Archive for the ‘Biggio’ Category

1/13/13: The Astros And Drugs

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

I was gonna write a little blurb bout Jonathan Singleton getting caught using that Performance Detracting Drug, Mary J Wanna, or should I say, Mary J Ida-Wanna, but I done wrote that all before last year when maroon Jordan Schafer got caught. Honestly, how swear word STUPID can you get? The Astros were almost certainly inviting him to ST and I would bet were considering calling his sorry ass up if Brett Wallace failed and now he has to not play for 2 months.

Either he has an addiction problem or is is too stupid to be believed – Mary stays in your system for MONTHS and you can have a positive piss test.

The Astros best prospect.

They don’t care about it or test for it in the MAJORS but for whatever reason, the minors cares about it even in the offseason and screwing up your entry into the MONEY is beyond stupid. Made a mistake. The usual blubbering apology – prolly look like one of my Dogz after getting caught pullin over the trash can.

NOW

to me, the big news, fortunately ignored because after all this IS Houston, bereft by the media, is that BOTH Biggio and Bagwell said that Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall and that Bonds was the best player they’d ever seen. The Jeff Pearlmans of the world and all those gutless unnamed BBWAA voters who don’t have the guts to show their ballots to the world, well, you KNOW they are gonna use this as a tacit admission by the Killah Bs – and not vote for them again.

This stuff has simply GOT to stop. Not only is there like ZERO reason to state that either one of them was without question one of the many roid users from 88 – 04, but there is like ZERO reason to insist that they either took steroids from the beginning of their careers or to insist that neither of them could play baseball above the AA/AAA level without it, which is what I’m reading. In his rookie year he had a 139 OPS+ fer chrissakes. We all know that a guy being skinny as a pole doesn’t mean he’s not shooting up, unless he puts on muscle and then it is positive proof unless he is Junior Griffey. Baggy did indeed hit 39 homers in 110 games in 94, but then again, in 94, EVERYONE was killing the ball. Either all hitters and no pitchers were shooting up, or the BALL itself was juiced.

But let’s be real – the ONLY reason that steroids suddenly became Teh Evull/Cheating is because the Home Run Record fell. Nobody cares that the previous Amphetamine Era players broke record after record because they did not put on weight. Too many people/writers like to pretend that amphetamines do not enhance performance, which is why even freaking cold medication is banned from the Olympics. Pete Rose broke the hits record, Hank Aaron broke the (gasp) Sacred Home Run Record, Nolan Ryan blew through the K record. (Anyone else ever wonder why on earth Nolie-poo is never on the suspect list? I mean, because throwing a baseball in the mid 90s while pitching no hitters is something ordinary pitchers can do at age 46…)

The insistence that steroids cause a nobody to turn into a great home run hitter is beyond absurd. And let’s be real here – NOBODY cares about guys who used steroids unless they hit a LOT of home runs or were named Roger Clemens). It’s why you get people shrugging off the players who have actually been CAUGHT using steroids.

It’s why people would condemn any sort of steroid use in any player even if he was given them BY A SPORTS PHYSICIAN under strict supervision to heal seriously damaged muscle. I would bet just about any amount of money that no one except Jeff Pearlman would have a problem if any ballplayer toook ANY substance that permanently improved his performance as a baseball player AS LONG AS it did not increase the size of his muscles.

For example, let’s suppose that player X uses, say, saline nose spray and finds out that spraying it in his nose improves his ability to focus on the spin of the ball and that after using the spray for a year, the ability is permanent.

Did he cheat?

Let’s suppose that player Y decides to fix Vitamin C and does weekly butt injections because he found that it strengthened his wrist tendons and back tendons, allowing him to have significantly increased butt, I mean BAT speed. Besides him being an obvious homosex (I mean seriously, isn’t that why everyone is so UPSET that androgen injections are, for whatever reason, taken in the BUTT???!!!!! seeing as how you know how Those Peeple are) has he cheated?

Let’s suppose that player Z lines his jock strap with aluminum foil after giving himself an enema with capsascin powder because he finds that this significantly enhances his alertness and focus and enables him to run faster, field better and singles those balls where the fielders ain’t.

Should any of these guys have to announce his new discovery that gave him this great advantage to either other players or to the media? All of those things used are available over the counter to anyone who wants them, including toddlers. Has anyone “cheated?”

Now youse guys might could laugh and say something like IGGNERINT WIMMEN!!!!! but the point is that each one of these guys was specifically TRYING to find something to make himself a better player, some little edge, NONE of the substances he used were illegal (like androstenedione, the Clear, vit B-12). is trying to find any sort of edge not prohibited – is that a bad thing?

Should we punish/suspend all the guys who wear those metal necklace thingys because they REALLY believe that they ENHANCE PERFORMANCE by using cosmic rays/magnetic fields/radioactive spider juice? You can’t prove that metal necklaces have anything whatsoever to do with performance enhancing than you can with Human Growth Hormone, but it doesn’t stop everyone from screaming about it and demanding blood tests.

