Friday, October 21, 2005

World Series pick

This should be a series where runs are tough to come by. Both teams have great starting pitching, although I would give the Sox a slight edge because they have four reliable starters, while the Astros have three. I think the Astros have the edge in the bullpen though with Brad Lidge and some competent setup guys. The Sox bullpen is a concern just because nobody's thrown a pitch in anger in two weeks.

On offense, I think the Sox have an edge, but once again, it's slight. Both teams rely more on small ball than they do the three-run homer, but I think the Sox are better able to generate the long ball at any spot in the lineup.

The National League team always has an edge in its park because AL pitchers aren't used to hitting. On the other hand, NL teams always have someone who can be a decent DH. The Astros have Jeff Bagwell on their bench and he figures to see some time at DH in Chicago.

Both teams are solid in the field, capable of making the spectacular play without sacrificing the routine.

My sincere hope is that we have our first postseason series in 2005 where we don't spend two days micro-analyzing some lousy call by an ump.

Sox in 7.

Dumbest thing ever written

In Thursday's Sun-Times, Jay Mariotti wrote what is quite possibly the dumbest thing ever printed in a newspaper. Just having it be the dumbest thing he has ever written is quite an accomplishment, but this was at the magic level of stupidity.

He said that if the White Sox don't win the World Series, they will quickly be forgotten in this town.

This is a town that remembers fondly not only its champions (there is a big celebration going on all fall long to commemorate the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears), but even its losers. The 1969 Cubs are practically revered, and they finished 8 games back of the Mets. The 84 and 2003 Cubs are also legendary teams that came up just short. The White Sox don't get the same play as the Cubs, but the 1959 team didn't win the World Series, and they are still fondly remembered around here.

I'm looking forward to the day when Mariotti leaves town so we can try to quickly forget him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Queen in the US

Well, not exactly Queen. Queen + Paul Rodgers played in New York on Sunday and will play again in LA on Saturday. Unfortunately for me, that's way too far away to go.

If you went, how was it? Paul Rodgers doesn't seem like a logical replacement for Freddie Mercury. I'm not sure anyone is, but I would have never figured it would be him.

Snow in Hell?

The White Sox are going to the World Series. I'm nearly 42 years old and I've never seen a World Series game played in Chicago. It hasn't happened since 1959. I'm not sure if Hell is actually freezing over, but I bet the overcoats are being broken out (it's been a long time for the Sox, but even longer for the Cubs).

Once again, the Sox have to sit and wait a week for an opponent. It looked like Houston had it won last night, but a 2-out, 3-run homer by Albert Pujols in the 9th keeps the NLCS going. I don't think the ball has landed yet. That's why he's the best player in baseball. But, I digress.

In the ALCS, the week of waiting hurt the Sox because they were off their rhythm for game 1. Obviously, things got a lot better after that.

The White Sox pitching in the ALCS was beyond remarkable. Throwing four straight complete games is unheard of in these days of relief specialization. The Sox hadn't done that in the regular season since 1974 and it hadn't been done in the playoffs since the mid-50s. I wonder how the bullpen will do early in the WS considering it will be 2 weeks since most of those guys have pitched in a game. But that's a problem for another day.

A couple more notes:

The two newspapers I get (Chicago Tribune and NW Indiana Times) both had the same headline on the front page: "Party Like It's 1959". That's a reference to the last time the Sox were in the WS.

When the Sox won the AL in 1959, the city set off air raid sirens to celebrate. Some people were frightened by those since they didn't warn anyone they might do that. Last week, an alderman suggested they set them off again if the Sox win, but in this post-9/11 era, that idea got shot down pretty quickly.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sox get a gift

The White Sox got a gift from the Angels and the umpires last night it its 2-1 win. The first give came in the form of an unearned run in the first, when Jared Washburn's throwing error put Scott Posednik on second. Two outs later, he scored.

The second came from home plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that the third strike against AJ Pierzynski hit the dirt. Angels C Josh Paul (a former Sox player, BTW) thought he caught it clean and rolled the ball back to the mound as he and his teammates walked off. After swinging and missing, AJ took a step toward the dugout, looking back at Paul. He saw that Paul's glove was coming up from the dirt, so he reacted and ran to first. Home plate ump Doug Eddings ruled him safe, after which a long argument ensued. Eddings asked 3B ump Ed Rapuano for help and Rapuano didn't overrule him, so the call stood. Pablo Ozuna ran for AJ, stole second and scored on Joe Crede's 0-2 shot into the left field corner to win.

Replay showed clearly that Paul caught the ball clean, but the tip of his glove was on the ground when he did. That's why AJ ran. He saw the glove in the dirt and ran just to be sure. The home plate ump, as close as he is, has the worst angle on that play because the catcher blocks his view. AJ is a lefty, so the third base ump is the appeal ump on that play, although the second base ump has a view as well.

The Angels complained that Eddings signaled that he was out. AJ said he never heard him say he was out. He wouldn't hear him say out because on an obvious swing-and-miss strike, no verbal signal is given. You just extend the arm as a visual signal. Some umps have a different signal for strike three, but it's still non-verbal and not very demonstrative in an obvious swing-and-miss situation. That's what Eddings did.

There is no question that the umps blew the call - Paul caught the ball clean and they didn't see it - but the Angels have nobody to blame for the loss but themselves. Catchers are taught to tag the batter if there's any doubt. Paul didn't do that. By the time AJ ran, nobody had the ball anymore, so it was too late to throw him out. Even still, that just opened the door for the Sox. They still had a chance to get Crede out and the Angels didn't do that either.

I'm probably one of the few guys who feels bad for the ump who blew the call, but I used to be an ump too (not at that level, of course). He probably didn't sleep well last night after seeing the replays and probably isn't real excited about spending the next several days in Anaheim.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Quick MLCS pix

Sox and Cards in 7 each. Houston has the pitching to hang with the Cards and Anaheim has played the Sox well this year. Even though the Angels have had back-to-back cross country flights, I wouldn't be shocked if they won game 1.

And let me add how pleasant it is that not only don't we have to stomach another Yankees-Red Sox series, but we don't have to put up with either one. Nobody was more surprised than the folks at ESPN that in spite of this tragedy, baseball will continue with its postseason as scheduled.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

White Sox move on

What a mismatch that turned out to be. The White Sox played nearly perfect baseball in their sweep of the Red Sox. You like small ball? How about that suicide squeeze last night for an insurance run? You like the long ball? Five HRs in Game 1, seven overall. That, along with the Sox usual pitching and defense. Total domination. It will be very difficult to beat the Sox if they keep playing at that level.

The bad news for the Sox is that they have a long time to wait before the next series starts. You hate to sit around when you have that much momentum going.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MLDS Picks

AL - Sox vs Sox - Chicago's pitching hasn't been as dependable since the All-Star break and Scott Posednik, the man who makes the offense go, has slumped since an injury. Not good news when facing the defending champs. Boston in 4.

Angels vs Yankees - The Yankees starting pitching hasn't been special, but they can really hit. But pitching wins in the postseason - supposedly - so I'll take the Angels in 5.

I just hope we don't have to suffer through another Yankees-Red Sox series.

NL - Braves vs Astros. Wasn't this supposed to be the year the Braves finally faltered? Houston came back from the dead to win the wild card. For the Braves to win, its starters will have to carry the load. Altanta in 4.

Padres vs Cards - The Pads barely made it to .500 and the Cards are the best team in baseball. St. Louis in 3, unless they can find a way to win in 2.