Well, the news arrived today…. One of my all-time favorite White Sox players, A.J. Pierzynski, signed a one-year, 7.5M contract to don the” tools of ignorance” for the Texas Rangers (pending passing his physical), thus ending a very fun (especially for me) and exciting 8 year run on Chicago’s South Side.
Paul Konerko now stands as the sole “surviving member” of the 2005 World Series championship team currently on the White Sox 40-man roster. Could it already be nearly eight years since the White Sox brought home baseball’s championship trophy to shine forever at 35th and Shields? My how time flies by!
If the moment was crucial, A.J. was there. I’ve put together a few my favorite A.J. “moments” as a parting salute to the former Pale Hose affectionately known as “Dennis the Menace”.
I will be forever indebted to A.J. (and most likely might not possess my beautiful 2005 World Series ring) without A.J.’s heady play during Game Two of the ALCS against the Angels.
If you’re an Angel fan, I don’t need to remind you what transpired, but for those who would like a recap… A.J. reached first base safely after swinging and missing for strike three on a ball in the dirt that Angels catcher Josh Paul was ruled to have not caught cleanly, allowing Pierzynski to reach first base safely. Pierzynski eventually scored and the White Sox ended up coming back to defeat the Angels and eventually travel to Anaheim to capture their first American League Championship title since 1959. A week or so later, the White Sox became the 2005 World Series Champions! A.J.’s heads up play ranks as one of my all-time favorites!
The White Sox/Cubs rivalry is hard to beat, and probably the most memorable moment between the Windy City rivals took place at U.S. Cellular field during May of 2006 when A.J. slammed into Cubs backstop Michael Barrett, prompting Barrett to retaliate by punching A.J. by surprise, thus setting off a wild bench clearing brawl.
A.J. not only could give a lickin’, but often took one in return, perhaps no more important than when he held his ground and prevented the Twins Michael Cuddyer from scoring during the one-game winner take all tiebreaker game at U.S. Cellular Field in 2008.
Offensively, Pierzynski had a career year last season, leading to his reaping the fruits of his accomplishments by signing his deal with the Rangers. A.J. hit many big home runs for the Sox during his tenure on the South Side.
Win or loose, good days and bad, I liked the way A.J. wore his intensity on his sleeve. No one wants to win more than A.J., which is one of the many reasons why he’s a member of my “All-Time Favorite’s” team!
So long and best of luck to you. I’m sure we’ll cross paths soon, but until we do, remember one thing… Don’t ever change!