Interesting article, It's absolutely ridiculous that the Astros focus is this screwed up. It's their first World Series in franchise history and they are worrying about the wrong stuff. It's clear who is showing up to play ball. I think the Astros are already beaten after last night. I said ChiSox in 5, now I'm not so sure the Stros will win 1 game.
By Dan Wetzel
, Yahoo! Sports
October 26, 2005
HOUSTON â€“ By the time the Houston Astros
kept choking with the winning run in scoring position, taking third strikes in extra innings and walking in insurance runs in the most must-win game in franchise history, the temperature had fallen all the way to a crisp 48 degrees in Texas.
So maybe they really were too cold to play. Of course, who doesn't like their whine slightly chilled?
The Chicago White Sox
just play, no matter the conditions, no matter the situation, no matter the history. Whether Minute Maid Park's roof is open or closed, there's a million-man march full of walks or there are rainy, windy or perfect full-moon conditions, it doesn't matter.
Down four against Houston ace Roy Oswalt
, the White Sox dug deep and sent 11 batters to the plate to score five runs in the fifth inning. They had no business lasting until the 14th inning, but they got a game-winning dinger from Geoff Blum
, who just happened to play the hero in his first World Series at-bat.
The Astros? They spent the pregame press conferences cursing Bud Selig for making them open up the roof at Minute Maid, then ended up rolling over dead in the late innings.
Chicago 7, Houston 5 in 14 interminable innings. This World Series is all over, but not the Astros' crying. After capturing the longest game in Series history (five hours, 41 minutes), the White Sox take a commanding 3-0 lead into Wednesday's Game 4, where the Minute Maid roof promises to be open again.
"They're trying to take the home-field advantage from us," pouted outfielder Lance Berkman
before the game, when word came down from up above that the stars at night would be big and bright.
"It's almost like a road game for us now," first baseman Mike Lamb
"I don't care," shrugged White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "It is going to be open or closed."
Gee, wonder which team was more mentally ready to play?
Teams take emotional cues from their manager. The fact that Phil Garner allowed his players to let something as silly as fresh air seep into their consciousness in a game of such magnitude is stunning.
It seemed to even affect the vaunted Houston fans, who mostly sat on their chilly hands throughout the late innings offering little to no support.
Maybe this entire roof thing was nothing. Or maybe it was a sign of everything that is separating these mostly evenly matched teams.
It takes mental toughness as much as physical might to be a champion. The funny thing is, Houston got this far by getting tough when the games and the pressure became tight. But in this game, the Astros showed little fight, following a game-tying, eighth-inning rally with inning after inning of punchless at-bats.
"This is embarrassing," Garner said. "That's some pretty poor hitting, absolute rotten hitting. I'm really ticked off. I've got lots of emotion."
At least someone was showing some. The Astros didn't so much battle in extra innings as they survived.
They didn't get a single hit after the eighth inning. Not one. They managed a meager eight hits over 14 innings of play. If it weren't for wild White Sox relievers â€“ who kept generously walking and beaning Houston's hitters â€“ the Astros never would have gotten anyone on base.
The fact the White Sox were trying hard to lose this game didn't matter, either. ("Our execution was real poor today," Guillen said.)
Houston left a pathetic 10 potential game-winning runners on base and 12 overall from the eighth inning on. Over the course of the night, the Astros stranded a mind-blowing 15 guys, more than an episode of "Lost." In the late innings, with winning runs on base, they struck out looking three separate times.
Just to repeat, this was extra innings of the World stinkin' Series. Not exactly the time to take a called third strike.
"We had every chance in the world to win the ball game," Garner snapped.
In a game they had to have in a big way, the Astros came up small over and over. Rather than seize this thing like a champion, they played not to lose.
As bad as Chicago was, eventually someone stepped up to be the difference maker. That it was the lightly used 32-year-old Blum who hit the winning home run is just perfect White Sox style.
"It surprised me because the kid hadn't played in two months," Guillen said.
Now Chicago is one game from sweeping its way to its first World Series title in 88 years and equaling the 1999 New York Yankees
as the only team to complete the postseason with just one loss in the wild-card era.
The White Sox have won 10 of 11 postseason games, including seven straight, and they have done it by shrugging off adversity, deficits, difficulties and anything else you could throw at them. In a sure reflection of their manager, they never complain and they never seem to get nervous.
The White Sox just play. The Astros, once again, just watched.
Perhaps all the roof talk was just talk. Perhaps not. But as a rule, champions don't let weather, questionable calls and outside factors affect them. They just play. They just win. They just become champions. So chill the whine, Houston. Chicago can chill the champagne.