FIRE JOE MORGAN: When Making Predictions ...


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Friday, October 21, 2005


When Making Predictions ...

Never rely on evidence or results of past baseball games. That's Michael Ventre's stand.

Picking the winner of a playoff series is a crapshoot. But since sportswriters have to do it, they might as well supply semi-legitimate reasons for their choices, right? Right?

The Chicago White Sox will win the World Series over the Houston Astros. And no, I can’t say I ever thought it was possible. Like NBA players wearing collared shirts, I just didn’t believe it would occur in my lifetime. But I’m happy to admit I was wrong.

Great joke. Topical.

Also, before the dress code was implemented this year, many NBA players wore impeccably tailored suits to press conferences of their own volition.

The primary reason the White Sox will prevail is pitching, which is another declaration previously reserved for the domain of Ripley’s. Chicago’s pitching is superior to Houston’s? Can this be?

This is a good start. Pitching has to do with baseball.

But the White Sox have that “team of destiny” feel, especially when it comes to their pitching staff.

Oh boy.

In the American League Championship Series against the Angels, they got an unheard-of four straight complete games from Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras. When four starting pitchers all achieve such a high standard together in consecutive starts, it means something is going on. It means the dispensing of filthy stuff and winning are contagious.

Really? That's what it means? Conclusively? How about: all of these guys have been good solid pitchers all year, and they happened to all pitch well against a mediocre offensive team in consecutive games? They combined for nine complete games during the regular season, so while it's impressive that they strung together four in a row (in fact, it's pretty crazy that that happened), it's by no means proof of some awesome contagious winning disease sweeping the team.

These White Sox pitchers have something to prove. They’re hungrier than Clemens and Pettitte, for sure, both of whom have experienced World Series victory as teammates with the Yankees.

You're right, Clemens and Pettitte will probably just relax and take it easy this series. Why should they care?

The White Sox have a lineup of scrappers adept at figuring out a way to win.

Translation: not a great hitting team. See post concerning Jim Rome.

A.J. Pierzynski’s swipe of first on the controversial Doug Eddings call against the Angels in Game 2 of the ALCS was just one example of the tenacious way the Pale Hose approach the game under manager Ozzie Guillen. They’re not sitting back waiting for runs to happen, they’re out cobbling them.

This evokes images of Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand working for a 19th-century shoe cobbler. And for the last time, what the hell does it mean for someone to sit back and wait for runs to happen? No one does that.

As a result, they haven’t gotten as much air time on “SportsCenter” as teams that have more famous pop in their lineups, like the Red Sox and Yankees and Cardinals.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Cardinals have more fans than the White Sox. They are more popular teams. That is why SportsCenter, a show designed and produced by human beings to draw human viewers, features them more often than the White Sox, a team that is the second-most popular baseball franchise in its own city.

That’s part of the problem. The Astros feel like a team that has endured so much disappointment just to get here. There was a finality to their clincher against the Cardinals. They made the World Series. The goal had finally been accomplished. Guys like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell could put a capper on their careers. Said Bagwell: “My career is coming to an end. I don’t know if we’re ever going to get back. And it’s been a long time coming.” For Clemens and Pettitte, this is gravy.

I don’t want to say the Astros are just happy to be here. But on some level, they’re content. They’re satisfied.

You don't want to say they're happy to be here. You want to say they're content, a synonym for happy to be here.

The White Sox don’t have that same karma. They’re delightfully clueless. They’re just playing ball and winning games. They seem to understand the magnitude of being in the World Series, they just seem more focused on winning ballgames.

They seem more focused than the Astros? What are you basing that on? Pre-series press conferences? The number of quips per minutes A.J. Pierzynski is unleashing? Roy Oswalt's charmingly wooden performance reading the Top Ten List on the Late Show with David Letterman?

So batten down the hatches, Chicago. There’s a shaker coming.

That's the end of the article.

Michael, could you write a little more about baseball next time? And less about karma, focus, scrapping, hunger, destiny and how contagious winning is?

Cool, thanks, buddy.

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posted by Junior  # 5:01 PM
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