Friday, October 21, 2005

Richard Justice on the Sensational 'Stros

Excerpts from this wonderful article--

Peel away this season a day at a time, and there's no secret formula for turning a last-place team (at 15 and 30) into a pennant winner. There's no turning point.

Well, maybe one. Garner chewed his players out after a 3-0 loss to Milwaukee on May 27. The next night, they got three-run home runs from Ensberg and Everett. They're 80-45 since.

Victories like that gave the Astros confidence they might make something out of their season after all. And now they have.

Again, the underdog

The Chicago White Sox are the popular pick to win the World Series. They've got a deeper starting rotation. They may have a bit more offense.

The only problem with that prediction is that the people making them haven't seen what you've seen.

They haven't seen a team with a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. They haven't seen a team do things that can't always be measured on paper.

The Astros are a cliché. They are a team in every sense of the word. They were stars like Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt, but they're also Eric Bruntlett, Everett and Brad Ausmus.

They probably don't win without those guys, either.

They probably don't win if Craig Biggio doesn't hit a three-run ninth-inning home run off Billy Wagner in September.

They probably don't win if Clemens doesn't pitch 6 1/3 solid innings against Florida hours after the death of his mother.

They certainly don't win if their pitching staff doesn't allow the fewest earned runs in baseball.

They probably don't win without monster years from Ensberg, Brad Lidge, Oswalt, Pettitte and Clemens.

They clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. In the end, they needed every one of those victories.

All 25 players contributed at one time or another. That fact surely has made this season even more satisfying to the players and coaches.

In the end, it was hundreds of things. Large things and small things. It all added up to a pennant for the Astros. The World Series begins Saturday.

Read the complete Houston Chronicle article by Richard Justice here.

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