Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sit! Down! Stay!


What the %@#*? We swept the Cardinals, last year's second best team in all of MLB. And the bleeping CUBS are leading us 3-1 in the seventh.


And we look so bad, we probably couldn't beat Roger Clemens' old team.

No, I don't mean the Yankees.

I mean Spring Woods High School.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'll have what he's having. . .or not

Richard Justice is obviously smoking crack.

Justice is a Houston-area sportswriter, with a regular column in the Houston Chronicle and a radio show on SportsRadio 610. He’s a wee bit controversial, mostly because he seems to change his mind, like, every other day. His readers call him on it regularly, but he still continually exercises what he sees as his vacillatory prerogative. Journalism in general has seemed to shift toward the entertainment end of the spectrum, with provocation as the goal, rather than reporting. Given that, then give the guy a Pulitzer.

Except that he’s smoking crack.

The title of his blog entry yesterday evening, after the Astros’ victory over the Cardinals, was “Astros: On the verge—again,” and yet he wrote the entire post as if the ‘Stros are already a sure thing, saying that we’re 3 games up (uh, NO—2.5) and making statements such as “This season will be their sixth playoff appearance in nine years.” While I appreciate the confidence, I appreciate accuracy more.

Speaking of the Astros’ win last night, so much for St. Louis resting their starters. But it did make the 3-1 victory, the Astros’ first at Busch Stadium in over a year, that much sweeter. And there were some really sweet moments to be seen. The homers by Jason Lane and Craig Biggio are obvious choices, accounting for the winning margin in the final score. Brad Lidge’s ninth-inning pickoff of pinch-runner Skip Schumaker, his first in the big-leagues, was another.

"Normally it takes a guy to trip on his shoe or not pay attention for me to get (a pickoff)," Lidge laughed afterwards. "That was nice for me to get that.”

My favorite moment came in the bottom of the fifth. In the top of the fifth, Matt Morris nailed Brad Ausmus in the right hand in a scary déjà vu of Willy Tavares’ injury on the 13th when we played the Marlins. (Willy T. required 5 stitches and was out for a week.) Ausmus doubled over in pain when hit, and was attended to at first base by the trainer before play resumed. (You know, when somebody gets injured, the response from the opposing team is almost always sort of a half-interested, “Huh. Bummer,” kind of thing. Yadier Molina, the Cards’ catcher, jumped up and went straight to Ausmus to check on him. It was a nice, catcher-to-catcher sympathy/luv gesture. Thanks, dude.) Ausmus, as tough a catcher as they come, stayed in the game. In the bottom half, David Eckstein, the pesky little shortstop for the Cards, singled with 1 out to bring up Jim Edmonds.

Everybody knew what was coming.

Brownie and J.D. remarked that a test of Ausmus’ injured throwing hand was probably in the works. Eckstein was 10 for 17 in steal attempts to that point in the season.

Make that 10 for 18.

Eckstein went, on what ended up being a called third strike to Edmonds for the second out in the inning. Brad Ausmus’ throw to second was so accurate, and so early, that he didn’t even wait to see Adam Everett’s tag before heading to the dugout.

You could almost hear what he was thinking.

Test me?

Yeah. . .bite MY ass.

(Note to Richard Justice--you can’t do THAT on crack.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

No, it's NOT p.m.s., dammit

Oh MY LORD I have been bitchy today.

Maybe it was because some of the annoyances of my job (and every job has them) got to me today.

Maybe it was because I have around 30 hours of overtime for the last week and a half.

Or maybe, it’s because I’m starting to feel a little panicked that the Astros may not make the post-season, meaning that my favorite hobby will be finished in 6 days, until next March.

Their magic number is 6, meaning any combination of their wins and Phillies losses, adding up to six, will vault them into the playoffs. We have two games with the Cardinals, and four with the Cubs. The Cards are not likely to be playing their top guys, having already clinched the NL Central, but given that they’ve played well enough to be the only division winner in all of MLB, it’ll still be a tough fight. And the Cubs may not be playing .500 ball, but they’ve had our number all year (we’re 5-7 against them this season). So, say we manage to go 3-3 for the remaining 6 games, we can still manage to make the postseason if Philadelphia goes 3-3 also. And who are they playing? The imploding Nationals, and the Mets.

Shit. I have to cheer for the Mets?!?!?

Oh MY LORD am I bitchy.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Neurology, baseball, and blogging

Gilles de la Tourette was a French neurologist who first described the neurological disorder which bears his name.

