Game Four: A Bitter Sweep Ending

The Astros’ attempt to win without scoring somehow fails

Of course, the Astros couldn’t push over that one additional run that might’ve won the thing. Although even then, with Lidge coming out of the pen…let’s just say “Lights Out” Lidge is looking more like Vegas than the Amish Country these days.

The game was played in a steady, near-freezing downpour that the announcers officially referred to as “drizzle.” Just like Tropical Storm Allison was “a bit misty.”

If you’d paid hundreds of dollars or more for Series tickets, you’d probably be all right putting up with the rain. It was a Series game, after all, and you’re used to the weather in Chicago. We’re also guessing, however, that you would have rather passed, given the chance, on the seventh-inning break’s 20-minute-long smooth-jazz version of “God Bless America” by whoever’s replaced Kenny G in smooth-jazz hell.

Pandemonium erupted as the Astros scored their first ever World Series berth.
Steven Devadanam
Pandemonium erupted as the Astros scored their first ever World Series berth.

If you’re able to step back from it, Game Two was a hugely entertaining match, with lead changes and improbable heroes. If you’re an Astros fan, though, you’re feeling nothing but pain.

Roy Oswalt should ease that pain Tuesday. Oswalt, by the way, was recently declared “Sexiest Man Alive.” Which publication gave him the honor?

a) Farm Implements Monthly

b) Rural Garage Mechanics Magazine

c) The Houston Chronicle, leaving no Astros stone unturned.

We’ll let you guess.

Publication date: October 23

Game One: Let’s Not Get It Started

The Astros revert to their bad old ways to start the Series

After 43 seasons, after heartbreak in 1986, after getting within one game just last year, the Houston Astros finally made it to the World Series.

And as Game One unfolded, just about every Astros fan was saying We suffered through all this in order to watch Wandy Rodriguez pitch in the Series?

Apparently so, was the answer. Starter Roger Clemens stunk up the joint -- because of, no doubt we’ll be told, a sore leg that, right up until game time, was a 50-50 shot at having to be amputated. And in came Wandy.

And there went the game. It was almost worth it just to hear Fox announcer Joe Buck’s tone of disbelief as the bottom of the sixth started when he saw that Rodriguez was being left in the game after just having walked about half the Sox lineup.

The Astros actually put together three runs early in the game, but then quickly realized that they were, after all, the Astros, and shouldn’t be getting hits with men on. They reverted to form and put up a row of zeroes for the rest of the game, adding a special touch of hapless élan by having five of their last six batters strike out. “We’ll teach you to get your hopes up,” they seemed intent on telling their fans.

The hyped first-game duel between Clemens and Sox pitcher Jose Contreras never came off on the field, but the two just about battled to a tie in the equally important Fox Anecdote Battle.

It didn’t take long for Clemens’s dead mother to come up, of course, but we never quite expected to hear this in the pregame show: “When we return, Roger Clemens’s mother and her vision of Shoeless Joe Jackson on her deathbed.” As far as we can tell, that sentence is English for “For crissake, start the game now.”

Not to be topped, Buck managed to talk during the game about how Contreras’s Cuban homeland is rooting for him, and how the pitcher’s brother is “riding a horse to a farm that has a radio in order to let him hear this game.” It all had a very French Resistance feel to it, but since there was no dead mother seeing Shoeless Joe involved, the anecdote battle has to be given to Clemens. We’d rather he won the pitching match-up, to be honest.

What was most bizarre about the game was the Chicago crowd. None of them, as far as we could tell, were dressed up as bees. Or any other type of insect, for that matter. The Sox have players named Pierzynski and Podsednik, but no one in the crowd had a sign about the “Killer P’s,” and there were no sound effects of someone taking a leak when either came up to bat.

And Chicagoans call themselves baseball fans.

Publication date: October 20

Game Six: The 43-Year-Old Virgins

The Astros finally get past first base, reach the promised land

Baseball fans -- whether they root for the Astros, the Cards or any other team -- can all agree about Roy Oswalt. At the end of the day, there is one simple statement you can make about Roy-O: Whenever he pushes back his cap and rubs his forehead, it always looks like the next words out of his mouth are going to be “Yup, what you got here is your classic broken fan belt.”

Oh, and they can also agree he’s one helluva pitcher.

The Lone Gunman did the baseball equivalent of three kill shots in eight seconds, unmanning the Cards at the plate to such a degree that they began to look hapless in the field. Cards catcher Yadier Molina strolled after two wild pitches with all the urgency of a window-shopper. Center fielder Jim Edmonds let a ball get by him for a run on a play that would have raised the ire of a T-ball coach.

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