A.J. Pierzynski

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 15 best moments from the World Series run

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 15 best moments from the World Series run

If #SoxRewind taught us anything, it’s that 15 years ago, the White Sox did indeed win the World Series.

With NBC Sports Chicago’s replay of that magical championship run in the rear-view mirror, let’s celebrate 15 years since that title with the 15 best moments from the 2005 postseason.

15. A.J. Pierzynski homers to lead rout of Red Sox

The White Sox won 99 games during the regular season and still came into their first playoff game against the defending-champion Red Sox being described as “underdogs.” But that idea went out the window pretty quick as the South Siders unloaded with a 14-2 crushing. The White Sox scored five runs in the first inning, the final three coming on a Pierzynski homer that sent U.S. Cellular Field up for grabs.

14. Tadahito Iguchi homers to give the White Sox the lead

It wasn’t quite as easy for the White Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, down 4-0 early. But just like the day before, they hung another crooked number on the board in the game’s defining inning. This time it was a five-spot against David Wells. The blow that turned the game around? Iguchi’s three-run blast.

13. Pierzynski completes the comeback

Something about those five-run innings. After the White Sox went down 4-0 when the World Series shifted to Houston for Game 3, they needed another comeback. They got another five-run frame. Joe Crede started it with a homer, and Pierzynski finished it with a two-run double, turning a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead against Roy Oswalt.

12. Paul Konerko slays the Green Monster

With the White Sox a win away from playing for the pennant, they needed to break a 2-all tie at Fenway Park. Konerko did the honors, smashing a two-run homer over the Green Monster. That wasn’t the end of the drama in Game 3 of the ALDS, but it proved to be the game- and series-winning hit.

RELATED: White Sox Talk Podcast: Paul Konerko's and J.J. Putz' new careers as little league coaches

11. Jermaine Dye starts (and ends) the scoring in Game 4

For all the mashing they did during the playoffs, and the World Series in particular, they needed just one run to win the championship-clincher. They got it from Dye, who delivered an RBI knock to score Willie Harris from third base and break a scoreless tie in the season’s penultimate inning.

10. Crede’s heroics to win the pennant

Crede came through with a pair of clutch hits in the late stages of Game 5 of the ALCS, the White Sox looking to rattle off a fourth consecutive victory to punch their ticket to the World Series. First, with the White Sox down a run, he smacked a leadoff homer in the seventh to tie the game at 3. An inning later, with the Angels inserting their excellent closer, Francisco Rodriguez, Crede drove in a tie-breaking run with a two-out base hit. And the White Sox won the pennant.

9. Crede’s game-winning dinger kicks off a World Series sweep

It’s rare to hear a fourth-inning homer described as a game-winner, but that’s what happened when Crede broke a 3-all tie with a homer off Wandy Rodriguez in Game 1 of the World Series. The Astros didn’t score again, and the White Sox got their sweep started in style on the South Side.

8. Mark Buehrle puts out the fire to win Game 3

Two nights earlier, he started Game 2. So what was Buehrle doing coming out of the bullpen in Game 3? Well, it’s all hands on deck when a postseason game goes 14 innings. Geoff Blum broke the tie in the top of the 14th, but things got a little dangerous in the bottom of the inning. After a Juan Uribe error put two runners on base, Ozzie Guillen called on Buehrle to relieve Damaso Marte. Buehrle threw three pitches and got a pop out to end the game and bring the White Sox within a win of the championship.

7. Blum plays unlikely hero

Blum didn’t do a lot of damage after the White Sox acquired him at the trade deadline. But he saved his biggest contribution for the very end, homering to break a 5-all tie in the 14th inning of Game 3 of the World Series. As unlikely a hero as there could have been, Blum smacked his way into White Sox history.

6. Scotty Pods’ walk-off winner

After the exhilarating high of Konerko’s go-ahead grand slam and the deflating low of Bobby Jenks’ blown save, Podsednik did the unthinkable: He homered. After hitting a grand total of zero home runs during the regular season, it was Podsednik, of all people, who found his power stroke at exactly the right time, walking off the Astros to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the World Series.

5. A.J. swings, misses and runs to first base

It’s a play that’s as bizarre a decade and a half later as it was in 2005. A tie game in the bottom of the ninth of Game 2 of the ALCS, Pierzynski swung and missed at Strike 3. The Angels thought the inning over, but Pierzynski was playing a different game in his head, believing the ball hit the dirt, and turned and ran to first base, despite being called out by the home-plate umpire. When he got there, he stayed there and was apparently safe, to the great surprise of everyone in the building. Three pitches later, pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna scored the game-winning run on a Crede double. What just happened? The ALCS got turned on its head.

