Don't miss a single issue!
Enter your email address for updates:







Jeff Kallman on the GAME THREE GIFTS...

Peter Schilling on the RETURN OF THE BLACK SOX?

Jeff Kallman on the BRAD LIDGE FIASCO


Kallman on the EX-YANKEE FACTOR




Mudville Home Page

Fungoes! We get mail

Mudville Archives

Submit to Mudville!











The Official Story:



St. Paul Saints

The Finest Gazettes:

Baseball Prospectus

ESPN Baseball

Twins Territory

Baseball News Blog

Baseball Almanac

Baseball Reference

Baseball Library


Baseball Primer

Business of Baseball

John Skilton's Baseball Links

White Sox Interactive

Baseball Almanac


Baseball Savvy

The Hardball Times

The Baseball Guru

Japanese Baseball

Elysian Fields Quarterly

Cosmic Baseball Association

The Finest Scribes:

Zellar's Warning Track Power

Alex Belth's Bronx Banter

Cub Reporter

Mike's Baseball Rants



Futility Infielder

Aaron Gleeman

Will Carroll

Management by Baseball

Field of Schemes

John Thorn

Bijan C. Bayne

MLB Contracts

Boy of Summer

The Baseball Boys

Baseball Desert

Bluemac's MLB Player Contracts

On An Historical Note:

The Baseball Reliquary

Walter O'Malley

Society for American Baseball Research

National Republican Baseball Hall of Fame

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro League Baseball Players Association

Pacific Coast League

Jim Bouton

Seattle Pilots


Encore Baseball Montreal

The Tarot de Cooperstown

Hanshin Tigers

Tigers Today (Hanshin)

Dr. Harold Seymour

Cuban Baseball

Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame

Clear Buck Weaver

1919 Black Sox

Jim "Mudcat" Grant

The House of David

Philadelphia Athletics

May We Suggest These Additional Entertainments:

Don Marquis

The Straight Dope

The Filthy Critic

Coyle and Sharpe


Yo, Ivanhoe!

Sake Drenched Postcards

Beer Advocate

Cervantes Project

World of Beer

Post Secret

Ozu Yasujiro

Preston Sturges

Carl Sagan

Ernst Lubitsch

The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

Isaac Bashevis Singer at 100

John Fante

Paul Bowles

Kurt Vonnegut

Jack Kerouac

Night of the Living Feelies


Iron Fans

Ben Katchor

The Republic of Pemberley

A Fistful of Leone!

Masters of Cinema

Senses of Cinema

Midnight Eye

Errol Morris

Europa Galante

Kronos Quartet

Mike Watt's Hoot Page

The Breeders

The Reverend Horton Heat

Blue Note Records

Sub Pop Records

Johnny Cash

Hank Williams

The Other Side of the Country

Krazy Kat

Matt Welch

This Modern World

The Bernard Herrmann Society

Slim Gaillard

Thomas Merton Foundation

Joseph Campbell Foundation


Institute of Official Cheer

Drawn and Quarterly

Southern Culture on the Skids

Fight Kikkoman! (Japanese)

Fight Kikkoman! (English)

The John Schilling Gallery of Useless Entertainment (For Macusers Only!):

The Lonesome Electric Chicken




Conan the Librarian


Poop Alerts

All the Rest


John Schilling

Catbird in the Nosebleed Seats

Mark Lazar

Sherrod Blankner

Paul Dickson

35th Avenue Studios

Mystic Shake

Flat, Black & Circular

Lesley Pearl





Book Darts: not a toy

I Love to Score Scorebooks


Brace Photo

Vintage Cardboard

Good Deeds Done Dirt Cheap:

Oak Street Cinema

Red Cross


Operation Paperback

Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library


B.K.S. Iyengar

B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Center Minneapolis

B.K.S. Iyengar USA



Mudville Magazine is a proud member of the
WorldWide Network, Inc.


GAME FOUR, WORLD SERIES: Chicago White Sox 1, Houston Astros 0 (White Sox win Series, 4-0)

"Any questions?"
Billy licked his lips, thought for awhile, inquired at last: "Why me?"
" That is a very
Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?"
" Yes."
" Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Did White Sox fans eschew curses because they are wise people who love life? People who don't look for superstition to guide them, who aren't content to let baseball so rule their roost that in reality they can enjoy it more for what it is, a beautiful game played from the budding spring to the crisp fall? Is it so that they can finally win a championship and enjoy it, without all the stupid fatalistic dogma we see in Boston. Did they sense that all the weird calls might pop up in the Series, just as it does in baseball in general, and that it's merely the way the game goes, not the unsteady, drunken hand of some god who seeks victory or defeat? That maybe, just maybe, Chicagoans wanted simply to enjoy this World Series like it's a game, and not some act of God, not some whim of the fates, but a game of baseball in a town that loves sports?

This World Series did not, for instance, heal anyone. It did not reunite the north and south sides, it did not end a long era of futility that was felt in the marrow of generations and was finally exorcised after 88 years. It didn't do anything but bring some fun and joy to the city of Chicago.

Because curses are silly, and the White Sox and their fans know this. I didn't know this before. I know it now.

In fact, I would argue that these White Sox are wonderful for a number of reasons: because they played old-style ball and they played Moneyball-style ball and they weren't picked to win, but win they did. And it proves very little except that you win baseball games by playing well—hitting and pitching and fielding better than the other team. No one will fill our already overcrowded bookshelves with titles suggesting that the White Sox prove a certain point, made over and over again by the beleaguered fellows at this website or that. It doesn't prove that the grumps are right, the old men who can't stand the numbers-crunchers. For once everyone seemed to shut up and just watch the game.

