While the Yankees-Red Sox series captured most of the nation’s baseball interest, the Houston Astros were working their way back into a National League pennant.
Most of the sentiment was that the St. Louis Cardinals were just too strong on offense after taking a 2-0 lead at Busch Stadium and needing just one of three at Houston to return home with a 3-2 edge in the best-of-7 series.
But, all the Cards did was hold serve, to use a tennis analogy. Houston could not use its top two pitchers, Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt, until Games 3 and 4. Both won for the fifth straight time in back-to-back roles and the series was tied 2-2 as GamingToday went to press Monday night.
As for marquee AL matchup, the "hated" Yankees were ahead 3-1 in games over Boston and apparently headed for another World Series if history is correct. No team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to reach the Series.
The Yankees are already the favorite of Caesars Palace and the Las Vegas Hilton oddsmakers to win the 2005 World Series. Some radio talk show hosts have suggested that the Yanks already have the inside track to signing Curt Schilling (Boston) and Carlos Beltran (Houston) in the offseason.
Gee, isn’t it great to be George Steinbrenner!
Back to the present. We will offer some possible WS matchups, all with TV appeal.
St. Louis vs New York: This would be a rematch of the 1964 World Series, won by the Cardinals. The Series was noteworthy because the next season, St. Louis manager Johnny Keane wound up with the Yankees when the popular Yogi Berra was fired during the offseason.
Houston vs New York: Roger Clemens against the Yankees. This would be magic. And, Beltran can give his possible new team a closeup look at his incredible skills.
St. Louis vs Boston: Unlikely, but it would bring back World Series memories of Enos Slaughter scoring from first base to beat the Red Sox some 60 years ago.
Houston vs Boston: The return of the prodigal son Jeff Bagwell to Boston. Bagwell slipping away to Houston with Wade Boggs a staple at third base has proven over the years to be one of the worst decision the Red Sox ever made.
The World Series is slated to begin Saturday so both league representatives should be able to get their starting pitching in shape. Houston was clearly at a disadvantage against St. Louis not having Clemens and Oswalt available for the first two games in St. Louis.
Should the Astros and Cards go the full seven, look for Houston to start Clemens in Game 7, follow up with Oswalt as the long reliever and close with Brad Lidge. The Cardinals weak link has been its starting rotation, with Matt Morris lacking the consistency of a No. 1 pitcher.
It looks like Houston and the Yanks in the World Series. If that happens, we’ll take Houston. If it’s New York-St. Louis, we favor the Yanks. If Boston pulls a miracle, they will beat either St. Louis or Houston if Schilling is able to pitch. If not, the curse continues.