HOUSTON (AP)—Wearing a wide, satisfied smile on a face flushed with pride, Ozzie Guillen stood off to the side by the third base line and simply watched his White Sox rejoice in the middle of the field.
Chicago’s exuberant young manager might have enjoyed sprinting toward that cluster of jubilant players and leaping right into the fray.
But don’t think for a moment he didn’t relish this long-overdue championship as much as every die-hard fan on the South Side.
“People thought I was going to be jumping around my players. I have to respect the opposite team,” the 41-year-old Guillen said. “It went through my mind to say, `I’m so glad to see my boys, my players jumping back and forth and celebrating this.’ Because it was an amazing feeling seeing them like little kids.”
Chicago completed a World Series sweep with a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, becoming the second consecutive set of Sox to end a title drought that dated all the way back to World War I.
Maybe the crosstown Cubs are next. For now, the White Sox rule the Windy City.
Their first title in 88 years certainly didn’t come easily, even in a four-game sweep. The gritty White Sox had to scratch and claw for every win all year, and October was no different.
That’s what makes their dominant run through the postseason so remarkable. With stellar pitching, solid defense, timely hitting—and even some help from the umpires—Chicago joined the 1999 New York Yankees as the only teams to go 11-1 in the postseason since the extra round of playoffs was added in ’95.
“We went to Boston and then we went to Anaheim,” Guillen said. “I told my players the last 11 games we have to win are the toughest ones.”
Going back to the regular season, the White Sox won 16 of their final 17 games. They nearly squandered a 15 1/2 -game lead in the AL Central before holding off Cleveland down the stretch, but that sure seems like a long time ago.
“They were calling us chokers, now they can call us champions,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
It’s the same charming story as last year, when the Red Sox swept St. Louis for their first championship since 1918.
Chicago hadn’t won it all since 1917, and hadn’t even reached the Series since ’59. But thanks to MVP Jermaine Dye, slugger Paul Konerko and the rest, the White Sox will no longer be mainly remembered for Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Sox, who threw the 1919 Series against Cincinnati.
And another parallel is striking: Boston won its final eight games in the 2004 postseason, just as the White Sox did this year.
Now only one team remains with a similar streak of futility—and it’s even longer. The Cubs have come up empty since 1908.
“The instant the Red Sox won last year, I thought maybe we’re next,” said White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, posing with the trophy, cigar in mouth.
For the Astros, who captured their first pennant after 44 seasons in the National League, it was a difficult defeat to swallow. They were outscored by only six runs, matching the New York Yankees’ 1950 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies for the smallest margin in a Series sweep.
“All these games could’ve went the other way,” said Houston’s Craig Biggio, who reached the Fall Classic for the first time in his 18-year career. “I think it was more destiny for these guys than it was for us.”
Now, Houston will hold its breath, waiting to see if 43-year-old Roger Clemens will put off retirement again for a chance at another run.
The Series clincher was a typical win for the White Sox, with little-known players making key plays and maintaining their poise throughout.
Willie Harris came off the bench for a pinch-hit single against Brad Lidge in the eighth and scored the lone run on Dye’s two-out single. Shortstop Juan Uribe made three outstanding plays on defense in the final two innings to preserve the lead, including a tumbling catch into the stands.
And again, they did it on the road. Baseball’s best road team during the regular season, the White Sox wrapped up the division title in Detroit, then went 6-0 in the postseason outside Chicago and clinched all three series away from home.
When it ended, Guillen, who agonized over losses all year, finally got to exhale.
“That’s the first time in my life my heart was pounding like crazy,” he said. “I was so excited. I said, `When is this moment going to happen, a lot of people are waiting for this moment.”’