I'm pretty sure he never described any cases with baseball-exclusive triggers, though.

One of my siblings made the mistake of calling me during the baseball game today. I usually am polite enough to answer the phone, but I likewise expect all of my relatives to be equally polite and expedite the call, once I tell them I'm watching a game. This sibling was not so accommodating, however, and got an earful when Jeromy Burnitz hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to put the Cubs ahead for good.

It's good to know that I share the same vocabulary with some of the Astros' relievers, though--namely, Mike Gallo, who gave up said runs. We should both wash our mouths out with soap--and I owe someone a dollar.

The remainder of this post will ramble, a reflection of blogging Attention Deficit Disorder. (BTW, I have no idea as to Dr. Deficit's nationality.)

The loss today (3-2, Cubs) dropped the Astros back to only one game ahead in the wild-card race, waaaaay too close for my comfort level. (It's a good thing I stocked up on Tums today when I went to the store.) The game was broadcast in my area as a Cubs' game (yeah, I don't understand it either). It's always interesting, although not always enjoyable, to listen to a game from the opposing point of view. For example, a couple of months ago, the 'Stros were playing the Rangers--at Minute Maid--and yet somehow it was broadcast locally as a Rangers' game. One of the broadcasters for the Rangers has a slight lisp, which I'm afraid I found rather annoying after a while. Also, he described the Astros' mascot, Junction Jack, as "a large, furry, rabbit-like creature that scampers about Minute Maid Park." Which, as you can see from the picture above (from, is actually fairly descriptive.

Except for the scampering part. Damn thing's 7 feet tall, it doesn't "scamper" anywhere.

ANYway. So the Cubs' broadcasters weren't too bad, they gave Pettitte his props, and treated Berkman and my boyfriend Ensberg with appropriate respect. In fact, the only time they vexed me enough to even raise an eyebrow was when they called Jason Lane "bone-headed." Actually, they called his base-running bone-headed (he got picked off at third), which, while technically I don't disagree, I just can't imagine Brownie and J.D. being so. . .blunt. (Of course, I'm totally spoiled by Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies. They are so freakin' funny, especially J.D. Early on in the season, they said that Ausmus was complaining that they were keeping a hit count on Biggio--you know, "and with that hit, he moves up into a tie for 48th on the all-time hit list," that sort of thing. So, they started doing it for Ausmus--"and with that hit, he moves into sole possession of 1,203rd place on the all-time hit list." And Deshaies' interview with Ensberg after his recent injury was one of the funniest damn things I've ever seen. I get a big kick out of Larry Dierker, too.)

Speaking of broadcasters, today's game was the last radio broadcast from Wrigley Field for Hall of Famer Milo Hamilton, who has decided to only cover Astros home games starting next year. I'm sure it was rather bittersweet for him, as he was the Cubs' broadcaster from 1956-57 and again from 1980-84, and attended his first-ever MLB game at Wrigley as a child. I'm sure Cubs fans, as well as Astros fans, join me in thanking him for the memories.

So, back to the game being broadcast as a Cubs' game (I told you, blogging ADD). One of the cool things about my guys playing at Wrigley is that it's such a historic site. One of the sucky things about my guys playing at Wrigley is that it's an outdoor stadium, and for the second day in a row, there was a rain delay. (Actually, there was quite a delay in calling the rain delay, but whatever.) But since it was broadcast as a Cubs' game, then during the delay, they showed stuff of interest to Cubs' fans--and today, that was Ryne Sandberg's Hall of Fame induction speech from earlier this summer. It was amazing. I had read a transcript of it, thanks to lakeline, but getting to see him give the speech was awesome.

I didn't mind the rain delay at all.

Speaking of rain, everyone I know came out okay here with Hurricane Rita (in fact, we didn't even get any rain where I am, it was just a little windy). Thanks for the good thoughts!

And, one more ramble, unrelated to baseball. This is cool. It's a search engine that is partnered with a bunch of charities. So next time you need to Google something, use ClickNow instead, and support your favorite charity at the same time!

Friday, September 23, 2005

On outfielders and snack cakes

The Astros play 7 of their last 9 games against the Cubs, including a three-game series that starts this afternoon in Chicago.

Ah, Wrigley Field. Site of the infamous Berkman-Twinkie incident.

