Saturday, April 28, 2007

Desperate times?

The Astros called up Hunter Pence and are sitting Chris Burke. (I'm going to the game tonight, so I'll get to see his debut.)

Now, I'm not a Chris Burke fan, obviously, so his being benched doesn't bother me. I've always thought their insistence on playing Burke was to give him a chance to justify being a first-round pick. And you know, that's reasonable. . . but there are plenty of players throughout the league who never lived up to their perceived potential. I've felt for a while now that Burke was just average, but of course I don't care for him personally so that colors my viewpoint.

So are the Astros now willing to possibly say that he hasn't panned out like they thought he would (or did he just piss somebody off)? And I understand the argument that player development takes time, and certainly Burke won't get any better riding the pine (which will also diminish his trade potential). But how long do you give somebody? How long should they give Hunter Pence?

I first thought that this move smacked of desperation in light of a seven-game losing streak.

Now, I think it's even more ominous. To me, it says, who is running this team? Is it Garner? Purpura? Uncle Drayton? First Burke had a job, which he "earned," now he doesn't. A lot of people thought Pence deserved to make the team out of Spring Training, but he didn't. Lidge was the closer coming out of Spring Training, but after two outings, he wasn't anymore. The list goes on.

The Astros' management looks clueless right now. I am much more concerned about their apparent floundering than I am about losing seven games.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Saturday night, and I ain't got nobody. . . .

Spent last Saturday evening at Minute Maid Park.

What's that, you say? The Astros were in Milwaukee?

Yes, they were.

But Jimmy Buffett and Robert Earl Keen were at the Ballpark.

Along with about 47,000 of their closest friends.

Of whom probably 75% were staggering drunk.

Seriously. I have never seen so many drunk people in one place in my life.

It was an okay concert. I was disappointed in my seats; I was seated 14 rows behind the visitors' dugout, which, for a baseball game would have been heaven. Unfortunately, they put the stage on Tal's Hill, so I was just about as far away from the stage as you could get for the concert. Which was fine, except I paid the Ticketmaster price of $86.

Per seat.

That's a lot of money to basically watch the concert on the big screen TVs.

And I must be becoming a fuddy-duddy. They allowed beach balls at the concert, which was fine before it started, since there was nothing else to do. But all the drunk people kept playing with the beach balls during the whole performance, which then required keeping one eye on the concert and one eye on the beach balls, lest a stray ball bang into your beer and spill it all over you. After which, you are freezing because you are soaking wet, and you are also pissed off because beer still costs $7 a piece and somebody just wasted $5 worth.

Not that I would know about that.

Jimmy Buffett--still charming.

Minute Maid Park as a concert venue--not charming.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Productive off-day

No, the 'Stros weren't off today, I was. In fact, as I write this, they are leading the Marlins 6-1 in the 7th.

I actually had to work briefly this morning, but then I came home, played on the computer, took a nap, ran some errands, and then sat down to play Resistance: Fall of Man on my Playstation 3 (yes, this is part of that balance thing, as is the Tango class I attended this evening).

Anyway. . . I finished the game! One completion down, several more (I hope) to go!

Who else can say that on their off-day, they shot a bunch of Chimeran hybrids and saved the world?

Pretty productive, I'd say!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


No, the boys didn't win today. Didn't lose either--snowed out at Wrigley, to be made up in July.

The Astros are doing something new this year. They are allowing season-ticket holders to pre-order the special player promotion items (more popularly known as "bobbleheads"). This is exciting for several reasons. One, they can become collectors items and increase in value--I was offered $25 for my Roger Clemens one the second I left the stadium last year. While it remains to be seen if any of this year's offerings will appreciate in value, I nonetheless am VERY excited that I won't have to worry about standing in line for hours for the things!

I ordered the whole set, of course--the Brad Ausmus Surfer Bobblehead, the Roy Oswalt Bulldozer Bobblehead, the Lance Berkman Cowboy Bobblehead, and the Carlos Lee Rancher Bobblehead.

No, I am not making any of this up.

This of course, brings to mind bobbleheads that other teams could do--the Manny Ramirez Straightjacket Bobblehead. The Delmon Young In-Your-Face Bobblehead with spring-loaded arm and detachable bat. The Barry Bonds Deposition Bobblehead. The Kerry Wood Hottub Bobblehead.

I really hope the Brad Ausmus version is issued sans shirt. . . .

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Now, I know not to read too much into the first week of the season. But isn't it funny how sometimes that metamorphosizes into "don't read too much into the first month," or "the first half," and so on and so forth until suddenly it's September and your team is planning their off-season vacations.

I had a good time at the game today, actually, but not because I enjoyed the baseball. Jennings' line was better than his performance came across, if you ask me. I was impressed last Tuesday; today, not really. (Of course, if you compare pitchers to Roy Oswalt, as I am inclined to do, then they all come up short.) And the bullpen continues to be erratically ineffective. Or consistently inconsistent. Or some oxymoron, I don't know. The one guy who absolutely, 100% did his job today was Trever Miller--brought in to get Jim Edmonds out and did so.


