WORDS FROM THE WISE

The 102nd World Series between the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox promises to be a classic just like many of those that have proceeded it. Y

By DAVID WISEMAN
October 26, 2005 20:00
4 minute read.
WORDS FROM THE WISE

white sox 88. (photo credit: )

The 102nd World Series between the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox promises to be a classic just like many of those that have proceeded it. Yes, Chicago is already up 2-0 but there is plenty of baseball to be played until it is decided. The Chicago White Sox are striving for their first title since 1917 and in the process achieve some form of redemption for the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal. The Houston Astros are trying to overcome decades of mediocrity and ridicule on the path to their first championship since they entered the league in 1962. In recent times, baseball has shared the wealth with a number of teams winning their first title or breaking championship droughts. The most notable of which was the Boston Red Sox, who last year snapped their 86-year hiatus. Before that, the Anaheim Angels claimed their first title in 2002 after 41 years of trying. In 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks won their first World Series. All this is good for sport. Dynasties don't do anyone any favors. This makes the hysteria and frenzy emerging out of New York difficult to understand. The New York Yankees are the most successful team in baseball if not all of sport. They have won the World Series 26 times; the next best is nine. They have qualified for the playoffs every year since 1995. What brought the Yankees success in the past wasn't the size of the payroll but rather the Yankee ethos that seems to have lost its way in recent times. The team plays in the face of ridiculous expectations. Especially with most of the other teams getting stronger and more competitive every year. In soccer, it appears no chance that the superpowers will be toppled in Europe's domestic races. Getafe may be on top of Spain's La Liga, but what are chances that it'll be there at season's end? Elsewhere, it's the usual suspects in control with Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSV, Lyon and Chelsea all sitting on top of their respective ladders. International soccer appears to be a different ballgame though. Rosters are not open to the highest bidder and players have to find a form of motivation that doesn't come with many zeroes tacked to the end of it. This allows a champion team to topple a team of champions. This was seen at the 2004 European Championships, where Greece stunned the world. That it made it past the group stage was an accomplishment in itself but thereafter took care of France, the Czech Republic and Portugal to record one of the greatest upsets in the history of sport. The World Cup has also seen its fair share of giant killers in recent years. Cameroon started the trend in 1990 when it upset defending champions, Argentina, in the opening match before going on to become the first African team to make it as far as the quarterfinals. 2002 was a graveyard for the favorites. Heavily fancied Argentina, Portugal and France were all knocked out in the group stage while Senegal, Turkey and South Korea were all first-time quarterfinalists. What this teaches us is that in sport success is never guaranteed. The names in the lineup, their salaries and their past deeds count for nothing once both sides take the field. The situation is a bit different in Israel, where the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team is the local Yankees. One of only 11 BSL teams, they dominate the league with a phenomenal 35 titles in 36 seasons. Barring a horror injury list it is hard to see someone putting a halt to Maccabi Tel Aviv's streak. Not that this really seems to bother anyone. Their success seems to be one of those givens along with death and taxes. And for the time being nothing looks like changing. Well definitely not the taxes.


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