Whose fall dream will come true?
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2005
At this year’s World Series, two teams have arrived with a dream. Unfortunately, only one will see it come true.
Houston has never before been to the big game in their 44-year history. Chicago hasn’t won since 1917, two years before the Black Sox scandal rocked America.
So what happens over the next week or two in the world championship of baseball? Let’s see what one sportswriter thinks…
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Catcher: Houston’s Bard Ausmus has always been one of the game’s best defensive stoppers – just one error all season – but his bat came to sparkling life over the past few months, hitting .289 since June, smacking a two-run homer against Atlanta in the last game of the NLDS, and going 7-for-22 against St. Louis. A.J. Pierzynski didn’t have a standout year, but he was there when Chicago needed him. Edge: Houston.
First base: What a couple of breaks for Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell – playing for over a decade, and then getting hurt and having to watch the Series from the dugout! Paul Konerko has been a worthy replacement for Thomas, hit .322 in the last few months of the season and winning the ALCS MVP award. Bagwell’s replacement, Mike Lamb, has been red-hot for the past month. Edge: Chicago
Second base: Quite a toss-up. Chicago’s Tadahito Iguchi tore it up during the regular season, but he hasn’t had a breakout postseason game. That’s why the edge goes to old reliable Craig Biggio, hitting a career-high 26 homers, and 40 doubles, in his 18th season and running the Astro offense through the Cardinals. Edge: Houston
Shortstop: Juan Uribe was solid for Chicago, hitting 16 homers and batting in 71 runs, and going 8-for-26 in the postseason. Houston’s Adam Everett had the best hitting season of his career, but still batted just .248. Edge: Chicago
Third base: Houston’s Morgan Ensberg has been on a tear since May, finishing with 36 homers and 101 RBIs and driving in seven runs in the NLDS. Joe Crede comes through when needed for Chicago, but his back’s in bad shape. Edge: Houson
Left field: Lance Berkman is Houston’s best-hitter, matching a team-record 11 homers in September and hitting two more in the postseason. If he wasn’t here, the workhorse Scott Podsednik would get the edge, but, well, he is. Edge: Houston
Centerfield: Aaron Rowland has been another unspectacular-but-solid mark for Chicago, hitting .271 this year and playing well in the postseason. Houston’s Willy Taveras can run like Carl Lewis, but his hitting has been subpar. Edge: Chicago
Right field: Will Jermaine Dye, one of the game’s most oft-injured players, keep it together long enough for the Sox’s first crown of the millennium? He played in 145 games this year. Jason Lane hit .218 for Houston in the first months, but recovered in time to do his part. Edge: Houston
Designated hitter: Bagwell will get his only chance to shine here, and Orlando Palmeiro, who hit over .300 against righthanders, can come in if necessary. Carl Everett hit 23 homers for Chicago, but ended up with just .250 Edge: Houston
Pitching: The Sox starters notched four complete ALCS games and led the AL with 74 wins this season. Andy Pettitte is second all-time with 14 postseason wins, Roger Clemens is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in the World Series and Roy Oswalt is 3-0 this postseason. Edge: Houston
Bullpen: While the starters were zapping Anaheim, the Sox bullpen got a rest, but they might be rusty after two weeks off. Six Sox are ready to go, however. Houston’s closers made the difference in their overpowering of St. Louis. Edge: Chicago
Manager: Ozzie Guillen never won a World Series in 19 years as a player, and he’d chomping at the bit to get there now. He knows how to inspire his squad to get the job done. Phil Garner doesn’t have Guillen’s leadership, but he’s helped his boys look better and better all year. Edge: Chicago
Pick: Chicago in six