Dear White Sox…

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Swept?!

Bush_shocked_1 "Mr. President we have some news.  Very shocking news.  The Houston Astros were swept in the World Series.  It confirms that your home state of Texas simply – for lack of a better word – stinks in baseball.  Sir?  Sir?!  Mr. President?  Can we get some help over here!  Same thing happened to his father…he’s still refusing to leave the stadium."

When you play not to lose, guess what happens?  Yep.  Curious, why is Lidge in the game in the 8th inning?  Of a 0-0 game?  To face the top of the White Sox lineup?  After pitching a tough 1.1 innings last night?  He’s there because if you’re going to lose, you better lose with your horse on the mound.  And Garner was ready to lose. 

CongratulationsOzzie_guillen Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago White Sox for a brilliant season.  To go through the postseason with only one loss is an incredible feat; particularly when along the way, they eliminated the ’02 WS champs and the ’04 WS champs.  Congratulations Ozzie on your fearless managing.  I only hope your tactics and strategies are the beginning of a trend that future managers will emulate and not one the rest of the league considers a fluke.  When Sciosia did it three years ago, he was considered a genius.  Not only did you defeat Sciosia and the Angels in 5, but you surpassed anything he did by sweeping the World Series. 

This wasn’t a fluke.  It wasn’t luck.  The White Sox were a good team made great by the brilliance of one man.  Ozzie Guillen.    Congratulations.

So long Astros.  Thank you for showing us the true meaning of a Wild Card team.  You should’ve never been in the playoffs…but you backdoored your way in thanks to the Wild Card.  At least you showed your gratitude by losing the World Series to a Divisional Champion.  And by losing it the way you were supposed to…by getting swept.  Try winning the NL Central Division next year.

The Astros were supposed to win one for the National League

Sleepy The National League had lost its last 6 World Series games.  The Astros were determined to end that streak.  Who better than Roy Oswalt at home?   Well, it took over 5 hours for Oswalt plus six other pitchers in 14 innings to extend that streak to 7.  The good news for the Astros?  I don’t think there were many people awake to see them lose.

Extra innings are not fun.  They’re tiring.  One thing is to do it in the Division Series where your bullpen has a chance to get some rest and bounce back, but to do it in the World Series?  Where every game is so critical and where rest is so precious?  Yeah, yeah, both teams are in the same predicament…but after all is said and done, Houston is still down 3 games to 0.  Forget about the psychological effect of this game for a second.  Lidge pitched 1.1 innings.  Lidge What are you going to do for Game 4?  And the majority of the pitches he threw were sliders.  Do you know what that pitch does to the elbow?  No Lidge, no save, no win.  Who else you got left in that bullpen to help you win Game 4?  Anyone?  Bueller?

In the bottom of the 10th:  Why didn’t Garner have Jason Lane bunt the runner over?  This is the National League, right?  The kings of small ball?  Lead off man gets on, has good speed…it’s elementary, right?  Instead Garner has him swinging Garner_astro away at the first pitch!  And Ausmus swinging on a 1-1 count with Palmeiro basically standing at second base with an easy steal going, "Bro, what are you doing?  Take a pitch will you!  I’m trying to get in scoring position for you!  Help me help you!"  Nice teamwork.  Typical Wild Card team.  What do you expect?  Championship caliber baseball?  From a team that couldn’t even win its own division?  Then men on first and second with only one out in the 11th inning and again, nothing.  No surprise.  And yet again, in the 13th inning with the leadoff man on and Biggio doesn’t bunt him over.  Wow.  Taveras doesn’t even bunt him over, you know, for BERKMAN who’s on deck.  Oh, I get it.  This is the same Garner who managed the Brewers right?  I guess losing is a bad habit to kick.

Remember, this was a game the Astros had to win.  Not just because it was Game 3 (and the Astros couldn’t afford to go down 0-3); not just because it was Roy Oswalt on the mound; but because the Astros were up in this game 4-0 in the 5th inning.  You don’t lose those games.  You can’t.  Because once you’re down 0-3, you’re out.  "But what about Boston?  They were down 0-3 to the Yankees, blah, blah, blah…"  Boston was down 0-2 to the White Sox this year in the Divisional Series and what happened?  And besides, what happened in ’04 with the Yankees didn’t happen in the World Series.  This is a whole ‘nother monster.  Don’t look at the ’04 Red Sox for inspiration…look at the ’05 Red Sox.  You’re done.  But thanks for playing the Wild Card. 

Right now the Astros wouldn’t know how to win a game even with a bases loaded walk.  They’re that bad. 

White Sox in 5? 

Hurry up people, bandwagon’s filling up fast.  There’s still some room near the back.  All aboard! 

Go_white_sox_2

Pujols AGAIN helps Sox win Game 2

Pujols5 Unbelievable but true.  The Cardinals may be long gone but the Astros are still being victimized by that one great homerun by Albert Pujols.  Game 1 saw the ghost of that magical moment come back to haunt the hopeless Astros.  And in Game 2 it was obvious.  Who was on the mound?  And when was the last time he was on the mound?  And how prophetic!  During the Podsednik at bat:

Buck:  "People said in regards to Lidge, ‘it would’ve been nice to get Lidge in the game in Game 6 [of the NLCS] in St. Louis to get that taste out of his mouth, the Pujols homerun."

McCarver:  "I don’t think that taste is there."

