Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A new day

Today's my birthday! Yay!

Well, except that I've been sick since the weekend and had to work late today anyway and so my birthday celebration will probably amount to going to bed early.

I think that's a sign of getting old.


One of my dear friends gave me the only present I received. He gave me a bag of leftover Halloween candy, and a calendar that companies send you when they're soliciting (in other words, a freebie). Made me laugh, and served me right, since I didn't get him anything.

I'll bet he didn't go to bed early on his birthday, either.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

News from the front lines

Let's see, when it comes to the Astros' off-season, well, we've done. . . nothing.

Okay, I guess it hasn't entirely been "nothing." They did add some guys to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. One of them has actually played in Triple A.

Oh, and they released Charles Gipson, whose primary contribution was to pinch-run during September (he did play a little bit when Chris Burke hurt his shoulder), and Mike Burns was claimed on waivers by the Reds.


One of my friends called me yesterday, having read the news of the Beckett and Delgado trades. He was frustrated, as many fans are.

What can you do? (Apparently, when my friend gets frustrated, he shops. He bought an original painting after the World Series ended. It looks lovely in his living room, but if Tim Purpura doesn't get on task here pretty soon, Lord knows what else my friend will end up with.)

Of course, I should talk, having just bought a HOUSE. (In my own defense, I was house shopping long before the Astros even made the post-season.) So that has been occupying quite a bit of my time lately, and I haven't even begun packing yet! Good heavens buying a house is a pain in the ass. I just keep telling myself it's an investment, yeah, that's it, an investmentinvestmentinvestment. . . .

Stupid house buying.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Catch-up time

A long time ago, I mentioned that I would blog a bit about attending the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" rally in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan at the time was maintaining her protest camp near President Bush's ranch at Crawford, while he was on vacation there during August. Since Sheehan is back in the news, having recently been found guilty of a misdemeanor, publishing an upcoming book, and planning to resume her protest over Thanksgiving, it seems the right time to revisit that thought.

Cindy's protest resulted because her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in April of 2004, and she was demanding that President Bush speak to her about the war. Part of what's so awesome about this country is that people can express a dissenting opinion. But, I'll be straight up--I'm glad the President never met her demand for a meeting. Never mind that Cindy was in a group of parents who had already met with the President at the White House. For him to acquiesce to such a demand would have set a very dangerous precedent, in my opinion.

I don't consider myself a political person at all, really. I mean, I do vote (I take that responsibility very seriously), and I hold definite opinions, but I'm generally pretty comfortable when others' opinions differ from mine. I certainly don't try to force my opinions on anyone else. And I've never been to any kind of political meeting before. So I surprised a lot of people, including myself, when I decided to go to the counter-protest rally. (My brother lives quite near Crawford and is always aware when the President is at the ranch, as his house is routinely buzzed by Apache helicopters en route to the compound. His wife had told him he couldn't attend, as he tends to be rather vocal about his [arch] conservativism. She was afraid he'd get arrested. She let him go with me, though, figuring I'd be the voice of reason. [Lord, the responsibility of it all!] So, first I drove the 90 minutes out to Waco, then we drove another 30 minutes to Crawford to show our support. [Turns out she needn't have worried, the rally was a good couple of miles from Sheehan's encampment.])


Why did I want to go?

I wanted to go for my wonderful friend Will, who left a good job in business to join the Marines because he feels so strongly about giving back to his country. I wanted to go for my lifelong friend Terry, who wrote me in response to this article:

"I am having such a hard time with this issue. Two sons of good friends of mine came home last month after we prayed and prayed and prayed. I think of Carol's son all home with his wife and two babies, and I cry as I type. I cry when I think that my brother Joe made it through twenty years of Air Force EOD - bomb de-detonating in Heathrow and all over the world. Even did his time in secret service. And my brother David who watched his friend get trapped between two tanks and know as soon as they moved, he was a dead man -- (the kid chose quick death over slow). Dead heroes, live heroes. Geez, they ARE all heroes because all their actions came down to putting the oppressed first. SO, after this venting and rambling, I guess I would like Sheehan to tone it down a bit. I simply do not want my living brothers and my friends sons and daughters (and husbands and wives from past wars) to LIVE in vain anymore than I want any kid to die in vain. So --God Bless our Military People and hold them in the palm of his hand if they come home or go home. . . .Dying is just the pits for the living, and I know God is not mad at me for saying that because he gave us this earth to live on and love and he gave us the ability to love each other if we so choose. . . .So - I'll shut up now!! and hope Mrs Sheehan looks outside of her world every so often. God Bless, I know that is a terrible thing to ask her to do, but so much is happening everywhere."