And soon they'll have their memories: there's tons of them. Like a four game sweep that was, in reality, four nail-biting games that could have gone either way. Though I respect Phil Garner, I have to admit that it was wonderful to see him so baffled as to why nothing went the Astros way, especially in the hitting department. That'll be fun to remember. And great plays, like Uribe's falling into the stands to record out two in the ninth, not to mention his final grab and fire to Konerko for the final out. There will be Scott Podsednik's walk-off homer in Game Two, Jeff Blum's homer to win game three in fourteen long innings, and this nail-biting 1-0 final game four. Ozzie's sitting in his director's chair, mistakes and taking advantage of mistakes and the best, the best, four game sweep in World Series history. Will the White Sox be able to repeat? Will Konerko return? Will Ozzie Guillen run for mayor?

Who cares? Right now, we're here. In the now. The now is preparing for a parade in Chicago. Right now they're laughing to themselves, wondering what Ozzie will say over the next few days, whether or not they should buy a White Sox wool cap for the grueling two hour wait on Michigan Avenue during the parade.

Right here, right now, all there is in Chicago is a celebration of baseball, and it has nothing to do with anything but baseball. Isn't that just how it should be?

—Peter Schilling Jr.
Thursday, October 27


The last time the Chicago White Sox won four games in one World Series, they were beating John McGraw's New York Giants 88 years earlier, they were managed by a man named “Pants”, and even Chick Gandil and Swede Risberg gave no thought to throwing a thing to the other guys.

Roll over, Gene Autry, and tell the Bambino the news. Three curses busted in four seasons. At this kind of conversion rate perhaps next year really will be next year, at long enough last, for the other Chicago team. The one whose ballpark is as lovely as its team is not, compared to the new World Champions being as lovely a team as their ballpark is not. Unless your idea of lovely is vertigo in the nosebleed seats.

This time, the White Sox won four straight after throwing nothing at the Houston Astros but pitches the Astros couldn't hit with shovels, panels, or doors when it mattered. And whenever the Astros could find any way to hit what these White Sox threw or extort their way on base, they treated their baserunners like castaways rather than runs in waiting.
For most of Game Four the sound coming from Minute Maid Park public address system should not have been buzzing bees but the theme from Gilligan's Island. But Phil Garner was no Professor, the Astros' hitters resembled Gilligan more than the Skipper, and don't even ask about the millionaire and his wife.

Brandon Backe had saved boldness from bathos, throwing seven shutout innings in which he alone among the Astros resembled Houdini more than vainglorious Mr. Howell, and it was his malfortune to do it on a night when Freddy Garcia made these Disastros look even worse than Backe made the White Sox look. And he made the White Sox look paralyzed enough that it took Garner, with no little disbelief, lifting Lidge for a seventh inning pinch hitter and bringing in Brad Lidge for the top of the eighth before anyone put something on the scoreboard.

Lidge did what he could in the wake of his shattering Game Two hour, including and especially standing up in the hours since, making no attempt to shirk his responsibility for Scott Podsednik's walkoff tracer, but he could do nothing this time to stop pinch hitter Lenny Harris (for Garcia) lining a base hit the other way to left field to open the White Sox eighth; nothing to stop Podsednik from bunting Harris to second or pinch hitter Carl Everett (for Tadahito Iguchi) grounding him to third, or eventual Series MVP Jermaine Dye—four hits in his final five Series at-bats—lining one up the pipe to send home Harris.

These White Sox—six parts Go-Go and half a dozen parts Winnin' Ugly; shaken into re-smartening by a stretch drive swoon that almost left room for an upstart band of Cleveland Indians to steal the division the Sox once had under armed guard—were probably far more gracious in conquest than the Astros deserved them to be. "Hats off to the Houston Astros," Podsednik said breathlessly in the immediate wake. "They grinded it out the whole way . . . they were a class act the whole way."

"This was an unbelievable World Series," said owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the World Series trophy nestling in his left arm. "We won four straight, they could easily have won each and every one of those games. A great battle by a valiant club." This was hardly the first time the primary instigator of the 1994 players' strike—you know, the one that cost the White Sox a legitimate shot at doing this a decade plus one year sooner than they did at last—was wrong, and it will not be the last.

"We missed a lot of pitches that we could have hit, and we did expand the zone a little bit," Garner said when it was all over but the second-guessing. We were a classic sort of a slump, and they had the other side of that circle, where they hit everything that we pitched up there over the middle of the plate."

As much as it will fall to profound analysis as to just how these White Sox did what scattered predecessor teams (1959, 1983) could not accomplish, the record will show that in a World Series in which the White Sox's suddenly invincible starting rotation began to look a little more human than they had in cauterizing the Los Angeles Angels, these Dis-astros swung as though lacking plan or reason while the White Sox bullpen proved best able to pick up, dust off, and drive home the screws.

Five times in the final game did the Astros put their leadoff hitter on base, three times was he put into scoring position, twice did they load the bases including on walks that finished intentionally, and they left them all that way. And in the bottom of the ninth, after pushing their leadoff man into scoring position yet again, the best the Astros could do was hit balls serving to make White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe resemble Derek Jeter just waiting to hang them out to dry.

