Wednesday, October 26, 2005

White Sox: Champions For Chicago...y Venezuela

An hour after the Chicago White Sox clinched a deceptively gut-wrenching 4-0 sweep of the Astros, I've finally washed the smile off my face. It is a glorious hour.

I have been a White Sox fan since I began to think. Yeah I liked Bobby Dernier and Ryno on the Cubs in '84. But when my sense of injustice kicked in a few years later, I made the switch to the South Siders.

This year I saw em from the beginning to end. I was in Tuscon for pre-season when we beat the Cubs 11-9 and saw em whenever they came within 150 miles of my apartment in Los Angeles (San Diego and Anaheim), including 2 playoff games. I even flew home to Chicago to soak in the atmosphere for games 1 and 2 (beautiful).

I have to say the moment is made all the much better because of the particular manner and circumstances in which it takes place. This was totally unpredicted even by the most die-hard fans. In fact I remember screaming at the TV when unnamed ESPN commentartors picked em for 3rd and even 4th place in the Central Division (behind KC) before the season started. I must also say it is great getting there before the Cubs and under Ozzie Guillen with a bunch of ego-less cast-offs built around a Chicago nucleus.

We played nearly perfectly the last 15 games. Hardly any errors, pitching to die for. Timely hitting, "smart ball" and powerball in the same game. A new guy stepping up every game, and no clear playoff MVP. A bunch of guys called Pyrzinski, Podsednik, Uribe, Crede... it is a perfectly South Side team.

As for the drama, save it for your mama. I didn't want to hear it when I was at Anaheim Stadium (get over it) and the constant moaning from Houston didn't leave a good impression... neither did their whitey white organization. Yeah the ump blew a couple calls ... what else is new. The Astros got a free home run, we got a baserunner. Houston wasted all their runners. Plus, you certainly don't need to tell Sox fans about getting screwed.

All in all, it is a moment of redemption, of vindication and of even greater hopes of repeat. Why not? We'll finally have a little money to spend and as long as we sign Konerko, the team should stay in tact. Guillen, we need you back man. Bring that trophy to Venezuela, then come back home.

Meanwhile, Cuba remains in the forefront for Contreras and El Duque. "This is one of the few times when I haven't missed Cuba," Contreras said. "I feel like I'm back with my team in Pinar del Rio." Guillen Jr. says the two Cuban pals frequently talk about their days on the island and have expressed some jealousy about other players' ability to return home. "I know Contreras would give anything to go back for at least three days," Guillen Jr. says. "I miss everything about Cuba," he said. "I've dreamt about schoolmates of mine from when I was 5 years old. Everything — the food, my family, the neighborhood. "What gets my mind off Cuba is baseball. Once I'm on the mound or I'm getting ready, there's nothing else in my mind besides baseball. I think if I weren't playing baseball I'd go crazy."

It is a sad thing to see these two go unrecognized in Cuba. The Cuban Government believes it has to impose the maximum penalties against defection. That is the unfortunate cost of putting the rights of the Cuban people above any one person. My hope is that the new rules Cuba has put on playing abroad, which are similar to Japan's, will help alleviate the pressure on both sides. Players can play abroad after they've played in Cuba and established themselves.


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