Thank goodness I took up knitting.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hmm. . . .

So maybe I didn't jinx Adam Everett after all, considering his average right now is .308 and his OPS is .815.

Unfortunately, he seems to be more or less pacing the team. I'm glad for him, especially if I decide to stay with him as my fave this year (this always makes me feel a little Annie Savoy-ish, but whatever. As if), but what does that say about the rest of the guys?

Other bloggers, and some of the players themselves, have pointed out that an 0-4 record would receive little notice in July. I don't entirely agree with that statement (I've found that Astros' fans, myself included, are about as spoiled as they come--well, no, that would be Yankees' fans. Again, whatever). However, I remember last year when Qualls was getting booed in the fifth game of the season for giving up a run, and thinking how glad I'd be when the novelty of the season's start had worn off and all the unreasonable people were staying home.

I find myself less concerned with the losses than the level of play. I'm worried about Chris Burke adjusting to center field. He's never been one of my favorites, and was so rude to a friend's daughter that I may never forgive him (she was six at the time, just a little girl, and he was an asshole). Maybe if I liked him, I'd have a little more patience with his adjustment period, but I don't, and I thought playing him there was a bad idea to start with (didn't think he did all that well last year in the outfield, although he managed left okay). Biggio is starting off much better than I expected, so that's a bonus. I was worried that the march to 3000 would drag the team down (and it still could, but so far so good). Ausmus has always been an offensive liability, but always called a good game, right? So who called the pitch to Wainwright last night? Wandy straight up said he was confused to find out the guy could hit, and you know a guy who's had less than 40 major league starts doesn't call his own game. Sure, Wainwright was a reliever last year and didn't get a lot of opportunities at the plate, but I'm surprised that someone who is supposedly as well prepared as our catcher usually is would make that mistake (and yeah, it was just one pitch, and people are allowed to make mistakes, blah, blah, blah--just looking at things that I find concerning, that's all). There are plenty of other mistakes and miscues and poor execution to go around, for sure. And that's what is so bothersome.

Winning is obviously better than losing, but to give a non-baseball example, take A & M basketball. I don't even know basketball well enough to appreciate it fully, but I know enough to have seen pure beauty in their play against Louisville and Memphis. The teamwork, the timing, the execution--I actually caught my breath a couple of times, and I barely knew what was going on! In the same vein, what makes me happiest as a fan is to see well-played baseball, which the Astros are NOT doing. (Now, would I want them to have the heartbreak of A & M/Memphis, to play their guts out every game and lose in the last few seconds? No, but it does sometimes happen. At least the Aggies could be proud of how they comported themselves.)

Oh well. If the Astros don't pick it up, then at least I don't have to worry about ponying up the money to exercise my post-season option, right? Bright side, bright side. . . .

Thursday, April 05, 2007


If it didn't give far too much weight and importance to my fan-ness, I would think I've jinxed Adam Everett.

Seven errors all last season, and two--on one play!!--last night.

Guys. You're killing me!

(The bright side--the bullpen looked good. Yay?)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Well, I must say, the balance thing must be working.

Last year, I started to feel guilty about how much time I spent on baseball. I decided to take up knitting so that I can knit during games. The plan is to knit sweaters for underprivileged children. Hopefully, they won't notice that the sweaters suck (as I'm sure the first few will). (Of course, when I'm actually at a game, I will occupy my time by drinking beer and/or keeping score. Sorry, kids.)

I'm not even upset that the 'Stros have started the season 0-2 (well, not much anyway). Went to the exhibition game with the Royals last Saturday, roof was closed because of rain but certainly a pleasant outing that day. Going to my first "real" game this Sunday, and hoping the Astros will pick up where they left off last year against the Cardinals.

Woody Williams is pitching tonight, and I hope he does well. His excitement about playing for his home-town team is contagious, and he's always done well at Minute Maid Park. He doesn't quite have Roy O's stuff, but he does have some of that same mindset. I'm really pulling for him this year.

Every year, I pick a favorite player--some years, it's an obvious choice (like Morgan Ensberg in 2005), other years it's more sentimental (Mike Lamb last year). I reserve the right to change my mind, but I think so far this year my guy's going to be Adam Everett (you thought Woody Williams, right? I generally don't pick a pitcher because you only see them every 5 days or so). Right now, I'm basing this choice on not only his underrated defense, but also his "clutch" hitting (and I'm only half kidding!). He was SOOO robbed of the Gold Glove last year. I'm thinking of starting an email campaign to Rawlings--except, I'm probably too lazy. I can't even keep up with this blog!

Final thought--the last time the 'Stros lost on opening day, they ended up going to the Series!