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Only one of the other 100 World Series champions, the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, ever closed the season with a finishing kick as good as the 16-1 sprint by the Chicago White Sox. Unlike, however, those Orioles, a 108-win juggernaut with three Hall of Famers who closed on an 18-1 run, these champions took more pride in their tenacity than their talent.
"Other championship teams have more Hall of Fame players," first baseman Paul Konerko said, "but as a team concept I'll put our team up there with anybody."
The White Sox did not steamroll teams. They gently pushed them aside, playing taut, fundamental baseball that, except for a 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, was always just good enough to win over a magical span of 29 days.
The 2005 World Series was White Sox baseball at its best. Chicago pulled off the most razor-thin sweep in Series history, winning four games by a combined six runs without once beating a Houston starter. The Sox became the first team in postseason history to win twice in the same series on homers in the ninth inning or later--and the guys who hit them, Scott Podsednik and Geoff Blum, had hit one home run combined in the regular season.
"Strange things have to happen to win a World Series," said Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who recalled watching on TV last year as the Boston Red Sox won the Series for the first time since 1918. "The first thing I thought was, It's our turn next," he said.
The baseball gods, as if paying it backward, did indeed take care of the White Sox next. Chicago won its first World Series since 1917. It did so not by dominating the Astros but by making another sort of history with the most efficient sweep ever in the World Series.
The World Series came to Chicago with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a return engagement 46 years in the making. U.S. Cellular Field was festooned with the traditional bunting, an enormous United States flag that covered virtually the entire outfield for the singing of the national anthem by Josh Groban, a slew of dignitaries--beginning with the Houston starting pitcher, Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner and the second-oldest man to start any of the 589 World Series games--and a first pitch thrown by 71-year-old Luis Aparicio, one of six players from the 1959 White Sox invited to share in the pregame ceremony.
And to top it off there was the great and powerful Oz. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added his usual irreverent bluntness to the proceedings when asked about having the honor of catching the first ball thrown by Aparicio, his fellow Venezuelan. "I just hope it doesn't bounce," Guillen barked. "I'm not wearing a cup."