Okay, the World Series is already underway, so why am I just now posting? In fact, the Chicago White Sox (including SS Juan Uribe, at left, courtesy of Chicago Comcastsportsnet) are now up 2-0 over the Houston Astros, having won the opening game behind José Contreras 5-3, and tonight's game in the final inning in dramatic fashion 7-6. Now both teams head down south to play under less trying weather conditions (it was chilly last night, and cold and rainy tonight in Chicago) in the Astros' stadium. I guess it took me a few days of recovery after the Cardinals' NLCS loss to Houston to focus on the this matchup, which appeared initially to be akin to the 1966 or 1968 World Series, that is, all about starting pitching, but which has turned out to be a test of whose bullpen won't collapse.
The White Sox vaunted starters so far have been average. In game 1 Contreras gave up three runs, hardly dazzling. In game 2, Mark Buehrle, a native St. Louisan, surrendered 4 runs in 7 innings. So how did they win both games? In both games, the Astros relief corps, one of the best in the major leagues, has been sketchy at best, turning Roger Clemens' hamstrung 2-inning performance 1 into a loss, and in this game, blowing what was a superb start by Astro Andy Pettitte, who only gave up 2 runs in 6 innings. Chicago has been able to get singles and home runs when needed, including tonight, when outfielder Scott Posednik, who hadn't hit even a single home run during the regular season (a shocking statistic for an outfielder), smacked one off Houston reliever and iceman Craig Lidge in the bottom of the 9th. I could hear the ecstatic cheers all the way up here on the far North Side.
As for the Astros, I understand that they've never won a World Series, though several of their individual players (Clemens, Pettitte) have. Most, however, have played for years without ever getting this far. (An observation: Houston appears to have the fewest people of color of any team in Major League baseball. Only one starter, cute top rookie Willy Taveras (below right, courtesy of Yucatan.com.mx) is not White, and there appear to be almost no non-White people on their bench, which is a little odd in 2005. There is, moreover, not a Black American anywhere to be found on their roster, which is not that strange, since 4-5 teams this year didn't have a Black American starter or hardly any Black American players.)
I don't think Houston, a very good team, is going to defeat Chicago this year and I hope they won't; but if the former First Couple, Poppy and Barf, decide to start mugging at and smooching on camera, I'll be very actively rooting against them. If Prince of Incompetence W himself shows up....well, let's just say a 4-game Chitown sweep wouldn't be consolation enough. Something tells me, though, that with Fitzmas/Fitzukkah imminent and the pending indictments set to be decided on Tuesday (and perhaps issued soon thereafter), our Feckless Leader won't be leaving Washington anytime soon, not even for yet another Gulf Coast photo op, though his brother and fixer Jeb beckons him down to Florida for some the Hurricane Wilma walkarounds to try to raise W's Faux News/Gallup poll numbers off the ocean floor.
During the regular season I more than once harbored (and occasionally expressed) a private hope that the White Sox would at least make the playoffs, in part because I wanted them to knock the self-mythologizing Red Sox off their bandbox, and because I would have loved to see them play the Cardinals in the World Series. They did satisfy the former desire, but the latter was out of their hands. As for their not winning a World Series since 1917, their infamous "Black Sox" scandal, and their not even being in the Series since 1959, I could care less. My fandom doesn't run that deep, among American League teams I support the Yankees first and foremost, and the Angelheimers were a lot easier on the eyes.
But I have derived additional satisfaction from the fact that among Chicago's baseball teams, it was the White Sox, and not the even more outrageous self-mythologizing Chicago Cubs (of Wrigley Field, that quaint museum and beerhall on Clark and Addison), who now have a chance to break a long streak of bad luck, missed changes, a curse, the gods know what. The Cubs, in addition to being the Cardinals' chief rivals, usually have Chicagoland (not just the Hog Butcher of the world, mind you, but the teeming Midwestern nerve center of more than 9 million people!), knotted around their finger. For the last few weeks, and perhaps a while longer, the White Sox will keep that knot untied, and perhaps begin to lace up some love of their own.
So the Chicago White Sox in 5 (or 4 if those two show their faces too much)!