It’s almost here. Opening Day is a short week and a few days away. Though my beloved Astros (or a group of players wearing Astros’ uniforms) start this season away from home, things work out quote well for me. I will be at a library conference when the season begins and would have missed game one were it at Minute Maid. So, I will be ringing in the season in Minneapolis at the Metrodome as the Twins take on the Angels. And, I will be back from my sojourn north in time to see the ‘Stros take on the Cards in their first 2007 home game on April 7. I couldn’t be more excited.
Archive for the Astros Category
I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite a while. This weekend was to be the first weekend of that most wonderful time of the year: baseball season. Now, I know that the pros don’t actually get underway until the end of the month, but last week was the start of spring training games and this weekend was the always fun College Classic at Minute Maid Park, including my alma mater (UT Longhorns) and my childhood favorites/school I wish I had gone to (Rice Owls). This is a 3 day event w/ 3 games each day. My plan was to catch five games: all the games the Owls and UT played, especially the Saturday night game when they played each other. Well, fate had other plans.
On Thursday (actually Wednesday night), I was hit with the flu. I left work early on Thursday and haven’t been back. The really sad thing is I took Friday off to catch some baseball and then take my wife out to dinner for her birthday. Needless to say, none of this happened. Not only was I sick but I had one kid recovering from and one just coming down with the flu. Friday and Saturday were both complete washes. I was miserable both days. But there is some good news:
For the wife: Even though we haven’t gone to her birthday dinner at Cafe Montrose yet, her friends did manage to finagle (btw, in a completely unrelated comment other than the word “finagle” made me think of it, I love the name Finagle-a-Bagel, which was a bagel shop all over Boston) her some tickets for the Livestock Show and Rodeo Annual BBQ Cookoff, which she has been wanting to go to for the past ten years. It sounds like she had fun but the inevitable happened. As the only one of the four in our house who had been free of the illness, she returned from the event sniffling and miserably ill.
For me: I did make it to the College Classic today. My wonderful wife allowed me to go even though she was sick and the boys seemed to recover. I had hoped to catch the Rice-Texas Tech game and the UT-UHouston game. I made it through the first one before I realized I wasn’t fully recovered yet. Exhausted, I headed home after one game. On the bright side, the Owls won all their games and I got a parking space on Texas Avenue right outside the park.
One last plea to the folks at Minute Maid or Drayton McLain or someone: Next year please keep the Astros FanFest and the College Classic on the same weekend. It just feels like more of an event that way and allows us ‘Stros fans to get into that baseball mode early in the year. I really don’t like that they separated the two this year. Plus, I am going to be in Minneapolis when the FanFest is held this year. I shouldn’t complain I will get to spend Opening Day with the Twins and Angels: my first AL Opening Day.
I am beyond excited that Brandon Backe will be making his first major league start tomorrow night when the Astros take on the Brewers. Now, I realize this season is pretty much over even if the ‘Stros are coming back to life under Cooper. But, I believe that Backe is key to their success. Not only because he is a good pitcher (which he is) but because of his attitude. If you followed the ‘Stros before he went out for Tommy Johns surgery, you would have seen him screaming, cheering, and jumping around in the dugout like any rabid fan. It was clear that he was as much a fan as a player. It helps that he is pitching for his hometown team.
He reminds me of Scott Brooks of the championship Rockets, who–though not the best player–brought so much value to the team because of his enthusiasm. Backe brings an excitement and passion that seems to be rare in professional sports these days. It seems to impact the entire team. Continuing the Rockets comparison, I will add that he is also similar to Robert Horry in his unbelievably clutch performances. Just watch. Next year, the Astros will have a winning season and–I predict–make it to the playoffs. While I think Cecil Cooper will do a great job managing and non-Houston fans will finally see we have the best pitcher in the majors (Roy O), I will attribute that success to the fact that we have the best fan-player in the game.
Welcome back, Brandon!
I have been able to comfort myself with the Astros dismal record by telling myself that they would mount one of their proverbial second half comebacks. But after getting swept by the Cubbies in the first three games post-All-Star-break things are really looking a bit dismal. My beloved Astros are currently owners of the fourth worst record in the majors and the third worst record in the NL. I remain a fan through thick and thin and I hold out hope for a final third season comeback.
Oh well, at least the Mariners, my AL faves, are doing quite well.
Biggio is now officially 3 hits away from the 3,000 club. The Astros have six games left until I am back in H-Town and able to take in a game. With two of these being day games after night games, you’ve got to figure Biggio will sit out. But, in order for things to work out for me to see hit 3,000 while sitting in the stands at Minute Maid, it would require that Bidge get no hits in two out of four games. Selfishly, I renounce my earlier statement and am now officially hoping for this scenario. After tomorrow, the ‘Stros return to Houston; at least it’ll happen at home.