"Jason Lane," Tim McCarver crowed on Fox, "drops a little parachute into center to open the ninth for the Astros," hitting Bobby Jenks's 2-2 fastball on a high flare that fell between oncoming center fielder Aaron Rowand and Harris outgoing from second. Brad Ausmus bunted Lane to second, and pinch hitter Chris Burke (for Adam Everett) hitting a 2-2 pitch on a high pop outside the third base line and heading for the seats foul, when Uribe ran full force and dove over the rail into the crowd to catch it as his head aimed toward the floor behind the fence.

Go ahead, Juan, stick the knife in a little further if you dare. Come in hard on that slow chop pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro (for Lidge) sent behind the mound, the ball dying when it hit between the back mound dirt and the grass. Pick that dead sponge with your bare hand, bag Palmeiro by a half step. Send half of Chicago, the half which roots for those other guys in those Friendlier Confines, into a spasm unseen since Lew McCarty, pinch hitting for Poll Perritt, grounded one to future Clean Sox second baseman Eddie Collins, who whipped a throw to future Black Sox Chick Gandil at first for game, set, and 1917 Serious.

But please have the decency not to ask why on earth Garner added insult to injury when he decided to stick a premature fork into Backe and send up Jeff Bagwell to bat for him in the seventh, instead of saving the Astros' franchise-best slugger for something a little more important that might come up; say, in the bottom of the ninth. Don't even think about asking Garner why he lifted a pitcher with a shutout in the making, with no need to save him for a blessed thing in light of a game that was beyond merely must-win.

And, please, too, have the decency not to say how it felt leaving Craig Biggio—with Bagwell the longest suffering among these Astros, whom not even the White Sox would have begrudged had their juniors found a way to quit playing Dumb Ball around them—stranded in the on-deck circle, battered batting helmet barely masking a still-boyish face straining not to betray what he knew to be true, that they had looked worse being swept by these White Sox than they ever made the St. Louis Cardinals look in taking the pennant in six.

The Astros inertia wedded to the White Sox's alertness made one wish that Ozzie Guillen—who opened his season looking as much like a Calgulan-style diplomat as a delightful rake and finished looking like Casey Stengel reincarnated up from the arterials of Venezuela—had been handed competition worthy of his cheerful risk-friendliness. He out-thought and out-generaled Garner, and his players out-pitched and out-executed the Astros so profoundly, that there should be as little further talk of how tainted the postseason was by dubious umpiring as there should be much further investigation into why this postseason's umpires were as allergic to extra labor toward getting it right as last season's had been allergic to shirking that duty.

The Disastros had made few friends and influenced fewer people except as examples of what not to do and how not to execute or excuse it; their inability to produce on the bases had finally caught them in the pincers of a gang of relentless junkyard dogs and their sesquipedalic master; and, they had nothing and no one to blame but their own sad selves, for becoming the first of major league baseball's original expansion class to reach their first World Series and not win even one game, contra those elitists from New York and Los Anaheim.

"I can't say anything about it,'' Backe said, speaking specifically about Garner's seventh inning pinch-hit decision, perhaps inadvertently speaking beyond those things. "He's the manager. He's the one who makes the decisions, he's the one who made the decisions that got us here.'' The White Sox have just let the world know that "here" has a double meaning that the Astros will spend a painful enough winter conjugating.

—Jeff Kallman
Thursday, October 27


Dear Mr. Mudville –

True Story:

I was watching game one of this year's World Series. It was about the 4th inning out here, and it was time to put our 2-week old twins down for bed in their nursery. We had been holding them and feeding them while watching the game. Unfortunately, the little guys just wouldn't go to sleep. They'd fall asleep in our arms while we watched the game (and, yes, drank beer) but the moment we moved them away from the TV and the sound of baseball, they went crazy.

Finally, we had to put them both to sleep right next to the speaker of the television, where they could hear the sounds of the game and the play by play. As soon as we did that, they fell into a blissful slumber, listening to the chatter of the final innings, and our cheers as the rough-and-ready White Sox beat those Red State Sombiches Astro-nots.


Editor's note: Peter & Will Clason were born October 5 to our good friends (and fellow Loafer publisher) A. D. Clason and artist Sher K. Blankner.


WORLD SERIES, GAME THREE: Chicago White Sox 7, Houston Astros 5 (Ozzfest Leads the Serious, 3-0)

For a Houston Astros fan, it may take awhile to answer as to whether their best pitcher's better stuff abandoning him at home—letting him belch up a five-run fifth inning that killed a 4-0 lead—hurt worse than a former teammate not long removed belting up an unexpected, tiebreaking, proved-to-be-the-winner fourteenth-inning home run.

Was it less painful to watch Roy Oswalt, his best fastball guilty of desertion in Game Three of his team's first World Series, poised to defend that early Astros lead when Joe Crede opened the Chicago White Sox fifth with an opposite field launch into the right field seats, from which point the White Sox sent ten more to the plate and four more across it? Was that a greater sting than the Astros' whip-around fourteenth-inning double play turn merely setting a stage for Geoff Blum—a thirteenth-inning substitute for Tadahito Iguchi at second base—to pull reliever Ezequiel Astacio's 2-0 pitch down the line and just a row or two into the low right field corner seats?

Crede's drive almost felt like a momentary lapse of reason compared to what followed him: single (Juan Uribe), strikeout (White Sox starter Jon Garland, up to bunt), single (Scott Podsednik) and first and second, RBI single (Iguchi, punching a liner up the pipe, Uribe scoring), RBI single (Jermaine Dye, lofting a soft liner off the end of his bat and up over the middle), deep fly out to center field (Paul Konerko, with Iguchi slipping off second and forced to hold his base when Houston center fielder Willy Taveras was all but conceding him third base), two-RBI double (A.J. Pierzynski, bouncing one off the fence to the right of Minute Maid Park's center field berm, driving home Iguchi and Dye)?