She's still not looking, if you ask me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

He loves us, he loves us not

Will he or won't he? The off-season has again been reduced to a single focus, but instead of Carlos Beltran, this time it's Roger Clemens. Is he going to retire, really, literally, or will he play another year?

Frankly, I'm already getting tired of debating it. But here's what people are saying, anyway.

Tom Verducci of SI says he'll be back, that since Clemens already committed to the World Baseball Classic in March, why not play again? I have to agree with his assessment that Clemens won't show up for the tournament after having just sat on the couch all winter--he'll be in shape to play. And if so, why not another season? And, if they do indeed give Koby Clemens a non-roster invitation to spring training, then it's all the more reason for his father to re-up, since Roger will have the opportunity to play with his son in the Grapefruit League, at least.

On the other hand is this writer for the Houston Chronicle. (I use the term "writer" here quite loosely--this guy just annoys the crap out of me. He rarely has anything positive to say. To judge by the way he writes, he's one of those people that you would start avoiding at work after about a week, because all of his negativity has already started to erode your stomach lining. Instead of "sportwriter," is there such a term as "sportsasshat"? And I'm not the only one who uses some form of the word "ass" when referring to this guy. Ugh. I digress.) He think Clemens should retire. Never mind the fact that he lead the Majors in ERA, and could have contended for an eighth Cy Young with a little more run support. Nooooo, he had an injury the last couple of years, so he's old and broken down, and therefore the club could use that money in better ways. Okay, so then Andy Pettitte should retire, Kerry Wood should retire, oh, and Chris Carpenter wasn't very strong in September so let's put him out to pasture too. Asshat.

Okay, enough ranting. I personally would like to see Clemens return. Not only is he possibly the greatest pitcher ever to play the game, he has done wonders for the Astros' visibility around the league, as well as promoting the sport within the Houston area. I think he still remains worth the ~$20 million it would probably take to resign him, just in increased ticket sales alone (almost all of his 2005 regular season home appearances were sellouts). And given that he filed for free agency, I think he is planning on returning (otherwise, why not just announce his retirement?).

I just hope he makes an announcement sooner than later. Please, Mr. Clemens, don't give the fans another offseason of waiting on one player's decision. If you've made up your mind, as you seem to indicate, let's get the show on the road.

Show us you love us, one way or the other.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Country girl

Ahhh. Nothing like clean, fresh, country air.

And I didn't even turn it that blue this weekend. Even with an evening at Wurstfest and the accompanying libations, I managed to constrain my profanity.


So there's hope for me possibly becoming the gracious Southern belle my mother has always hoped for. Of course, the very thought reminds me of a joke.

Two Southern belles were sitting on a porch swing, discussing their husbands and drinking iced tea.

"My husband gave me that big ol' Cadillac out there for my birthday," says the first.

"Well, isn't that nice," says the second.

"And he gave me this huge diamond ring for our anniversary," continues the first Southern belle.

"Well, isn't that nice," repeats the second Southern belle.

"And he brought me flowers last night for no reason at all," the first belle says.

"Well, isn't that nice," says the second belle, rocking.

"I'm curious, sugar," says the first Southern belle. "What kinds of things does your husband give you?"

"Why, he sent me to charm school," replied the second belle.

"Charm school! Well, why would he give you something like that?" quizzed the first Southern belle, astounded.

"So that I could learn to say, 'well, isn't that nice,' instead of 'WHO GIVES A SHIT!'"

Not exactly what my mom has in mind, but definitely within my scope. . . .

Friday, November 04, 2005

Holy weekend, Batman

Great way to start a weekend.

I show up out at the lake, ready to run the trails with some friends. They all decide to bring their bikes instead. I looked liked that f***ing Discover Cards Rewards commercial guy. Thanks, y'all.

And I probably won't be able to move my legs tomorrow. Gaaah.

Anyway, as y'all know, I've been trying to clean up my language. Because, cussing is just not very f***ing ladylike. But this weekend, I'm heading to New Braunfels to hang out with my brother and his friends, and I'm thinking the clean-language-thing just isn't going to be happening. Last time I was there, my brother thought his name had been changed to "asshole" and that the traditional family greeting had been changed from "hello" to "f*** you." (But in my own defense, the last time I was there, the Astros were in St. Louis and got swept by the Cardinals, and he and his friends took no end of enjoyment out of my agony. So there.)

