Yesterday was a day of goodbyes. Like the title of the post says it was a long goodbye. I chose that title from a Brooks and Dunn song because I feel a long post coming on. I will try and keep it short, but I have a feeling it will not be. Set aside some time and read along with me.
The goodbye that we know for certain is organist Nancy Faust. She spent forty years at the ballpark entertaining the crowd from her seat behind the plate. Before the game while everyone else was clambering for autographs from the players I went and said goodbye to Nancy. She was nice enough to pose for the picture above. The crowd really showed their appreciation for her throughout the game. She brought a lot to the Sox over the years, and I hope she got just as much back as she gave.
The crowd was in a giving mood yesterday. Even after a disappointing season they really let the team feel warm the entire game. In the fourth inning Ozzie took out A.J. after the warm ups were over so that the crowd could let him have it. A.J. got an ovation that I thought the crowd could not top. They managed to do it a few innings later when Paul Konerko was taken out of the game. He got a loud ovation that did not stop. Pauly was forced to come back out of the dugout for a curtain call. The crowd already gave the two players a huge ovation before the game even started. As the team took the field everyone else stayed back so Pauly and A.J. were the only two on the field. It was a great moment as they stood there on the field at their respective positions. If it truly was Pauly’s last game for the Sox they sent him off in style. A.J. is shown above acknowledging the fans as he was taken out of the game. In all it is very possible that four members of the 2005 World Series team could not be back next season. It will be interesting to see how all of that plays out.
Before the game the Sox players signed autographs on the field. It did not look like I could get any since the window was so short so I decided to get some pictures instead. Paul Konerko of course was a fan favorite. His line never seemed to get any shorter. I jumped in a line that had Ramon Castro, John Danks, and Chris Sale. It moved quick enough that I also got autographs from Freddy Garcia, Alex Rios, and Gregory Infante. Garcia, Rios, and Infante looked like they were ready to find a warm spot. They all had their hoods up and pulled tight. Danks, Sale, and Castro were awesome. They were having a blast with the fans. The guy that lived up to his reputation was Mark Kotsay. He was watching the clock the entire time, and as soon as it read 11:30 he split saying it was the rules. Of course on the other side of the field Mark Buehrle signed until the line ran out. Buehrle really is the good guy on the team. He gets it, Kotsay does not. Buehrle will be back next season, and Kotsay will not.
Oh yeah they played a game yesterday. The White Sox started things out great by scoring five runs in the first two innings. They scored two runs in the first when Alexei Ramirez hit a two run shot off the left field foul pole. Of course I did not get that on film because I was trying to get Juan Pierre stealing second. He had no shot as Alexei drove the first pitch down the line. His line drive smacked off the pole, and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Alexei has quietly had a great season. His defense has really improved, and his bat has stayed steady.
Juan Pierre also had a good game. He scored on Alexei’s home run, and also drove in three runs on the day. His single in the 8th inning gave the Sox the insurance run that they needed. After that single he stole his 68th base of the season. That was the second highest total in White Sox history. He has quietly had a good season after starting off slow. The Sox going out a winner has a lot to do with both Alexei and Juan having a good game at the top of the order.
When Brett Lillibridge threw to Mark Kotsay for the final out the fans acted like they just won the division. They applauded the team that had a roller coaster season. Some players signed for the fans again. Others like my guy Matty Ice above threw t-shirts into the crowd. Juan Pierre jogged out to left field to toss t-shirts to the people in his area. Mark Buehrle made a quick speech to the crowd, but both A.J. and Pauly were the ones they saved the time for. Buehrle gave his speech telling management to bring back Pauly and A.J. next season. A.J. gave his speech saying his time in Chicago was great, but they should bring back Pauly for sure. Pauly gave a speech that thanked the city for everything it did for him. As he was wrapping up Buehrle tried to give him the Gatorade shower, but missed. I have never been to the last game of the season before, but it was pretty cool. I would like the players to have the World Series trophy in their hands though next time I do it.
The one thing that I did not know about until just before the game was the fact that Ozzie Guillen with a win would reach 600 in his brief managerial career. I liked this picture of Ozzie hugging Pauly after the game. It shows what he really thinks of his players. He is a good manager that seems to get the most out of his players. I look forward to seeing him reach some more milestones in his career.
Well that wasn’t too long. I will do my best to recap the season in a later post. For now I will just think about what could be next season. Could it be the one that ends with a championship again?