Well, after tonight’s Astros game, it is even less likely that I will be seeing Biggio get 3,000. Two more hits puts him 8 away from the big 3,000. Statistically, it is growing less and less likely that I will be in town for the big hit.
Again, I stress: how about that Hunter Pence? And Orlando? Whew-we!
Since my posts have been baseball heavy, I will not separate this into another one. I went to two games this weekend–both against the Mariners. I don’t really follow the AL. But, I am glad for inter-league play if for no other reason than I got to see Ichiro play; that guy is a machine. His ability to get hits is unparallelled and his arm is amazing. Even though the family is in VA, I had a fantastic Father’s Day weekend at Minute Maid Park.
One of my 43 Things goals is to see Craig Biggio get hit 3,000. Unfortunately, no matter how I figure it I think I am going to miss it. As of now, Biggio is ten away. There are thirteen games before I return from D.C. to Houston on July 2nd. Figuring that Garner will sit Bidge at least three times since there are three day games after night game, that means he will play at least ten games. He will have to hit below his average for that to work for my advantage. I can’t bring myself to hope for that.
Oh well, I am buying tickets for the July 3rd game just in case.
Also, watching the game now, I continue to be floored by Hunter Pence on offense and defense. I think if fans across the country could see this kid play he’d be a write-in All Star. If he keeps going the way he is going, he should be the hands-down Rookie of the Year for the NL.
I am so excited about this. Tonight I went to the ‘Stros game against the Mariners. During batting practice, I caught a ball hit into the stands. I will grant that this is not as impressive as a ball during the game. And it was while the Mariners–not the Astros–were taking BP. But, I have been trying since I was eight to catch a ball hit by a major leaguer. And, I want to stress here that I caught it; it was not hit then bounced around and I got it; I caught it. I felt like a kid again. Unfortunately I don’t know who it was who hit it–I would like to think it was Ichiro; the hitter was a leftie–since they were all in their warm-up jerseys.
I know this may not seem significant but I have been trying since I was eight to catch a ball in a MLB ballpark. I remember going to the Astrodome for a game when I was nine or ten. We were getting there early to see BP and try to get a ball. I told my dad that I was sure we would get a ball tonight. He told me not to get my hopes up but he was sure we would get one some day. And, I don’t mean to veer toward the schmaltzy here or give this some significance it doesn’t have…but it isn’t lost on me that I finally caught a MLB ball on Father’s Day weekend.
Oh yeah, the game was fantastic. Biggio hit a home run for his 2889th hit (only 11 to go to the magical 3000) and they won their second game in a row against a strong Seattle team.
I am flying solo for roughly next two weeks. L. and the boys are in VA. I will meet up with them at the end of the month when I head to D.C. for the annual ALA conference. The thing I am learning is that once you grow used to living with two kids and having a wife who is always available to share inane observations with it can be quite boring to be at home alone. I mean I have plenty of time for reading, blogging, and wasting time in general but after one night so much free time is a bit much.
Of course, these observations are all made while the Astros are on a road trip. Once they return to Minute Maid next week, I will be spending most nights working on my 43 Things goal of attending twenty ‘Stros games this year. And, I know the Astros are sucking royally right now (Thanks for reminding me, Bon) but I am a true fan and will still go. Plus, you’ve got to love that Hunter Pence.
Oh well, I will have to work on filling my time and look forward to seeing the family again.
This Saturday, Jonah and I went to go watch the Astros play the Diamondbacks. I am very proud of myself because I was able to attend a game without following every pitch on my scorecard and–in the process–ignore my family. In fact, I didn’t even score the game. Jonah and I spent maybe three innings in our seats. The rest of the time, we walked the stadium or hung out in the renovated Squeeze Play kids area, which is quite nice now, where they had a TV showing the game and broadcast the radio coverage. It was a lot of fun.
I think from here on out I will have to look at games differently based on who goes with me. If I am by myself (usually on a weekday), I can be in intense baseball fanatic mode and never miss a single pitch and watch every shift in coverage. When I go w/ family, I will attend in family mode and alow the kids to dictate what we do and–this is hard for me–even leave before a game is over if the kids want to. After-all, I would rather have the boys love to go to baseball games than to view it as a time when Daddy ignores them. Plus, it is working. Jonah–and Toby–cannot wait to go to another game. This is a mojor shift from last season when whenever I suggested going to a game, I was met with shouts of “Boring!”.