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.)


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