It was almost a wonder that the White Sox kept it there for the next nine innings, strictly speaking, considering Oswalt was so stripped of powers by this point that he walked Aaron Rowand and plunked Crede (pitching him tight as it was, drawing no little yapping from Carl Everett and other assorted White Sox) to load the pads for Uribe. The White Sox shortstop popped a 1-2 pitch to right center field where Jason Lane ambled over to catch it for the side.

There went the joy of Craig Biggio, one of the Astros' eternal warriors, co-founder of the Killer Bs, producing the first three runs of the first World Series game ever played in Texas—whacking a high liner to the left center gap bouncing off the track for a double and scoring one out later on Lance Berkman's opposite field line single; sending home Adam Everett (he reached to lead off when Uribe couldn't handle his slow roller past the mound, and was bunted over by Oswalt) with a neat punch through the hole between first and second, and scoring two batters later, after Berkman singled him to third and Morgan Ensberg singled through the left side to drive him in.

There went the joy with interest in the bottom of the fourth, when someone other than the White Sox caught a break for a change and Jason Lane's drive to slight left center hit the wall just left of the Conoco billboard in one of the wall arches and just left of the yellow home run line, letting Lane take the round trip for the 4-0 lead that had exactly one half inning to live.

And there went the joy of Oswalt pitching on coarse gallantry alone, surviving with as much breaking material as alleged fastball through four innings, putting his defenders to work and getting splendid enough play for his investment, which only began when Everett over from shortstop picked off Dye's grounder for a nothing-to-it step-and-throw inning ending double play in the top of the first.

Then Crede greeted him rudely to open the White Sox fifth. And while the Astros handed it over to the bullpen, after Oswalt opened the top of the seventh by walking Konerko on four unintentional balls, they pried the tying run out of Cliff Politte in relief of starter Jon Garland in the top of the eighth.

Ensberg pried a two-out walk out of Politte, compelling Ozzie Guillen to bring in Neal Cotts, and Mike Lamb, starting in left field for the Astros, getting a four-pitch unintentional pass from Cotts, pushing him out and Dustin Hermanson in from the White Sox pen. And Lane shot a hanging slider up the left field line and on a carom off a billboard along the fence angle, enough to let Ensberg score but also to keep pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett (for Lamb) from thinking beyond third base.

How conscious do you think either the Astros or the White Sox were about the oddball umpiring calls that have helped to govern the incumbent postseason? Ausmus was aware enough to pounce on a thirteenth-inning bunt by Podsednik that bounced just behind the back corner of the plate, with White Sox reserve catcher Chris Widger (a ninth-inning substitution) on first, and throw up to second as the foul call was registered by home plate umpire Jerry Layne.

One pitch later, Podsednik bunted again, this time right off the plate. Once again, Ausmus pounced, reaching with his mitt as Podsednik lingered in the batter's box, thinking he had bunted another foul, but Ausmus whipped another throw to second hearing no foul call and Everett alertly had the pad covered to force Widger before throwing on to first to get Podsednik—not customarily a double-play victim—by several steps.

The Astros must have thought they were on the receiving end of blessings, too, when Brad Lidge—who flinched not once after Podsednik continued what Albert Pujols started upon his psyche—shook away any demons in the top of the ninth, coming in on a double switch (Chris Burke to left field, spelling Bruntlett with Berkman moving to first) to bail out Mike Gallo (who had come in to bail out Dan Wheeler after the latter plunked Konerko with one out, and got Pierzynski to ground out to Biggio at second), and blasting Rowand for a strikeout on a low-and-away slider with just enough to tempt the White Sox center fielder and preserve the tie.

But Orlando Hernandez relieving Hermanson for the bottom of the ninth seemed bent upon giving to the Astros until it hurt too much for them to receive. El Duque threw away a pickoff bid against Burke (a one-out, four-pitch walk), letting Burke have second on the house, and walked Biggio after Burke stole third on a pitchout. And Taveras—why didn't Phil Garner put the squeeze on with one out? —swished on an offspeed service down the pipe, and Ensberg wasted a bases-loading walk to Berkman (intentional after a 2-0 count), swinging right through a pitch just under his belt.

And after Lidge sawed through the White Sox in the tenth (an infield out and two swishes), El Duque tried his best to give the Astros another present, walking Lidge's pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro on four pitches to open the bottom, before leaving with an apparent sore shoulder. Everett pried a walk out of reliever Luis Vizcaino before Burke bounced back to the mound to strand two more of sixteen total Astro castaways.

Chad Qualls took his own turn ducking the bases loaded in the top of the eleventh when he got pinch-hitter Timo Perez to ground out to Berkman unassisted at first, and Bobby Jenks ducked trouble in the bottom of the inning after plunking Taveras and walking Berkman, thanks to Ensberg popping out down the left field line and Palmeiro grounding one back to the mound for the side. Qualls and Jenks swapped three-threes in the twelfth, and the Astros wasted another early baserunner (pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino, for Qualls, a leadoff walk) off Damaso Marte spelling Jenks in the thirteenth, when he punched out Biggio and Taveras on practically the same pitch, an inside corner fastball just on the knees, before Berkman forced Vizcaino at second to end it.

