White Sox Win the World Series
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JOE BUCK: It’s the middle of the infield, Uribe has it. He throws. Out, out! A White Sox winner and a world championship!
JEFFREY BROWN: The last time those words were uttered was 1917. The Chicago White Sox, a franchise fabled for failure, capped a sweep of the Houston Astros with a final victory last night. The game was scoreless until the top of the eighth inning when World Series MVP Jermaine Dye singled up the middle to drive in Willie Harris for the game’s only run.
Two years after they won their last title, the White Sox made history of a different sort in 1919 as the infamous “Black Sox” when some team members conspired with gamblers to fix the series. It wasn’t until 1959 that they returned to the World Series, losing to the Dodgers.
This year’s White Sox won with a remarkable eleven and one run in the playoffs, with good pitching, clutch hitting –
JOE BUCK: Hits it in to right, down the line, it’s gone!
JEFFREY BROWN: — and great fielding. And now Chicago fans have something to cheer, or at least some do. The White Sox have long been overshadowed by their north side neighbors, the Cubs. That rivalry goes on. But for now, the South Side Sox are on top of the world.
And one of those White Sox fans is Ron Rapoport, who is also a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. He joins us now.
Ron, this is a team without a lot of star players. So how did they pull this off?
RON RAPOPORT: Well, as Scott Podsednik said yesterday, it was 25 guys pulling together on the same rope. That’s one of the things that makes this so exciting to Chicago people is that this was not a team that was expected to do this by any stretch of the imagination. Michael Jordan doesn’t play for this team. This is a team with no offensive players who came anywhere near to starting in the all-star game. The pitching was tremendous, but at the beginning of the season, nobody really understood that.
So it’s a blue-collar, work-together kind of team, and I think that’s one of the reasons Chicago was so excited today. It sort of fits Chicago’s self-image; maybe it’s nostalgic, a feeling that stars and celebrities and so on don’t necessarily call Chicago home, but this is sort of the team that represents the way Chicago feels about itself, and that’s what made it so exciting.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, some teams famous for losing, and I think back to my Boston Red Sox until last year, they had a lot of legend about them. They had mythology. They had the curse, they had poetry written about them.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think a lost poetry has been written about the Chicago White Sox over the decades.
RON RAPOPORT: See, that’s the thing about White Sox fans. They have such an inferiority complex, even their losing doesn’t approach the epic stature of the Cubs, and the Red Sox and the rest.
What you have to realize, Jeffrey, is that the White Sox haven’t won a pennant, or a World Series in 88 years, but what that means is, baseball’s been played here for more than 88 years. It’s a generational thing.
I’m a White Sox fans because my father was a White Sox fan, and his father was a White Sox fan. I got an e-mail today from my dad in Muskegon, Michigan who grew up in Chicago, and he was telling me about taking the streetcar for 15 cents to Comiskey Park. His mother would pack him a sandwich and bottle of pop and be he got a free ticket somewhere to watch Babe Ruth play.
I mean, that’s what baseball means to Chicago. It’s a generational thing — almost a birthright sort of thing passed down like a religion.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, tell us a little about how it works in the division between North and South, between Cubs and White Sox. What’s that based on beyond geography?
RON RAPOPORT: It’s based on kind of a mindset. You know, one of the requirements for being a Cubs fan is to sneer at and look down on White Sox fans. One of the requirements for being a White Sox fan is to think that Cubs fans don’t really know anything about baseball. They just like sitting in the sun in their cute little ballpark and that they’re a bunch of yuppies. And never the twain shall meet.
I don’t think anybody in the White Sox organization thinks they are going to convert Cubs fans. It’s just not going to happen. What they would like to do is to promote themselves and get new fans who were sort uncommitted in a way.
But the Cubs-White Sox rivalry will go on and on. There’s not going to be any kind of a ceasefire or detente or getting together just because the White Sox have won the World Series.
JEFFREY BROWN: I did want to ask you about the manager because he’s a very interesting character. I read today that he’s the first — he was born in Venezuela, the first non-American manager to manage a World Series team.
RON RAPOPORT: Ozzie Guillen, yes. If there is a star on the team, it’s Ozzie. He’s the one that all eyes turned to. Fox showed the series on TV, and the only person on either team that they devoted a single camera to was Ozzie — they called it the “Ozzie Cam” — because he’s so mercurial — you will never know what he’s going to say, what he’s going to do, what kind of action he’s going to take.
Two years ago when he was named the manager of the team at the suggestion of Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner, when the general manager, Kenny Williams was going to go in another direction, everybody thought it was crazy, because Ozzie had this great mercurial “say-anything, do-anything” reputation.
Well, it turns out he was great in the clubhouse with the players, really just melded them together and he turned out to be simply a brilliant manager. I can’t think of a single mistake, a single missed call that he made during the entire playoffs. He really was the right man for this team.
JEFFREY BROWN: So tomorrow is the parade. Does this bridge the divisions for Chicagoans, or what?
RON RAPOPORT: Chicago is very excited. We’re not used to this kind of a thing. They’re very, very thrilled. I mean, Cub fans are just going to have to sit back and kind of lick their wounds, but this is a great thing to happen in Chicago.
And the mayor, a born and bred Cubs fan, like his father the mayor, who was a White Sox fan — excuse me, who was a born and bred White Sox fan, just like his father, who is a born and bred White Sox fan will be somewhere near the very front.
It will be interesting to see if the governor shows up. He’s a Cubs fan. And one newspaper columnist told him to stay away from the ballpark; he’d be bad luck.
I’m not sure that he did come or not, but it will be interesting to see if the mayor gets to do this by himself without the governor of Illinois present.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right. Well, we’ll watch for that. Ron Rapoport of the Chicago Sun-Times, thanks a lot.
RON RAPOPORT: Thank you.