third, but Red responded with solo homers from David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the next inning. Ramirez was so confident of his blast, he started removing his batting gloves before the ball reached the stands. Chris Berman began hyperventilating in the ESPN broadcast booth.

Paul Konerko made himself a whole bunch of money in 2006 by smashing a clutch two-run homer in the sixth inning, but Manny responded yet again with an enormous bomb in the bottom of the frame.

That brought in Damaso Marte to face the left-handed chunk of Boston’s lineup, and Marte promptly allowed all three batters to reach base. Granted, the home plate umpire—who had a great strike zone for the first five innings, but decided to shrink it in the sixth—wasn’t doing Marte any favors. Nonetheless, it was curious to see Guillen have faith in a pitcher who allowed nearly two base runners per inning in 2005. Marte’s 1.72 WHIP was by far the highest of any Sox pitcher who wasn’t called up from Charlotte. After the debacle in Boston, Sox fans might not mind if they never see Marte again.

But Marte’s disaster set up quite possibly the greatest White Sox pitching performance of all time. Orlando Hernandez sprinted in from the bullpen and proceeded to induce two pop-outs and a full-count, check-swing strikeout of Johnny Damon to escape the bases-loaded fiasco. El Duque tossed two more shutout innings, setting up Jenks’ perfect ninth and the first Pale Hose playoff series win in a bazillion years.

As an added bonus, the Yankees-Angels game was rained out on Saturday, forcing those teams to play Sunday and possibly Monday. If the series goes five and each team is forced to throw its ace, those starters wouldn’t be available until Game Four of the ALCS. Which leads to the best part about the Greatest Week That Was—it sets up the possibility of an even greater week to come.

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

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