The Great Series That Wasn’t

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - November 02, 2005
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It was supposed to be a Fall Classic for the ages. Two pitching-rich teams that play solid defense, and led by managers who never seemed to draw the wrong card. It should have gone seven games. Six at least. Runs would be sparse, 2-1, 3-2 being the norm. Maybe a single 5-4 evening when things failed to go exactly right.

How could you have expected anything less?

People call it small ball. Sox manager Ozzie Guillen simply calls it playing good baseball. And in this age of ridiculously inflated offensive numbers and power stats, it was refreshing to see two teams go at it utilizing the stolen base, hit and run and other sound fundamental elements of the game.

Houston with Pettitte, Oswald and that Clemens guy - who simply butchered the National League with a 1.88 ERA on his way to what may be an unheard-of eighth Cy Young Award - were expected to be simply nasty on White Sox hitters. On the other side came a Chicago team that bested the Angels by doing something that is nearly unthinkable in today’s game - pitching four straight complete games. Back this up with a 270-pound closer who seems to throw a change-up at 95 mph, and you had people flooding into their favorite sports book to bet the under.

That’s what should have happened. And with the exception of games one, two and three, that’s what we got.

It wasn’t a bad series. In fact it was good. Just not the one we wanted. Highlights included: Joe Crede’s home run and glove work in the opener. Chicago winning game two on a walk-off homer by a guy who hadn’t hit one all year. Freddie Garcia and Jeff Backe battling each other to a standstill in the final game. A fiery Guillen suddenly the coolest one of the bunch as his players and coaches flooded the field. And maybe most importantly, Sox first baseman Paul Konerko calmly handing the ball to a fan after several disrupted his attempt to catch it in the stands. Maybe, you never know, but just maybe if Moises Alou and his Cubbie teammates had acted the same way they may not have blown their chance.

We didn’t want to see Clemens leave game one after two innings with a hamstring injury, and we didn’t want to see a combined 58 stranded baserunners and 21 walks in game three. We did get game four and the enjoyment of seeing the White Sox erase 88 years of futility while at the same time sticking it to those uppity Cubs fans on the north side. They also tied the New York Yankees for second place in playoff success with an 11-1 post season record. And that’s pretty cool.

Another thought.

You would think that New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme would be more worried about his team (0-7), than assisting Bush/Chaney and their war on terror.

But according to a grievance filed by the ACLU on behalf of former Aggie Muammar Ali, the coach is worried about ties between Islam and those seeking paradise through suicide bombing. Ali, a Muslim, alleges that Mumme repeatedly asked him about al-Qaeda and required the team to recite the
Lord’s Prayer every day after practice. The school is not saying much about it as they are conducting an investigation while obeying the gag order from their attorneys. Ali started the season on top of the depth chart, but was replaced by Justine Buries in the next game. Ali was not on the team’s roster for the next four games and was released Oct. 9.

The grievance asked for an apology and some kind of action against the coach. Ali also wants to make sure he does not lose a year of eligibility during the process. Two other Muslims were released from the team in August, but neither was on scholarship or appeared on any team roster.

Ali could be upset at losing his place on the team and may be looking for someone to blame. He may also be correct in his claims. If he is in the wrong he should come out immediately and apologize to the school and the coach, take his lumps, suffer the loss of a year of eligibility and try to find some Div. 1-AA team to play for.

If he can. Any school should be wary of one who throws out unsubstantiated claims in the attempt to injure someone just because he is angry with his situation.

If, however, it is found that Mumme is guilty of what may be religious discrimination, he must be fired. It’s really quite simple.

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