Sunday, August 28, 2005

They're still pretty

They're still pretty. That's what I said all during April and May, when the Astros were sucking big-time, bottoming out at 15 games below .500. And of course, all the fair-weather fans talked about "your" Astros, whereas in July they were "the" Astros, or better yet, "our" Astros.

Those fans are back. I've heard a lot of "What happened to your Astros?" lately, as the fair-weather folks have revealed themselves in reverse proportion to the digits in the win column. And I guess, right now, I don't really have an answer for them. As Roger Clemens (shown here signing autographs at Minute Maid) lowered his league-leading ERA once again today, the Astros--once again--gave him no run support. Nothing like the 16th shutout of the year (a category in which we already led the league). The 'Stros went 2-4 on this road trip, while the Phillies and Marlins are surging at the right time (although the Marlins lost today). Most analysts say it takes, on average, 92 wins to capture the Wild Card. In order to achieve that, the Astros will have to go 24-8 this last month. Yeah, I know, they did about the same thing last year. And the fact that they're still 6 games above .500, after being so far below, is damned impressive. So don't get me wrong, I love my team, I watched every single game in April and May and will continue to watch, and attend, as many of the last 32 as I can. But at this point, do I expect to exercise my option on post-season tickets? That would be a "no."

I really need to get to work on that list of all the things I loved about this season, if only to remind myself.

And oh yeah, they're still pretty.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I love it when I make a comment or a prediction, and then things. . . don't turn out.

Like last night. Roger Clemens (8, 5, 2, 2, 1, 7) was fabulous, as always. The Astros, as has often happened (seven times when Rocket has pitched), were not. Shut out again, for the fifteenth time this year (leads MLB). Some folks have even suggested that some sort of subliminal resentment on the part of the rest of the team may be responsible for Clemens' lack of run support.


We've struggled offensively, to some degree or another, throughout the year. Clemens is not the only starter to have suffered. And the fact that we couldn't get anything going against Jake Peavy? Not something to be proud of, sure, but he's not an All-Star for nothing. It's not like getting shut out against Chan Ho Park, and his 6.07 ERA.

Oh, wait, he shut us down when he was with the Rangers.

Oh, DA-yum, he's pitching tonight!

I'm kidding. Sort of. You know, maybe the Astros don't have it together after all, as I more or less said last night, but if it ended tomorrow, it's been a great year. I've had a blast. I'm putting together a list of my favorite moments from this year, and no matter how it ends, I'll have those to remember.

And so will you. As soon as I get around to blogging them.

Go 'Stros.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Things seem right with the world.

I just got back from a fabulous vacation. Made it back on Saturday, in fact, and trekked to Houston on Sunday to watch the Astros beat the Brewers, 8-3. My favorite player, Ensberg, got the day off, which was well-deserved and gave my binoculars a rest as well. Andy Pettitte was outstanding (7, 4, 2, 2, 2, 6). His ERA over his last 10 starts rivals Rocket's at 1.83. Please do vote for him for Comeback Player of the Year--I already did.

Chris Burke was awesome Sunday in his first start at the three-slot in the lineup. Russ Springer had suggested Burke try growing a beard to help his hitting. While I prefer his clean-cut look, looks like the facial hair will be here for a while if Sunday is any indication. He got a nice RBI double in last night's 6-2 win over the Padres out in San Diego, too. It seems as if the breaks might be starting to go the Astros' way again (check out "dramatic defense" under August 22). And tonight, Clemens is on the mound.

Things just seem right, somehow.

Friday, August 12, 2005


The Carlos Beltran-Mike Cameron collision was horrifying. Just so, so very scary. I've never been a Beltran, nor a Mets fan, but I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's unfortunate that either man was injured at all, but I'm very glad that their injuries weren't life-, or livelihood-, threatening. It could have been so much worse.

The Astros managed to scrape out victories for the remainder of the series with the Nationals--the first, an ugly win (as Phil Garner would say) in which the usually reliable Brad Lidge almost blew the save. (He had just been named the DHL Delivery Man of the Month. Andy Pettitte's last loss came after he was NL Pitcher of the Month for July. I'm seeing a pattern here--no offense guys, but let's hold the accolades until the season is over, hmm-kay?) The second was a lovely win in which Pettitte's gem did not go unrewarded, finally putting him into double digits in the win column. Next up, Pittsburgh.

