2005-10-28

World Series Reflections


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OK ... it was a busy week, and now it's catch up time.

I was so fixated on Houston's surge into and through the playoffs and so non-plussed by Chicago nearly fumbling away their monster mid-season lead that I completely missed, until it was over, what an amazing playoff run the Sox had. They effectively swept everyone. Sure, there was the ALCS opening game blemish - too much rest waiting for Los Anaheim to finish off the Yankees?

I'm not really wow'ed by the Angels, but look at Chicago's post-season bookends. Boston came in in a tail-spin, but they stil boasted as nasty a lineup of hitters as there is in baseball. In the Astros, Chicago faced an imposing array of starting and relief pitchers and made them all look average.

To be sure, Chicago has great sticks and great arms. But the thing that set them apart this post-season ... the thing they did better than any other team in the playoffs ... they finished the job when they had the chance. The Sox had Boston down 2-0, and could have eased up. They took them out in 3, avoiding a critical game 4 at hostile Fenway. After taking 2 in California, it would have been easy to think, "We can win 1 of 2 back home." Instead they took down the Angels on their home turf and went home to rest.

Contrast that with Houston whose World Series was all about missed opportunities. Hidden behind Chicago's sweep is the fact that the Series was close. Houston had multiple opportunities to win every one of those games. If just 3 of their 72 runners left on base score, you could reverse two of the four games. If just one of Houston's big three had contained Chicago's hitters, the series is extended.

Instead Houston repeatedly let Chicago off the hook. The White Sox didn't crush the 'Stros, they just consistently out-played, out-hustled, and out-pressured them.

A couple of other thoughts:

If this is it for the Rocket, here's hoping he'll have the courage to step down. I've said this time and time again when a sporting great starts to sing, "Should I stay or should I go," don't wear out your welcome, even if you can because of who you are. If this past season turns out to have been Clemens' last, he has nothing to be ashamed of. I'm sure it stings to fall one step short, but he competed at the highest level right to the end. As long as he can play at such a level that he would earn the spot even if he were green and fresh off the bus from Austin, he should stick if that's where his heart is. If not, step down and let them remember you as nothing but great.

As for Chicago, once the city-wide celebration dies down, this is totally going to mess with the Cubbie fans' heads. It's bad enough just to be driving a used Pinto - it becomes ten times worse when your neighbor comes home and parks a brand new Escalade in their driveway. As far as I'm concerned, all curses are still in place.

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