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).