In Defense of the 2005 World Series or: Look Deeper, You Lazy Bastards!

Ed Note: This is an inaugural guest post by our very good friend, Brian Berman. Keep track of his posts with the tag, “Berman Is Always Right.” Cause he is, and it’s true.

The World Series is upon us, pitting the San Francisco “You have to go back to New York to find our last championship” Giants against the Texas “What World Series appearance?” Rangers. These are two fan bases that do not get enough “tortured” cred[1], so I’m truly ok with either of them taking the title. In fact, this is going to be my first stress-free World Series since the excellent 2005 World Series[2] where the Chicago White Sox swept the Houston Astros.

Because I’ve had this conversation before – and because I can be a presumptuous ass – I know what you’re thinking. “Berman, how the hell was the 2005 World Series excellent? It was a sweep, you jackass. Save that praise for the 2001 Series.” Well first of all, stop with the name-calling. Very unbecoming. Secondly, I’m not saying it’s on the level of 2001. I seriously doubt that any World Series in history lives up to 2001[3]. Doesn’t make 2005 any less great.

Finally, there are a couple of factors that are working against the 2005 Series’ place in the collective consciousness. For one, it was a World Series between the White Sox and the Astros. As a result, this is the breakdown of people who watched it:

  1. The 20% of Chicago that doesn’t root for the Cubs
  2. Houston
  3. The players’ immediate families (cousins couldn’t be bothered)
  4. Me[4]

For another, people look and see a 4-game sweep. They don’t go any farther than that. Combine this with the fact that nobody watched, and it’s easy to see why this World Series does not get its due. But a sweep does not (necessarily) a bad series make. One has to look at this on a game-by-game basis to get the full experience. And in a great stroke of luck, you have me to be your guide[5]. So come with me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride:

Game 1: Ok fine, so this one doesn’t help my point. It was a pretty run-of-the-mill game, though it ended up being decided by only 2 runs with a 5-3 final. So, um, I guess producing a save situation is exciting? Really, the only fun part was that prick Roger Clemens (one of the very few athletes I dislike on an individual basis) getting pulled after giving up 3 runs in 2 innings. But this is the last game that requires an excuse.

Game 2: Back-and-forth, both teams rallying, and a stunning ending. This was a truly great baseball game. The Astros had a 4-2 lead before Paul Konerko hit a grand slam in the 7th inning to flip the advantage. Ordinarily this would break a team but the Astros rallied for 2 runs in the 9th, tying the game and soiling the pants of White Sox fans worldwide[6]. But in the bottom of the 9th, the unlikeliest of heroes emerged. Scott Podsednik – the quintessential speed guy with very little power – stepped to the plate with 1 out. Podsednik had as many home runs in the 2005 regular season as me, Chris, your grandma, and Tight Pants Walking Guy[7] combined, but that didn’t prevent him from putting one out off of Brad Lidge (more on him later). So yeah, World Series walk-off home run by a guy who hadn’t hit one all year. Not memorable at all.

Game 3: Despite having a team since 1962, this was the first-ever World Series game to be played in Houston[8]. And because of that, they tried to keep it for as long as they could. This game went 14 innings, with plenty of threats to the tie that came up short. The bullpens were like clown cars and both teams ended up using starters in relief. And yet again an unlikely home-run hero emerged for the White Sox, this time in the form of career journeyman[9] Geoff Blum in the top of the 14th. The White Sox also got an insurance run to push the lead to 2. Again the Astros threatened to tie in the bottom of the 14th, but usually-a-starter Mark Buehrle[10] came in and got the last out with the tying run on 1st. Regardless of sport, nothing is tenser than a playoff game in extra innings/overtime, where the course of the series can change on one play[11].

Game 4: How does a 1-0 game to decide a World Series sound? This was typical of the 2005 White Sox, who happened to get great years out of 4 starters (Buehrle, Jose Contreras, Freddy Garcia, and Jon Garland) and got a complete game out of each in the ALCS against the Angels. In this one, Garcia and Brandon Backe[12] matched 0’s for 7 innings before taking a seat to let the bullpen decide things. Of course, the Astros had the misfortune of having a post-Pujols bomb[13], pre-2008 Brad Lidge in the game. He gave up an RBI single to Jermaine Dye, and then the White Sox had to sweat out the last couple of innings to clinch their first championship since the Black Sox scandal.

See what happens when you don’t stop digging? All close games, none decided by more than 2 runs, and Games 2-4 were legitimately great. And nobody has any clue because they can’t be bothered to look beyond the obvious. I feel that this problem is always on display in a sports world where some people can’t accept a pitcher with a 13-12 record as a Cy Young candidate14, where people look at a quarterback’s interception totals without factoring in throws tipped by his own receivers or end-of-game prayers, where people look at hockey players’ goal totals without considering empty-netters, etc. etc. In short, we need to elevate the level of sports understanding. Or at the very least get people to stop calling me a jackass.

NOTE: As ridiculous as I am I didn’t remember all of that detail off the top of my head, so special thanks to the fine people at baseball-reference.com.

Marginalia

[1] The Giants get extra points for 2002, an all-time gut-wrencher. Though that gorgeous park should ease the pain.
[2] In order: 2006: Cardinals vs. Tigers. The Mets should have been there. The one World Series that I couldn’t bring myself to watch. 2007: Red Sox vs. Rockies: Everybody outside of New England was rooting for the Rockies. 2008: Phillies vs. Rays: I have to root against the Phillies, especially against a team that had never done anything prior to the year in question. 2009: Yankees vs. Phillies: My 2nd biggest nightmare matchup behind Yankees-Braves. Actually rooted for the Yankees and felt kind of dirty doing so.
[3] Even Yankee fans have to admit this if they look at it impartially.
[4] You want a citation? Boom
[5] No! Don’t leave! I’ll make it worth your while! I promise!
[6] South Side-wide?
[7] It’s a Bellmore thing
[8] And that ridiculous field. I get that you want some quirks, but come on. Show some self-respect.
[9] It’s much nicer than saying “the mostly sucky”
[10] I spelled that correctly on my first try. I need a life.
[11] Cliché! Drink!
[12] Brandon Backe!
[13] If a ball has ever been more crushed, I’ve yet to see it. Also, damn the MLB for not putting their videos on YouTube, resulting in videos with shitty quality like that one.
[14] A topic that warrants its own piece, and probably one that Keith Law already wrote. #voteforfelix

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About chris
www.chriscona.com

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