And then for a moment it looked as though Astacio would escape the fourteenth as swiftly as he had stepped into trouble, when Dye's leadoff single to right center got turned into a highlight double play, when Ensberg slid to his right knee to pick Konerko's smash up the line and throw a strike to Biggio, who whipped one likewise to Berkman to nail it.

Blum turned out to have a different net result on his mind. So different that it almost seemed as though the Astros were too numb to notice when Widger walked on 3-1 with the bases loaded on Astacio (Rowand, a chopper to third too slow for Ensberg to throw him out; Crede, a roller up the line that stopped off the pad at third fair; Uribe, a full-count walk) to push home the insurance run.

Wandy Rodriguez came in to get Podsednik half-swing, whole-strike, but after the Astros got themselves first and second in the fourteenth with two out (a one-out walk to Palmeiro, Ausmus safe when Uribe bobbled his grounder), Guillen reached for Mark Buehrle, his Game Two starter and winner, and Everett reached for a 1-1 pitch and popped it behind shortstop for the game.

Unless the Astros have a little Idiocy in them behind Brandon Backe for Game Four, the White Sox are going to see the Red Sox, if not quite raising them, for ending curses actual or alleged and for the swiftness with which they will have done it.

—Jeff Kallman
Monday, October 24


WORLD SERIES GAME TWO: Chicago 7, Houston 6 (Black Sox lead Colt 45s 2-0)

Like Al Capone years back, the Chicago White Sox of the new century are relying on the men in black to turn their heads now and again and act as though they're on the payroll. For the third or fourth time (I've lost count), an arbiter has helped extend a Sox inning longer than the usual three outs. This time, Jermaine Dye, standing on a full count, checked his swing as the pitch came in and bounced it off his bat. He took a half step backwards and then, perhaps with larceny on his mind, took a couple of steps and stared at the ump as if to remind the arbiter that this was the time to cash in on certain favors. The ump quickly shot an arm toward first, and Dye was on, bases loaded. Tim McCarver made some foolish point over the air, suggesting that if a pitch hits a player, it always caroms in a certain direction (I've never been hit with a pitch, but logic and physics tells me that Tim is dead wrong), but then, like a seasoned reporter on the take himself, suggested no wrongdoing. Phil Garner shook his head, emerged slowly from the dugout and argued (though I'm not certain he was convinced of his own position. He was the stranger here, he didn't own these cops, and was probably frustrated that back home in Houston he wasn't going to get the same breaks.

As in the days of Prohibition, the benefactors of a very public crime seem to respond with moxie, without sheepishness, without morals, proceeding to beat their opponents who foolishly thought the game would be on the level. These White Sox carry their Tommy Guns out in the open: this is their town, that exploding monstrosity is theirs, U. S. Cellphone Park belongs to them, and those neighborhoods that surround the place? The dirty and beat up old neighborhoods with the fans who are sitting at home watching the game while wealthy bastards steal their seats? Those people are the fans of these Sox. Even when the cast of the Fox pabulum "Prison Break" sit in the front rows, pretending to care in the rain.

Unlike Al Capone, however, the White Sox are also legitimately plying their trade. No one told Paul Konerko in advance that there'd be a fat pitch waiting for him to blast out of the park. And no one guessed that Scott Podesnik would smack a home run out for the second time this postseason, not coincidentally the second time this year. Mr. Podesnik has the look, at least, of the clean cut guy trying to escape the world of the gangster, only to get wrapped up in everything.

I'm exaggerating, of course, because exaggerating is fun, and I'm not from Chicago. I can take that whole section of the city and make it seem like they're almost criminals simply because I want to: and I'm doing it, of course, because there's not a drop of baseball up north other than in Chicago. And I like the Sox. I like their lack of self-pity, like the fact that the bookshelves won't be filled with everybody and his brother's account of finally winning the thing. I like reading stuff like White Sox Interactive's rambling account of the fans. And I like the lady who has a sign that reads "I've been waiting for 92 years." I don't know what that means—she certainly doesn't look 92 years old, and if she was there was a World Series in her time. The combined years of a lack of World Series appearances between the Sox and Cubs is over a hundred years (and is a silly way of looking at futility anyway). Her math ain't so good, or her memory's shot, but at least she's sitting propped up at the game, and looking miserable in the rain.

There are stories here, but they're clumsy, and that's wonderful. Neither team is doing anything that would make the dull folks at Baseball Prospectus suggest blueprint status; neither team is going to go into dynasty mode, and the owner of the Sox still can't evoke a drop of sympathy even from the faithful. He's a shit, nothing but a lug, and thus far I have yet to come across any praise for building this team. Rather, this is one of those fun occasions when a team is just a good team for one year, firing on all cylinders, a team whose pennants and pictures and t-shirts will fade and become part of a memory in a short time. That's good. Baseball should be fleeting.

So for now I'm content to watch a pair of tight games, lap up the fun history (even the New York Times is covering the Sox, and Bill Veeck), enjoy the surprising heroes, and wonder in print whether or not the umps are on the take, even when I know they're not. This is good baseball, a drama that I can't predict, and one that is giving the right people a few weeks of joy. I wouldn't doubt that this is one of the least-viewed series in history, but, like most of those, it will be cherished by the cities themselves.

—Peter Schilling Jr.
Monday, October 24


Throwing the pitch that delayed the National League pennant by one game cannot taste half as grotesque to Brad Lidge as throwing the pitch that won the second game of the World Series for the Chicago White Sox.

