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World Series goes to bat vs. 2004 high

Net hoping for high drama from Astros vs. Sox game

The Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox take the field Saturday night to kick off the 2005 World Series, but the fall classic may have to go seven games for the Nielsens to approach last year’s 15.8 rating for the Boston Red Sox’s four-game annihilation of the St. Louis Cardinals.

That’s the word from Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, who told reporters on a conference call that the ratings for last year’s World Series were “sensational, and off the charts,” mainly because the frustration of the Red Sox was such a wrenching story: The team hadn’t won a championship since 1918. Even casual sports fans picked up on the melodramatic scenario.

Goren acknowledges that while the White Sox have suffered a similar fate, having not won a series in 88 years, there’s no particular mystique surrounding the team. “The White Sox are the Red Sox without the sexy curse,” he said, referring to the fabled curse of the Bambino that began when the Bosox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees at the beginning of his career.

Joe Buck, lead World Series announcer for Fox, said he and analyst Tim McCarver don’t plan to focus on 1917, the last year the Pale Hose won the series, or on 1919, the year eight “Black Sox” players threw the series for cash.

“We’ll brush over the historical stuff,” Buck said during the conference call. “The hype job will be on the fact that the two best teams in baseball are meeting in the series.”

Fox expects to marshal 28 cameras and 85 microphones to capture the drama. Goren said Fox will continue to employ pore closeups on players, managers and fans in the stadium to heighten the emotion and keep the games from dragging.

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