A couple of years ago, Lance Berkman was playing in right field, as was usual then, as the Astros visited the Cubs. A Cubs fan kept leaning over that hedge in the outfield and yelling, "Hey, Berkman!"

Berkman turned to look, the first couple of times the guy shouted at him.

The guy was shaking a bag of Twinkies at our outfielder.

Recounting the story, Berkman said that he thought to himself, "Okay, I know I'm not the thinnest guy in the world. But, COME ON."

(By the way, Mr. Berkman, you look quite fit this year, if it's any consolation.)

So this goes on for a couple of innings. "Hey, Berkman!"

Shake, shake.

Finally, Berkman muses, "Well, I am kinda hungry," so he marches over to the guy and has him toss over the Twinkies.

And Berkman eats one.

The Cubs fans roared. Those sitting in right showed their appreciation by giving him a standing O for the rest of the game when he returned to his position in the bottom of each inning.

Who knows what this series will bring? (Wins for the Astros, I hope--sorry, L.)

And who knows when I'll be able to blog again, as Hurricane Rita bears down on the upper Texas Gulf Coast. While it looks like my area will be spared a direct hit, we have already received an estimated 10,000 evacuees from the Houston area, not counting hospitalized patients, and have prepared for just about any imagined fallout. Keep the good thoughts and prayers for all, folks!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where the wild things are

I work in health care. (I’ll blog more about my profession in the off-season.) And basically, at all the hospitals to which I rotate, I am credentialed as medical staff (no, I’m not an MD). Being credentialed this way comes with certain perks, like being able to take my lunches in the doctors’ lounge, if the need arises.

The need arose today. The Astros’ last game of the series (and season) with the Bucs was slated for an 11:35 a.m. start. When I was relieved for lunch at 12:15, I rushed towards the doctors’ lounge—and its big-screen TV. “If I take my entire 30 minutes,” I’m thinking to myself, “I can catch a whole inning, maybe more.”

I burst through the door of the lounge, and then instantly froze, saucer-eyed, as I realized that—gasp!—there were actually doctors in the doctors’ lounge!

At lunch! (Yes, I can be a real dumbass. And not just about hockey.)

Two cardiothoracic surgeons and a pulmonologist languished on the couch, staring numbly at the Weather Channel. My Kramer-esque entrance stirred them from their trance, and they eyed me with the same detached curiosity with which a pride of sated lions regards potential prey.

“What was that about?” groused one of the surgeons.

“Uh, yeah, sorryaboutthat,” I mumbled, glancing furtively about.

Then, I spied it.

The remote.

Darting forward, I snatched it from the coffee table.

“HEY! No soaps!” grumbled the pulmonologist.

“Okay,” I chirped. Click!

And there were the Astros, in full 42” plasma-screen glory, finishing the second, leading 1-0. My sigh of happiness was joined by a golf-cheer-like “aaaAAaah” from the guys in the room, and comments like, “Hey, I didn’t know they were playing today,” and “How many games are we up right now?” reverberated around the lounge as a couple of general surgeons and an otolaryngologist also migrated toward the screen.

“Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday,” remarked the pulmonologist.

“What’s that?” I asked absently, studying Morgan Ensberg’s swing as he fouled one back for strike one.

“A woman, changing the TV to a game. Where were you when I got married?”

I just chuckled. I had gone from crazy-woman to coolest-chick-ever with a simple push of a button.

And the lamb lay down with the lions.

(And the Astros won, 2-1, on one of Brandon Backe’s best pitching performances this year. Go ‘Stros!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I'm not really "Linky McLinks A Lot," but anyway. . . .

Speaking of, this week’s edition has a hysterical blurb about Carlos Beltran’s wishing he were back in Houston. Almost made me need Depends.

Since I’m directing people to cool sport sites, you should check out lakeline. I stumbled upon her blog around the time of this entry, and when I stopped crying with mirth, I started lurking (I shouldn’t say that, I had to convince her I wasn’t a stalker so I could view her Cubs photos on Her “Baseball for the Casual Fan” series is awesome, and now she’s going to do hockey! (I’m a total hockey dumbass, but so are a lot of Texans. I think it’s because it’s so f***ing hot in Texas that we refuse to consider that perfectly good ice, which could be used for beer, can be used for skating instead.)

(Sorry about the asterisks. I’m really trying to stop using the f-word. In desperation, I told a friend of mine that I would pay her a dollar every time I dropped the f-bomb. Her husband found out about it, and was like, “Sweet! Let’s just trash-talk the Astros, and we can put the kids through college!)

