Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dear _____________,

Dear Mr. Pettitte,

Sorry that you lost today. You didn't deserve to, you tried really hard and pitched your ass off, for the most part. I've always had a soft spot for you for some reason, and I hope the rest of your season goes better than the first half has.*

Your friend,

P.S. * But since you play for the Astros, I wouldn't hold my breath.

* * * * *

Dear rest-of-the-Astros,

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? What's that? You say, 'we don't know'? As in, you don't know what you're doing, perhaps?

Well, that much is very evident.

Get a freakin' clue.

Not friends,

* * * * *


I feel better.

Okay, on second thought, not really.

Today was such a dismal waste of a decent pitching performance by Andy Pettitte. I suspect that what I feared has started to occur--now the Astros are starting to get uncomfortable (yes, hello! half the freakin' season is over, guys!) and are starting to press a bit. Errors and gaffes of all sorts abounded in the game today. Even Jim Deshaies, in the ninth inning, upon learning that Justin Verlander only threw 99 pitches through 8 innings, burst out with, "That's it? They deserve to lose!" It was a very spontaneous remark, you could tell, and therefore all the more, well, telling of his opinion of their current play. Others in the blogosphere are starting to mirror that opinion.

I’ve thought for a while now that things weren't so rosy in Astroland. But I hate to express such pessimism, for I always fear that it might reflect a fair-weather attitude, my being spoiled by success. And I do despise fair-weather fans, especially those who only buy tickets for the playoffs. But I also have been forced to reflect on the current season and the pervading slump. In my little Pollyanna universe, true fans stick with their club through thick and thin. But when does it become a risk and reward conflict? How much of my life do I want to spend watching a game that, at present, depresses me?

I just don't know the answer today.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm a bad, bad fan

I look at last night's game, and while grateful for the win, am appalled by the performance of the bullpen.

Thank goodness somebody sees the glass as half full.

10-9 in 13


Thank God for a win.

And against the White Sox!

I didn't stay up late to watch all the game, and I probably would have turned it off after Iguchi's granny in the ninth anyway. I don't have much faith lately.

Here's hoping they continue to prove me wrong!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Let some other fool sit down

Pop a top again
I just got time for one more round
Set 'em up my friends
Then I'll be gone
Then you can let some other fool sit down.
--Nat Stuckey

The group I work for had functions the last two evenings, so I didn't watch Thursday's contest with the Twins, nor Friday's with the Sox. It was certainly tempting to skip these functions, especially Thursday since that was the big debut of Rocket. (I kept telling myself, "There's more to life than baseball, there's more to life than baseball. . . . ") I did, however, watch today's game, with Taylor Buckholz on the mound for us versus Jon Garland of the Pale Hosiery.

The overall feeling that I am left with after the end of the game is one of resignation. Call this my tombstone post, if you will--it feels like the season's pretty much done with.

Buckholz actually pitched pretty darn well, although he got into a bit of trouble in the 7th. He went out with a 5-1 lead, bases loaded, one out. Chad Qualls came in to face Joe Crede and threw one pitch to give up the grand slam and tie the game. Fox had cut away to commercial during the pitching change, and actually came back a split second too late, and so ended up showing a replay to the television audience (at least in my viewing area). It made it all that more surreal, as if they were showing a replay from some other game. Then, while the Astros managed to make the game go to extra innings, they couldn't get anyone else across the plate.

Surprise. The Sox could, and did.

I was actually struck while watching the game that it was well-played overall, and a game any baseball fan could appreciate. Not unlike last October, I ended up feeling that Crazy Ozzie outmanaged Phil Garner by just the slightest margin, but perhaps that perception was more due to the fact that the White Sox players outplayed us by a margin as well.

That's not to say I enjoyed the game. Not at all. (And if Chad Qualls offers any excuses at all, I'll kick his 6'5" ass. And it sounds like Alyson Footer may agree with me, on all counts.)

I think I've realized what it is about the team this year that is bothering me. I couldn't put my finger on it for a long time--just felt vaguely pessimistic about their chances. But now I've realized, it just seems to me that they're not hungry this year. Or at least, not hungry enough. It's as if they just assume they'll play well in the second half and put on a glorious run like they have the last couple of years and make it back to the playoffs. They keep talking about how losses don't bother them because they know what they're capable of.

