I didn’t think they could do it.
I bet you didn’t think they could do it.
But they did it.
What the Chicago White Sox pulled off is unfathomable, to say the least.
But, you know what, they did it. They swept the defending World Champion Red Sox right out of town, ended all doubt that they aren’t a legitimate World Series contender and proved that their high-strung, slightly neurotic manager is a strategic genius and not just a loud-mouthed manager.
All in one night.
The White Sox have been victimized, scrutinized and meticulously analyzed by the media this season–“they don’t have enough pitching…they don’t have enough power…their manager’s a fanatical meathead.” The list goes on.
But, somehow, as Paul Konerko ripped the facing off a Tim Wakefield knuckleball and sent it spiraling over the Green Monster, Friday, giving the White Sox a two run lead, a lead they would not relinquish, all that scrutiny, all that criticism, was simultaneously lifted off the shoulders of every White Sox player and coach.
Somehow, in that one moment, the White Sox went from an overachiever to the hottest, trendiest pick to win the World Series.
And in that same moment, doubters like me became believers–believers that the White Sox have what it takes to make a serious run at the World Series.
And you can thank their neurotic, fanatical meathead, Ozzie Guillen.
In just two seasons, Guillen turned a once decrepit club into one of the premiere teams in baseball. His zealous antics and aggressive, yet smart philosophy, a philosophy which emphasizes shrewd base running tactics and a give-yourself-up-for-the-team mentality, have been the catalyst, the drive, the underlining factor of the White Sox success this season. To be cliché: Guillen’s philosophy is known as smart ball, or small ball.
On Guillen’s team, you have to do all the nitty-gritty things, like play air-tight defense and make smart decisions on the base-paths. The White Sox don’t lose games, they get beaten. In other words, the White Sox make you beat them; they won’t make stupid mistakes and give the game away.
Guillen implemented a system that he wholeheartedly abides by, and stays consistent with his teachings. He elucidates a clear message to his players, putting it in front of them in black and white: play hard, and be rewarded.
He manages from the heart–with zeal, fervor and an undivided passion for what he believes is right.
That’s why they’re in the ALCS.
And just because they play mechanically sound, fundamentally precise baseball doesn’t mean they can’t whack it out of the park every once in a while.
In fact, the White Sox hit one more home run than the Red Sox this season, a team known for its tumultuous power.
But the White Sox like to think of themselves as manufacturers–a club that makes solid contact at the plate, runs the bases hard and aggressively, sacrifices runners into scoring position and plays infallible, flawless defense.
The White Sox play baseball the way it used to be played. The way it should be played. They don’t mind laying down a sacrifice bunt, or taking a four-seamer in the back, as long as it benefits the team.
I bet their players would rather go 0-4 with three strikeouts, ten games straight, than watch their team lose 9 out of 10.
In an era of inflated biceps and oversized egos, the White Sox personify none of that–they’re perhaps the most pure, wholesome, untainted team in the majors today.
The White Sox don’t have any Rafael Palmeiro’s, Mark McGwire’s or Sammy Sosa’s poisoning the game of baseball with their ostentatious pretentiousness. They have 25 guys who are committed to one common goal: a World Series ring.
And it’s not like the White Sox have bags of money lying around, like the malignant Yankees and Red Sox. The Chi Sox have a modest 75 million dollar team payroll, 13th in the majors–but compared with the prodigious 205 million dollar payroll of the Yankees and the 121 million dollar payroll of the Red Sox, that’s chump change.
Thinking politically, if the Yankees and Red Sox are capitalistic entrepreneurs, than the Chi Sox can be considered freethinking socialists, or Marxists.
Communism may not have worked in Russia, but it sure is effective in baseball.
Just look at the White Sox. Or, better yet, the Angels.
Ah, yes, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A team worth just over 95 million dollars, 5th in the MLB. But don’t think they’re capitalistic money-hogs. Like the Chi Sox, the Angels play gusty baseball, selfless baseball, good baseball. They don’t hit a lot of homeruns, but are unprecedented in the field of manufacturing runs–making the most of your outs and exploiting your opponent when they make a mistake.
Both the Chi Sox and the Angels play the game right.
That’s why they’re in the ALCS.
They just did it.