Archive for the baseball Category

Glad I Was There; Astros’ Future; and Postseason 2007

Posted in baseball on 1 October 07 by mikevc

_7.jpgEven after shelling out three times the face value of a ticket, waiting in line for over an hour (after the gates opened), and being pushed and bumped by more people than have ever attended an Astros game (and this a completely meaningless game in terms of standings), I am beyond glad that I decided to go to Craig Biggio’s last game. After playing 20 years of extremely high level baseball for the same team, Biggio was sent offfinalhit.jpg in style by Houston. While I was hoping for a Ted Williams-like moon shot for his final at bat, it is somehow fitting that the man who now has more doubles than any right-hander in history had a double for his final hit. Today I was proud to be a Houstonian when I watched the crowd during several standing ovations and saw grown men welling up with tears (not me of course).

And, kudos to Bobby Cox and the Braves for showing respect throughout the game. From Orr’s hugging Bidge after his double on second base to Mayhay stepping off the mound for Craig’s curtain call after he was taken out of the game, the Braves showed true respect for a legend and future hall of famer. Biggio will be missed; especially in Houston.

Having said that, things seem to be looking bright for our Astros. Cecil Cooper as manager is no doubt a good thing. Plus, the young kids–Anderson, Pence, Towles, and some of the pitchers–really shined at the end of the season.

Plus, I got no end of joy participating in my favorite season-end activity at games: scoreboard watching. On top of the moving tributes to Biggio, I watched with joy asphils.jpg the Phillies won and the Mets were trounced, which means the Phils clinched the National East Division and are in the playoffs. While I am a devoted ‘Stros fan, the Phils were the team of my early youth and remain second in my baseball devotion. If it can’t be the Astros, let it be the Phillies. It was the reverse in 1980 but I have come a long way since then (and the Phils won it all then anyway). So, that is a good thing.

So, despite the disappointing Astros season, I look forward to the post-season. Not only for the Phils but to hopefully see the Indians (from my mom and dad’s hometown-area and still the favorite of my relatives in Ohio) annihilate the Yankees.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the Astros beat the Braves 3 to 0; it almost seemed unimportant in light of everything else going on at the game.

18 to 1 and Numerous Records Set!!!

Posted in baseball on 21 September 07 by mikevc

Tonight’s Astros game was miraculous.  The beleaguered ‘Stros beat up on the (more) beleaguered Cardinals in an 18 to 1 victory.  Cooler than that is that, rookie catcher J.R. Towles set a club record with 8 RBIs.  Think about that: this kid did something that Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, Jeff Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman…have never done in an entire career.  How long has this kid been in the majors?  Exactly six games!!!  And, to make the story sweeter, the kids started the season in A ball in Salem.    Not only that, but some of the other guys called up from Round Rock in the September call ups had three hits.  What a game!!

I know the ‘Stros are eliminated but tonights game is one I will not forget.  It almost makes up for the terrible season they had this year.  Best of all, it shines a light on the talent we have for the future.

What a welcome for the ‘Stros new General Manager.

5 Reasons Why–Despite My Better Judgment–I Dig Tony La Russa

Posted in baseball on 21 September 07 by mikevc
  1. mlb_w_larussa_195.jpgHe had an infielder pitch in tonight’s game; who does that?
  2. He wears that ridiculous haircut with pride
  3. He’s a vegetarian
  4. He is the only MLB manager who doesn’t bat the pitcher ninth: chutzpah-I tell ya!!!
  5. He’s managed more games than any current manager and has managed the third most games in the history of the freakin’ game

So, despite his team’s now almost certain elimination and a truly embarassing loss at the hands of the Astros, Tony La Russa can comfort himself knowing that there are five reasons why I am a fan.

