CHICAGO -- Fans cheered as soon as the White Sox emerged
from the dugout to warm up Sunday night.
Ready to celebrate? You bet, especially after a five-month wait.
Their roar only got louder during a colorful ceremony before the
major league opener against Cleveland, a celebration of Chicago's
first World Series winner in 88 years.
When the final out of the Game 4 clincher in Houston was
replayed on the large center-field scoreboard at the end of a video
retrospective, four championship banners hanging beneath outfield
light poles were uncovered. As fans sheered, fireworks went off
behind the left-center field fence.
One banner saluted the White Sox World Series championships in
1906 and 1917, another was for last year's winner, a third hailed
the team's AL champions and the fourth marked its division winners.
After the fireworks, another video tribute followed, accompanied by
Queen's "We Are The Champions."
"It was awesome. This is really exciting," fan Pat Valiska of
suburban Highland Park said. "We've waited a long time for this."
The ceremony also featured the unfurling of an American flag as
big as the outfield during the playing of "The Star-Spangled
Banner" and then a knee-knocking flyover by two jets.
"It was nice and impressive," said Frank Lakis, another fan
who later had to sit through a fourth-inning rain delay. "The jets
came a little close to the lights."
Chicago clinched all three of its playoff series on the road
last season. And despite a wild parade through the streets of the
city, Sunday night presented the first chance for the White Sox and
their followers to celebrate in their own ballpark.
"This is kind of a circus atmosphere out here," White Sox
catcher A.J. Pierzynski said before the game. "We just want to get
to where we can focus on baseball."
Repeating will be tough. The last team to win consecutive titles
was the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.
After beating the New York Giants in the 1917 World Series, the
White Sox went 57-67 the next season, good for sixth place. In
1960, one season after losing the World Series to the Dodgers,
Chicago took third in the AL with an 87-67 record.
"I hope I don't have to wait 88 years again," White Sox
manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Even though Guillen wants his players to move on to another
season and not live in the past, he admits he's still savoring what
happened last year.
"I still have the taste in my mouth, how good the season was,
how my country reacted and how the fans appreciated it," Guillen
said. "I think that's the reason Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf went out and tried to put together a better club. There
is nothing better than to repeat."
There's more to come. The White Sox will get their rings
"Obviously we've never been in this situation before. I don't
know if any of us know what to expect," general manager Kenny
Williams said. "I'm looking forward to putting a World Series ring