I digress. Another great baseball blog is epiphany. It’s new to me, but I’m sold already. Why? Because even though Miss Julia bleeds Cardinal red, she likes the Astros. While dissecting her hatred of the Cubs and Mets, she blogged, “Much as I hate the Cubs, these past two years haven't exactly been spellbinding pennant races. I guess the closest we've got right now is the Astros, and that rivalry is lame because I like the Astros. I'd have had no problem cheering for them in the World Series last year. (Hmph, they'd probably have done better than we did - at least, they couldn't have been worse, could they?) Astros/Cardinals games are almost always fun to watch, but they don't feel like enemies. More like very, very scary obstacles. I respect them.”

Which, is exactly how I feel about the Cardinals. I’ve even tried to hate them, but I can’t. (The Mets are a different story. I hope that in the offseason, Roy Oswalt finds Cliff Floyd’s house, rings the doorbell, plunks him when he answers it, and runs away. Run, Roy, run!)

So, sports fans, there you have it, my favorite guilty pleasures. (They probably wouldn’t even be guilty pleasures except that I was raised a Baptist, and I can’t help it. Anything the least bit pleasurable makes you feel guilty. Shit, I digress again.) Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Clemens retires to help Astros make it to post-season

I think that would make a good Brushback article.

For those not familiar with, it's a fabulous sports satire site, updated weekly.

As I write, the Astros are losing 4-0 to the Pirates, with Rocket on the mound versus an 0-2 rookie named Ian Snell. The way we look tonight, Snell might as well be Cy Young. And other than a few rare occasions, we always look like crap when Clemens pitches.

But Brushback is just satire. I really don't mean it, Mr. Clemens. Please don't retire.

Lessons learned

I've learned a lot about baseball in general this year, having come to my appreciation of the game later rather than earlier. And learning more about baseball has enhanced that very appreciation, helping to make this such a memorable season for me personally.

Friday night, I learned a hard lesson about being a fan and sharing my fan-ness (I know, it's not a word. Whatever.) with others.

Never. EVER. Go to a game with a non-fan. Especially during a September pennant/wild-card race.

I was headed to a professional meeting this weekend in Galveston, and figured since I would be passing in and out of the Houston area, I could take in a game during the process. Bought my tickets months ago, when I registered for the meeting. Cool.

Well, a friend asked at the last minute to carpool to the meeting with me. I agreed, but informed her that I was going to the game on Friday night, and she could either attend the game with me, sit in the car, or find another ride. She was like, "Sure! I'll go! Sounds fun!"

Has anyone guessed how this story ends yet?

First of all, she had no interest in the game, other than to look at Craig Biggio's backside. Granted, my appreciation of the attractiveness of the team has already been noted in this blog elsewhere, but I do actually watch the game. Which became increasingly difficult Friday night as the evening wore on, since this friend simply saw this as any other social outing. She also became more and more bored, and started saying things like, "Are you tired? Because we still have an hours' drive to Galveston." Finally, in the bottom of the 7th, a little frustrated, I said, "We'll leave after this inning is done." It had been a pitcher's duel between Oswalt and Helling, score tied 1-1, and looked headed to extra innings. So, in consideration of the non-fan with me, we left early, and I turned on the radio to listen to Milo and Ash in the car (Astros' radio announcers Milo Hamilton and Alan Ashby).

I listened, on the radio, to what has been called better than pitching a no-hitter, the defining moment of the season, and the perfect Hollywood ending. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on. Jeff Bagwell, the stalwart star of the franchise, in his third pinch-hit appearance since coming off a four-month stint on the disabled list, lines a 1-1 fastball into right for the game-winning RBI. The emotion that was audible--palpable, even--through my car radio, from fans, and from the announcers, was incredible, almost once-in-a-lifetime.

I had been there. And I left.

I accept responsibility. It was my choice, she didn't make me leave.

But I will never again, under any circumstances, take a non-fan to a game.

And it will be weeks before sharp objects are allowed back into my house.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Well, this is a first

This was posted to me at Myspace. The names are changed to protect the--um, well, the names have been changed.


I was wondering if you might be interested in a submissive guy? I am seeking a woman with a dominant personality to serve and please. I am 23 and a senior at A&M. I am 6'2, 185lbs, brown hair with blue eyes. I am not looking for a committed relationship, but a discreet friends w/benefits thing, where I serve and please you however and whenever you desire (after getting to know each other, of course). You can email me at:, or IM me on yahoo messenger at: thisisprobablyfaketoo.