So, since I'm still doing the $1 for every f-word thing, I'm open to suggestions on charities to take my penan--er, donation.

Should be sizable.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A time to laugh

This blog is mostly about baseball, so read that and have a giggle.

But then, read this and try not to fall out of your chair!

Wouldn't it be lovely if everybody had such a great mom?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finis: World Series '05

"So, did you cut him off?" one of my co-workers asked brusquely, the morning after Game 4.


"Your boyfriend, Ensberg. Did you cut him off? Because he sucked in the series!"


After I got through laughing at the idea (like, if Morgan Ensberg were really my boyfriend, would I cut him off? Hel-lo! As if!), I just shook my head. His performance against the Sox was certainly un-Ensberg-like, hitting a dismal .111 after achieving .278 in the Division Series and .238 in the NLCS.

I felt badly for him. He seems like a really nice guy, which is a big part of the reason he's my favorite player. I also suspect that no one feels worse than he does himself. It seems to me that he never really came back from the injury he suffered when he was hit on the hand by a pitch from the Phillies' Brett Myers on Sept. 5. He did manage to finish out September and October with a damn good .294, but he only hit two home runs after the injury, including the post-season.

You think he can develop that memory-span-of-a-goldfish thing before spring training?

Anyway. A lot of people at work asked me if I cried when we lost Game 4. The truthful answer, which surprised some people, was "no." (Now, I did cry during the fifth inning of Game 3 when Roy O gave up those 5 runs. I've seen it happen before to him, but not very often, and not on such a big stage. So sad for him.) But on the day of Game 4, I had to work until early afternoon, and something happened to remind me of my priorities. As you know, I work in health care. One of my co-workers had a problem with a case, in which a potentially life-threatening complication had developed suddenly. Even more stress-inducing, the patient was a child, a six-year-old. This colleague had sent out for assistance, and since I was free at the moment, I was the first to arrive. When I entered the room, our eyes locked. "Start an IV" were the only words he spoke to me, but his expression said it all. I said a quick prayer and popped in a catheter on my first attempt. He pumped some drugs through it before we even taped it down, and the crisis was over.

And that's the sort of thing that's truly important. The health and well-being of someone's child, mother, sibling, etc., not a game. Don't get me wrong, I love baseball. It's a fabulous hobby and has kept me company when I was lonely and opened doors that I never even saw before. But did I cry when the Astros lost the World Series? No.

Of course, when I walked out of the room after starting the IV, I did think to myself, "Hmph. Good thing I'm better in the clutch than the Astros' hitters. . . ."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Not quite so much

Thankfully, the blame game has settled down somewhat. Lots of fans showed up for the rally in dowtown Houston last Friday to show support for the team for winning the pennant, which was positive.

I think that those who want to blame Brad Lidge for the losses in the Series, saying he "choked," (a word I despise) must be those fans who don't pay attention until the playoffs. They look at his numbers (42 saves in 46 opportunities) and assume he's been as dominating all this year as last. Unfortunately, not true. In fact, his control issues this year had been brought up long before we even made the playoffs. The most dominating performance (actually, the only truly dominating performance) I saw from him this year was in the All-Star game, in which he threw eleven pitches and struck out all three batters he faced. He was definitely "lights out" that night.

So, do I think he's been affected by the disappointments of the post-season? Probably not. He truly seems to have a closer's mentality, able to put things out of his mind the moment it's done. (Of course, this can be a bad thing. Can you imagine being married to him? "Brad, how many times do I have to tell you to put the seat down and flush?!?" "Oh, yeah, sorry honey. . . I forgot.")

So, do I think he should be affected by the disappointments of the post-season? Yeah, actually, if it affects him in a positive way to move forward to improve himself. I mean, you know, just because he has the memory span of a goldfish doesn't mean his fans do also. For the whole second half of the season, I personally held my breath every time he came into the game. That's really not how you want to regard your closer. But sophomore seasons are often disappointing anyway, because expectations are so high. But yeah, I think he should look at Pujols' and Podsednik's homers (and the 10 other hits and six walks) square in the face, and learn from it.

Face it, and fix it. Then forget it.