Konerko blasts way to ALCS MVP
First baseman's bat does talking for World Series-bound Sox
ANAHEIM -- It has been said that first baseman Paul Konerko has been the Most Valuable Player for the White Sox since the start of the postseason.
The words became reality Sunday night.
Following the White Sox 6-3 victory in Game 5 to clinch the American League Championship Series, Konerko was named the 2005 ALCS MVP.
Big-game Paulie received a big-time award. The White Sox are headed to Major League Baseball's big dance for the first time since 1959.
"In the bottom of the ninth, it was the first time I started getting excited about it," Konerko said. "The whole game we were focused because we know how quickly this thing can turn. They win the game and [the series] goes 3-2. We kept working hard and Jose [Contreras] deserved the win."
He's right. Contreras threw the club's fourth consecutive complete game Sunday. The pitching dominance was a League Championship Series record for the most complete games in a single LCS of any length and the first time a team has thrown four consecutive complete games in a postseason series since the 1956 Yankees threw five in a row.
"The pitching was outstanding. It makes you feel really comfortable out there," Konerko said. "Those guys have been doing it all year. All of our guys have been key for us all season long. I can't say enough about them."
Konerko also deserves some credit.
He hit .286 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the ALCS. He hit home runs in Games 3 and 4 in the first inning, becoming the third player in Major League history to hit a home run in the first inning in consecutive games in the postseason. Dan Ford accomplished the feat in the 1979 ALCS and Carlos Beltran joined the club with home runs in the 2004 National League Championship Series for Houston.
Additionally, Konerko has four home runs during the 2005 playoffs, leading all players in that category this postseason.
"Paulie is our leader on the field and off the field," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think this kid, a lot of people look up to him. One guy who shows up to play every day is Paulie.
|Paul Konerko was named the ALCS Most Valuable Player after batting .286 with two homers and seven RBIs as Chicago punched its first World Series ticket since 1959.|
|2003||Mariano Rivera||New York||P|
|2001||Andy Pettitte||New York||P|
|2000||David Justice||New York||OF|
|1999||Orlando Hernandez||New York||P|
|1998||David Wells||New York||P|
|1996||Bernie Williams||New York||OF|
|1985||George Brett||Kansas City||3B|
"Paulie, when we needed him was there."
The slugger's success is simply a continuation of an outstanding regular season, where he hit .283 with 40 home runs and 100 RBIs.
As usual, Konerko chose to praise his teammates instead of focusing on his personal achievements.
"This team has really come together and we are having a ball," Konerko said. "We have a good team and I think a lot of people forget that. We have a lot of heart and we have some guys at the right places who are pretty darn good players."
Konerko could be at the top of that list. He hit a two-run home run in the first inning Friday night against John Lackey and a three-run home run Saturday. He also hit a home run in the third inning of Game 1 of the AL Division Series against Boston's Matt Clement and another in the sixth inning of Game 3 against the Red Sox.
Konerko says he is not finished.
"Hopefully, we will win one more series and make people happier," Konerko said. "Four more wins. That's what we need. We will celebrate this for a day or two and then we will be ready to go."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.