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Experiencing 2005: The Bludgeoning

On this date: Game 1 of the ALDS

Your diarist in Section 157 for ALDS Game 1.

Back in 2005, I jotted things down with some frequency as the season went along. I never did anything with those writings, and last winter, I approached Brett with the idea of doing a retrospective, 15 years later. I am with those of you that say, “Enough about 2005 — I want some new success to celebrate!” I get it, believe me. I don’t want 2005 White Sox to turn into the 1985 Bears (we have a ways to go on that one, thank goodness). But by 2005, I had spent 30 years of Sox fandom absolutely certain they would never, ever be in a World Series, let alone win one (1983 scarred me, but that’s another retrospective series for another year). And when my father died, one of my first thoughts (literally) was, “Thank goodness he saw the Sox win the World Series.” So I don’t mind reminiscing every now and then.

You can catch up on some previous Experiencing 2005 editions:

These entries represent my thoughts and feelings in real time, with very little present-day editing.

October 4, 2005

I have gone on a couple more dates with Greg, the man from the U2 concert. He grew up in Connecticut, but has lived in Chicago for 20 years. He is a Red Sox fan (although was a White Sox partial-season ticket holder in the early 90s), and he has bought us tickets for today’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series. It’s a gorgeous Midwestern fall day.

We settle into Section 157 [Note from the future: this detail pays off in a week or so] with plenty of time to spare. The stands are packed, and although Red Sox fans are known for showing up everywhere, we are thankfully surrounded by the Right Sox fans. In front of us are a row of burly-ish guys in their 40s. One of them sees Greg’s Red Sox hat, and his eyes narrow.

“Hey,” he says to Greg, and it’s clear he started early. “You ever been gang raped?”

Before I can retort, before Greg can make a joke to ease the tension, one of the other guys jumps in, pushing his friend aside and saying to Greg, “Sorry, man. He’s drunk already.”

The moment passes, although I feel this is bad karma somehow, that the baseball gods will smite the White Sox because of this neanderthal.

The game begins, and I have never been in a crowd with this much energy. It’s an electric atmosphere, and the crowd stays on its feet for the entire top of the first, in which José Contereas works around a one-out double by Edgar Renteria.

The bottom of the first begins as classic Ozzieball. Scottie gets hit by a pitch, then Tadahito bunts him over. JD comes to bat.

“Come on, Jermaine, make me love you!” (What, like I’m going to stop now?)

The men in front of us turn around. “Why did you say that?” one of the non-rape-threatening ones asks. It is not a threat; he is perplexed.

I explain. Another of them sees my scorecard and asks if I fill one out at every game.

“Since I was six years old.”

He Of The Original Threat seems to be considering all of this, then nods slowly. “You’re alright,” he says to me. He looks at Greg: “Good thing you’re with her.”

JD gets hit by a pitch, too, then Scottie steals third. Sox first-and-third with nobody out. Paulie grounds out, but it scores a run. Aaron Rowand plates another, and the crowd is feeling good. Then with two outs, A.J. hits a three-run bomb, and the crowd loses its collective mind. I am high-fiving every White Sox fan within reach, including the gang in front of us.

By the third inning, when the White Sox are up 6-0, He Of The Original Threat is feeling magnanimous and buying Greg beers. By the end of the sixth, with the Good Guys up 12-2, he’s hugging Greg.

The crowd sings Na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, good-bye every time a Boston pitcher is chased. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is a joyous hymn. The game ends, 14-2, and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so much positive energy from a White Sox crowd in all my life.

Having just watched his own team break their drought the year before, Greg is relatively relaxed. “That was not a loss,” he says when it’s all over. “That was a bludgeoning.”

Yes, a glorious, glorious bludgeoning.