Well, I know what they're capable of, too. And they haven't been playing to their potential for most of the first half. They need to realize that there are going to be days like today--when they actually played fairly well--in which somebody (Qualls, this time) pulls some f***headed move and loses a game for them. It's inevitable. So, does it not make sense to play EVERY game to WIN?!? How are those series losses to the Pirates and the Royals looking now, huh? Because if last year is any kind of predictor, then when the 'Stros do finally start worrying, they'll start pressing and things will be worse than ever.

I hope they can pull their heads out of their asses and put some effort back into the season, or they can start looking for some other fool to sit down.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Lost the weekend series to the Royals.

Yes, those Royals.

The. Worst. Team. In. Baseball.

They could win the next 30 games straight, and STILL wouldn't be back to .500.


And to make matters worse, their pitcher today was Brandon Duckworth. Losing to him is simply an execrable event. I had absolutely no use for him when he played for us--in my opinion, he can't pitch, and he comes across in interviews as a whiner who has an excuse for everything. I was ecstatic when he was outrighted at the end of last season. Good riddance.

So what's that expression? Right, something about a blind hog and an acorn. . . .

Anyway, I should have known it wasn't going to be the best day when I had trouble filling out my scorecard at the start of the game. First there was Grudzielanek, then Graffanino. Hell, by the time I got to Mientkiewicz, I just wrote "Dougie Baseball."

As others have pointed out, at least the Royals lead the league in consonants.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Not just old

But maybe naive. But whatever.

I'm good with this.

Dude, I'm old

So we signed our first pick from the amateur player draft today. The Astros are very keen on young Max Sapp, a catcher out of Florida.

That's cool. However. . . .

I know he's in high school and all, but do they think they could get a different picture of the young lad?

One that doesn't look like his mom bussed him on the cheek on his way to BP?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And another thing. . . .

You know how I was saying that hygiene is kinda important when you're having surgery? Well, another good thing is to know a bit about your own health. I was interviewing a patient today, going through the routine questions--"ever had a seizure or a stroke?"--and the guy has to turn to his wife. He's all, "I dunno. Honey, have I ever had a seizure or a stroke?"

It was all I could do to control the spasms of my ocular muscles, the reflex to roll my eyes was so strong.

I mean, really. How can someone NOT know something like that? I know nothing about cars--couldn't tell my intake manifold from the fuel injectors--but I know whether my car's ever been in a wreck, I know the last time it went in for maintenance and if anything was wrong with it or not. I cannot fathom someone being so oblivious to their own health (the opposite end of the spectrum is the 'Stros own Rocket, who is in tune with every subtle nuance of every muscle and talks about his body in that sort of odd third-person way).

Seriously. I doubt that anyone who goes to the trouble to read a blog would find themselves unable to answer the question I posed to my patient, but if you're reading this and you're not sure about the answer, you might want to spend a little time perusing WebMD or maybe watching Discovery channel or something (and no, Grey's Anatomy and House don't count).

* * * * *

The Astros are up 4-3 over the Cubs as I am writing, at the top of the fifth. I am on call, so could have to trek back to the hospital at any moment, so I am not really watching the game. I didn't want to risk getting wrapped up in the action and then having to tear myself away. It's Roy O and Greg Maddux, so I'm not sure where I'm finding the discipline to not watch.

Anyway, go "Stros!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This and that

I’m easily confused these days. Don’t know why, just am.

For one, I’m confused about why someone would take another blog to task for mentioning rumors about Albert Pujols, when that same blogger suggested earlier that it was in Pujols' best interest to be investigated, in order to be proven clean.

Here's a novel idea. Why doesn't Pujols just come forward, say he's clean, offer up one of those monster veins on his monster forearms, and go ahead and be tested for HGH and be done with it? While detractors might say that the lack of a substantive test would prove nothing in the face of a negative result, I think the gesture would speak volumes.

Just sayin'.

* * * * *

Watched Roger Clemens' outing with the Corpus Christi Hooks on Sunday night. He looked strong and precise in his pitching. But you know what? I think Rocket is depressed. Maybe he hasn't fully grieved his mother's death, maybe he sees his future after baseball on the horizon and isn't very keen, I don't know. But he doesn't seem the same to me. The fire in his eye isn't there, and the flat affect, downcast posture, and the very effort that it takes him to walk from the mound to the dugout strongly suggest someone who has seen more cheerful days. Added to his lack of enthusiasm at his press conference to announce his signing, I'm finding it all a little concerning. He did seem to enjoy his time playing with Koby for the Legends the week before.

Hope the mental game comes along as well as the physical seems to be.