Observations from a Meaningless Game

Posted in baseball, rambling on 15 September 07 by mikevc

I went to the Astros game to watch one of the most meaningless games in MLB tonight. It was the battle of the Cellar Dwellers: the two teams with the worst records in the NL Central Division: my beloved Astros and the Pirates of Pittsburgh. I was impressed at the turn out for such a game, especially considering the ‘Stros are now the team with the single worst record in the National League (By the way, Thanks to Tampa Bay for keeping us from the worst record in the Majors). Anyway a few observations, I would like to share:

  1. If you are the team with the worst record in a league, running a filler piece between innings that repeatedly flashed the word “Invincible” on the screen over a few carefully chosen highlight plays is probably not a good idea. I have no doubt we were all fans but I don’t think anyone in that stadium had fooled themselves to such a  ludicrous extent that “Invincible” would be the adjective to first pop into mind when describing the 2007  version of our home team.
  2. When displaying a screen of statistics for “Batting with Bases Empty”, do you really need to include number of home runs and RBIs? Think about it! By the very nature of the statistics, they are always going to be the same. I mention this because the geniuses in front of me were discussing what a statistical anomaly it was that three players in a row all had matching numbers of RBIs and home runs when batting with bases empty. The true anomaly would be if they were not the same.
  3. All of the various signs and screen messages with glaring errors at Minute Maid park convince me that–in addition to a new GM–the Astros could free up some money for a good editor.

And yet, somehow, I still had fun. And, hey, I got free Astros dominoes as the SGA. Although, I might refrain from using them until I see how 2008 goes.

Top Priority for 2008: New York City

Posted in baseball, travel on 5 September 07 by mikevc

As I think about plans for the coming year in terms of vacation time, professional conferences, trips, etc., it occurs to me that at the top of that list must be a trip to New York City.  The reason for this desperate need to get there in the coming year is quite simple.  2008 will be the last year for both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.  I must attend a game at each before their demise.  Then, I will have years to attend games at the new stadiums.   Here’s hoping that I get there.

Backe’s Back!!!

Posted in Astros, baseball on 3 September 07 by mikevc

backe.jpgI 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!

Baseball, Books, and Fun

Posted in baseball, books on 2 August 07 by mikevc

Since I have moved full time into library administration, I don’t get to have as much contact with the public as I had in previous positions.  One of the things I really miss is doing readers’ advisory.  So, when I found out the group who puts together our RA newsletter NextReads were focusing on baseball this month, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute. It might not seem like a big deal, but I had a lot of fun doing this kind of readers’ advisory type work (even if indirect and only for a few minutes) again. Take a look at it. If you are a fan and there are books we missed, e-mail Chuck. I am sure that as long as I am in charge of the Central Library there will be at least one program, event, display, or something tied to baseball each year and I would love to incorporate suggestions.

Late Night Baseball

Posted in baseball on 31 July 07 by mikevc

After Jason Jennings’ historic (in a bad way) first inning (the worst since 1900), it is somehow refreshing to watch a baseball game in which I have limited emotional attachment.  So, I just discovered that ESPN reruns baseball games late at night.  As a kinda fan of the Phillies, I was delighted to watch the Phils play the Cubs at two in the morning.

More Thoughts on Imperfection: Baseball

Posted in baseball, rambling on 22 July 07 by mikevc

As an addendum to my nostalgia for the flaws on my old records, I add a few thoughts on how imperfection lends to my love of baseball. I love that there are not standard dimensions for baseball diamonds. But more, part of what I find so intriguing about baseball is the human element and its influence on the outcome of the game. First, there is no instant replay. Once a call is made–good or bad–we go with it. Second, the most elemental part of the game–the strike zone–is determined by a single person: the plate umpire. I am so glad that baseball has not moved to using technology to measure an exact strike zone. The inherent imperfections in a game that depends on human judgment is part of what is so appealing in the game–among many others.

A Historic Day in Baseball and Sports

Posted in baseball on 16 July 07 by mikevc

phills.pngMy favorite baseball team in my youth has reached a historic number. When I moved to TX in 1978, I refused to root for the Astros like the other turncoats in my family and remained a dedicated Phan of the Phillies well into the late-80s. During the 90s, Biggio & Bagwell won me over to my new-no-longer hometown team. Enough with personal information.

The Phillies have become the first franchise in the history of sports to accumulate 10,000 losses with their loss to the Cardinals Sunday night. They have been at it for 125 years and have a franchise record of 8,810 wins and 10,000 losses, which gives them the 10th most wins in history.

Way to go, Phils!