THE WHITE SOX WIN THE PENNANT!!! – PART III

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After Wednesday night’s exciting finish I was on a baseball high and the only way I was going to serve that high was by traveling to Anaheim to see the White Sox play the Angels. It was going to be quite a weekend with three games being played in 85 degree weather at the Big A. But Thursday morning would require some magic as I’d need to arrange for a hotel room near the ballpark, tickets to the games, and SWA to fly me there and back. I found a hotel room one mile from the park, got a ticket through Ticketmaster for $45, and had free airfare. I flew into John Wayne Airport and saw Sox GM Kenny Williams there, it felt like home. Kenny was there picking up his son Tyler who had just flown in from Phoenix. Tyler even helped get my bag off the carousal. After checking in to my room at the Comfort Inn, I hopped a shuttle, and was on my way.

Next thing I’m sitting in the Budweiser Pavillion in rightfield, without my sunglasses! It was 85 degrees & VERY sunny! What was I thinking leaving my sunglasses back at the hotel? So the first three innings I’m squinting so badly I can hardly watch the game. It felt surreal being there. One thing surprised me there was very little vegetarian fare in the park, I ended up eating at Panda Express. Scott Podsednik singled to right, Tadahito Iguchi bunted him up, Jermaine Dye doubled to center, and then Paul Konerko homered to left off John Lackey giving the White Sox a three to nothing lead before I even was settled in my seat. In the 3rd Iguchi singled, Dye walked, Konerko struckout, before Carl Everett singled to left bringing home a fourth run. With one out in the fifth Iguchi doubled, Dye struckout, and then Paulie delivered again with an RBI single, Good Guys were up 5-0. Orlando Cabrera delivered a two run homer in the 6th inning, but Jon Garland settled down for a complete game winner 5-2 Good Guys. All throughout the game Angel fans were crying about Doug Eddings bad call on A.J. Pierzynski the game before. Everytime they’d bring that up I’d scream out, “WAWWW!!! BABY NEEDS ITS DIAPER CHANGED!!!”, or “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!!!”

Leaving for the ballpark the next night I was determined not to leave my sunglasses behind. And before I went to my seat I visited the Knot Hole Club. The Knot Hole Club is where the club box season ticket holders get good food to eat and some watch the game sanitised behind glass. I had a couple of New Castle Brown Ales, some cucumber sushi, and garlic sweet potato fries, the rich people eat well. So I go to my seat wearing my cool shades, realize it’s kind of overcast, and soon it’s very cold! That was the end of summer as far as my baseball trip out west was concerned.

Rookie Ervin Santana was on the bump for the Halos matched up against Freddy Garcia. The rookie Halos righthander walked Scott Podsednik on a 3-2 pitch, hit Tadahito Iguchi with a pitch, the runners tagged & moved on a deep fly by Jermaine Dye to Steve Finley in center. To which I yelled out, “STEVE! RETIRE! YOU’RE TOO OLD! YOU’RE WASHED UP! YOU’RE STEALING MONEY, YOU HASBEEN!!!” Unexplainably the Angels skipper decided to pitch to Paul Konerko. Paulie made him pay sending a blast over the centerfield wall for another quick 3-0 lead. Perhaps DonS didn’t even put Black Magic Woman on the turntable yet, or maybe there was a skip in the vinyl, or maybe this game has more to do with talent rather than superstition. Although I was wearing my lucky White Sox tee just in case. Garcia gave one back in the 2nd when he issued a one out walk to Darrin Erstad, allowed Casey Kotchman to reach on a single to 3rd, which Freddy threw away, putting runners at 2nd & 3rd, Bengie Molina knocked one in with a single, but then Garcia got washed up Steve Finley to hit into a 4-6-3 DP to end the inning. The White Sox got the run right back in the top of the 3rd when Dye reached on a one out error by Orlando Cabrera, Paulie flied out, Jermaine stole 2nd, and scored on a Carl Everett single to center. To the fans dismay A.J. Pierzynski went yard with a solo shot in the 4th making it 5-1, fans had been really booing A.J. LOTS ever since the drop third strike. The Angels got that run back in the bottom of the frame when Garret Anderson singled up the middle with one out, stayed there when Erstad popped to Juan Uribe, but later came home on a Casey Kotchman double. With so little offense Kotchman was still batting 1.000 after two at bats in the ALCS. The Pale Hose got that run back in the top of the 5th when again Santana walked Podsednik on a 3-2 pitch, Scot Shields got Iguchi to fly out, Pods stole second, Dye grounded out, FINALLY the Angels intentionally walked Konerko, only to have Carl Everett come up with an RBI single to left. The Sox tacked on two more runs in the eighth off Esteban Yan when Carl Everett walked on another full count, went to third on an Aaron Rowand double to left, Pierzynski struckout (to the delight of the fans), but then Joe Crede singled to left scoring two making the final 8-2. Freddy Garcia made it three straight complete games, going the distance. It was very cool seeing former White Sox Ace Jack McDowell drinking beers in the Budweiser Pavillion with the fans. I went up to Black Jack, shook his hand, and told him if ever there was a big game for the Sox he was the dude I wanted on the hill. When he asked if I was having a good time, I smiled, and said, “Of course!”