RELATED: White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay: The Pierzynski dropped third strike game

4. El Duque strands the bases loaded

Konerko launching that tie-breaking homer over the Green Monster was just the beginning of what pitching coach Don Cooper calls the most important inning in franchise history. In the bottom of the frame, Manny Ramirez halved the White Sox lead with a leadoff homer that chased Freddy Garcia. Enter Marte, who promptly gave up a single and back-to-back walks, loading the bases with nobody out in a one-run game. To do the impossible, Guillen called on playoff veteran Orlando Hernandez, who went pop out, pop out, strikeout to strand the bases loaded and preserve the lead. Said Cooper, years later, “The only a------ that wasn’t tight was El Duque’s.”

3. Konerko’s slam sets off bedlam in Bridgeport

Down 4-2, two outs, bases loaded in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the World Series. Fortunately, the White Sox had their best hitter at the plate. Already on his way to securing his place in White Sox history, Konerko delivered his ultimate moment, the one currently captured in bronze on the South Side. He hit the first pitch he saw from just-entered reliever Chad Qualls into the seats and sent the fans into a frenzy as he flipped a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead, his arm raised as he set off around the bases. The effort was somewhat spoiled when Jenks blew the save two innings later, but Podesnik’s walk-off homer ensured Konerko’s grand slam, the moment still etched in the memories of so many, came in a win.

2. Four in a row

It’s not a moment so much as an entire series — and a feat that will almost surely never be accomplished again. After the White Sox lost Game 1 of the ALCS, the starting rotation put the team on its shoulders and threw four consecutive complete games in four consecutive wins. Heck, Jose Contreras went 8.1 innings in the Game 1 loss, nearly making it five in a row. As good as the bullpen was, it was only needed for a grand total of two outs in that series. Meanwhile, the rotation of Buehrle, Jon Garland, Garcia and Contreras went to work, showing off the No. 1 reason the White Sox led the AL Central from wire to wire and ended up World Series champs: dominant starting pitching.

1. Uribe makes the catch, makes the play, and the White Sox win the World Series

The 88-year drought over. The White Sox swept the Astros in the World Series, finishing off Game 4 with back-to-back memorable moments from Uribe in a one-run game. First, he recorded the second out of the bottom of the ninth with a remarkable catch on a foul pop up, lunging into the stands at Minute Maid Park in a defensive highlight for the ages. Then he made a terrific charging play on a ground ball to clinch the world championship. A heck of a finish to the greatest season the South Side has ever seen.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski delivered one of baseball's best moments

White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski delivered one of baseball's best moments

It’s no less bizarre a decade and a half later than it was that night.

The night A.J. Pierzynski pulled a playoff win out of nowhere.

If you’re still arguing whether or not the ball hit the dirt, you’re missing the point. Fifteen years later, the White Sox long the winners of that game, that series and that world championship, watching Pierzynski run to first base and flip the 2005 ALCS on its head is like watching a movie you never get tired of.

Yeah, I know the Avengers win in the end, but that doesn’t mean I’m able to take my eyes off the screen.

Nothing about running to first base after you’ve already been called out fits our typical parameters for sports greatness. Pierzynski didn’t deposit a walk-off homer into the bleachers. He didn’t use blazing speed to beat out an infield hit. He swung at a pitch he immediately knew he shouldn’t have. He screwed up. What’s so great about that?

But baseball is entertainment, let’s remember. And there might not be any better form of sporting entertainment than seeing something you’ve never seen before — and haven’t seen since.

So I’ll argue that this is one of baseball’s greatest moments. Because it’s absolutely insane.

Pierzynski, apparently playing a different game in his head than the one the Los Angeles Angels were playing on the field, ignored the rules of the sport. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings made a fist, made the call, and Pierzynski took off. Better safe than sorry, he must have thought, and indeed he did end up safe. I’m sorry?

The Angels stood around watching Pierzynski like he had sprouted octopus tentacles on his way down the base line. Mike Scioscia, their manager, was outraged, and rightfully so, that not only did Pierzynski flat-out ignore that he’d already been called out, but that the umpires then seemed to ignore that they’d already called him out, too. Everything about it pointed to Scioscia being involved in the most elaborate episode of “Punk’d” that Ashton ever drew up.

RELATED: White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay: The Pierzynski dropped third strike game

Somehow, Pierzynski was safe. He didn’t even stay on the field long enough to witness the end of Scioscia’s pleadings with the umpires, bounding into the dugout with Pablo Ozuna taking his place as a pinch runner. Three pitches later, Joe Crede brought Ozuna home with a walk-off double. The White Sox won.

And everyone was still trying to figure out how.

We might never have an adequate explanation, part of what makes this all so continually hilarious.

But what was abundantly clear that night was that the White Sox offense needed a wake-up call. The South Side bats that used small ball, Paul ball and over-the-wall ball to win 99 games during the regular season and beat the brains out of the defending champs in the ALDS did none of those three things during the first 17.2 innings of this series. The lone run they scored in the first 8.2 innings of Game 2 came home on a ground out.