On the very next pitch…BOOM!  Did you hear McCarver try to cover up a few minutes later?  He quickly added, "the taste might be there now."  Nice try, buddy.  The taste was always there, Tim. 

The Astros did not just lose Game 5 in the NLCS when Pujols hit that homerun.  They clearly lost more than that.  And that’s justice, since the Astros have no business being in the World Series.  Win your Division or go home.  Down with the Wild Card!

Again, Sox in 5.

Pujols helps Sox win Game 1

Pujols_1 Had Pujols not hit that homerun to win Game 5, Roy Oswalt would’ve been the starter in Game 1 for the Astros.  And you can’t tell me Mr. Oswalt wouldn’t have been a better option in Game 1.  Clemens?  Are you kidding me?  Clemens couldn’t do it in a critical Game 4 in the ’03 World Series…he’s going to do it now, two years later?  Right.

Wake up, Houston.  Look how hard you celebrated when you won the LCS.  That’s all you’re going to get.  A little more humble, a little more cool, and you may still have some juice left to win the one that counts.

Finally, for the first time in four years, a Wild Card team will not win the World Series.  All is right in the baseball world.  White Sox in 5 (Houston wins one=Oswalt)

The Greatest 9th Inning I’ve ever seen!

Are you kidding me?!  I dare you to find a sport that has more drama than baseball!  The Astros were one strike away in Game 5!  They had already selected the Chevrolet Player of the Game: Lance Berkman.  They had shown Nolan Ryan and Biggio and Bagwell…"the faces of this organization."  Who can forget Brandon Backe screaming "Yeah!" when Berkman hit that homerun in the 7th?  And when they replayed it in the 9th?

Then with 2 outs and a 1-2 count on Eckstein, the announcer says, "They like everything big in Texas, they’re ready for a big bash tonight."

On the very next pitch…Eckstein gets a hit.  Oops.  Put down the champagne glass guys.

Then came Edmonds.  A career .077 against Lidge (we’re talking 1-13).  And Lidge, maybe thinking he had gotten lucky those previous 13 at bats against Edmonds…walks him.  He walks him to face Pujols?!  With two outs, you’re not going to go after Edmonds??  I would’ve lobbed it to Edmonds.  Underhand.  Take your best swing, I’ll hope for fly out or a line out…anything…but I’m not facing Pujols. 

Wow.  I love to see great players do great things when it’s expected of them.  Did you see that A-Rod?  And don’t think I didn’t see George Bush’s reaction standing there, front row, behind home plate when Pujols hit that home run.  Shame on Fox for not catching that.  It was like a kid being told he couldn’t go and play outside.  Classic.

How about Pettitte’s reaction?  He just sat there, with his mouth agape, and as the ball flew out, he mouthed, "Oh my God."  Again classic.

Baseball.  The greatest game in the world.

Farewell…

Torre_and_stottlemyre_2

Once upon a time there was a young boy.  A boy who loved baseball.  He grew up playing wiffleball every chance the weather allowed; and growing up in New York, wiffleball season was a precious one.  Little league was great of course, but you only played once a week, twice if you’re lucky.  He loved wiffleball because he could play every day; and he could win every day.  And that was a big deal.  Because, you see, this boy, this boy had the misfortune of growing up in the 80’s…a Yankee fan.  His favorite player was Butch Wynegar #27.  Enough said. 

So after almost 15 years of never seeing the Yankees in the postseason, 1994 came and saw the Yankees in first place – late in the season – only to see it all go away with the strike of ’94.  Then there was 1995 and the joy of seeing Mattingly finally play games that meant something…and the heartache of seeing Griffey score the winning run in Game 5 of the ALDS.

In comes Joe Torre.  Joe who?  And that young boy, now a young man, was able to celebrate 4 World Series titles in 5 years.  4 in 5!  That is outstanding.  Incredible.  Amazing.  Unforgettable.

But all good things come to an end.  Luis_gonzalez Thanks to a bloop single by Luis Gonzalez in 2001.  That moment marked the end of a dynasty.  The end of a beautiful era.  I still haven’t gotten over that World Series.  After 9/11, you just knew the Yankees would win that Series and bring a parade to a city that desperately needed something to celebrate about.  I know the Yankees showed some magic at home in Games 4 & 5…but to lose in Game 7…with Mariano on the mound? That hurt.  Still does…just as bad.  Remember Brosius?  What a great Yankee thirdbaseman.

The only bright spot the last five years was that incredible blast from that other great Yankee thirdbaseman, Aaron Boone.  Brosius was clutch, no doubt, and he was sorely missed.  But when Boone homered against Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, everything felt right again…and the pain from ’01 subsided a bit.

Boonegame_7_03 I remember where I was, how many times I jumped, how loud I screamed.  But that was my World Series.  The Yankees, again, came up short…losing to the Wild Card Florida Marlins in 6.  Then inexplicably losing 4 in a row to the Red Sox in the ’04 ALCS.  I have to struggle sometimes to remember that one great moment brought to us by Aaron Boone.  And now, in 2005, another heartbreaking defeat to the team that eliminated the Yankees only three years ago.  Speaking of clutch Yankee thirdbasemen…our current one went 0-4 in both Game 7 last year and Game 5 this year.  Brosius, Boone…Pagliarulo, where have you gone?

It’s time for a change.  You can’t fire the players, especially when they make over $20 million a year.  So what do you do?  It’s time to say goodbye.  Thank you Joe.  Thank you Mel.  I just don’t want to go back to the 80’s.