Last night, I went to bed at around 7 o'clock. While it had more to do with a lack of sleep from the night before, it seemed appropriate that on the first of many consecutive evenings with no baseball game in sight that a baseball fan turn off the lights and shut his eyes.
Hibernation Fever…catch it!
Before this thing of ours takes its fitful winter's nap, waking up at frequent intervals for awards, trades, signings, releases, rumors and sheer boredom, I want to stay awake long enough to appreciate the 2005 post-season one more time, even if the Mets weren't part of it. I have to admit I'm beginning to feel like the Morgan Stanley guy — you know the investment adviser in those commercials whose devotion to his clients' financial well-being borders on creepy…
“Wow, that's quite a White Sox blog you've got there.”
“Oh, this isn't a White Sox blog. I'm a Mets fan with a desperate need to write about whatever baseball you put in front of me.”
I don't understand why the World Series doesn't get a 60 rating and an 80 share and I don't understand baseball fans who bail on October just because their team failed to qualify. This was great theater we who had the good sense to witness it just witnessed. We are living in a golden age of post-season baseball since 2001, a different champion each year, a different story unfurling in the form of 25 scrappy players, 25 fighters fighting to make 25 dreams come true.
It's not as good as when the Mets were in it in '99 and 2000 but it's waaaay better than the endgames of those years (and '98 and '96). Unless the Mets are going to be a dynasty, I despise dynasties. I think those who favor dynasties are weak of character and generally have no spine as human beings. An era when we go from Diamondbacks to Angels to Marlins to Red Sox to White Sox is thrilling. If you're a baseball fan, you have five distinct sets of memories from the past five years if you were paying attention.
The fan must take responsibility for remembering what took place because baseball's deep and cavernous memory hole is already licking its lips in anticipation of devouring the 2005 Chicago White Sox. By 2007, the White Sox will be referred to as the Red Sox having won two in a row. By 2009, the Cubs will get credit. And by 2012, the Yankees will be recalled for having won 18 consecutive World Series.
I don't think the White Sox' first championship in nearly 90 years was nine minutes old when I heard an ESPN anchor frame the whole thing in terms of the Cubs, as in “the White Sox have been the second team in the second city and the Cubs blah blah blah.” Tell me what on earth the Cubs had to do with any of this? Yes, I recognize proximity and lengthy bouts of barrenness, but so what? This was the White Sox' night. Let the Cubs get to a World Series before mentioning them in the same breath.
These Sox also can't enjoy a headline all their own. The Times, for example, had to juxtapose 1917 with 1918 in their treatment because last year it was the Red Sox and now it's not the Red Sox. Listen, I loved the Red Sox' romp last October as much as anyone who wasn't an actual Red Sox fan, but their reign is over. Give the White Sox their own storyline. That they're both Sox and they both waited a long time is noteworthy, but it's sidebar material. However Curt Schilling's foot is feeling these days is irrelevant to October 2005.
And then there are the Yankees. This blog's stance on their existence (we're against it) is well-known and any mention of them in any context that doesn't indicate their immediate dissolution is made with utmost regret. But following the White Sox' victory, I watched Baseball Tonight show numerous replays of Juan Uribe's headfirst dive into the third base stands to make the second out of the ninth inning of the fourth game. It was a great, great catch. But you know what ruined it? The ESPN heads who fell all over themselves calling it a “Derek Jeter play”.
How? How was it a Derek Jeter play? Derek Jeter was sitting in his living room listening to Yanni for all we know while the Juan Uribe play took place. Juan Uribe made that play, not Derek Jeter. For that matter, Derek Jeter, despite occasionally tumbling into the stands as a result of a chronic inability to break his own momentum without calling attention to himself, has never made a catch that good in so dramatic a spot. If you're going to compare Uribe's snare to anybody's, look no further than David Wright who, like the White Sox shortstop, actually had to go full speed into a batch of fans in an enemy ballpark to spear a foul ball this season in Seattle.
This was the World Series. Derek Jeter doesn't play there anymore.
Now I've fallen for the media's game. I've gone and ruined a perfectly nice post-season reflection by devoting space to the futile Cubs, the deposed Red Sox and the irrelevant Yankees. I apologize. Let's isolate them in their own paragraph and be done with them for now.
The White Sox are champs. They played in a way that defied superficial analysis. There is no way they would've been picked to win anything because there were no obvious standouts, no superduperstars. That was a team playing ball, the same as the Angels in '02 and the Marlins in '03 (or have you forgotten those spinetinglers?). I won't claim to have seen them coming but I got an inkling when they pushed back the Indians that something good might happen for them. They reminded me of us at the very end of the 2000 schedule when, after putzing around in September, we won our last five in a row. That momentum fueled us versus San Francisco and St. Louis. The White Sox took it further. Good for them.
The Astros are runners-up. They also reminded me of us in 2000, specifically how all your blemishes and shortcomings can be exposed in a single series. Their offense, which boiled down to Lamb and Lane and pray for rain (so we can close the gol'darned roof), was never their strong suit but they would not have gotten as far as they did without something working; their NLDS and NLCS performances were breathtaking. Though I wholeheartedly rooted against them, I actually felt bad through Games Three and Four as they flailed and missed. The Backes and Burkes and Brads were players worth admiring for their grit. I doubt there's a lot of consolation in being the best 0-4 in team in World Series history, but I think they were. With a few notable exceptions, keep charging, Astros. You're all right.
OK, I'm done caring about other teams. Let's Go Mets.