Posted: Wednesday October 26, 2005 4:12PM; Updated: Thursday October 27, 2005 3:09PM
The Astros' hopes ride on the arm of Brandon Backe who will be their Game 4 starter.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
My esteemed colleague Chris Mannix wrote yesterday that this year's World Series is unwatchable. I'd have to disagree. (I could pretty much scupper his argument just by pointing out that he's such a dyed-in-the-wool NBA fan who once dressed up as Antoine Walker for Halloween. I'm pretty sure this was last year. That tells you all you need to know about what he considers good viewing.) It's now pushing 2:00 a.m. and I can't make myself turn Game 3 off. Granted, the teams are a little low when it comes to their collective Q ratings and Fox is doing its best to make tuning in laborious. (The commercials alone are bad enough. Oh, House, you scamp.) But this is some gripping baseball.
I'm hoping Houston can push this thing to a fifth game so we can see how the Roger Clemens saga plays itself out. I'm not too confident. The Astros have had so many horrible at bats in the Series -- not just their inability to get a timely hit, but their inability to even make contact -- that they don't look like a team capable of extending this thing. (From the eighth inning on, White Sox pitchers issued nine walks and a hit batsman, and the 'Stros couldn't take advantage, largely because no one could get a bat on anything El Duque or Damaso Marte threw.) The Astros are resting their hopes on Brandon Backe, a young bundle of emotion who is going to look pretty bad if he gets shelled and his World Series legacy is that he aped it up for Fox when they miked him. I smell a sweep.
Assuming the White Sox hang on and win this Series, and if you buy into the curse business, things will set up nicely for the Indians next year. Last year you had the team from the 1918 World Series that was cursed win it all. This year it's the 1919 team. The 1920 World Series was won by the Indians, but their season was marred by the death of Ray Chapman, the only big leaguer to die as a result of being hit by a pitch. The Tribe has won only one series since. That's got curse written all over it. Now, if only they existed.
Tim McCarver would be a far better analyst if he stopped with the cute wordplay. Last night they were talking about how you can determine if a ball is a home run. Fine. Say something like, "If it hits above the yellow line on the wall, it's gone." But Tim's gotta say, "In the Wizard of Oz it was follow the yellow brick road. Here it's follow the yellow brick line." A little while later a foul ball almost hit Tim Raines, so McCarver chimes in with, "Almost [got] a piece of the Rock."
The worst, though, was the story about how the White Sox have become huge Journey fans because of the song Don't Stop Believin'. Appparently the Sox brought Steve Perry to the game last night; the visiting clubhouse attendant at Minute Maid happens to be named Steve Perry as well. Fine. interesting anecdote. So McCarver says of the clubby, "Not to be confused with the other. They're both on different journeys." (You half expected him to pull out a horn like Groucho Marx and punctuate his pun with a Honk!) Then a few pitches later he says, "It's a desperate journey for the Astros now." It was like that scene in Austin Powers in which Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley see the henchman get decapitated and Myers starts making one awful "head" pun after another. (Not the time to lose one's head ... That's not the way to get ahead in life ... It's a shame he wasn't more headstrong ... He'll never be the head of a major corporation.) Just stop already.
On a related note, granted, mocking Fox for employing Scooter -- the animatronic orb who explains baseball basics to people who are new to the country or otherwise have never seen the national pastime played -- is like shooting fish in a barrel. But I think they might have hit a low last night. Scooter came on to explain what a fastball is. What next? Explaining how an umbrella keeps your head dry? How fire is hot?