Column: Believe. Or die trying.

By Jon Gluskin

I’ll eat my words. I’ll eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I’ll admit it, I didn’t think the White Sox had it in them.

Before the season, I didn’t think they would win the division. I questioned the Scott Podsednik for Carlos Lee trade.

I then thought they were going to blow the division after having a 15-game lead.

I thought they were going to come out like they did in 2000 and get swept out of the playoffs.

I was dead wrong – and I’m ecstatic to admit that.

It has only been two wins so far, so saving up money for World Series Championship hats might be a little premature, but at least this team has come out fighting. They’ve proved they belong with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels.

Few “experts” predicted them to win this first series. Even fewer predicted them to win the ALCS. And very few predicted them to win the World Series. But if they play like they have in the first two games, there’s no reason they can’t win the World Series.

Finally, they’re playing like the team that finished with the best record in the American League, and the team that for a good portion of the season, had the best record in baseball.

In fact, they are playing their best ball of the season right now.

They’re doing everything that got them their huge lead in the AL Central.

They made a statement the way they came out in the first game against the Red Sox, scoring five in the first and never looking back. The 14 runs they put up tied for their most runs in a game this season, which they only achieved once. This total doubled the amount of runs they scored in all three playoff games in 2000.

It was great to see such tremendous hitting combined with such great pitching.

Jose Contreras dominated the best lineup in baseball, as he’s been doing since late September.

And then in game two, the Sox did something that had been their biggest weakness throughout the latter half of the season – timely hitting.

The Sox didn’t get frazzled after Mark Buehrle got off to a shaky start, allowing two runs in the first inning and another two in the third, putting them down 4-0.

In the fifth, they turned it all around. Carl Everett led off the inning with a single to right, the first time all night the Sox started an inning with a base runner.

Aaron Rowand then doubled, driving in Everett, and then he moved to third on an A.J. Pierzynski groundout.

After a Joe Crede single scored Rowand, the Sox got a gift from second baseman Tony Graffanino, who let a potential inning-ending double play go under his glove, reminding Red Sox fans of another ball going under a glove in the playoffs. The Sox had runners at the corners.

It was situations like these where the Sox lost so many games this year. With runners in scoring position, they could not drive them in. They hit .259 as a team. They had no clutch.

Tadahito Iguchi made sure this trend wouldn’t continue, taking advantage of the extra outs they were given, blasting a three-run homer to left, putting the Chi Sox ahead, 5-4.

Buehrle and Bobby Jenks then took care of the rest, giving the Good Guys a 2-0 series lead.

This was the Sox team that was so exciting to watch for the majority of the season. This was Ozzie-Ball. This was the “Win. Or die trying” attitude we’ve been bombarded with in Sox advertisements all season long.

There’s still a lot of baseball to be played against a very good team, so nothing is a guarantee. We can’t assume anything. We’ll see what Freddy Garcia can do with the Red Sox lineup today in game three, while the White Sox will face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

If the Sox keep it up, they are the best team in baseball and will go all the way.

All I wanted going into the playoffs was to come out, be competitive and play respectable baseball. Don’t let this ending be a repeat of 2000.

Boy, did I have my doubts. I was a pessimist.

But they’ve turned me into a believer.

Sometimes your words make for the perfect meal.

Jon Gluskin is a senior in communications. He can be reached at [email protected]