Next Year Is Now for Sox Fans

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It started around 11 p.m., when a couple of shirtless guys sprinted down a Southside street banging on a kitchen pot, oblivious to the chill rain of a late-October Chicago night. Within minutes local TV networks had interrupted their usual programming and the entire city was erupting in a gleeful frenzy of fireworks, honking car horns and footloose street celebration as Chicagoans by the thousands poured out of bars and basement rec rooms to celebrate their White Sox's World Series championship sweep over the Astros.

In a baseball town that has endured 88 Octobers of sunken hopes since its last World Series trophy, October 26 was finally a night fans want to remember. On downtown blocks that usually go dark by 11 p.m., skyscraper lights burned into the wee hours with "Go Sox" signs flashing in their windows. On Michigan Avenue, the city's main drag, cars full of whooping, face-painted fans slowed traffic to a crawl. In the blue-collar Southside Bridgeport neighborhood, Sox home turf, giddy mobs of grown-ups in Sox regalia (a few of whom appeared old enough to have been around for the last Sox win) descended on the closed Cellular Field, where they used brooms to sweep away Texas toast and hoisted signs reading "Houston, You've Got a Problem" and "Next Year Is Here!" Even on Division Street, in Northside Cub territory, happiness reigned.

Eleven hundred miles away, as he celebrated with his team in Houston's Minute Maid Park, Sox GM Kenny Williams wiped champagne from his eyes and told a reporter that the Sox win "has finally taken a lot of weight off my shoulders." That was an understatement: all of Chicago set down a heavy burden—the weight of 88 years of history. On Thursday morning the city's two daily newspapers both had special issues on newsstands with headlines shouting "Believe It!" and "Champs!"

But the 2005 Sox will be remembered for far more than just snapping one of pro sport's most infamous losing streaks. Their 1-0 victory in Game Four of the Series capped a great season and an even more impressive post-season, in which they lost only one game in their last twelve, always managing to win even in the tightest of circumstances. There were heart-stopping offensive heroics like Scott Podsednik's ninth-inning homer that decided Game One and Geoff Blum's 14th-inning game-winning shot in Game Three, in what was his first World Series at-bat. And in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Four, shortstop Juan Uribe made a defensive marvel of a play by hurling himself into the left-field seats to grab a foul ball, thereby helping snuff out a Houston threat to a fragile Sox lead.

In the Sox locker room moments after their victory, third baseman Joe Crede looked at a TV camera and said, "This is for you, Chicago." Since most of Chicago was already out in the streets, it's hard to know if anyone saw him.