Roger, over and out?

Oct 25, 2005 6:18 AM

Barring extended rains delays and a rally by the Houston Astros, the World Series shall be over by the end of the weekend.

Based on what we have witnessed in the first two games, the White Sox are destined to end nearly nine decades of frustration and disappointment — much as the Boston Red Sox did last season. Unless Houston can win four of the next five games, the White Sox will hoist their first World Series banner since 1917.

How do you think Cubs fans will feel should that likelihood materialize?

It would also mark the first time since 2001 that a Wild Card team has not won the World Series.

Surprisingly the first two games of the Series went "over" the total. Game 1 was sort of a bad beat in that the White Sox pushed across the run that sent the total above 7½ in the bottom of eighth inning. Game 2 was headed to an "under" until the Sox exploded in the bottom of the seventh with Paul Konerko’s two-out grand slam. The homer followed the controversial awarding of first base to Jermaine Dye after supposedly being hit by a pitch.

This postseason may be remembered as much for flawed umpiring as for the outstanding play of the teams involved. Don’t be surprised if in a month or so there is increased support for some limited form of television replays in postseason and perhaps late season baseball games.

Houston is a solid favorite in Game 3 to narrow the gap to 2-1 with Roy Oswalt opposing Jon Garland. Despite the "over" in the first two games, the "under" remains a fundamentally sound play. Even with the results of those games, Houston has played 21 more "under" results than "over" this season. The Sox are an even better 25 more "under" finals.

Chicago is an attractive play as a road underdog. The White Sox had the best road record during the regular season in all of baseball (52-29) and have won all four road games in the playoffs. In fact, the White Sox are 9-1 in the post season. Houston is now 7-5.

Our forecast a week ago called for Chicago to win in 6. This was based largely on Houston at least splitting the two games in Chicago. Now they most likely must sweep at home to have a realistic chance. It’s been almost a decade since a team winning the first two games of the World Series has failed to win it all. Atlanta led the Yankees 2-0 in 1996 before dropping four in a row.

Preferred plays: WHITE SOX in Game 3 as a large underdog. If they lose to Oswalt and the Astros, play Chicago in Game 4.

”¡ Should Houston win both Game 3 and 4 to square the series, the ASTROS would be the play in Game 5 to sweep the home contests and return to Chicago with a 3-2 Series lead.

”¡ HOUSTON —140 in possible rematch of Roger Clemens vs. Jose Contreras. But Clemens’ return remains iffy after leaving Game 1 with an injury after two innings.

”¡ The UNDER at 7 or higher except in Game 4. In a likely matchup of Freddy Garcia against Brandon Backe, the total must be 8 or higher in order to feel comfortable with that bet.

Next week: Our initial look at the NBA, which begins regular season play Tuesday, Nov. 1.