Astros look ahead to White Sox
Houston will see familiar faces, unfamiliar territory in Chicago
ST. LOUIS -- Houston general manager Tim Purpura told MLB.com before the start of the National League Division Series that he wouldn't mind seeing a World Series between the Astros and Chicago White Sox.
On Wednesday night, the Astros did their part to make Purpura's wish come true.
"That may give me more chills than anything," Purpura said when reminded of his wish following Houston's 5-1 NL Championship Series-clinching victory Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. "Growing up a White Sox fan and going to hundreds of games with my dad -- he's gone, I lost him 14 years ago and I know he's looking down here and smiling on us. I don't know who he's rooting for, though.
"He was a White Sox fan his whole life. I hope he's rooting for the Astros. I gotta believe he is, but it just gives you chills to think about that."
Understandably, most of the Astros were too busy celebrating the franchise's first National League pennant to start thinking about the White Sox. But third baseman Morgan Ensberg admitted he had already heard from White Sox infielder Geoff Blum, an old friend and former Houston teammate.
"We've been text messaging," Ensberg said. "I can't wait to see him."
White Sox outfielder/designated hitter Carl Everett was a key cog in the Astros' playoff team in the late '90s and was teammates with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Everett was dealt to the Red Sox in the deal that brought shortstop Adam Everett to Houston.
White Sox right-hander Freddy Garcia was originally signed by Houston and went to Seattle in 1998 in the Randy Johnson trade.
Other than those two and Blum, the Astros do not have any former teammates with Chicago. The Astros also aren't familiar with U.S. Cellular Field.
"We've never even played in their ballpark," Astros outfielder Lance Berkman said. "We're totally blind going in, really. We've just got to go play the games and see what happens."
Astros manager Phil Garner won't start thinking about the White Sox until Thursday.
"I don't know a whole lot about them, I don't pay that much attention to the American League [and] I only got to see them play a couple of games on TV," Garner said. "I know that they're a good offensive ballclub, they like to run, I know they're pitching is superb. It won't get any easier, that's for sure."
Astros president Tal Smith sees a lot of similarities between the White Sox and Astros.
"It's quite [an] interesting [matchup]," Smith said. "The White Sox lost a lot of their power [with Frank] Thomas not being able to play. They went more with pitching, speed and defense, which to me has always been the answer. It's nice to have the explosive offense, but that doesn't always get you where you want to go.
"Our club has good pitching and has been sound defensively, particulary with the moves [Garner] has made. He's used eveything that we've got. We've got pretty good defense. He relies on that and the starting pitching and the bullpen, which has been tremendous."
At least one team will end a long drought in this Fall Classic. For the Astros, it's their first appearance since the franchise began playing 44 years ago. The White Sox haven't won a World Series since 1917 and haven't been to the Fall Classic since 1959.
"I know what the people of Chicago are going through, because I lived it my whole life," Purpura said. "Here's two cities that have wanted the World Series for so long, and I have to believe it's going to be a great matchup."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.