- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

HOUSTON — In the afterglow of the Chicago White Sox’s stunning 7-6 win Sunday night in Game2 of the World Series, a dangerous word was being thrown all around U.S. Cellular Field.


As in, are the White Sox baseball’s latest team of destiny?

Most ballplayers and anyone else around this game will tell you there’s no such thing. “You make your own destiny,” they say.

Which may be true. The White Sox, up 2-0 on the shell-shocked Houston Astros in this Series, are a legitimately good team that led the American League with 99 victories this season. But it’s hard to look at their magic postseason run to date — nine wins in 10 games, including six straight — and not wonder whether someone up there is smiling down on the South Side of Chicago.

For a franchise that purportedly has been cursed since eight players threw the 1919 World Series, they sure look like a charmed bunch these days.

“Clearly, everything they’re doing now is right,” Astros manager Phil Garner said following Sunday’s game. “They’re not doing anything wrong.”

Just look at everything that has gone the White Sox’s way in the last two weeks alone:

cA.J. Pierzynski appears to strike out in the bottom of the ninth in Game2 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels only to wind up on first base (and later score the winning run) after plate umpire Doug Eddings rules catcher Josh Paul dropped the ball.

• Three games later, Pierzynski is called out after getting tagged by Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar running down the first-base line only to have the call overturned after the umpires huddle and rule (correctly) that the ball was not in Escobar’s glove.

• Jermaine Dye is awarded first base Sunday night after plate umpire Jeff Nelson rules he was hit by Houston reliever Dan Wheeler’s 3-2 pitch. Replays clearly show the ball striking Dye’s bat, not his arm. One pitch later, Paul Konerko clubs a grand slam to give Chicago the lead.

• Then just when it looks like the White Sox’s luck has run out on Jose Vinci’s two-out, game-tying single in the top of the ninth, Scott Podsednik wins it in the bottom half for Chicago with a home run off All-Star closer Brad Lidge. It’s Podsednik’s second postseason homer after failing to hit one ball out of the park in 507 regular-season at-bats.

Signs of a good baseball club — or a charmed one?

“I think I’d rather be lucky than good,” manager Ozzie Guillen said yesterday. “And right now, we’re pretty lucky.”

The latest evidence of that was Dye’s hit-by-pitch that really wasn’t, a subject of much discussion during yesterday’s workouts at Minute Maid Park. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in uniform on either side who believed Nelson made the correct call. Even the man in the middle of the controversial play admitted as much.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hit my bat,” Dye said.

The string of close calls — some correct, some incorrect — during this postseason has sparked a debate over the possibility of instant replay in baseball. The idea never was given serious consideration in the past, but it’s starting to gain a little momentum.

“I had said earlier [this month] that I prefer to go ahead and leave it as it is,” Garner said. “I might change my mind on that after a while. The call didn’t go our way last night.”

Still, as Garner pointed out, these missed calls haven’t determined the outcome of games on their own. For each fortuitous break the White Sox have caught during the postseason, they’ve come through moments later with a clutch hit to make it pay off.

When Pierzynski reached on the dropped third strike against the Angels, Joe Crede immediately hit a game-winning double down the left-field line. When Dye was awarded first on what should have been a foul ball, Konerko immediately hit the 18th grand slam in World Series history.

So maybe there’s more to this than pure dumb luck. Perhaps the White Sox really are making their own destiny.

“We’ve definitely got breaks this postseason,” Podsednik said. “But you know what, we’ve made plays when called upon. Somebody has stepped up every night.”

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