Game Two: Controversy Reigns
Plenty of intrigue and plot twists in the World Series so far. Scott Podsednik? Only in America! Boy, did Konerko crush that grand slam. First pitch swinging, it was out before I even had a chance to pick something clever to scream at it. Unfortunately, I think to qualify as truly great a World Series has to go six or seven games. With Roger Clemens in all likelihood being done for the season, this one may not make it so far.
Ultimately the difference in the series hasn’t been starting pitching (Houston’s has been slightly better, assuming you count Clemens’ Game One replacement Wandy Rodriguez as a starter), It’s been the bullpens. While Bobby Jenks blew a save opportunity in Game Two, the unheralded Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts retired every guy they faced. For the Astros, Dan Wheeler’s control has been off, and Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge are trying to blow away guys and giving up colossal home runs. Although the scores have been slightly higher than expected, the series has thus far been the Strat-O-Matic fan’s paradise many of us expected. Phil Garner scored a coup with his decision to pinch-hit Jose Vizcaino in the top of the ninth. Ozzie Guillen had guys moving all game. His gambits didn’t always work. Carl Everett got caught stealing after he singled immediately following Konerko’s four-run home run. Tadahito Iguchi was picked off first once, and Jermaine Dye would have been if not for a bad throw. Sometimes the White Sox’s bunting and running and scrambling seems a little bit like sound and fury signifying nothing — I mean, this is a team that lives and dies by the home run. But it does rattle a pitcher a little. Was Lidge so worried about what might happen if Podsednik singled that he let Scotty homer?
Before Paul Konerko hit the grand slam, Jermaine Dye was awarded first base on a pitch that clearly hit his bat and not his hand or wrist. Some commentators are making a much bigger deal of this than I think is warranted. It was a three-ball count anyway, and it was a terrible pitch. Wheeler could just as well have walked him on the next pitch. Or maybe Dye might have grounded out to short, you never know. But can you imagine stopping the action dead in the middle of an at-bat for the umpires to go check the instant replay? That wouldn’t be fair to the pitcher or the batter. I do think that umpires need to be encouraged to consult with their colleagues more often, and that MLB should be forthright about when a mistake has clearly been made. But instant replay? Not in my baseball.