Sox Battle II Postmortem: Thome at the Bat

Apologies to Ernest L. Thayer

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the White Sox nine that day,
The score stood nine to six, with but two innings more to play.

And then when Cintron walked to first, and Podsednik did the same,
An Iguchi walk seemed to breathe new life into the game.

Some Boston fans threw up their hands in deep despair — the rest
Of the park clung to eternal hope wiithin the human breast.
They thought, "if only Thome could but get a whack at that.
We’d put up even money now, with Thome at the bat."

But Tito pulled his starter, to the wonderment of all.
And Josh, the home-run magnet, gave the manager the ball.

And when the dust had lifted, Boston fans saw what transpired,
"Lopez is on the mound?" they thought. "Francona should be fired."

From twenty thousand Chicago throats there rose a lusty yell;
it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

it pounded through on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat;
for Thome, mighty Thome, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Thome’s manner as he stepped into his place,
there was pride in Thome’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt t’was Thome at the bat.

Forty thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Twenty thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then, while the writhing Lopez ground the ball into his hip,
defiance flashed in Thome’s eye, a sneer curled Thome’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
and Thome stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
"That ain’t my style," said Thome. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand,
and it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Thome raised his hand.

The next pitch was a ball, and great Thome’s visage shone,
With the count even, 1-and-1, he bade the game go on.

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew,
Thome swung with all his might; the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Jim!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Jim!"
Another pitch, but a ball pulled foul was all that came of Thome’s swing.

His face grew stern and cold, the fans saw his muscles strain,
and they knew that Thome wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer has fled from Thome’ lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.

And now poor Lopez holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Thome’s blow.

Oh, in Boston and New England, the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing "Caroline," and New England hearts are light.
In Boston men are laughing, and little children shout,

But there is no joy in Chicago —
mighty Thome has struck out.

Ok, so Thome’s K wasn’t the end, but it was the biggest out in this game, one in which the much-maligned Lopez (I take back every bad thing I ever said about him) and the rookie Hansen shut down the heart of the White Sox’ order (Thome/Konerko/Dye) with the bases loaded and no outs. A huge seventh inning for the team, and a huge inning for those two pitchers. Also, major props to Francona for pulling Beckett when he did, and using the right pitchers to get those hitters. Good job by all (except, of course, Beckett, who magically holds the AL lead with 11 wins).

2 comments… add one
  • Personally, several things about that inning astonished me, and will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. First, Josh Beckett didn’t have it, giving up every lead the offense handed him. So it was a little surprising to see him trot out for the 7th, and I was calling for the hook (sceaming, actually) the minute Cintron walked.
    I have been a Sox fan since the days of Tony C, Yaz and gentleman Jim Lonborg and I can tell you, from hard experience, that I can’t ever recall a situation where a Red Sox starter left a game with the bases full and no outs, against a team the stature of the White Sox (playing well over .600 baseball, World Series champs) with bats the equivalent stature of Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Dye’s coming to the plate in succession… (leaving aside the fact that the Red Sox trotted out two pitchers in the inning and that they were: A lefty mid season pick-up, and a rookie) … AND the damage done is… nothing, nada, zip, zero, THEY DID NOT SCORE!
    Thinking of occurances, from the merely bad to the disaterous, that could have transpired, from least to worst… it simply boggles the mind, I mean ponder the permuations for a second… a run scoring double play ball (not likely, and actually not a bad thing at all, if it had happened) a sac fly, a balk, a passed ball, wild pitch, a strike out/passed ball, a hit by pitch, any type of base hit, incuding a bases clearing double and almost any combinationm of those, incuding (god forbid,an error) all the way up to a grand slam. Like I said, mind boggling.
    I truly think, that in that situation, over the years, I have seen all the possible outcomes and variables, except the impossible… that, I witnessed today.
    Okay, so maybe it HAS happened, maybe there have been other miraculous outcomes in that situation, but I surely do not remember them, and any Sox fan that does, well, I tip my hat, for they are the more fortunate.
    I have only witnessed this ONE Red Sox pitching miracle.

    Brian July 9, 2006, 1:04 am
  • Ya know, I was listening to the game on the radio while driving and had to stop at the grocery store to pick up some steaks for dinner. When I got out of the car, Beckett had just loaded up the bases and they were bringing in Lopez. The only word to describe my state of mind at that particular moment in time was “dread.” I was filled with it.
    I did my shopping, got back in the car and very tentatively turned on the radio fully expecting a blown lead with more mayhem to follow. Instead, I was shocked to find that the Sox had somehow gotten out of the inning, their lead fully intact.
    I’m not sure it quite qualifies as a miracle, but I could be convinced that some divine influence asserted itself yesterday. ;)

    Craig July 9, 2006, 8:10 am

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