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that was without question the most closely contested four-game sweep in world series history.

the white sox' overall scoring margin (+6) was just two above the minimum and tied for the lowest ever in a four-game series. the other +6 sweep? the yankees' 1950 world series victory over the whiz-kid phils. the third-tightest sweep came in the 1922 classic between the yanks and new york giants -- technically not a sweep, since there was a tie game called after 10 innings, but the giants prevailed in the other four games with just a 7-run cumulative margin.

in their four winning games, the '22 giants held a lead at the close of only 19 of the 36 innings played. the '05 chisox shaved it even finer -- they held the lead at the close of just 18 of 41 innings played. which is not to denigrate the achievement at all; on the contrary, this is a most deserving champion. i admired the way they played -- airtight defense, fearless pitching, and guts at the plate. don't forget, they trailed game 2 as late as the 7th inning and were down four runs halfway through game 3; came back to win 'em both. the astros tested them repeatedly, and the white sox passed every time.

brad lidge took the L in two of these four games; toss in the loss in game 5 of the nlcs and that's 3 losses in four appearances for this formerly unhittable closer; and lidge purt' near blew the lead in game 4 of the nlcs . . . . other postseason relief goats who have suffered this badly did not fare well in the aftermath. exhibit a: byung-hyun kim, who blew saves in games 4 and 5 of the 2001 series on two-out, two-run 9th-inning homers. he came back the following year to record 36 saves with a 2.04 era, but his career has since nosedived; he's now a starting pitcher for the colorado rockies, which is about as bad as it gets. exhibit b: wild-thing williams, who blew two saves in the nlcs (but got the win both times) and then squandered late philadelphia leads in games 4 and 6 of the 1993 world series, absorbing both losses. his career lasted only 37 more innings. and don't forget calvin schiraldi, who lost games 6 and 7 of the 1986 world series; his era rose by 3 full runs the following season, and he was out of baseball by 1991.

also of note: tom niedenfeur pitched the dodgers out of the 1985 nlcs by yielding decisive 9th-inning hr in game 5 and game 6; his era shot up a run in 1986, and he was out of the league by 1990 . . . . . mark littell yielded the series-clinching runs to the yankees in two consecutive alcs: 1976 and 1977 (to be fair, the latter was a baserunner inherited from dennis leonard); he was through by 1982 . . . . . then of course there are donnie moore and bob moose, who are both dead . . . .

lidge is a vastly more talented pitcher than any of the foregoing, but there's no telling what this does to his psyche. my guess is he puts the last week behind him and has a long and successful career; i genuinely hope that's the case.

i just as sincerely hope he moves on to another division (in another league) at his first convenience.