One of my favorite memories of my life as a White Sox fan is lucking into front row walk-up tickets following the famous undefeated 7-game Indians/Yankees road trip in 2000. My brother and I chanted along with 40+K Sox fans as Kip Wells out-dueled Bartolo Colon, pitching probably his best game in a Sox uniform. For the games final 4 innings, the stadium echoed with chants of "Eight-And-A-Half," the Sox division lead over the visiting Indians following their presumptive victory.
It seems that in each of the Sox recent division-winning campaigns, there is that moment where you finish watching a game and you left thinking, "This thing is over. They're gonna win the division." In 2000, that game against Cleveland was it.
Wells couldn't find the strike zone at all that year. He had lasted just 2 innings in his last start, which just so happened to be against Cleveland. Yet, there he was pounding the strike zone in the biggest game of his young career, experiencing a true playoff atmosphere for the first time. The stars had aligned. The Sox were for real, punching their playoff ticket in June.
2005 had a similar moment for me. The Sox had run off a couple of 8-game winning streaks in the first 40 games of the season, but were never really able to distance themselves from the Twins, who were off to a hot start themselves. But in the middle of what would become their 3rd 8-game winning streak before the All-star game, they strung together two late inning comebacks that had to make any Sox fan feel that 2005 was our year.
The first was the Saturday night game against the Dodgers, a turn back the clock game if I remember correctly, that found the Sox getting 3-hit for the first 8 innings only to be saved by AJ Pierzynski's walk-off HR with 2-out in the 9th. And the Sunday night ESPN game was more of the same, only different, with a couple of poorly fielded 8th inning bunts followed by a clutch hit from Aaron Rowand to provide the come-from-behind victory.
I can remember answering the phone after AJ's HR. I immediately knew who it was. My dad had managed to stay awake long enough to catch the end of the game. We agreed, "This team is specail."
This is really funny. I just went back to see what I wrote about the 4-run come-from-behind victory referenced above. Yep. I wrote about that game in 2000.
Inside The Numbers
I've become Mariotti. A one-trick pony.
Phew, that was a close one. I didn't wistfully write about that 2000 game until a few days after the AJ walk-off. Here's the recap of that game.
I'm not sure that Monday's game quite reached the zenith of those other seminal moments, but the homestand taken as a whole might. The 15 inning game. The bullpen. Paul Konerko's walk-off. The awakening of Nick Swisher. The offense as a whole. It was quite possibly the most dominating homestand in White Sox history, certainly of my lifetime.
The division lead sits at 6.5 games. The offense finally appears to be clicking, while the pitching remains consistently awesome. And with 9 straight games against sub-.500 clubs, it's time for the Sox to put this thing away.
If they're able to continue their run, I might be penning wistful entries about the past week in the years to come.