It’s been three years now, and I’m still not over it. For a multitude of reasons, I will never get over it. I have the video on my computer, but I don’t really know why. It’s not like I watch it or anything… I really can’t bear to, unless I feel like getting incredibly angry again. Besides, I can tell you exactly what happens. Escobar makes the pitch. Josh Paul catches it. Doug Eddings points out – to indicate the third strike, then steps out, a bit slowly but smoothly, and confirms it with the fist pump. It’s a dead ball. Josh Paul caught it. Pierzysnki takes a few steps back towards the dugout. Inexplicably, he turns and starts sprinting towards first. Worst yet, Eddings suddenly hesitates. Then he starts to play along, as though the ball were still live. He’s covering his ass. Despite already clearly making two distinct motions. The third strike. And the third out. Hook, line, sinker.
With the correct call, the Angels head into extra innings, with Escobar still fresh and unhittable, and the best bullpen in all of baseball that year at the ready. With the correct call, the White Sox need to replace Mark Buehrle for the 10th, and we go deeper into the night. With the correct call, there’s a chance the Angels go up 2-0 on the road. Instead, the 2005 ALCS leaves Chicago tied 1-1. White Sox relievers end up seeing all of one inning pitched for the entire series. Four complete games in a row. And it started right there. Pierzynski. Eddings. The call.
It’s been three years. I don’t seethe over Ortiz’s towering shot off Washburn in 04. I don’t shake with rage about Manny taking Frankie deep in Game 2 last year. We got beat. But how does it feel to be completely screwed out of a game? How does it feel to watch the living embodiment of that nightmare come in every year, wearing that same uniform, acting every bit the arrogant douchebag that he is, his very existence a reminder of the strikeout that never came to be? The championship that his team would go on to win? My heart is black. I boo with vitriol. I hope we bean him every time up. That another Michael Barrett lurks in the wings. Instead, he breaks up Weaver’s no-hitter two days ago. He scores the winning run tonight in the 9th, at the stadium. Why does it have to be him? Goddammit. Of all the players on that bench, why does he have to be involved?