You expect at least a fifty-fifty chance that Albert Pujols will hit something you throw him ten miles, but you do not expect Scott Podsednik to check in in any inning, never mind the bottom of the ninth, and take you anywhere within ten nautical miles of Pujols's customary coordinates.

Lidge threw Podsednik a 2-1 fastball and Podsednik drove it into the first row of the right field seats. And if anyone in Chicago or elsewhere had asked how to top Paul Konerko's seventh-inning grand slam before Podsednik swung on Lidge, they might have discovered that even God was stuck for finding the answer in a man who had spent 507 regular season at-bats sending nothing to the far side of the fence.

The White Sox went up two games to none, while Lidge's morale must have been driven down about twenty thousand feet beneath the soggy U.S. Cellular Field grounds, on a night during which they got the benefit of yet another one of those dubious calls for which benefit they have become almost as famous as they have become for their schpritzing manager.

Dan Wheeler had relieved Andy Pettitte after the former Yankee lefthander had pitched six innings a little laboriously but mostly in his usual gallant style, leaving the game with a 4-2 lead and Wheeler primed for the eight (Joe Crede), nine (Juan Uribe), and one (Podsednik) White Sox hitters. And there but for the rude interruption of Uribe, hitting the left center field fence on the fly for a double, had Wheeler gotten two swift enough outs, as the rain began to drive a little harder onto the field, with Crede fouling out to Morgan Ensberg outside third base and Podsednik swishing on a sleek splitter.

But Wheeler walked Tadahito Iguchi on 3-1 and fought Jermaine Dye back to a full count, before throwing Dye a fastball a little up and a little more in. The ball ricocheted off the White Sox right fielder's bat, as a closeup replay showed clearly enough, but home plate umpire Jeff Nelson seemed to have heard nothing resembling a ball striking wood and something resembling a ball striking a human arm, ordering Dye to first as a bases-loading plunk.

Wheeler yielded to Chad Qualls, about whom the White Sox had noted that his sinkerball was slightly more pestiferous than Wheeler's. Had Qualls been aware that his adversaries had read him and prepared for him, resolved to wait for whatever sank not, he might have thought better than to say hello to Konerko with the first pitch fastball to which Konerko said gone, goodbye, Qualls serving it up over the plate and Konerko serving it up over the left field fence. Hence the White Sox with a 6-4 lead that Qualls kept them from fattening when Carl Everett's followup single went wasted, Astros catcher Brad Ausmus throwing him out stealing right on the spot.

The Astros seemed unworried in spite of such a turn. Ensberg had opened the game's scoring by hitting Mark Buehrle's first pitch of the top of the second over the left field fence; a one-out double (Willy Taveras) and a sacrifice fly (Lance Berkman) tied the game at two in the top of the third; a leadoff double (Ausmus, a smash off Crede's glove) and a two-out infield hit (Taveras, beating out a soft grounder to Crede) handed them a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth.

And they had caught a huge break when Rowand was caught flatfoot in a baserunning gaffe in the bottom of the second. The White Sox center fielder was on with a one-out single when Pierzynski drove one toward the left field wall, sending Houston left fielder Chris Burke running back, but Burke misjudged the ball's flight and reached for it about two feet shy of where it hit the edge of a square, chain-link opening in the fence. Certain from his vantage point that Burke was likely to make the catch, Rowand was nowhere past second base and forced Pierzynski to hold at first rather than pass him on the basepath as Burke recovered and threw in, holding a first-and-second that should have been a second-and-third.

Did I do the right thing? Rowand asked Guillen in the White Sox dugout, after scoring on Crede's double down the right field line that moved Pierzynski to third, aware enough that if he had taken third Pierzynski would have had a double and both would have scored on Crede's drive. You did what you could, answered the boss. You couldn't know. Pierzynski ended up scoring when Craig Biggio ran out from second to reach for, bobble, and drop Uribe's short right popup, but the veteran Astro recovered quick enough to catch and force Crede too far off second on the play.

The White Sox wasted another chance in the bottom of the fifth, when Uribe spanked a leadoff double just past Ensberg playing close to the pad but got himself hung in a rundown when Pettitte fielded Iguchi's bouncer precisely enough to run Uribe back toward second at his own pace, tossing to shortstop Adam Everett to dispatch Uribe. Then, with Dye batting, Pettitte picked off Iguchi like a rancher roping a prize steer for the side.

And the Astros proved unworried enough to shoot their way through Bobby Jenks's aura when the husky young closer came in for the top of the ninth. Fittingly enough it was Jenks's first Saturday night victim who landed the first stab, a night after looking helplessly overmatched. Now, however, Jeff Bagwell took a strike, fouled one back, and laid away from anything higher than the middle of the plate: a ball in the dirt, a ball up over the strike zone ceiling, another foul straight back, and a straightaway liner dropping several feet in front of Rowand.

Jason Lane may not have paid that much attention to Bagwell's at-bat, swishing him on three pitches the third of which was a bullet high and inside, but Burke must have paid plenty, reading Jenks for a four-pitch walk before Ausmus's check-swing first base side roller pushed Bagwell and Burke over. Veteran spare part infielder Jose Vizcaino was sent up to hit, instead of a bombardier like Mike Lamb, and the lefty hitting veteran flea-flicked one right over shortstop Uribe's head, sending home Bagwell easily, with Burke coming home daringly enough, sliding behind the plate and touching it just before Pierzynski's tag.

