Apparently, some great relief pitching by both teams and game-saving (at the time) DP’s started by Brad Ausmus and Morgan Ensberg don’t count for much. In the opinon of ESPN’s Buster Olney, Tuesday night’s marathon was “just awful baseball”.
The actual baseball was terrible, with the pitchers dominating hitters in a way you rarely see except in games when some of the players haven’t advanced through puberty yet.
To say that the Astros’ hitting was ineffective would be like suggesting that Enron had an accounting problem. The Houston batters — seemingly pressing to the point of being numb — rarely even hit the ball hard. Some of that was due to the stuff of Bobby Jenks and the guile of Orlando Hernandez, but there were multiple situations in which all the Astros needed was a groundball of 100 feet, a fly ball of 250 feet. Anything. Houston had one hit in its last 33 at-bats. It wasn’t as if the White Sox fielders were diving all over the place and making great plays, the way they did against the Red Sox in the first round. If they had, the game could have been a classic. The Astros just generated a lot of bad at-bats. It was if the fans at Minute Maid Park weren’t sure how to react. The fans stood, inning after inning, cheering and then going quiet, time and again.
The writers in the press box were tortured, as well. Deadline after deadline passed and as time went on, the number of writers standing at their computers grew, many of them having been told that the last run of their newspapers had begun, and there was no chance to get their stories in the morning paper. But then, nobody was really complaining. Unless you were writing for the papers in Chicago and Houston, there really wasn’t much compelling in Game 3, even as the list of broken records — most pitchers used, longest game by time, etc. — lengthened.
The instant that Blum’s homer cleared the right field fence, the noise made by the 30 guys in the White Sox dugout hovered over all of them.
So there you have it. A battle between the AL and NL champs — with both clubs working their way out of jams right until the very end — actually sucked, because journalists were missing their deadlines (indeed, the press area in the left field grandstand had cleared out well before the 14th inning — nice seats, too). If the Astros struggled to execute against the likes of El Duque and Jenks, well, should a World Series hopeful really have their season riding on Orlando Palmiero? You could say the same of Geoff Blum, really.
Anyhow, this game was so boring that “SportsCenter” devoted its entire opening 10 minutes Wednesday night to recapping the key plays — highlights they’re usually able to cram into a few minutes, max.
Local radio in these parts was dominated by guys whose programs didn’t start until 3pm, complaining about how hard it was to stay up. Which is a nice twist for a future Phil Mushnick column ; the real problem causing games to run late isn’t MLB’s corporate greed. Rather, it’s the Houston Astros’ inability to score any runs.