* * * * *

Had a lovely time at the ballpark over the weekend, for the most part. Although, it did seem that most of the scoring (including the Astros' only scoring on Saturday) occurred while I was in the ladies' room. What's up with that? I have reasonable urinary capacity, it's not like I spent the whole game in there or anything (although, I would be willing to entertain the notion if it means more wins--hee!). Sheesh. And also, I do have to say that I'm not really liking my seats this year. They're not that much closer to the action for better visibility, and the foul pole now obstructs my view of the video screen. I can deal with that. But I think the worst part is that the crowd around me this year is kind of, well, dudley (not a word, I don't care). I mean, they just SIT there, they don't seem to know any of the players nor care about the game. The most enthusiastic they seem to get is when the "wave" is going around the stadium. Ick. I mean, what's the point? Freakin' stay home.

* * * * *

A final, non-baseball note. Okay, I totally got squicked out today.

One of my patients had a TICK in his ear. Yes, a live one. One that didn't want to relinquish its hold on the skin.


It wasn't like this was a trauma, in which someone's not really planning to have surgery that day (that'll be my luck--have the MVA on the way home from spinning class at the gym on a post-call day when I decided not to shower first and haven't shaved my legs in three days--no doubt people will question my hygiene at that point). But this was a SCHEDULED procedure. I've mentioned before that I consider it imperative to clean your navel, but seriously?

Go for the flea and tick shampoo if necessary.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Highs and lows

Okay, this?

Cracked me up.

Not just for the straight-up wise cracks (who's Sosa's daddy? *snort*), but also for the sheer joy that emanates from the post. I can relate. I'm personally treating the Astros' current upswing like I would a no-hitter--I'm trying not to talk about it. But it's difficult to keep silent, not just because they've been winning, but because they've been playing. Wins are obviously fabulous, and necessary, but these last few games have just been fun to watch, period.

Okay, this?

No joy or amusement in it whatsoever.

Because this is how it started with Bonds.

As much as I hate playing against him, as much as I'm still pissed off that he watched that damn home run off of Lidge in Game 5 for what seemed like freaking forever, please-oh-please-oh-PLEASE let Pujols be clean.

I want him to be clean, and to take away Bond's single season HR record.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Buddhist's guide to Astros' fandom

Okay, before I start getting livid comments or emails about Buddhism, let me say one thing about this post.


Apparently, there was a recent article in National Geographic about the rise of Buddhism. Now, I didn't read this article, but one of my more, ahem, red-necked colleagues did. He said that the gist of it was that Buddhism teaches you how to be happy--basically, if you're not satisfied with your station in life, that you need to, well, lower your expectations.

Well, by golly. I think I can find that very useful as an Astros' fan.

In fact, it's already happening.

Consider, if you will, my elation at the fact that we won the third game from the Cubs. The score was 1-0, so other than Ausmus' 1st home run of the year, offense was absent.

But by golly! We won two games in a row! And we won a series!


On a serious note, I asked one of the orthopedic surgeons I worked with today (as we did an arthroscopic labrum repair) about Burke's shoulder (which he dislocated again last night while swinging and missing). His unequivocal opinion is that Burke will need a stabilization procedure. To him, it's not a question of "if," but "when."

Good luck, Burkie!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gimme a break


Break's over, although my first game back had me more depressed than ever--Friday night's 14-3 loss to the visiting Reds. That's the first game I've ever left in the fifth inning. The overall lack of interest on all parts was virtually its own entity--the crowd at the Park was pretty sparse at the beginning of the game, and oddly enough, so were the players. I've been to so many games that you can practically set your clock by Biggio's warm-up entrance, generally followed by Ausmus, Everett, Berkman with the trainer, then a bit later Taveras, Ensberg (if he doesn't come out with Everett), and Wilson. But Friday night, while Biggio stayed to his usual routine, warm-ups from other players were virtually non-existent (granted, Ensberg and Everett didn't start). But still, I was surprised when game time arrived because I was still waiting for the usual display. And their play during the game was just as lackadaisical, as they seemingly conceded after Wandy's first inning struggles. I finally couldn't stand it any more.

Today was a bit brighter. They still lost, but at least they played. Granted, it didn't end up going their way, but at least they seemed focused and they certainly kept my interest--through 11 innings. I'm a bit more optimistic than I was Friday. On the other hand, the sublime wordsmith at Astroday remains optimistic despite such dismal performances as Friday's. Having followed the Astros for years (decades?), I'm sure he's much more in tune with the overall nuances and subtleties of the team and the long season than I.

At least, I hope so. I hope he's right.