The difference between the two is that people (wrongly) think that HGH has anything whatsoever to do with increasing muscle SIZE and strength in healthy young males and that metal necklaces can’t.

1/9/13: No Baggy, No Biggio, No Body

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Twenty five to none, baby,
None in twenty five
No one gets IN alive

May take a year, no
It may take longer
They got the votes 
Though you got the numbers

Gonna sit, yeah,
Your ballgames are over, boys
Night is drawing near
Shadows of the evening
Crawl across the years

apologies Jim Morrison

Husband told me – go write this entry, get it out of your system. I’ll grill something. Sorry your boys didn’t make it in
(translation: we don’t hafta go to that stupid little town in the middle of nowheresville Yankeeland with nothin to do except for stand there with thumbs up butt while Wife gets all googoo eyed over Bagwell and Biggio and some stupid museum with mostly dead guys don’t even know their NAMES in it- and we get to go back to Galveston and go swimming YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!)

Well, all those smug, self important BBWAA and all those smug, self-important HOFers who wouldn’t NEVAH have done NOTHING immoral or TOUCHED any substance or thing that might could give them any sort of improvement or edge – you think they are gonna do anything to help the museum, which has lost money the last 8 of 10 years, and will get this crowd of dozens for the induction of some guys who have been dead a hundred years that nobody but SABRites have heard of?

HAIL no.

They are too busy crowing about The Sanctity Of The Halls. Not crowing about The Poverty Of The Local Businesspeople who they just deprived of their main business week of the year.

I can’t understand voting a good but not great pitcher like Morris over Bagwell or Biggio. They are not going in, if ever, for a long LONG time, seeing as how the BBWAA’s Declared Perfect Players who could not POSSIBLY have been associated with steroids in any way, shape or form, have managed to stagger themselves every year so they can put in only the perfect. Starting with Maddux next year. I would say Frank Thomas too, but he was very large, hit a LOT of home runs, and therefore MUST be one of those damm dirty roiders. Right?

Next year comes Randy Johnson, who didn’t get to be any good until he was 30 and lasted WELL into his 40s, throwing 90+ MPH sliders – and you know it’s impossible for that to have been due to roids, right?

And so on.

Bagwell, Biggio, Lofton (who fell off the ballot – and that is because he didn’t hit enough homers for a CF, unlike The Sainted Kirby Puckett, who couldn’t possibly have used roids to suddenly increase his HR totals from 4/year to 31/year, the year BEFORE the Juiced Ball in 87) Larry Walker (often mistaken for Dante Bichette), Schilling and his bloody mouth – I mean Sock. Rock Raines, Mike Piazza (acne is like betting on baseball – right?) and Alan Trammell. And Rafe Palmeiro – don’t ask me why people believe Miguel Tejada who was on the Mitchell Report because they had RECEIPTS for his purchase of steroids.

Let alone the 2 best players of the past 50 years who are being kept out for being, uh, jerks. Or as Ken Burns and his hazy shade of Remebrance of Golden Years Past put it – teach those mother, uh, lovers – ahem – a lesson.

IT’s too stupid. it’s really TOO stupid. In the not so distant future, we’re gonna look back at the Salem Steroid Trials and honestly wonder what all the fuss was about. Just like we wonder why, now, that so many folks were so hysterical about not allowing Those Icky Negroes to play on the Nice White Ballpark Grounds For the Regular Season.
The veterans committee gonna put most of them in 20 years from now and unlike Frankie Frisch’s gang, THESE guys will be genuinely great.

You know what? I think that this IS the right year to go to the Cooperstown inductions. No problem finding a hotel room, no crowds, no bloviating Hall of Famers going on about what little choir boys they were Back In The Good Old Days.

heh

Yeh, gonna sockitto Husby-doo. No crowds this time boy, no excuse for YOU.

Whatever Happened To The 2005 Ex-Stros?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

These past few weeks, I’ve been editing (had to because of the move) the entries I wrote in 04 and 05 – FINALLY done – those fun years we pulled it together after the ASB enough to make it to the playoffs. Amazing to re-read that stuff – 2004, the year we were supposed to be absolutely an AWESOME team, but lacked 1 starter and 2 relievers, and the team stayed at .500 even after The Lousy Jimy Williams was replaced by Phil “Rah-Rah” Gardner, until Roy-O stirred up a hornets nest by throwing at Michael Barrett on yet ANOTHER losing day when his gloves and bats had let him down yet AGAIN and the team suddenly started winning like crazy, but lost to St. Louis because of Dan F Miceli and also because of the failure of Drayton McLane to allow Gerry Hunsicker to get a starting pitcher to replace Andy Pettitte after he was lost for the year.