Next up for me is a vacation that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball, surprisingly. And I'm going on this vacation with an old friend who could care less about sports. I'll no doubt return, refreshed for the remainder of the stretch run and looking forward to October. Let's hope the same holds for the Astros through the rest of the homestand. Go 'Stros!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Well, after a trouncing of the Giants to the tune of 8-1, my boys dropped one--painfully--to the Nationals. They were .500 for their road trip, and lost the first game of the most important homestand of the entire season, a homestand in which they are taking on four teams--the Nationals, the Bucs, the Cubs, and the Brewers--all vying for that wild card playoff spot. My baseball-related anxiety cannot be entirely quelled at this point. And I'm not the only one worried about the luck factor--other people have had similar concerns.

Of course, I realize with all my whining that I sound like a fair-weather fan. Not so, not at all. In fact, I've caught every game possible this year, even having to resort to listening on the radio at times. Since I don't live within the Houston area proper, my reception for the Astros' station often sounds like the baby monitor in that movie "Signs," making listening difficult. I persevered. My friends constantly referred to the Astros as "your team," with barely concealed derision, during the April/May nadir. I endured. If they don't win another game the rest of the year, yeah, I'll be a little disappointed, but they're still my team and always will be. I'll be first in line for tickets next year. (Now I sound like a Red Sox fan.)

My favorite player is Morgan Ensberg. Not only is he tearing it up this year at the plate and on the field, he's just so damn pretty. I almost fainted when I realized he'd cut his hair (it was long on top, thick strawberry blonde, just gorgeous--now it's buzzed like a nine-year-old boy). Lest you think I'm a total stalker, here's another reason he's my favorite player: most people who follow baseball, and especially the Astros, know that he was originally snubbed for the All-Star team, despite having arguably the best year of any player at his position. He was incredibly gracious about it, which reflected well on both him and the organization. Then, last second, he's in--he found out that Scott Rolen of the Cardinals dropped out after the All-Star Break had actually begun. Less than twenty-four hours later, he's in Detroit, in the total circus that is the All-Star Game, being interviewed. He's relating the story of his selection, and says, "My wife Christi and I--that's C-H-R-I-S-T-I--were almost to the airport when we got the call. . . ." So, here's a guy, first All-Star game, whirlwind change of plans, and he takes the time to make sure reporters spell his wife's name right. That's the kind of class and genuineness that epitomizes the Astros, to me.

Oh, and Christi--it's B-L-E-S-S-E-D. In case you weren't sure.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dog days continued. . . .

As I write, the Astros are mired in a tied game with the Giants, 1-1 top of the 4th. They traditionally have not done well against the Giants for reasons unknown. However, it would be nice to finish this series, and road trip, on an up note. But this Richard Justice column provides some reassurance to this somewhat anxious fan. He is always the first to belittle and berate them, so if he feels that they'll prevail, who am I to doubt? And look at this lovely view from the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park, where I sat for last Sunday's game with the Mets. Too bad we lost. That's Roy Oswalt in his trademark long socks at the plate. Sigh.

In other, more girly news, I got a pedicure a couple of weeks ago. Now, this isn't such a rare occurrence, but the accompanying commentary was certainly a first. The lovely Vietnamese lady who did my nails says to me, "Your feet soft like baby."

I think, Well, that's a good thing, right?

Then she kept talking.

"You must lie in bed all day and not walk around at all!"

Signing off, hopeful for the Astros and mystified by my fellow human beings.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The dogdays of August--or, why is my favorite team sucking right now?

Hmm. The Astros just lost their third game in a row. I think that either they've invoked the wrath of (the baseball) God by being too cocky, or they've started to believe their own press, that part about how they can play with any team. The thing is, I believe it too--but the operative word is PLAY. When they were doing so poorly back in May, they were getting a lot of bad breaks. Not that they were playing all that well, but they weren't getting any breaks, either. They started playing like they had to create their own luck, and they started winning. And amazingly, they started getting some breaks, calls going their way, errors by the other teams, etc. I think they've maybe gotten a little complacent--yesterday evening, before the game, Brownie and J.D. (the Astros' TV announcers, for non-fans) even went so far as to say that the Astros could go ahead and put a "W" in the win column, since Andy Pettitte was pitching. Thanks, guys--we were shut out. Methinks the boys need to get back to being a little bit hungry, before things get too far out of hand. Yeah, yeah, I know--we're still 8 games over .500. But we're only 1/2 game ahead of the Nationals for the Wild Card. I would so love to see us have a nice lovely cushion there.

We'll see how this blog thing goes. It will actually be about more than just baseball, although baseball certainly occupies a lot of my time. I blogged for awhile back around the first of the year, but then found myself with precious little free time as I started a new job. I decided I enjoyed reading other blogs more than I did keeping up with my own, so I freed up that corner of cyberspace. Speaking of time--time to go!