HOUSTON -- This victory belonged to the entire city of Chicago and a nation of euphoric White Sox fans.
Sure, the White Sox 1-0 whitewashing of Houston on Wednesday completed the 19th four-game sweep in World Series history and gave the franchise its first title since 1917. And team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and vice chairman Eddie Einhorn were able to hoist the championship trophy for the first time in their 25-year ownership reign.
But Wednesday's effort had far greater ramifications than simply what was played out on the baseball field.
It was a victory for the grandparents and great grandparents, who first came into the world when manager Pants Rowland led a group of players named Buck, Swede, Chick, Happy, Red, Nemo and "Shoeless Joe" to the White Sox last World Series title some nine decades ago. It was for the parents who took their kids to Comiskey Park, old and new, U.S. Cellular Field, and heck, even Wrigley Field, hoping against hope that one day they could talk about that special championship season in Chicago.
The win even was for the kids, who have no idea what baseball misery is really all about, having waited only four, five or six years, in some instances, to watch one of their baseball teams celebrate greatness. And this just in for the doubters, the skeptics who didn't believe the White Sox would get to the playoffs, let alone advance.
Ozzie Guillen's crew is pretty darn good. As postseason success goes, they are almost unparalleled. With Wednesday's win, the White Sox finished the 2005 playoffs at 11-1. This mark ties the South Siders with the 1999 Yankees for the second-best postseason winning percentage of all time. They only trail the 1976 Reds (7-0).
"We know about the 11-1 record, and we would have liked to go 11-0," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, drenched in champagne, but still able to flash a mischievous smile. "But we won enough games, and that's all that matters."
"A lot of people doubted us in Spring Training," added White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who started Game 2 of the World Series and saved Game 3. "Kenny [Williams, GM] and Ozzie obviously knew what they were doing, and it paid off."
Chicago also won 16 of its final 17 games, dating back to Sept. 28 in Detroit. And they didn't lose a road game during the entire postseason, covering six games. Simply put, it was utter domination -- even if the final scores didn't always support the description in theory.
Neither Houston starter Brandon Backe nor White Sox hurler Freddy Garcia allowed many scoring opportunities during their seven scoreless innings apiece. Backe gave up five hits and struck out seven, including five straight in the fourth and fifth innings. Garcia allowed four hits and walked three, one intentionally, while striking out seven.
But the game's lone run came in the eighth, with two outs, off Houston closer Brad Lidge. Pinch-hitter Willie Harris, who didn't even know if he would still be part of the organization at playoff time, opened the frame with a two-strike single to left and was sacrificed to second by Scott Podsednik.
|The White Sox won their last eight games of the playoffs, tying the all-time record for consecutive wins in a single postseason with the Boston Red Sox in 2004.The Pale Hose were 11-1 overall in the postseason (3-0 in DS; 4-1 in LCS; 4-0 in WS). Since the beginning of Division play and the LCS in 1969, Chicago is one of seven teams to go through a postseason with one or fewer losses.|
|1999||New York (AL)||11-1||ALCS Game 3|
|2005||CHICAGO (AL)||11-1||ALCS Game 1|
|1989||Oakland||8-1||ALCS Game 3|
|1969||New York (NL)||7-1||WS Game 1|
|1970||Baltimore||7-1||WS Game 4|
|1984||Detroit||7-1||WS Game 2|
"The offense really did its job during the playoff run," said White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker of the one-run victory. "But wasn't this just a perfect way for the White Sox to get the final victory?"
Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth by retiring Morgan Ensberg and pinch-hitter Jose Vizcaino, as Juan Uribe gunned down Vizcaino by one-half step with the tying run on third. Bobby Jenks finished off the White Sox eighth straight victory of the postseason in the ninth, as Uribe came through once again. The slick-fielding shortstop grabbed pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro's broken-bat grounder up the middle and once again nailed the runner by inches at first for the final out.
Uribe's defensive gem set off a wild celebration on the Minute Maid Park field and among the Chicago faithful in the stands. Some 90 minutes later, the celebration still was taking place.
The team's lone regret is that the clinching victories for the American League Central, the Division Series, the American League Championship Series and the World Series came in Detroit, Boston, Anaheim and Houston, respectively. Garcia picked up wins in all but the ALCS.
Of course, the fans celebrating throughout the streets of Chicago on Wednesday night certainly will forgive their conquering heroes.
"It means we get to take that thing over there [the World Series trophy] home with us to Chicago, and that's what we came here for," said Williams, his voice cracking with emotion when talking about the magnitude of the accomplishment. "That's exactly what we worked so hard for in the offseason, agonizing over each and every move."
Politte delivered the final summation on making history in Houston and getting his hands on the championship trophy.
"Absolutely unreal," the reliever said. "I never thought I would get a peek at the real thing, but to have it in my hands was awesome.
"Chicago, there you go. We did it. We did it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.