Monday, October 20, 2014

It’s that World Series time of year – which ballclub do we follow in Chi?

I’m amused by the knowledge that Jake Peavy is scheduled to start the second game of the World Series on Wednesday, pitching for the San Francisco Giants as they try to win their third World Series title in the past five years.

For let’s not forget that Peavy also was active this time of year one year ago – he was with that Boston Red Sox ballclub that managed to slip an American League championship in between two last place seasons. He got to pitch in the 2013 World Series.

TWO YEARS IN a row, Peavy is a starting pitcher for ball clubs that have a shot at the top title in professional baseball.

Of course, during the parts of five seasons that Peavy was a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, he was supposed to be the big game pitcher who would lead the Sox to a World Series appearance.

Only it never happened. The White Sox flirted with playoff baseball during his time in Chicago. But it never was fulfilled for the South Side ballclub and its fans.

So what should we think when Peavy pitches on Wednesday. Are we going to secretly be rooting for him? Or wondering why the big bum couldn’t get his act together for Chicago (a 36-win, 29-loss, 4.00 earned run average record was far from what the White Sox expected).

NOW I’M NOT necessarily wishing ill will on Peavy. I’m just pointing out he’s one of the few ballplayers who will be taking the field beginning Tuesday in this year’s World Series matchup between American League champion Kansas City Royals and the National League champ San Francisco Giants that has a Chicago connection.

One of the few for whom we can scream at our television sets “Why couldn’t you do that here!!?!?” while watching him play the summer game in the days leading up to Halloween.

He’s not the only one.

There’s also Jason Frasor, a relief pitcher who’s on the roster of the Kansas City Royals.

SOME MAY REMEMBER he pitched part of a season (the second half of 2011) with the White Sox. It wasn’t all that substantial.

His connection is more home-bound. He was born in Chicago, raised in suburban Oak Forest and played college baseball at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale – before going into the professional ranks that has seen him pitch in Toronto and Arlington, Texas, along with the Royals and the White Sox.

It will be a first World Series appearance for Frasor – in fact, this is the first time he’s ever played for a ballclub that managed to get into the playoffs.

Thank goodness for all those wild cards that now permit lesser ball clubs to have a chance at a league championship and World Series appearance. Otherwise, the Royals would all be sitting at home, on account of the fact that the Detroit Tigers were one game better than they were during the regular season.

BUT WE DO have these expanded playoffs in baseball, and some people like the idea of these almost-good enough teams getting a second chance. Which the Royals have take advantage of – having not lost a single ballgame during the playoffs. While also giving us the all-Wild Card World Series for 2014.

Beginning with that wild card qualifier game against the Oakland Athletics – who had the guy who many thought was going to be the Chicago connection to this year’s World Series.

After all, the White Sox’ Adam Dunn was traded to Oakland in early September, giving them a big bat (home runs, plus many strikeouts) to bolster the team in October.

Yet his “Super Whiff” characteristics kept Dunn from even playing in Oakland’s one playoff game – in which Kansas City overcame the rest of the team, got hot at the right time and has given us countless moments on television of watching one-time Royals third baseman George Brett cheer on the boys in baby blue as they try to win their first World Series title since that ball club Kansas City had in 1985.

MUCH HAS BEEN made of the fact that Kansas City hasn’t won anything since the middle of the Reagan Administration. Although those of us who will be watching the World Series on television this week and next will snicker at the idea of 1985 being all that distant.

Particularly for North Side baseball partisans – where despite playoff appearances in recent years, there hasn’t been a World Series victory since the days when the U.S. flag only had 46 stars.

Nor even an appearance since (with apologies to Steve Goodman) “the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”


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