Perhaps the baseball gods wanted to pay the White Sox back for years of futility in one fell swoop. A team that had not won a World Series since it threw one, Chicago led its division wire-to-wire and then swept through the playoffs with an 11-1 record to take the championship.
The White Sox were far from the favorite going into the season, with a team built on pitching, speed and defense. But the pitching was better than expected, with a deep rotation featuring Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia, and righthander Jose Contreras finally living up to the hype he generated coming out of Cuba, going 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA in the second half of the season to push Chicago to 99 wins.
When rookie closer Bobby Jenks emerged, the White Sox had the last piece they needed in the playoffs. Jenks saved clinching games against the Indians (division title), Red Sox (Division Series), Angels (League Championship Series) and Astros (World Series) with a fastball in the 100-mph range.
The offense also wasn't a collection of slap hitters, as the White Sox finished fourth in the AL with 200 home runs, but the team was aggressive on the bases as well, finishing third with 137 stolen bases. First baseman Paul Konerko anchored the offense with 40 home runs and was the only White Sox batter with 100 RBIs. It was a collection of unlikely heroes, such as Scott Podsednik who provided clutch postseason hits.
The White Sox didn't stand pat after the season, holding on to key players like Konerko, but also showing a willingness to shuffle the deck by dealing centerfielder Aaron Rowand to bring in Jim Thome's power bat. The taste of champagne proved to be sweet, and Chicago may be in better position to celebrate in 2006 than it was a year ago.