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Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Commentary: Sox are playing hardball in Chicago

December 15, 2005

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— Six of the 25 White Sox who won the World Series no longer are White Sox. And that doesn't even count Frank Thomas, who was right by their side, drenched in champagne.

And they won the World Series just 50 days ago.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is called hardball. It is a game, but it also is a business. Oh, what a business it is. A very tricky business. Sometimes a very cruel business.

The latest to go is Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who last was seen Oct. 28 at Chicago's ticker-tape parade, a cigar jutting from his mouth.

El Duque was the duke of the city after what he did to Boston on Oct. 7 - namely, coming out of the bullpen with the bases full and nobody out, getting Jason Varitek and Tony Graffanino to pop out, then making Johnny Damon bite on strike three. For that alone, Hernandez will have a place in Sox fans' hearts forever.

In four postseason innings, he gave up no runs and just one hit.

But now he's gone, just like that. Traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a younger, stronger pitcher. Case closed. Thanks for the memories. Goodnight and good luck.

Going with him: Luis Vizcaino, who pitched in that unforgettable 5-hour-41-minute, 14-inning World Series game and did not give up a run or a hit.

Gone before them: Damaso Marte, who pitched a hitless 12â3 innings in that same World Series game - and was, in fact, the winning pitcher.

And besides them: Geoff Blum, whose 14th-inning home run won that World Series game.

And also outta here: Carl Everett, who singled in that game his only time up and hit .444 for the World Series.

And, of course: Aaron Rowand, who played in 169 of this team's 174 games. Turn out the lights, the party's over. If you thought the White Sox were going to tie a pretty pink ribbon around everybody who contributed to Chicago's greatest baseball season in nearly a century, you definitely had another thing coming.

Rowand, Everett and Thomas accounted for 48 home runs, 182 RBIs and 302 hits in the regular season, even with Thomas playing scarcely a month. They were men who batted in the meat of the order, men who meant something to this team's success.

Bye-bye.

Hernandez, Vizcaino and Marte combined for 18 victories in helping the Sox win the pennant. Each endured hard times, but when Ozzie Guillen gave the word to general manager Ken Williams which pitchers he wanted on his playoff roster, these three were on it.

Adios.

Blum was barely a blip on the radar. But he filled in at all four infield positions. And when a pitcher named Ezequiel Astacio delivered a pitch that Blum golfed into Minute Maid Park's right-field stands in the 14th inning, it might have been the pitch that made the Sox the team they are today.

See ya.

Rearranged like furniture, the Sox now have a new starting pitcher, Javier Vazquez, and a new DH, Jim Thome, and a new utility player, Rob Mackowiak, and a different center fielder, probably Brian Anderson.

It is a good thing Paul Konerko didn't leave because otherwise this could have resembled the biggest World Series team overhaul this side of the Florida Marlins.

Sorry to see all of them go. But as they say to aspiring chefs in cooking school whose dream is to go on and do even greater things, you can't make an omelet without scrambling a few eggs.

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