Monday, October 23, 2017

Can the Dodgers match the ’05 White Sox postseason accomplishments?

Can 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers ...
Now that we know there’s going to be a Houston Astros/Los Angeles Dodgers matchup come the World Series beginning Tuesday, I can’t help but be reminded of that magical moments of 2005 when it was the Chicago White Sox who managed to “win it all” that autumn.
... match '05 Sox postseason mark?

What was notable about the White Sox’ bid for league and overall championships was that, come playoff time, they became virtually unbeatable.

THE WHITE SOX won the first round of American League playoffs with a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox (with Orlando Hernandez making one of the greatest relief pitching performances I’ve ever seen), then lost only one game in the final round of league playoffs.

Then came their four-game sweep of the World Series proper – as they beat the then-National League Houston Astros (watching the Saturday night playoff game against New York at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, I couldn’t help but remember that extra inning home run by Geoff Blum that was a significant part of the White Sox’ ultimate victory all those years ago).

Now why is any of this particularly relevant as we go into the 2017 World Series – one that sees the now-American League Houston Astros try to win their first World Series title ever?
Chicago native Granderson to play in Series

It’s because of the Dodgers – the team that for awhile this season flirted with the notion of setting a new record for the most wins (116) in a regular season; and wound up actually winning 104, which is still very impressive.

FOR THE DODGERS are the team who this year went through the first round of National League playoffs with a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, then went through the final round of National League playoffs by losing only one game to the Chicago Cubs.

Could it be that the 2017 Dodgers ball club will match the White Sox’ postseason achievement of an 11-1 record, which puts that team in some fairly historic categories.
Blum provided heroic moment in Houston

It’s comparable to the 1998 New York Yankees, who had a three-game sweep in the first round of playoffs, then a four games-to-two victory in the final round, then a four-game sweep of the World Series that year against the San Diego Padres (who nearly two decades later have yet to return to the “fall classic”).

Some say the 1976 Cincinnati Reds deserve recognition because they went through the whole of playoffs and World Series without losing a game. But back then, there was only one round of league playoffs prior to the World Series.

THEIR 7-0 RECORD in beating the Philadelphia Phillies, then the New York Yankees, isn’t quite comparable to what the ’98 Yankees or the ’05 White Sox did. Or what this year’s Los Angeles Dodgers manage to do – if they can pull off a four-game sweep of the World Series beginning Tuesday against Houston.
Just what are the chances of that happening? Is this year’s Dodger team going to be the historic element of the 2017 baseball season? Or is it going to be the notion of Houston becoming the first ball club to ever win championships for both the National and American leagues (which they were transferred to back in 2013, after having been in the “senior circuit” since the 1962 expansion)?

Honestly, I’m an American League fan who feels like the real American League teams all got knocked out of the running – and this year’s World Series will be the equivalent of a mid-season 1970s regular season ballgame of the old National League West.

So in that regard, I almost wouldn’t mind it if the Dodgers were able to pull off not only a victory – but a four-game sweep. It would provide an element of history to what otherwise would be remembered as the Yankees/Dodgers World Series that failed to come to be. Besides, since the Astros this year have shown they don’t really win on the road, the Dodgers (who have home field advantage) will have to be the favorite.
BESIDES, IF A four-game sweep were to become the end result – it means the baseball historians would have to delve into the records of the past to recall all the other ballclubs that suddenly became so dominant come October.

It means we’d have to give a plug to the first ball club from Chicago to take a World Series title in this century.

Which I think would be ironic since the fans of the Cubbie blue were convinced until just a few days ago that ’17 was intended to be “their year” to make some history – and certainly not a time for remembering the city’s “other” ball club.

So as I watch this week’s World Series action, I’ll admit that a key day will be Thursday. While many will think of it merely as a travel day from Los Angeles to Houston, I'll be remembering that moment of 12 years earlier at the same ballpark when White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe fielded that ground ball up the middle, then threw to first base for the final out that finally ended the White Sox’, and Chicago’s baseball championship drought.


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