Then Astros manager Phil Garner sent up Lamb, with Neal Cotts relieving Jenks in an inversion of the tandem's otherwise dazzling Monday night appearance. And Lamb skied one that angled enough toward the left field line that Podsednik had to come over on the run to snap it for the side.

Podsednik running for that fly looked almost as though rehearsing a home run trot. One White Sox out later, he needed that trot at the best possible time, while Brad Lidge needed a drink as stiff as his system could tolerate.

—Jeff Kallman
Monday, October 24


Does the myth really remain that the 1919 Chicago White Sox would have squashed the 1919 Cincinnati Reds like household pests but for the Eight Men Out, most of them, playing less than on the square, as the saying went at the time? Is it still canonical law that the White Sox were so much the decade's most potent team that all comers were goners before the first Series pitch should have been delivered?

Mr. John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer suggests in a splendid article that if it is, it ought to be debunked and amended out of existence. "Largely overlooked is that, on paper, the 1919 Reds were at least as good, and most likely better, than the team now known as the Chicago Black Sox," he writes. "All indications are that if the World Series had been played on the up-and-up, it very well could have gone the full nine games . . . and maybe even down to the final pitch."

The day may yet arrive when the White Sox can make it to the World Series without the 1919 ghosts invited to roil around the grounds, but they have revived for now an ancient debate even while provoking a contemporary debate. Above and beyond the perpetual question of whether Shoeless Joe Been Done Wrong, the question before the house should be how on earth the 1919 Reds, with a 96-44 regular-season record, were supposed to have been steamrolled in an honest nine-game competition by the 1919 Sox who went 88-52 on the year.

Understanding that slugging in that day meant doubles and triples preponderantly, the home run barely accepted as an offensive weapon, and pretty much belonging to a certain kid on the Boston Red Sox, the 1919 Reds slugged 38 points lower than the White Sox and their team on-base percentage was 24 points lower, to say nothing about the Reds' position regulars being a little lower in both of those critical categories than the White Sox regulars.

Does good pitching not beat good hitting, as the saying goes? There was no reason why the 1919 Reds should have inspired the like of Hugh Fullerton, he whose skepticism began the sequence that provoked exposure of the scandal, to do as Cincinnati star Edd Roush's granddaughter Susan Dellinger has told Erardi he had done, "dop(ing) the 1919 World Series to be in favor of the White Sox," doping in those years a synonym for handicapping.

The Reds' two best starting pitchers, Slim Sallee (21-7) and Dutch Reuther (19-6), lacked the gaudy season records of the White Sox's two best, Eddie Cicotte (29-7) and Lefty Williams (23-11), but the Reds had the deeper pitching overall, with a team earned run average (2.23) almost a full run lower than the White Sox (3.04), with the Cincinnati rotation (2.14) better than half a run lower (63 points) than the Chicago rotation (2.77) without Dickie Kerr. With Kerr, who had quite a few more relief appearances than starts on the season, the White Sox rotation's ERA would be two points higher. And as it happened both teams' ERA leaders, Dutch Reuther for the Reds and Eddie Cicotte for the White Sox, finished the season with identical ERAs: 1.82.

The author of Clearing the Bases: The Greatest Baseball Debates of the Last Century, Allen Barra, has argued that reading all available materials related to the 1919 World Series scandal left him clueless for what nourished the myth of the White Sox's unquestioned superiority.

"Except for one thing: an assumption that any team that won the American League pennant was automatically superior," he continued. "The American League had, after all, won eight of the previous nine World Series (after the National League had won four of the first six played starting in 1903) but three of the AL's champions after 1909-10, '11, and '13, were Connie Mack's powerful Athletics with their famous 'One Hundred Thousand Dollar Infield.' The A's were simply the best in the period . . . By 1919, the AL teams had won 16 of the previous 22 World Series games, and were 12-5 in the previous 17. The notion that this automatically signified a superior league may seem a bit naive to us nowadays: the Yankees won 16 of 19 World Series games from 1996 through (2000) and 12 of 13 from '98 through 2000, but few would make an argument for American League superiority based on that alone."

Given his title and the concurrent mythology, even the sobriety of Eliot Asinof's Eight Men Out was not entirely immune to a hyperbolic dash, enough to fatten rather than flatten the myths, as demonstrated in his description of the opening atmosphere of the 1919 World Series. "On this Wednesday morning, 30,511 people paid their way into Redland Park," he wrote. "To the Cincinnati fans, there was a throbbing nervous excitement and a secret foreboding. For all their enthusiasm, few could realistically anticipate a World Championship. Deep down inside, they foresaw the adversary walking all over them. Not even Miracle Men could be expected to stop the all-powerful colossus from the West."

A team winning two pennants in three seasons with a sixth place finish rudely interrupting them, and finishing sixth, fourth, fourth, fifth, seventh, and third, prior to the first of those two pennants, is a colossus? The Philadelphia Athletics won back-to-back pennants twice with a third place finish rudely interrupting the back-to-backs. The 1912 and 1915 Boston Red Sox won the first of that pair with a .691 winning percentage that was 62 points higher than the 1919 White Sox, winning the second with a .669 percentage that was 40 points higher. The Red Sox also won the 1916 and 1918 pennants (and World Series); the Red Sox won all four World Series to which they went in the decade and the Athletics the first three of their four.

