White Sox

One decade later, 2005 White Sox remember team more than individuals

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One decade later, 2005 White Sox remember team more than individuals

It’s easy to point to individual moments that defined the 2005 White Sox World Series run. 

Paul Konerko’s grand slam in Game 2. Scott Podsednik’s walkoff home run just two innings later. Geoff Blum’s home run in the 14th inning of Game 3. 

But one decade after the Sox championship run, the players reflected on personal moments ever so briefly during their reunion on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, while diving deeper into the chemistry and close bond the group of men shared on and off the field. 

“We not only played together on the field, we actually hung out as a team off the field,” 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye said. “We went to dinners on road trips, we gelled with the younger guys. We made it comfortable for everybody and we believed in everybody and there was no cliques. We all pulled for each other and our pitching went out and kept us in the ballgames and we had timely hitting.”

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Former manager Ozzie Guillen believes the bonding process started in spring training when there were plenty of uncertain situations about a team that finished 83-79 the year before. 

“I remember in spring training people were second guessing Kenny (Williams) because we got a shortstop that doesn’t play everyday, we got a Japanese player that never played here before, we got A.J. and everybody hates him,” Guillen said.

“I don’t think anybody knew we were going to be a great team,” outfielder Podsednik added. “There were a lot of question marks. There were a lot of new faces in that clubhouse. No one really knew what to expect.”

But the South Siders gained an identity quickly. They found themselves in almost every game thanks to reliable pitching, a strong defense and timely hitting. Jon Garland was part of that rotation that gave the team a chance to win, and he admitted the guys on the staff fed off each other. 

“We all wanted to go out and throw complete games,” he said. “I don't know if it was that inner competition, we definitely built off each other that year. It was just fun to be a part of that. At some point in everybody's career you want to be a part of that. To be a part of that pitching staff, it's something special.”

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The 2005 White Sox continued to check off the boxes of a winning team during the regular season, even though they weren’t all positive. The South Siders battled adversity, dropping 11 of 14 games in September sending the city of Chicago into a panic (“Even my own wife was booing me because we losing it,” Guillen said). Their hold on the AL Central shrank to just 1.5 games at one point. 

“I remember after that game everybody was looking around at each other like we squandered off a lot of games it was time to get back to work here,” Podsednik said.  

The next day, the Sox rattled off eight wins in their last 10 games to close out the season, carrying not only a division championship into the playoffs with them but a lot of momentum as well. 

“The fact that we did it the way we did it and got in, that was the best way to propel us to winning the whole thing,” first baseman Paul Konerko said. “But again it wasn’t that fun thinking back to August and September of that year.”

The White Sox then entered their first round matchup against the Boston Red Sox and just didn’t know how to lose. The South Siders recorded 11 wins in 12 games during the postseason, sending the Windy City into hysteria over their first World Series title since 1917. 

“Everybody, every day it was somebody different,” Guillen said. “It was good pitching, big plays, big hits. We're not waiting for Bobby (Jenks) or (Dustin) Hermanson or anybody to win the game. We didn't wait for Konerko to hit a home run. Like I said in the past, I don't think we had the best names but we had the best team."

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Ten years later with everyone still alive (“It surprises me that nobody is dead,” Guillen joked) the friendships between the players on that magical team remain as strong as they ever were. It’s clear that the “fun and honest” clubhouse in 2005 was full of a group of men fighting for one cause instead of 25.

“I think it was everybody,” outfielder Aaron Rowand said. “There wasn’t any one leader on this team. It was the entire squad. It was a group of guys that got along well together. It was a group of guys that really cared about each other. We came in and we dealt with each other like family on a daily basis.

“We had 25 leaders in that clubhouse and every day somebody else stepped up. Everybody always pulled on the same end of the rope, working and care about each other. It turned in to something very special.”

Is the White Sox third baseman of the future already on the major league roster?

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USA TODAY

Is the White Sox third baseman of the future already on the major league roster?

The White Sox future at third base is a pretty big unknown.

Jake Burger is only a year and a half removed from being a first-round draft pick, but the double Achilles tear earlier this year has not just derailed his 2018 but thrown his entire future, and with it the White Sox future at the hot corner, into question. How will the injuries affect Burger's timeline to the majors? How will it affect his ability to play third base?

Those questions and the seeming lack of any other high-end third-base prospect in the White Sox system have made it seem rather obvious that the rebuilding White Sox third baseman of the future currently isn't a part of the organization.

