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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

A Championship for the Ages

by George Bova

The memory of the triumphant parade will forever be the lasting image I hold of the 2005 Chicago White Sox. Starting in Bridgeport, then to Bronzeville, through Chinatown, Pilsen, University Village, Greektown, and finally straight up the Loop's financial canyon, Lasalle Street, crowds pressed along the sidewalks and side streets while confetti and "ticker tape" rained down and roman candles and F-16's flew overhead. A giant triumphal tribute to the city's baseball heroes, the likes unseen in the lives of four generations of fans because the city we're talking about is Chicago. It's a city that has suffered a baseball championship famine like none other in America. And now it's over thanks to these Chicago White Sox., newly crowned champions of Major League Baseball.

No wonder the city loves them. And no wonder a whole new crop of Sox Fans is being created while anxiously buying up every bit of Sox championship merchandise they can find -- Chicago's retailers straining to keep up with demand. It's no wonder because Chicago is no longer safe for lovable losing. Chicago is Second City no more, at least not in baseball. Chicagoans feel like champions thanks to these White Sox.

Thank God we all lived to see it. We are blessed.

The Sox championship is special for more reasons. It's a team built from the ultimate set of diverse pieces. The second basemen is a rookie from Japan. Two of the starting pitchers are refugees from Castro's Cuba. The rest of the roster is comprised of Venezuelans, Dominicans, and Americans. The manager is Venezuelan. The general manager is African American. Ownership's managing partner grew up poor in Brooklyn and had his heart broken when the Dodgers moved west. Baseball has seen its future and it is an organization that looks very much like the Chicago White Sox of today.

The 2005 White Sox are the ultimate example of what makes baseball a team sport. At the core of the team's strength is no single individual but the tight fist of five starting pitchers -- Contreras, Buehrle, Garland, Garcia, Hernandez/McCarthy -- delivering the knockout punch to the opposition day after day all season long. How could the national media miss this story? Perhaps they were too busy listening to the cry of the HeinieBird singing "choke choke choke" all season long. How silly they all look now...

But the 2005 champion Sox is special for even more reasons. 2005 is the season baseball finally began to deal with performance-enhancing drugs that have turned the game into a sham and its record book into a farce. The game's biggest power hitters of the last ten years one by one are being revealed as liars, conspirators, and perjurers. The home run races they staged ring as hollow as Barry Bonds' alibi that he thought he was getting flaxseed oil from Balco. The fallout from this scandal is far from over, but baseball's power era is over as surely as Mark McGwire's refusal to discuss the past.

Where have you gone, Scammin' Shammy So-so? Probably Japan. Baltimore surely doesn't want him anymore and the profit drain caused in part by his fat salary has the Cubune looking to fix its balance sheet by selling off some non-core assets -- potentially the Cubs. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch...

So where is baseball to turn? The 2005 champion Sox are here to answer the question with absolute clarity: pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Play fundamentally sound baseball at the plate and in the field and championships are coming your way. Minnesota, Cleveland, Boston, Anaheim, and Houston all learned their lessons the hard way. The message is clear and the rest of baseball is sure to catch up.

Certainly the Sox had their hitting heroes, and the feats of Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Joe Crede, A.J. Pierzynski, and even bench players like Geoff Blum and Willie Harris won't ever be forgotten by the hard-core Sox Fans who've waited their entire lives for this moment. The fact the rest of the baseball world underestimated their true value -- and the value of the other champions on the 25-man roster yet unmentioned -- is their loss borne strictly of ignorance for where the game of baseball is heading, not where it has been.

And what about Frank Thomas? He is the greatest hitter in the franchise's history. Frank suffered a broken ankle but his contributions earlier this season were not forgotten by GM Kenny Williams who thanked him and personally handed him the 2005 World Series championship trophy at the championship rally on Lasalle Street. The greatest hitter in franchise history played a bit role but he is still loved for it. Perhaps more significantly, Frank was so overwhelmed and thankful upon receiving that trophy that he choked back emotions as he called this moment "the pinnacle." That's a team.

The 2005 White Sox are baseball's first championship team of the New Millennium. The 20th century is over along with the era of championship baseball based on tape measure dingers hit by shortstops. The old era made heroes of clowns killing time sauntering around left field waiting for their next plate appearance to admire how far the ball travels while standing in the batter's box taking off their gloves. The sloven, me-first era you represent is over, Manny. You're a liability in baseball's new era. The champion 2005 Sox prove it.

It's a historic championship for Chicago because of the 88 Years and Waiting that has finally come to an end along with the title of this column space. I've been writing it since 1997. I could never imagine it feeling so good to let it go. A whole new title will take its place, a title for Chicago's baseball champions and fans with passion for winning. Frankly the winning is all that ever really mattered for any of us Sox Fans, but now we have the championship credentials to back it up.

But beyond just Chicago this is also a baseball championship for the ages. Baseball in the 21st century could not continue an insular Americans-only sport any more than it could remain a segregated sport back in the 1940's. And baseball in the 21st century could not continue coddling melon-headed steroid freaks simply because of the ridiculous home runs they hit. The 2005 champion Chicago White Sox are here to blaze a trail to baseball's bright new future. And who can doubt it's a much, much brighter future than baseball's recent past?

God bless these Chicago White Sox. They are a championship team for the ages.

Hey Sox Fans!

Who do YOU dedicate this Sox championship to?
Post your sentiments to this thread
and see them published in a book dedicated to Sox Fans for the holidays!

White Sox Interactive is cooperating with an independent publisher to make the posts in this thread available as a book to become a lasting and personal keepsake of what made the 2005 Sox world championship so special. You can have your dedication published by merely adding your sentiments to this thread to be published later this fall.

And here is the best part: 100 percent of the revenue generated by White Sox Interactive is being donated to charity. Furthermore the publisher has pledged a portion of his receipts to the same cause, Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities, in conjunction with Children's Memorial Foundation and the Northwestern Memorial Foundation.

WSI is staffed 100 percent by Sox Fan volunteers. Here is your chance to join us in dedicating this extraordinary Sox baseball season to those most important in your life -- along with hundreds of your fellow Sox Fans -- and see the results help the worthy cause of cancer research here in Chicago.

And yes, the book will be available for sale in time for the holidays. No Sox Fan's sock can truly be filled without this book containing your words of dedication inside.

God Bless our Chicago White Sox and Thank You for helping make this dedication an extra special one!

-- George Bova
on behalf of the the volunteer staff of Sox Fans at White Sox Interactive

Be sure to contact all of your Sox Fan friends and acquaintances and invite them to post their dedication too, while this thread is still open!


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive. You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

More features from George Bova here!

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