At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Astros Win; Series vs. ChiSox 'Baseball as it Oughtta Be'

Well, it’s official: the Houston Astros are going to the first World Series in franchise history – the first one, as the Fox broadcasters repeatedly reminded us, ever to be played in the State of Texas. By defeating the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two, they move on to face a Chicago White Sox team that hasn’t been to the Series for three years longer than the Houston franchise has even existed. And baseball historians everywhere are thrilled with this outcome and are poring over their timelines, searching for significance.

I also am thrilled, but for very different reasons.
  1. I love how fundamentally sound these two teams are. I love the fact that the Astros and White Sox both play ‘small ball’ so well, and place such a premium on pitching and defense. If anyone has an over/under on the number of bunts or double plays we’ll see over the next week, I’d like to know.

  2. I love that this year’s Fall Classic will take place entirely in the center of the country, and not at all at its edges. For a game known as ‘the National Pastime,’ it’s nice that the entire nation will be able to watch the games and still go to bed before midnight. It’s also nice to see a couple of ‘mid-market’ teams occupy the spotlight: according to the Associated Press (see story on ESPN.com), the Astros ranked 11th in the majors in payroll at around $77.5 million, while the White Sox came in 13th at about $74.3 million. By contrast, the Angels were fifth at $96.1 million, and the Cardinals 10th (first in the National League) at $83.5 million. (The Yankees, of course, were first at nearly $203 million; the Red Sox ranked second at $126.8 million.)

  3. And I love the fact that had either LCS come out differently, the opponent from the other league almost certainly would have been considered a long shot. Consider Angels/Astros or Cardinals/White Sox: on which teams do you think the money would have been placed? My guess is on LAA or STL. Which raises an interesting question: can you have a series in which both teams are the underdog?
However it plays out, this World Series promises to be something very special. Though both teams can hit, the winner is unlikely to merely bash its way to the trophy. Instead, victory will go to the club that plays a complete game, and plays it consistently. Truly, this will be ‘baseball as it oughtta be,’ and students of the game should be as thrilled by what they see as the casual fans.

White Sox in seven ... you heard it here first!

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