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Experiencing 2005: Triumph, Then Flat

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El Duque cements his Sox legacy, but ALCS starts poorly

Bitmoji drinks beer from a sippy cup.

October 5, 2005

Watching at home. Red Sox do their thing and are up 2-0 in the first, then 4-0 in the third. David Wells, whom I will never, ever, ever forgive for his short time on the South Side, has the White Sox handcuffed, and the score stays there through 4 ½ innings [note from the future: Buehrle would have been pulled after the third in today’s game, but pitches seven here].

My cynicism kicks in, and I am resigned to a loss and trying to cheer myself up. Oh, well, if the Good Guys get one out of two in Boston, I like their chances at home in Game 5. Right?

Chris Berman on ESPN is insufferable, telling hagiographic Red Sox-break-the-curse-stories the entire game.

Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Aaron Rowand singles in Carl Everett, and and out later, Joe Crede singles in Rowand. One out, man on first, Sox have cut the deficit in half.

Routine grounder to second. Shit, there’s a double play. But then Tony Garaffanino boots it. (“Oh, no!!” Berman wails. Shut up.) Sorry, Tony G., I have always liked you. But you play for somebody else now.

Two batters later, Tadahito yanks one out for a 5-4 lead, and I am jumping up and down and calling my parents. “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” Dad says regarding Wells.

Tony G. tries for a redemption story with a double in the ninth, but he is stranded as Bobby Jenks nails it down.

Right Sox up, 2-0, in the series.

October 7, 2005

At home again. Have the TV on, but listening to the radio instead of ESPN.

White Sox are up 4-2 in the sixth, but things are going south. A Manny Ramirez solo shot chases Freddy Garcia, then Damaso Marte gives up a single and two walks. The bases are loaded with nobody out, and I think I’m going to lose my lunch.

Ozzie calls to the bullpen, and out runs Orlando Hernandez. Um, maybe wouldn’t have been my choice here, but OK.

Pop out, pop out, Johnny Damon can’t hold back on a third strike, and El Duque saves the day. He also pitches clean seventh and eighth innings, and I didn’t care much about his signing in the offseason, but I love him so much right now. [Note from the future: These will forever be known as The El Duque Innings.]

An insurance run by Juan Uribe and three outs by Jenks later, and the White Sox have won a postseason series for the first time since 1917.

After the bitter disappointments of 1983, 1993, and 2000, all I can do is emit an enormous sigh of relief.

Sox await the winner of Angels-Yankees. Please, God, don’t let it be the Yankees.

October 11, 2005

Game 1 of the ALDS vs. the Anaheim Angels. I have a ticket to the game, and I am feeling confident. Angels have to be tired after a late flight from L.A. yesterday and a grueling five-game series. I buy my scorecard from the same vendor outside Gate 4 that I’ve been buying from since Opening Day. My seats are high up in the 500 level, along the first-base line. I am on the aisle, next to two nice young men who ask me how long I have been keeping my own scorecard.

Jermaine comes up to bat in the second, and I yell, “Come on, JD, make me love you!

One of the nice young men turns to me. “Were you seating in Section 157 in Game 1 of the ALDS?”

“Why, yes. Yes, I was.”

“So was I. I heard you that day.”

We reminisce about The Bludgeoning, because it is frankly more interesting than this game. The Sox don’t play poorly, but they can’t get anything going and it ends in a flat 3-2 loss.

Uh-oh.