Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

A Win For the Little Guy: White Sox 2, Astros 0

Unhittable closer, meet slap-hitting speedster. In a wild, back-and-forth Game 2 on Sunday I was pretty much expecting the game to end in the zaniest way possible, but I don't think anybody was ready for what actually happened. The likelihood of Scott Podsednik, who had hit exactly zero home runs during the regular season, hitting that game-winner off of one of the game's premier closers in Brad Lidge can pretty much be described as miniscule. I'd expect to see Dick Cheney praising the tenets of socialism on Meet the Press before watching Podsednik hit one of a handful of World Series walk-off home runs, off Lidge, no less. And it wasn't cheap. Normally you'd think a home run by a banjo hitter would hug the foul line and scrape paint off the back of the outfield wall, but Podsednik absolutely killed the ball, sending it into the fifth or sixth row in right-center field. It was a no-doubt-about-her from the crack of the bat.


Any similarities here?

I'd say Podsednik's home run ranks right up there with Ozzie Smith's 1985 blast in terms of pure shock value. For those who are too young to remember (well, I guess I was three at the time), the Wizard of Oz put the Cards up 3 games to 2 over the Dodgers in that year's NLCS with a game-winning blast off of Tom Niedenfuer in Game 5. The homer was a shocker for two reasons. One, Ozzie had hit only 13 home runs in his eight-year career. Second, and most notably, it was the first time he had ever hit a home run left-handed. Jack Buck's startled home run call on the play is now one of the more memorable TV moments in baseball history, and the fact that it happened to the Dodgers is the sweetest plum. Podsednik's blast is in the same plane of utter unbelievability as the Wizard's clout.

Everybody now seems eager to write the Astros off, but let's not start digging a ditch just yet. The first two games were close, and Game 2 could have gone either way, with the Astros looking dominant before the bullpen came in and blew everything to hell. With Oswalt going tonight, Houston should pull off a win to put themselves back in the Series. Oswalt pitched the game of his life against St. Louis in Game 6 of the NLCS, and I don't see why he can't do the same now in front of his home crowd.

At least, I'd better hope Oswalt pitches his heart out, because my projection of the Astros winning in five is being blown out of the water. The 'Stros are certainly in a pickle, but a trip home for three games can certainly energize the team and turn this thing into a real World Series. If Clemens can go in Game 5, I expect the Astros to, at the very least, push it back to Chicago, a scenario that the White Sox really don't want to think about at this point. If Clemens can't go? Well, it'll be time to start weighing the pros and cons of Wandy Rodriguez, and brother, there are a shitload of cons.

Other random Game 2 notes:

-Now do you see why I hold such reservations about Bobby Jenks? The guy throws absolute petrol, but often times can't help but break out the Nuke Laloosh impersonations at the worst possible times. He nearly got through a tough ninth in Game 2 thanks to Houston's awful bottom of the order, but then Jose Vizcaino carried on the Brian Doyle/Bucky Dent legacy and tied the game.

-Speaking of Vizcaino, was that not the most inexplicably brilliant substitution by Phil Garner? I would have sent up Mike Lamb in that situation, but apparently Garner knew something that everybody else didn't. Vizcaino lined- well, lined isn't a good word...maybe dumped-a first pitch fastball into left field to tie the game and made Garner look like a genius and made all the armchair managers look like asses. I have no clue what possessed Garner to send up his weak-hitting infielder in that situation, but it certainly worked out.

-If I'm right, Konerko's grand slam in the 7th inning was the first Series salami since Tino Martinez ripped one off of Mark Langston in the 1998 Fall Classic. I didn't even have to look it up, are you proud?

-Some find Ozzie Guillen charming, some find him intolerable, but I find his bullpen signal to Bobby Jenks one of the most hilariously demeaning things in all of sports. "Uh, yeah, bring in the fat kid."

Whether or not you like Guillen's shenanigans, it's at least nice to see that he's for real, and not putting on a big act to get some publicity, like Ron Artest. He's a legitimate nut job.


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