As the White Sox united in victory at home plate, we saw this team’s different personalities finally converge in vibrant celebration of all that can be right on the South Side.
It was a scene magnificent enough to go on a wall in any Sox fan’s home. After jacking a walk-off homerun, Jose Valentin jumped on home plate as if he had just discovered a new world. Swarmed by his teammates, Jose took cover; protected only by his batting helmet, it seemed a thousand hands reached over to give him a pat on the back. As the White Sox united in victory at home plate, we saw this team’s different personalities finally converge in vibrant celebration of all that can be right on the South Side.
Earlier this season, the old cliché “there is no ‘I’ in team” seemed to be lost in the Sox clubhouse. The team looked selfish – they griped and groused amongst themselves all spring, and ultimately seemed bound for nowhere. Somehow, some way, the I’s have formed a team. That was definitely the case Friday, after taking two of three from the Cubs and the Twins. The Sox are playing the best ball they have played all season … it is truly amazing what can happen when 25 guys work together.
Lately, the Sox have learned how to pick one another up. Tom Gordon came to Dan Wright’s rescue Friday, and Jose Valentin’s home run rescued Gordon from shame. Perhaps this new style of baseball is out of default. What else does a .237 hitter like Valentin have to play for except victories? Ordonez showed once again that he is willing to lay it all on the line for his teammates when he dove to make a fantastic catch.
This game was an instant classic, and will surely be placed in the same company as other great cross-town series games. The timing and meaning of this game, however, can never be shown on film. As a Sox fan’s hatred of the Cubs can never be explained, the deeper importance of this game is something that simply cannot be viewed.
The image of Jose Valentin’s jubilant jump on home plate is more than just a picture - perhaps Jose has in essence discovered a new world. Like a Pilgrim’s initial fearless leap from ship to Plymouth Rock, Jose has ushered in a new realm of possibility for this Sox team - a previously unchartered land of savvy, teamwork and victories. Gathered around home plate, this team looked more than ready for the new world.