Decided to watch the Bears play the Vikings at a local sports bar. I thought finally there might be as many Chicago fans as opposition fans watching football in Southern California. Boy was I ever wrong! There was a guy in a Dante Culpepper uniform and everybody else there was dressed in Viking purple. Well it turned out Da Bears took a page out of the White Sox book and thoroughly whooped the Vikings 28-3. I watched the game outside even though it was rainy, had some beer & some good bar food (dunno if that’s like Government Intelligence).

I got to the game two hours before game time, optimistic about the outcome, despite the fact it was raining, there was sunshine in my heart. It was very cool that I was actually there with the White Sox on the verge of winning the AL Pennant, first time since 1959 when I was only three. The Angels seemed to finally take the White Sox more seriously. Steve Finley was benched in favor of Juan Rivera starting in left, with Garret Anderson moving to center, and hot hitting Casey Kotchman again was the DH. My good feeling was reinforced seeing Jose Contreras matched up against Paul Byrd. This game was a little different though in that the game was tied at one through four innings. Aaron Rowand doubled in the 2nd, was bunted along by A.J. Pierzynski, and Joe Crede plated Rowand on a sac fly to center, but the Angels tied it with a run in the 3rd. The White Sox took the lead again in the 5th when Juan Uribe doubled with one out, Scott Podsednik drew a full count walk, Tadahito Iguchi flied to left, Jermaine Dye ripped an RBI double to left, Scot Shields was brought on to get Paul Konerko on a fly to left to end the inning. The White Sox had the lead, but not for long as the Angels scored two in the bottom of the 5th. Adam Kennedy opened with a base hit and scored on a Chone Figgins double doubled to right. Figgins moved to third on a ground out by Orlando Cabrera to Iguchi, and scored on a Garret Anderson sac fly to right. It should be noted that the ice cold Vladimir Guerrero was dropped to cleanup, with Anderson moving to the third spot.

The Angel fans were finally getting a bit cocky, thinking they might win this game. The two fans sitting in front of me moved behind me, thundersticks in hand, and started banging them LOUDLY directly into my brain. I, of course, yelled out, “FINALLY! I HEAR ANGEL FANS CHEERING!” and yelled, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE SIGN TO TELL YOU TO MAKE SOME NOISE! THIS ISN’T A LIBRARY! THEY’RE NOT GOING TO SHOOSH YOU!!!” To which I heard the thunderstick fans behind me exclaim, “Maybe we should just whack him over the head.” Joe Crede greeted Kelvim Escobar with a game tying solo shot in the 7th. Aaron Rowand walked again on a 3-2 count, after Paul Konerko & Carl Everett struckout. Contraversial A.J. Pierzynski hit a comebacker to Escobar. Kelvim tagged him with his glove, but the ball was in his throwing hand. Originally he was ruled out, Angel fans thought justice had been served when Ozzie Guillen came out to argue. A fan actually asked, “How I liked it?” He kind of had egg on his face a minute later when A.J. was ruled safe on an error. Crede greeted Francisco Rodriguez with an RBI single to short, White Sox were up 4-3. In the top of the 9th Iguchi walked on another 3-2 walk, was pumped out at 2nd trying to steal, but was allowed to stay at second when the ump realized Adam Kennedy dropped the throw. Dye walked on the umpteenth full count walk of the series, Konerko scored Tadahito with a double to right, Everett struck out, and then the Sox added another insurance run when Rowand sac flied to Guerrero in right, making the final 6-3 Good Guys. Jose Contreras went the distance for the 4th straight complete game. The White Sox could have saved some money by not even having the relievers travel to Anaheim. Vladimir Guerrero batted .050 in the series. I kept asking VERY loudly, “WHERE ARE YOU VLADY? WHERE ARE YOU MVP? WHERE ARE YOU BARTOLO? WHERE ARE YOU CY YOUNG? ISN’T THIS AN IMPORTANT SERIES?” It was an AMAZING TIME IN ANAHEIM! The Chicago White Sox had won the Pennant!!!

After the game I celebrated at Fritz’ Gentlemen’s Club!!! Seven hours in the rain, with a hacking cough, wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. All I could say was, “FOUR MORE WINS!”

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