CHICAGO -- It started as a joke, just three friends having a little light-hearted fun at a bar in Baltimore.

But in the matter of one week, the golden oldie "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey has transformed from a song producing smiles around the White Sox clubhouse to the unofficial anthem for the South Siders' push to their first World Series title since 1917.

This story began when catcher A.J. Pierzynski, center fielder Aaron Rowand and third baseman Joe Crede visited a local establishment on the East Coast featuring a lounge singer. Crede started yelling for the singer to "play some Journey," according to Pierzynski, and when "Don't Stop Believin'" was selected, it became a standard request throughout the rest of the season whenever White Sox players went out together en masse.

"We seem to be able to get them to play it wherever we go," Pierzynski said Thursday with a smile.

By virtue of the White Sox needing just five games to wrap up the American League pennant, not to mention the magnitude of the franchise's first trip to the World Series since 1959, anything and everything seemingly has become newsworthy over the past two workout days. Pierzynski, who often chimes in with his own acerbic take on the media's collective actions and reactions, found the interest in the Journey tune funnier than a player tripping while rounding second and coming up with a face full of dirt.

He even caught a few television man-on-the-street segments, where reporters were trying to get average people to sing the classic Journey tale of hope and despair.

"It started out as a big joke, but you guys somehow found out about it and it's this big media thing," said Pierzynski, taking a quick detour Thursday from the baseball news at hand. "Now, it's even a bigger joke, which makes it even better."

In looking at the song's powerful lyrics, "Don't Stop Believin'" might actually fit the White Sox current quest in more ways than simply the title.

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Let's see, nothing much there aside from the White Sox clinching their first American League Central title since 2000 at Comerica Park in Detroit. Moving on to the next verse.

A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

No, nothing very inspirational to be taken from there. But much like the White Sox, we can't give up yet.

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

And there you have it, the story of the White Sox memorable 2005 season. Well, not quite completely, but where the South Siders and the World Series are concerned, some will win and some will lose. And they are working hard to get their fill of victories so as not be singing the blues when this movie finally does come to an end.

Of course, this deep analysis was rendered useless when Pierzynski mentioned that the song really didn't matter, at the time. It caught on because a number of the players knew the words.

Now, Pierzynski is hoping Steve Perry, formerly the lead singer of the group who gave the world "Who's Crying Now," "Open Arms," "Separate Ways" and other memorable ballads that once filled roller rinks all over the country, will perform at U.S. Cellular Field during the World Series. In the interim, Pierzynski didn't quite get the last laugh where the media is concerned over this suddenly raging news story.

He had to explain Thursday why the players picked Journey over Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel or any other "more manly" songwriters, according to one Chicago columnist.

"That's manly. Journey is manly," Pierzynski said with a laugh. "Why is Journey not manly? I heard Joe Theismann say on the radio that Journey was his favorite group, and Theismann was pretty manly, wasn't he?

"It's a great song, isn't it? It's okay. It's fun. It was meant to be a joke and never meant to get as big as it did. They whole team sort of bought into it."