July 27, 1995 – One of the most important days of my life
This is a day that changed my life forever. This was the day my son Anthony was born. So a little background…I’m Tony, my Dad is Tony, my Grandfather was Tony…to make it a little more crazy…my father-in-law is Tony, and so is my brother-in-law…another Tony. So while Anthony would be the V (5th), or as my buddy Brett called him Cinco…my wife Gina agreed to name him Anthony, but ONLY if we called him Anthony. Deal was done. So Anthony it would be. As most of you know from my blog, or knowing me I have a few very strong sport loves…aside from my beloved White Sox, I am a huge Notre Dame fan (like being a Catholic school kid in Chicago there was another choice). So much so that on Anthony’s coming home outfit I had a Notre Dame Leprechaun on his outfit.
As Anthony started to grow, I began the indoctrination into the world of White Sox fandom. For starters, he was exposed only to White Sox gear, clothing, etc…my in-laws (Cubs fans God Bless them) thought it would be funny to buy him a Cubs outfit…funny how quickly that got “lost” in the house. I’ll be honest…at times I was a little worried about him and liking baseball…he showed huge interest in NASCAR, so a NASCAR fan I became. Eventually…his love of baseball began…and is still strong to this day.
I remember taking him to games when he was young, as outlined in my prior posts. He became obsessed with the game that I loved so much. This was and is something that we share. I remember his first favorite player being Magglio Ordóñez. I also remember him watching so many games, and one of his favorite things to do was to remember every players batting stance. He would grab a bat, and get into a stance…and ask me, “Dad, who am I? Whose stance is this?” He was dead on…all the time. I remember how sad he as when we let Mags go to Detroit…the first hard lesson about the business of baseball.
So it begins…Wire to wire in 2005
Monday, April 4, 2005 – This was mine and Anthony’s 5th Opening Day in a row. 5 is kinda a milestone. Coming into this game we were 3-1 on our first 4 Opening Days, so we were feeling pretty good about our Sox. Gone was Anthony’d first favorite player, and roaming right field now was Jermaine Dye. Of course we had Mark Buehrle on the mound. If you would have told me on that day, that the White Sox would be in first place in the division, and would win the World Series I would have told you “No Way”. The Sox were picked to finish 4th in the division that year…ahead of only the Royals. The Sox won that game 1-0, Mark went 8 innings, giving up 2 hits, striking out 5. Who can forget the gong as Shingo Takatsu took the mound to secure the save in the 9th. We won…the Sox were in 1st place.
As the season progressed I think all Sox fans started to realize we had something special going on on the Southside. I remember listening to the division clinch game against the Tigers in my office on an afternoon…Paul Konerko catching the throw to clinch the division. We were headed to the Playoffs. While I had my memories of the 1983 Winning Ugly Sox, this was the “Don’t Stop Believing Sox” and Anthony’s first playoff run.
So Anthony and I watched or listened to all the playoff games together. I remember that we had Church School on the day the Sox played Boston…the infamous El Duque game…bases loaded, nobody out…in comes El Duque…the right man at the right time. Anthony and I listened to that inning as we headed home, nervous as could be…this was the defending World Series Champs we were facing…Fly ball, 1 out, Fly ball, 2 outs…then the strike out to Johnny Damon…we went nuts in the car…this was the “Don’t Stop Believing” White Sox…of course we got out of the inning.
Here come the Angels…They were tired, we were rested. Somehow they won that first game. I think all Chicago Sox fans had that collective, “oh no”. Then as game 2 went…we had that same feeling…up until the infamous strike 3 in the dirt to AJ in the 9th…did that ball hit the dirt…we now Tim “I hate the White Sox” McCarver thought it was in the glove…but A.J. was smart enough to run to first. A.J. Pierzynski…the guy who, if he’s on your team, you love him…if he’s on the opposing team, you hate him. Thankfully we love A.J.
We headed out to Florida the morning after the dropped 3rd strike game. So my son and I experienced the games from LA watching from my in-laws home in Fort Myers. Each game was great, start to finish. I just know that we will probably never see another performance of 4 straight complete game wins by a pitching staff in the playoffs. The game as evolved so much since 2005, with starters, middle relievers and closers, never again. I remember that it used to be you wanted your starter to get into the 7th, that has now evolved to getting to the 6th. I still go back and forth on the new rule of finishing an inning or facing 3 batters, it certainly changes the game…I’m just not sure if it changes it for the better. It was annoying to watch teams trot out three relievers in an inning for “situational” pitching, but the idea of managing around that…I’m going with my best guy against your best guy is now gone. Wouldn’t it be interesting if pinch hitters needed to play at least 1 inning after the pinch hit? Would certainly make extra innings or late innings interesting as we still have defensive replacements. Imagine the big pinch hitter needing to come play the field…think how that would change the game.
Anyway…I got off on a fun tangent…I still remember that feeling when Paulie gloved that last out at first in game 5, and the White Sox were headed to the World Series….