White Sox 5, Astros 3

Though I’m sure most of you are embroiled in that most obvious of post-game debates —- whose performance was more inspiring, Josh Grobhan or Liz Phair? —- I’m still trying to determine who seemed more overmatched, the ailing Roger Clemens (above) or the debutante DH, Jeff Bagwell.

Much as I hate to bring it up at a time like this, the Astros have devoted nearly a quarter of their 2005 payroll to the 43 year old Clemens, and anything short of a World Series victory makes that a questionable decision. Though it is doubtful that Clemens will receive the kind of treatment afforded to other prominent post-season hurlers who would’ve been better off in bed (David Wells, Kevin Brown, Bartolo Colon), this shouldn’t have been Wandy Rodriguez’ game to win or lose.

Until two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have picked Joe Crede as the most dangerous no. 8 hitter in the game. The Chicago 3B could’ve been a viable alternative to Paul Konerko as ALCS MVP, and he’s got a heck of a head start on the silverware for this series.

If Bobby Jenks’ showing tonight is any indication, the big lug is suffering no ill effects from a 15 day rest. The dominant performance of the White Sox starting rotation versus the Angels, coupled with Jenks’ ferocious two innings in Game One , should rightfully wipe out any remaining shred of optimism on the Astros’ part (at least as much as the loss of Clemens).

A couple of acquaintences have asked how I can really look forward to a World Series in which I have no real rooting interest. To which I can only answer, when my chosen team is busy playing golf, sudoku or Rockstar Games’ “The Warriors” this week, I’ve got to celebrate little victories where I can find them. For instance, the same way tonight’s final out brought joy to the hearts of long suffering White Sox fans, I had to settle for the words “Lou Piniella could not be with us tonight.”

That said, I have come up with at least one compelling reason to root against the Astros : if Chicago wins, there’s an even smaller playoff share for John Franco.