another 5-day wait for Astros, this time for World Series
Last updated 10/25/2022 at 1:32pm
When I was growing up in Schenectady, New York, the Philadelphia Phillies were my favorite major league baseball team.
I didn't like the three teams in New York State-those high-strung New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants.
The reason I liked the Phillies was because the minor league team in my hometown-the Schenectady Blue Jays-was a farm team (that's what the minor league teams were called then) of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Several former Blue Jays moved up to the major league team and I felt like I knew them personally because I belonged to the Schenectady Blue Jays Knothole Club which, for a couple of dollars, gave us kids a card much like a meal ticket that got punched every time we saw a game.
The games I missed and the away games were broadcast on the local radio station (WSNY) and I kept a play-by-play scorecard for every game I heard on the radio.
The former Blue Jay I remember best was Jack Sanford, who used to talk to us kids out in the bullpen during the game when he wasn't pitching. He authored a "new" pitch I hadn't heard of until then-the slider. In fact, the radio announcers called it the "Sanford Slider." Mastery of that pitch probably was his ticket to the major leagues, where he played for more than a decade.
My dislike for the New York Giants waned quickly whenever they invited our 1954 Little League World Championship team (on which I was the shortstop) to be their special guests for their first two games of the 1954 World Series between the Giants and the Cleveland Indians.
The World Series didn't work out too well for the Giants as they lost in four straight games to the pitching-rich Indians who boasted a starting four of Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia.
But the highlight of the whole trip was watching young Willie Mays make that sensational catch in center field off the bat of first baseman Vic Wertz, twirl around like the Tasmanian Devil and fire the ball to the infield all in one motion. That play was heralded as one of the best-ever in a World Series and is still being shown on highlight reels.
We were put up in the Roosevelt Hotel, appeared on the Today Show with Dave Garroway (who was a native of Schenectady), watched two World Series games and even went to see "Brigadoon" on Broadway. It was quite an experience for a 12-year-old.
However, today I'm closer to 112 years old than to 12 and I'm certainly NOT at Philadelphia Phillies fans any more, especially after playing in the Chicago Cubs organization and being a loyal Houston Astros fan for more than half a century.
Those first 20 lean years of being an Astros fan were torturous, but good things come to those who wait.
Today, the Houston Astros are looked upon as the model major league organization with talent scouts that continuously come up with bright young prospects that blossom early into top-notch major league players and a general manager (James Click) who seems to make the best deals at the right time.
Click brings in the talent and Manager Dusty Baker seems to make out the lineup for each game that produced the top American League winning percentage of 106 wins against only 56 losses.
And the winning didn't stop after the 162 regular-game schedule. The Astros won the best-of-five division championship with a 3-0 record over Seattle and then took four straight from the pre-season World Series favorite New York Yankees.
Only two other teams accomplished that feat-the 2007 Colorado Rockies and the 2014 Kansas City Royals-and both teams failed to win the World Series.
Houston swept the Yankees Sunday 6-5 highlighted by rookie Jeremy Pena's crucial three-run homer, which helped him win the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Award.
I can't share much information about the Philadelphia Phillies because I have very little reason to keep up with the National League anymore since the Astros moved to the American League several years ago.
But I do know that the Phillies benefited tremendously from Major League Baseball's new rule that went into effect this season which expanded the playoffs from four teams to six from each league because Philadelphia was the sixth seed and last team to even make the playoffs.
But all that gets thrown out the window as both teams use the five days off to prepare for Game One on Friday at a time not yet decided at this writing in Houston's Minute Maid Park. The Phillies will be facing Astros' ace Justin Verlander-the American League's top candidate for the 2022 Cy Young Award-while the Phillies ponder their choice.
The two teams will play Friday and Saturday in Houston, be off Sunday for a travel day, and then play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (if necessary) before coming back to Minute Maid Park Friday and Saturday (if necessary).
I'm picking the Astros to continue their post-season winning streak and taking down the Phillies 4 games to 0.
KWICKIES...I've noticed that the West Orange-Stark Mustangs fans aren't as up-tight about who's going to beat their team this week, a bye week on their schedule. A win over Hardin-Jefferson Nov. 4 should lock up the fourth-and-final playoff position against a district champion in the first round.
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman continues to add to his post-season offensive records. His 14th home run -a three-run blast--to win Thursday's 3-2 nail-biter over the New York Yankees was a franchise-record 14th blast by the former LSU phenom. He also has driven in 43 runs which the most ever by a third baseman in playoff history. Bregman is healthy for the first time this season after using Tom Brady's personal trainer to help heal his sore deep tissues.
A strong defense helped Dak Prescott's return to the Dallas Cowboys be a successful one as the Pokes downed the Detroit Lions 24-6. Dak connected on 19-of-25 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The Cowboys are 12-1 when Prescott throws 25 or fewer passes in a game.
The New York Yankees .162 batting average against the Astros was the fifth worst of all time in a league championship series. New American League home run champion Aaron Judge went 1-for-16 with four strikeouts against the Astros' pitching staff.
The top six places in this week's Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll were unchanged-1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Tennessee 4. Michigan 5. Clemson 6. Alabama-with TCU moving up one place to No. 7, while No. 8 Oregon and No. 9 Oklahoma State jumped two spots and No. 10 Wake Forest catapulted three places. LSU rejoined the poll this week at No. 18 while Tulane moved up two spots to No. 23.
Rory McIlroy fired a 17-under par to win the CJ Cup Sunday at Ridgeland, S.C. and regain his No. 1 status in the world. It marked the ninth time the Irishman reached No. 1.
JUST BETWEEN US...The NFL owners have been complaining among themselves about Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and last week Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay came out publicly and told the press that there's "merit to remove" Snyder as the owner of the Washington franchise. His status had been widely debated for years. "This is not how we should be represented," Irsay said. "It'd regrettable that we have to be in this position. I will talk about it, I will not be muzzled and I will stand by it. We are bound as owners to listen to the fans and we cannot put our heads in the sand on this. I do believe the concerns I have will merit a serious discussion. I don't want to see this swept under the rug."