The pitching was sensational, of course, with Jose Contreras coming two outs away from making the eventual complete-game streak five instead of four in Game 1 and Mark Buehrle delivering what he called one of the best games of his career — before the no-hitter and the perfecto, of course — in Game 2. That pitching kept the White Sox close, holding the Angels to a grand total of four runs in two games, the same amount the White Sox scored.

But when Pierzynski baffled the baseball universe, he also lit the fuse on the White Sox offense. All it took was three pitches for Crede to blast a double to left field and win Game 2. Two nights later, in Game 3, the White Sox hung a crooked number in the first inning, getting an over-the-wall ball from Konerko. They banged out 11 hits in Game 3. Another three-run first followed in Game 4, thanks to another Konerko homer, and the White Sox scored eight runs for their third straight win.

The offense came back. Sleepy as could be in the wake of the sweep of the Red Sox, the franchise’s first playoff series win in 88 years, the offense was awoken by, of all things, a strikeout.

Play to the whistle? Hell, play past the whistle. You just might win a playoff game.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 3 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago.

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How Michael Barrett draws value from 2006 Cubs-White Sox fight

How Michael Barrett draws value from 2006 Cubs-White Sox fight

The moment serves as a teaching tool these days for Michael Barrett as much as anything.

Whether the collision at the plate and resulting punch to the face of A.J. Pierzynski 14 years ago Wednesday can be instructive beyond that remains to be seen as Major League Baseball proposes even stricter limits on contact and fighting within its plans to start the 2020 season during a pandemic.

Barrett, the former Cubs catcher at the center of perhaps the definitive moment in Chicago’s crosstown rivalry, said he isn’t sure how baseball would prevent or enforce such rules any more effectively than they already do; it’s not like fights are planned (usually).

As recently as a month ago, social-distancing measures were quickly ignored during a bench-clearing incident during a professional game in Taiwan.

RELATED: 6 memorable Cubs bench-clearing moments since 2000

What he does know is that even 14 years later, “it often comes up,” during the course of his job as the Washington Nationals minor-league catching coordinator.

That’s where the teaching part comes in.

“We talk about it,” Barrett said during a phone conversation with NBC Sports Chicago on Wednesday. “I just tell them, ‘Never let your guard down [even] when you think there’s not a play at home plate.’ And I’m not pointing the finger at A.J. at all. Just in general, ‘Don’t ever let your guard down; don’t ever assume the runner is going to slide with or without the ball. Always be prepared for a collision.’

“In that case I was not prepared. That’s not pointing the finger at anybody but myself.”

Since Barrett retired after the 2010 season, collisions such as the one that precipitated “The Punch” have been outlawed, along with takeout slides on the bases — sharply reducing flashpoints that might lead to brawls.

It’s just one of myriad ways the game has changed and toned down since the high-emotion days of Barrett’s and Carlos Zambrano’s Cubs days.

“Even further back than that — 30, 40 years ago,” Barrett said of a more raucous, quick-tempered, spikes-flying, hard-sliding, chin-music era in the game.

“No different than hockey,” he said. “Things were taken care of themselves on the field. Whether that was healthy for the game or not is not something that when you’re playing that you necessarily think about. Sometimes your emotions get the better of you. But major league baseball has seen, in general, healthier results by policing some of that themselves.”

Is the game better for that increased regulation from the commissioner’s office?

“I think as major league baseball players we need to be responsible and set good examples for youth out there and do the best we can to be good role models,” Barrett said. “Fighting is not being the best role model that you can be. There’s other ways to communicate.

“Do I look back on that day and think poorly of what I did? Not necessarily. One thing that was evident that day was I was as much into that game as anybody who has ever played the game. Was I proud of the result? I could have probably done things a lot differently. But hindsight’s always 20-20.”

What seems certain is that this is a far different age in sports when it comes to even the perception of violence on the field, whether it’s hard slides in baseball or hard-checking defense in basketball — or even the levels of contact allowed in football.

“The world has changed as we know it in so many ways and players have opportunities to express themselves in other ways more than we ever got to,” Barrett said, “whether it’s social media, through the way they dress … It’s just a different era.”

Cubs outfielder Ian Happ has a podcast. Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish has a popular YouTube channel and has more than 2 million Twitter followers. First baseman Anthony Rizzo posts pictures of his dog Kevin on Instagram and highlights relief efforts for hospital workers on Twitter.

“Today’s players are heard,” Barrett said. “Players are still competitive with one another; that’ll never change. I just think that players have the opportunities to lash back in different ways and express their unhappiness or feelings in other ways that probably are [potentially] more detrimental to their careers.”

Talk about teaching moments that involve players as young as 16 and up to 30-plus that Barrett works with.

“We talk to our boys about that all the time: ‘Be careful,’” he said. “No different than 20 years ago. Then it was, ‘Be careful what you do on the field.’ Now it’s a wider scope than when I played.”

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