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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Thursday, October 20, 2005

World Series 2005

Well, here we are. One team has never been there in their history (albeit somewhat brief history, in baseball terms, since they came into existence in 1962 as the Houston Colt '45's) and one that hasn't been there since 1959 (and hasn't won a Fall Classic since 1917). So, although it's exciting for the city of Houston and the South Side of Chicago, I'm not sure how exciting this is going to be for Joe Q Public.

Why? If you watched the final game of the NLCS, it was a snoozer. The Cardinals got shut down. No tension, no great baseball moments. No real thrills to speak of, until the last pitch and then some folks in Houston were rockin'. Pitching dominance leads to "boring" games (at least for non-baseball fans, and even for some who call themselves "fans"). But, that aside, what happens in the Series? Will the teams go with four or three man rotations? Who will DH for the Astros? Who will be the World Champion here in about a week or so?

Let's start with rotations. I think both teams have to go with four. I think that because Clemens will start Game 1 for the 'Stros, and I can't see him pitching 1, 4 and 7. He'd do it if you asked him, but I don't think his back would cooperate. The White Sox definitely will go four, since they have four solid starters who are all on a roll, and are all well rested. El Duque will be their extra bullpen man, as he's been in the postseason so far. This means that Brandon Backe would be the starter in Game 4. Can he hack it? I'd say, on paper, that Game 4 goes to the White Sox if that happens.

The DH question was interesting a few weeks ago, but now it's Chris Burke for sure DH'ing with Tavares' glove in CF. Done deal. I think this makes the Astros ready for the games at The Cell. Can they handle the arms of the Sox, though? Carpenter shut the Astros down, but can all four horseman do it for the South Siders?

So, who wins the World Series? At first glance, because of starting pitching, you'd have to give the edge to the ChiSox. The took out the offensive machine from Boston, ended the hopes of the balanced Angels, and now are looking at the Three Amigos in Houston. Roy Oswalt is the best pitcher on either side, so when he starts, it'll be interesting (or boring, depending on your love for the game). Expect those games to be one run affairs. He's on fire right now, and is as dominant as anyone in either league. Konerko may be the only one who can even hit the guy.

But, at second look, this one could be a coin flip. Game Four will be in Houston, so Backe will have the home crowd behind him and those little Crawford Boxes in left for his boys to dink the ball into. Although, Crede and Konerko will love the chance to poke a few in there too. You have to believe that Clemens is going to leave his arm out there in Game 1. I mean, this is what he's been waiting for. He's the perfect story to get this rolling along, and I'm sure, absolutely sure, that Fox is going to exploit that to the fullest. Can Contreras handle the heat? It's going to be very interesting. Good for Jose that he's at home to start, because I'm not sure he could take Game 1 on the road. Will the Comiskey faithful be in a froth?

That reminds me. This is the worst World Series in baseball history for names of stadiums. US Cellular Field vs. Minute Maid Park. Ugh. Can't get much worse than that, people. Add the concert feel at the Cell with the Little League feel of MMP, and this is going to be one weird Series.

Anyway, we'll have to see how the Series starts out, because if Houston is down at the Game 4 mark, Backe may not get a start and strange things will happen. But, here in Game 1, it's the ol' traditional Pitching Matchup #1. Will it be a 1-0 ballgame or will one of the (weak?) offenses actually break out and score some runs?

Cue the Bay City Rollers, cause we'll find out Saturday Night.

If you're asking me to pick a winner, I'd say White Sox in Six. Damn, that's hard to say, coming from a Cub Fan, but it's pitching, pitching, pitching. Pettitte has been struggling, and the ChiSox best hitters are righties. Clemens, actually, has struggled as well up to this point, but will he really struggle on Basball's biggest stage? I'm just saying the White Sox have proved it to me, taking out the Red Sox and the Angels without much of a sweat, the AL is the stronger league (winners of 9 of the last 12 World Series and 15-5 in All-Star Games since 1986, winning the last eight straight, not including that stupid "tie" in 2002), and Lidge has really been overworked to this point (although there's time to rest when the season's over). That's my call. I'm with new band-wagonner Dan Patrick and I just think the White Sox will win. Will I be rooting for them? It's really hard for a Cub Fan to root for the White Sox, if not impossible. But, I've been at the Astrodome and Enron/Astros/Minute Maid over 20 times now, for Cub games, rooting against the 'Stros, so it's pretty much tough to root for them either. I'm a Chicago fan all the way, and my Bro is a big time White Sox fan, so I'd rather see him happy than the on-again, off-again "fans" of the Astros. When it comes down to it, I just want to see good baseball, but if you're asking me to pick, its White Sox in Six.

Last comment about the World Series (for now). These fans in Texas are a tad bit embarrassing about baseball. They sort of care, but sort of don't. I'd bet that if the Cowboys were playing up against the Astros that they'd out draw them in TV ratings in the state of Texas. Seriously. This place is Football Country. In Austin, if UT were up against the 'Stros, there's no question that the people would want the 'Horns on the tube instead of the 'Stros. Crazy, isn't it?

Well, at least for this baseball fan it is. Anyway, I've been in Texas for 10 years now, so maybe I'll figure it out soon enough.

One thing's for sure. Whether people in Austin or Dallas are watching or not, History will be made this World Series, and I, for one, will be watching with earnest. One team will end a drought of over 40 years. Let's get this thing started.


Oh, and NEVER EVER EVER EVER shop with MLB.com. I ordered a White Sox shirt for my brother on October 2nd commemorating them getting in the Show, paid for overnight shipping so he would get it on time for his birthday, guess what? He hasn't even received the frickin' thing yet. I look on the website and it's still sitting in their website. WTF??

Of course, my credit card was charged immediately. They had no such problem taking my frickin' money. Incredible. A multi-million dollar corporation can't ship out one flippin shirt, but can take $50 at the drop of a hat.

OK. Off of the soapbox for now. Enjoy the game.

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