We're going to Sox Park for a game this weekend, Betty, the boys and me.
With the White Sox facing the Kansas City Royals, our baseball eyes will look to the field.
But our baseball hearts will be unstuck in time, because that other, special White Sox team is being honored on the South Side this weekend.
2005. World Series champions. White Sox.
That was the season when our psychic baseball wounds were healed and the Sox lifted that trophy. Remember?
Put it on the board, Hawk Harrelson, and believe it.
So with this World Championship Reunion Weekend at the ballpark, a question:
What do you remember about that wonderful, gut-wrenching 2005 season that ended with so much joy (not so much for Cubs fans)?
Do you remember Ozzie Guillen's mouth? Mark Buehrle's titanium left arm? Paul Konerko's swing?
One thing isn't said often enough. Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't get enough credit. So thanks, Jerry. And thanks for sending the World Series trophy over to me at the Tribune Tower for an afternoon that year, when Tribune Co. still owned the Cubs.
I dared Tribune senior executives to touch the precious. They wouldn't go near it. Ah, that felt good.
Sox fans remember Konerko with that grand slam, his right arm up in the air as he rounded first. And El Duque snapping off what was left of his elbow, throwing curveballs with the bases loaded in the playoffs against Boston.
Can you see Jermaine Dye making that throw to third from deep right field against the Angels? His body torquing, the arm swinging over and down; the ball from his hand was pitiless in that Southern California night sky.
Uribe in the hole. Big Bobby Jenks throwing smoke. Joe Crede throughout, so quiet, so clutch.
But it isn't just the baseball of 2005 that we're searching for, is it? There was something else, too.
It was a validation of the South Side, since ours was the part of town that was always kicked around, the people treated like mutts by official Chicago. Generations of us were born in two-flats, or bungalows, near the mills, near the stockyards, when there were real jobs in Chicago to raise a family. And later, others of us were born in the suburbs, what was once thought of as "the country."
But city or suburbs, it's all White Sox country, and threads run through it: family and neighborhood.
So I can't go to Sox Park this weekend to honor that great 2005 team without thinking of my cousins Peter Pipikios and Johnny Katsaros.
They took me to my first game from our neighborhood around 52nd and Peoria streets. Pete was the hard-right conservative. John was the hard-left liberal. But they shared a blood, they loved each other and they loved the White Sox.
Peter died some 11 years before the South Side World Series, and I interviewed Johnny about him during the 2005 playoffs.
"I can just see him, now, with tears of joy," Johnny said then, "looking down at the White Sox, at his kids who love the Sox, at the grandkids who love the Sox. He'd be so happy now for the team, for the fans, for everybody. I can see him."
Johnny got to see them win in 2005, at the ballpark. He was dying then, and now he's gone, too.
And my cousin George Panos. One year we sat through some 40 games together, a painful year before Ozzie came back to Chicago.
He's very much alive. His daughters are good softball players. He's still a Sox fan.
A World Series win is remembered not only in game highlights, but in the people we love, who brought us to the game, and those we brought to the game, sharing it with them, marveling at the excellence and heart we could see in that ball club that year.
When I was a little boy, too young to remember the '59 pennant-winning team, my mom would send me to the corner store for bread.
On the way back from Leo's, I'd have long, detailed conversations with the great White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio.
He'd walk next to me in full uniform, and I could hear his spikes clicking on the concrete. Not the real Aparicio, but the one I'd conjured.
My sons think that's weird. It probably is weird. They'd rather remember reality, A. J. Pierzynski stealing first base, and Aaron Rowand crashing the center field wall.
Baseball is a game of ritual, and the boys had their rituals too. They'd hit the fundamentals deck, take some swings and watch the starting pitcher warm up.
Then Connie's Pizza in the first inning for the catcher and nachos in the sixth. And a hot dog in the first and a funnel cake in the sixth for the lefty.
Betty and I remember how they'd fall asleep in the car on the way home from the ballpark, and carrying them upstairs, the walls covered with Sox stuff.
We don't have the season tickets any longer, and even though I'm crazy about soccer, we haven't given up on White Sox baseball.
We're still a Sox household. If a baseball game is on TV, it's the Sox or nothing. But I haven't been to Sox Park in a long time. Too long.
Now I can't wait. Is it like coming home to the old neighborhood?
Go White Sox.