In baseball there is an old adage that says good pitching beats good hitting, and it could never be truer than in this year's World Series. The Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox should provide us with some excellent pitching duels.
It is only fitting that the World Series would begin with the Astros' Roger Clemens on the mound in Game 1. At 43 years young, he is simply unbelievable, leading the National League in Earned Run Average. After seven Cy Young Awards and three different decades of World Series appearances, Clemens is now trying to help bring a first championship to his home town of Houston.
Next up for the Astros will be Andy Pettitte. Also from Houston, Pettitte was second in the NL in ERA, and he is a veteran of World Series with Clemens and the New York Yankees.
In Game 3, Houston brings out its best starter in Roy Oswalt. Oswalt is the only current pitcher in baseball with consecutive 20-win seasons, but better yet, he owns a perfect 4-0 record in the playoffs.
Those three will hand the ball off to their bullpen which helped Houston become the best overall staff in the National League. Closer Brad Lidge is almost always unhittable.
The Chicago White Sox starting pitchers might not have the household names, but they are just as good, if not better than, the Houston Astros. Incredibly, Chicago's starters have completed four consecutive games.
If the ball ever gets to the bullpen, we would see the deepest pen of all the postseason teams, which helped the White Sox register the second-best ERA in the American League. The Chicago pitching has stepped up even more in the playoffs, giving up only 20 runs overall in eight games.
Predictions - Since this appears to be a World Series dominated by pitching, the Under should be a strong play throughout.
The hard part normally would be picking the champion, but here the pre-playoff prediction was for Houston to win the World Series in an upset.
The Astros certainly deserve to win the title when you consider what they have overcome to get here. Houston survived a 15-30 start to the season, an 18-inning marathon win over Atlanta in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, and a momentum-killing Albert Pujols home run in the ninth inning of Game 5 against St. Louis.
Chicago caught some breaks with Los Angeles ace Bartolo Colon injured and starter Jarrod Washburn sick during the ALCS. The Angels were a tired team after their long series with New York and three cross-country flights. The White Sox also benefited from the infamous third strike call in the ninth in Game 2, and highly questionable check swing, pickoff and catcher's interference plays in Game 4. So expect a split in Games 1 and 2, Oswalt will win Game 3, another split in Games 4 and 5, and either Clemens or Oswalt will close it out in Chicago.
A wild card team has won the last three World Series.
Houston will beat Chicago in 7.
• I am stunned and saddened by the death Tuesday of my favorite radio announcer Bill King. Having grown up mostly in Northern California and being an Oakland Athletics fan, I learned to appreciate his great and natural talent.
King was intelligent, descriptive, and a wonderful story teller. He also was one of a kind, as he would know as much about ballet and opera as he did sports, and he would often do broadcasts in sandals or his bare feet.
His most memorable and best calls were the Oakland Raider "Holy Roller" play, and "Old Man Willie" Brown in Super Bowl XI versus Minnesota, which can be heard from time to time on ESPN's NFL Films. It was only two-and-a-half weeks ago that you could hear him say, "Holy Toledo" during Oakland A's broadcasts, but now those games will never be the same.