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Sox, Astros to Face Off in World Series

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Sox, Astros to Face Off in World Series

Sports

Sox, Astros to Face Off in World Series

Sox, Astros to Face Off in World Series

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The Chicago White Sox play the Houston Astros when the World Series commences Saturday. The Sox haven't made it this far since the '50s, and the Astros haven't made it this far ever. Steve Inskeep talks with ESPN baseball announcer Jon Miller.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Well, the World Series starts tomorrow. The Chicago White Sox play the Houston Astros. The Sox haven't made it this far since the 1950s and the Astros haven't made it this far ever. We're going to talk about the matchup with ESPN announcer Jon Miller, who joins us once again.

Morning, Jon.

Mr. JON MILLER (ESPN Announcer): Good morning.

INSKEEP: So we have a pitchers' duel here. That's what we're told anyway. Why don't we start with the White Sox. Who are some of the stars we should look out for?

Mr. MILLER: Jose Contreras was the ace, especially down the stretch. He was unbeaten. He won his last nine in a row, and he won the clinching game with a complete game victory in Anaheim last Sunday. So Jose Contreras, the Cuban emigre, the guy the Yankees went out and paid big money to bring in, but then he was always a disappointment. But he went to Chicago, got out of New York and for some reason found himself there and beat the Red Sox in the division series to propel the White Sox into the league championship series and now the World Series.

INSKEEP: What has he got? What is his stuff that has helped him win so many games?

Mr. MILLER: He is big and strong. He's imposing on the mound. He throws real hard, but his secret weapon is the forkball, which is just unhittable. I mean, it comes in belt high and then it ends up, as you swing at it, down below your knees.

INSKEEP: Now could you remind all those depressed Yankees fans how so much of their great pitching staff ended up in the World Series with the Astros this year?

Mr. MILLER: Yeah, Clemens and Pettitte. Well, Roger Clemens ended up retiring and then, lo and behold, Andy Pettitte, his good and friend and his teammate, signed with Houston that off-season and the Yankees were not interested in keeping Andy Pettitte. They made him an offer, but it was not a serious offer, so he went home to Houston. The first thing he did was call Roger Clemens and say, `Hey, I'm your neighbor again. What do you say? Come out of retirement, let's be teammates.' And Roger said yes. And he signed for a very small contract, and I'm talking just, you know, maybe $4 million, hardly anything. This year, though, after he had a very strong season last year, Roger thought, `You know, I really am eager to retire and really watch my kids again. Probably the only way I wouldn't really think about retiring is if I could get maybe, oh, $20 million or so.'

INSKEEP: Now, Jon, it's been said there aren't any real stars on either team outside of the pitchers that we've been talking about. Are there any batters, fielders that we should be aware of?

Mr. MILLER: Blue collar--the biggest star in the whole series is Jeff Bagwell. He had surgery during the season. He's hardly been able to throw the ball for the last two, three years. And he still can't throw the ball now, but he has been used as a pinch hitter. He got into the postseason. He's helped them get to the World Series.

INSKEEP: So the best-known batter, Bagwell of the Astros, might or might not even play?

Mr. MILLER: That's true. And he won't play in Houston for sure. The other guy who's real well-known is Craig Biggio. And Biggio has played nearly 2,600 regular season games, and this will be his first World Series and he's closing in on 3,000 hits. He hustles. He runs out every ball hard. He's an inspirational leader and he's a guy that you really have to root for, unless you're a White Sox fan, of course. But Craig Biggio is the player's player.

INSKEEP: Well, ESPN announcer Jon Miller, thanks very much.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you. Should be a great series.

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