The free-agent lists White Sox fans are salivating over have some pretty intriguing names on them. Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado, who wants to play shortstop but is a two-time Gold Glove winner at third, are free agents this winter. So are less-heralded guys like Mike Moustakas and Marwin Gonzalez, who counts third baseman as one of his many job titles for the Houston Astros. Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon are free agents the following offseason. Those are big names, any one of which could be a cherry on top for the White Sox as they plan to shift from rebuilding to contending.

But what if the White Sox already have their third baseman of the future? What if he's already on the major league roster?

No, sorry, this isn't about Yolmer Sanchez. It's about Yoan Moncada, to which you might react thusly: "Wait a minute. Yoan Moncada is a second baseman! Learn to count your bases, Duber!"

My rarely utilized math skills aside, Moncada switching positions has been a bit of a talking point for a little while now, and it has far more to do with what's going on in the farm system than it has to do with Moncada's 2018 season in the major leagues.

The White Sox spent their first-round draft pick on a middle infielder in June despite having two supposed long-term pieces in Moncada and Tim Anderson already playing in the big leagues. Nick Madrigal's versatility on the infield was part of the praise the White Sox heaped on him after making him the No. 4 pick in the draft, but for a guy who's been discussed as a Gold Glove type of defender at either second base or shortstop, it kind of seems like that would be the best place to put him. Now, Madrigal's not exactly knocking on the doors of the major leagues, yet to play his first full season of pro ball, but the White Sox dubbed him the "best all-around player in college baseball" this summer, leading one to believe that his development could move along quickly enough to get him to the majors by the time that much-anticipated shift from rebuilding to contending happens.

If that's the case, either Moncada or Anderson would have to move, right? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the White Sox end up liking Madrigal at third or elsewhere, but he's playing middle infield in the minor leagues.

Anderson moving to the outfield was a favorite suggestion of White Sox Twitter after he led baseball with 28 fielding errors in 2017. He made 20 more in 2018 (fourth most in baseball), but his defensive improvement by the end of the season was one of the biggest positives to take from the 100-loss campaign.

"That’s the thing that really jumps out the most in terms of significant progress he’s made," Rick Hahn said of Anderson's defense during his end-of-season press conference last month. "He’s managed to capitalize on the athleticism we’ve always seen from him and convert that into being a potentially, frankly Gold Glove-caliber defensive shortstop based on what we’ve seen over the last few months.

"This is really a testament in the end to Tim Anderson’s work ethic. He knew it was an area that he wanted to improve, whether it was because he wanted to show people wrong or because he knew he wanted to make himself a stalwart at that position and eliminate the rumors about position change. He worked extraordinarily hard both with Joe McEwing and the things he did on his own, and the kid deserves a world of credit and I think it bodes very well for him continuing on the trajectory of becoming an impact shortstop."

It doesn't sound like Hahn is describing a guy who will be moving away from his position any time soon.

Moncada racked up a good deal of errors at second base in his first full season in the majors — 21 of them, to be exact, the third most in baseball — but Hahn and Rick Renteria both said they noticed improvement from Moncada in the field. But Moncada did tell the Sun-Times' Daryl Van Schouwen during the season that he would be willing to make a position switch if the team wanted him to do it.

Hahn got a similar question during his year-end press conference. Though the general manager wasn't directly asked if Moncada would make a position switch, Hahn said Moncada could defend well at other positions on the diamond and that if such a change were desired, the team would probably make it sooner rather than later.

"It’s conceivable if we made a decision as an organization to try him elsewhere that we would do it as soon as this offseason or next spring training, you’d see it in action," Hahn said. "I do think he has made a great deal of process at second base. I also think he has the athleticism also to be an above-average defender at other positions, too. It’s a subject for further conversation, but as he sits here today, I am pleased with the progress and the pitch-to-pitch focus and the athleticism, the arm strength and foot movement and his hands at second base."

White Sox fans aren't super high on Moncada being the savior of anything, not just third base, right now after his disappointing 2018 season: a .235/.315/.400 slash line and 217 strikeouts, the fourth-highest single-season total in major league history. But that's not souring the White Sox on his potential, and it's not changing what they think he can be.

By 2020 or 2021, perhaps Moncada's evolution as a big league ballplayer puts him on a similar level as some of the free-agent names mentioned above. Perhaps he's already playing third base by then with Madrigal on the major league infield, too.

The White Sox seem to have a hole at third base, with popular opinion being that it can only be filled by a marquee free agent. Maybe it does get filled this offseason — by a guy standing about 100 feet away.

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.