Mr. Erardi noted two forthcoming editions to the literature of the time, Ms. Dellinger's Redlegs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series and Mr. Jim Sandoval's The Other Side of the Black Sox Scandal, both of which may add toward conferring upon the 1919 Reds their overdue. The mythology holding that the White Sox might have murdered the Reds in a straight set ought to be buried, as profoundly and less reluctantly, with the myth that Shoeless Joe Jackson was entirely blameless among the Eight Men Out. The 1919 World Series scandal did have a victim and its name was the 1919 Cincinnati Reds, and there is no concrete evidence that they could not have won that World Series in a straight set.

—Jeff Kallman


WORLD SERIES GAME ONE: Chicago White Sox 5, Houston Astros 3 (Crede and the Bulls Lead, 1-0)

There was talk enough about this World Series having a former Yankee factor, given four such—Roger Clemens, Jose Contreras, Andy Pettitte, and Orlando Hernandez— on the combatants' rosters, two each. But Game One turned on a pair of Chicago White Sox who may or may not have known their resemblance to a pair of Yankees more ancient, turning what began with two tie scores into a 5-3 win, opening the Series Saturday night with a park-rocking scream for Chicago White Sox fans having no compunction about spoiling the Houston Astros' Series debut.

And one of the pair helped make everyone in U.S. Cellular Field forget any talk of prospective rust settling upon a White Sox bullpen while they enjoyed an unexpected, only too memorable near-fortnight off.

When Joe Crede didn't channel Graig Nettles at the plate, hitting one into the left field seats in the bottom of the fourth, providing the Chicago White Sox their third and last lead of the night, he channeled the old Yankee vacuum cleaner at third base. He leaned above the line taking a possible extra base hit from Adam Everett, throwing him out deftly with one out in the top of the fifth; he moved right and to his knee stabbing Morgan Ensberg's bullet up the grass for the second out in the top of the sixth; and, he dove for Craig Biggio's up-the-line shot with Jeff Bagwell on third, throwing out Biggio for the side in the top of the seventh.

Then White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did what enough had begun thinking was either unthinkable or potentially unnecessary, based upon his starting rotation's League Championship Series performances: he went to his bullpen in the top of the eighth, after Taveras whacked his second leadoff double of the night. And after Neal Cotts showed that at least he had passed through the bullpen's long vacation unrusted, Bobby Jenks saw Crede's Graig Nettles and raised him with Goose Gossage.

It was almost enough to make the U.S. Cellular Field audience forget Jermaine Dye wrestling Clemens for a nine-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the first, hitting the ninth pitch into the right field seats. It was almost enough to make them forget—after Mike Lamb tied it up in the top of the second, with a shot off Contreras into the first row of the center field seats—the White Sox then going small in the bottom: lined single up the pipe (Carl Everett), chopped single through the hole at second (Aaron Rowand, Everett to third), infield bounceout allowing the tiebreaker home, two-out RBI double bouncing off the left center field wall, before Clemens swished Scott Podsednik after a twelve-pitch foul-heavy at-bat.

And it was almost enough, certainly, to make them forget that the White Sox looked in a rumble in the top of the third, when the Astros retaliated with Brad Ausmus's leadoff single to right, Adam Everett forcing Ausmus at second, Biggio floating a liner that dropped into left center for a hit, Taveras pushing Biggio and Everett to second and third with a short, smart bunt, and Lance Berkman ripping the first pitch of the sequence down the right field line for a double that tied it at three.

First, after Taveras ended Contreras's gutsy starting performance with a high liner that hit the base of the left center field wall, manager Ozzie Guillen reached out and touched Cotts. After Berkman singled past shortstop in spite of hitting from his weaker right side, Cotts pounded Morgan Ensberg and Mike Lamb for a pair of hard swinging strikeouts. Then Guillen came to the mound again and motioned to the bullpen, spreading his arms wide above his head and below his belt before moving them in a spread wide of his sides, a playful signal for the tall and broad Jenks. Guillen got his laughs and the White Sox got the last laugh.

The Astros didn't take Jenks with any kind of a smile, and Jenks didn't take Jeff Bagwell with any sense of the sentimentality such as seemed to surround Bagwell even in the road ballpark, the ancient first baseman joining his longtime teammate and friend Biggio in a first World Series they might have thought once that they would never see. Still compromised by the shoulder whose surgery cost him most of his season, Bagwell was left overmatched helplessly, Jenks cranking as a fourth-generation Gossage, blasting the old man away for the side with as violent a swish as might ever be seen in the fall Chicago chill.

And, after A.J. Pierzynski (a bottom of the eighth leadoff base hit pushed through to short right field) came home on Scott Podsednik's two-out stand-up triple, lined high up the pipe and bouncing to the wall, for the insurance on what proved an irrevocable lead, Jenks in the top of the ninth allowed only Ausmus's meek grounder to shortstop to interrupt his Goose call. He blasted Lane away to open the inning, with a swish on the first breaking ball he threw on the night, and he fired a high fastball right through Everett's dowel for the inning and the game.

The Astros showed that at least one of the White Sox's lately-vaunted starting rotation was only human, after all. The White Sox showed, again, that all the rhapsodizing about small/smart ball could not crowd out a little two-way powerball. Roger Clemens's left hamstring showed him yet again who's the boss around here. And if Crede minded Cotts and Jenks showing their Gossage to see and raise his Nettles, he seemed too much caught in the win's refreshment to let on.

—Jeff Kallman
Sunday, October 23

Movie of the Week

The Catcher Was A Spy

by Nicholas Dawidoff

© MMIV Loafer's Magazine. All Rights Reserved.