- Arthur

Mind you, my age is posted under my profile, but no photo. I'm old enough to be this boy's mother, for crying out loud. Here's my reply:

Well, Artie, I am quite the babe, despite the missing right hand and left foot. And the hair lost to the chain-saw accident should grow back in a year, they tell me.

I suspect someone's playing a trick on you. (It's great to have friends, isn't it?) If not, then thanks for the, uh, solicitation, but please take me off your email list.

Thanks, D.

Damned Aggies!

Things that amaze

Things like Charles Gibson, still reeling from a collision with Adam Everett, holding up the ball to show the ump he made the catch (thanks to the Houston Chronicle for the photo).

Like Adam Everett, who is certainly one of the most reliable short stops in the game, if not the best, trotting back to his position a brief couple of minutes after this impact. We definitely do take him for granted.

Like Roger Clemens, pitching 15 hours after his beloved mother died, visibly gathering himself in the first inning to go on to another incredible performance. He said Bess Clemens-Booher was his will and determination, that she was a fighter and taught him to do the same. The signs at Minute Maid that night expressed sympathy, as well as sentiments such as "Roger, your mama raised you right." I couldn't agree more. He showed his true character not only in his performance on the mound, but in his press conference later that evening.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Brad Ausmus, shortstop extraordinaire

Yeah, that's one of my favorites. Brad Ausmus (pictured here), for those who don't know, is the starting catcher for the Astros. He's considered quite the heartthrob by most women, and an excellent defensive catcher by students of the game. He was the first person Roger Clemens thanked when he won his 7th Cy Young award. Well, August 14th, top of the 9th, we were down 8-0 to the Pirates, and Garner puts Ausmus in at short. And, he turns a 4-6-3 double play. Got the standing O from the home crowd (although, there was obviously not a whole lot else to cheer about). That's definitely one of my favorite moments from this year.

As I mentioned, kind of took a little break, if not so much from baseball itself, from blogging about it anyway. The terrible events of the last week made the pennant race pale. Then, as I started to find my interest piqued again, I felt guilty. But, an article by John Schlegel for, written after 9/11, helped assuage my guilt at enjoying my hobby. He wrote,

". . . like America, baseball will not be stopped. It cannot be stopped.
Without question, that tiny orb of horsehide with the red stitches on it, the object we spend so much of our time watching bounce around ballparks all over the country summer after summer, seemed so very insignificant this past week. That's because it is. In the face of a national crisis, nobody cares about a ballgame. Nobody should. Yet. . .baseball will be part of our lives again, part of what will help America get back on its feet after a daunting blow, and part of what brings us to our new version of normalcy. And baseball will be all those things simply by being baseball, not by being anything deeper than what it is: a game, a beloved pastime for generations in this country. . . .may we all soak in the life baseball brings, and appreciate it for the diversion it is. It's a place to escape from life's troubles, a place where the greatest concern is having the bases loaded with no outs and the cleanup hitter at the plate. When the more important aspects of life become so overwhelming as they did last week, baseball steps aside, as it should. . . .The lesson we know from the past and need to clutch to our hearts now is simple: America perseveres. And, right along with the country, baseball perseveres. . . .we can still turn our lonely eyes to baseball, one of many places we Americans will go to release ourselves from the sadness and grief an insane day of destruction and lost innocence brought to the fore. Those of us who have turned to baseball in peace can turn to it during these difficult times as well."

And so turn I have, appreciating all the more the fabulous moments that have made this season so special to me, no matter how the pennant race turns out.

Moments like Brad Ausmus, shortstop extraordinaire.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Still crazy for baseball, but. . .

Haven't blogged in a bit, other things seemed more pressing.

Like, finding out whether my friends and relatives along the Gulf Coast are all right. (They are. God has been very good to us.)

Like, showing support for our military by attending the "You don't speak for me" rally in Crawford, Texas last weekend. (Pictures soon.)

In the mean time, the Astros have won four in a row, sweeping the Reds and taking the first game from the visiting Cardinals, 6-5, in 13th glorious innings.


I'll be attending a couple of the games at Minute Maid this weekend, taking food to the food drive for the hurricane victims and hopefully donating blood, if the line's not three miles long and they don't close before I get there. I really appreciate that the team and the facility are trying to help out in this crisis.

Blog entries to follow.