Sunday, May 28, 2006

Oh, to be wrong

Back in March, after I had come back from attending a spring training game, one of the anesthesiologists I work with asked me, "So, how are your Astros going to do this year?"

I hedged. "Well, other than Roger Clemens they're essentially the same team, so there's no reason to think they won't do fairly well."

Hearing something in my voice, he raised an eyebrow. "But how do YOU think they're going to do?"

I looked him in the eye. "I think they're going to suck. I have no reason to think that, but that's what my gut tells me."

I'm not really one to make predictions, because frankly, I had to admit I'm wrong. But last week, when I started my "break" with the Astros, I groused to someone at work, "You watch. They're going to get swept by the Pirates [the Pirates!], they'll take one game at St. Louis--maybe the first one, getting everyone's hopes up--then they're going to hover around .500 the rest of the year and be out of the playoff picture by late August."

I hope I'm wrong.

And if I'm right, then I don't really understand it. Because honestly, what has changed? Yeah, we don't have Clemens, but our winning percentage in his games (I don't feel like looking it up) couldn't have been so great to make that huge of a difference (I do remember we got shut out 9 times in his starts alone). And Bagwell's gone, but he didn't play most of last year anyway.

So what is it? Is it a fundamental change in the chemistry of the team? Do they resent how the Bagwell issue was handled? Have they lost trust in ol' Scrap Iron? Are they tired of playing musical positions? Do they resent the fact that Lane is sitting and Wilson is not? Obviously, I have no idea what they are thinking. But I do know that I have seen more arguments with umpires this year (Garner is not so unusual, but even Ausmus and Berkman have been mouthy) as well as just more acting-out (I've seen Berkman throw his helmet and/or bat four times this year--big deal, you say, but it's still not like him).

I do hope I'm wrong. And unlike some people, I'm not going to take credit for turning the team around if I am wrong. What I will do, though, is put my money where my mouth is. If the Astros remain in contention (and the last two years, they have secured a playoff birth on the last day of the season, so we'll give them the entire season to do it again)--whether or not they make the playoffs (all they have to do is remain in contention!)--I'll donate $100 to either the Astros in Action Foundation or the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Time will tell.


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