2005, the year in which we started off with Luke Scott in left – a guy the Organization HATED and couldn’t wait until he had a cold streak so that they could send him down; the year in which we lost every away game but 3 for the first 2 months; the year in which only Morgan Ensberg managed to hit before Lance Berkman came back in May and found his stroke; the year in which Jason Lane had his only full good year (you talk about a wasted career); the year in which Brad Lidge went from infallible to Dan F Miceli territory, giving up homers to the likes of Scott Podsednick in the World Series – which, by the way, I am REALLY grateful I got to go to, as I am pretty sure I won’t see the Astros in another WS in my lifetime…

But I digress…

I thought, just for fun, that we’d take a look at all the guys who used to be on the Astros, see who they were traded for (if they were traded) and how they’ve done since leaving. I’m also going to include a few minor leaguers who are now major leaguers. Please note that I haven’t made any comments about the guys who are “still here” – that’s for my first half review entry.

2005:

 C Brad Ausmus – played until 2008, left as a FA, then signed with the Dodgers for 09: hit .295 over 107 PA/36 games as Russell Martin’s backup. Still smoking hot, too… 
1B Lance Berkman – still here 
2B Craig Biggio - retired after wrecking the 07 season, beatified in 08
SS Adam Everett – was let go as a FA after the 07 season, spent 08 with the Twins (didn’t play much – had an injured shoulder), 09 with the Tigers, will play with Tigers in 2010 
3B Morgan Ensberg – traded to the Padres for chewing gum 8/07. Signed with the Yankees AAA team in 08, had a few crappy ABs when A-Rod was injured - now OOB - never was able to recover his stroke after injuring his shoulder in May 06
LF Chris Burke – traded to the DBax with Juan Gutierrez and Chad Qualls for Jose Valverde. Never recovered his stroke after HIS shoulder injury, neither. Was a utility guy for the DBax in 08, drifted between SanDiego, and AAA for the Braves and mariners last year. 
CF Willy Taveras – traded to the Rox with Jason Hirsh And Taylor Buchholz for Jason Jennings  after the 06 season. He posted a career high 89 OPS+ (.748 OPS) in 07, then went back to his usual suckage in spite of stealing a NL high 68 bases in 08. The Rox preferred Ryan Spilborghs, and let Willy go after 08, and he signed a 2 year deal with Dusty Baker and the Reds – he’s Dusty’s kind of leadoff guy. In 102 games (437 PA) he had a .275 OBP, a 48 OPS+ and 25 SB/6 CS.
RF Jason Lane – traded to the Padres 9/07  (from the minors) for nothing – still in the minors.

1B Mike Lamb – let go after the 07 season, signed with the Twins, got hurt, sucked, spent last year at AAA Buffalo, sucked
OF Orlando Palmeiro – retired after the 06 season
 
IF Jose Vizcaino – let go as FA after the season, signed with Giants, released, signed with WS champion Cardinals, then retired after the 06 series.
1B Jeff Bagwell - anointed as Saint after he retired after the 06 season. Which he shouldn’t have been, seeing as how he cost the Astros 17 mill by insisting on playing in ST that year (McLane shoulda just said NO, but I digress…)
UT Eric Bruntlett - traded to Phillies with Brad Lidge after the 07 season for Michael Bourn – won a Ring. Still can’t hit for spit, but he can play almost every position
C Raul Chavez – not re-signed after 05, bounced around, now with the Jays – still can’t hit 
LF Luke Scott – one of 5 traded to the Orioles for Tejada after 07 – has done well, a 111 and a 118 OPS+ over the past 2 years. Has more RCAA than Miguel Tejada over the same 2 years for 25 mill fewer dollars.
C Humberto Quintero – still here. Unfortunately. Can’t hit and is a lousy receiver.
UT Todd Self – now playing in the indys – last year in OB was at AA in 07 – had .947 OPS
OF Charles Gipson – retired after 05

RH SP Roy Oswalt – still here
LH SP Andy Pettitte –  wasn’t re-signed after 06, returned as FA to Yankees after Drayton refused to let him play Prima Donna and wouldn’t re-sign him. Still with MFY.
RH SP Roger Clemens – wasn’t resigned after 06, returned to Yankees with his former best bud. Now OOB – hasn’t started 10 year service contract with Astros because Roger chose to deny steroid/HGH use allegations by his former trainer instead of getting all teary-eyed and begging for forgiveness as his former best bud did.
RH SP Brandon Backe – DFA’d  last year after 13 innings – brought back after starting the year hurt, severely screwed by Cecil Cooper, who, in 07, left him in 3 games when he CLEARLY had nothing to “take one for the team” as Coop had exhausted his relievers.
LH SP Wandy Rodriguez – still here
RH SP Ezequiel Astacio - went to Rangers AAA club after 06 season, sucked there too, now OOB 
RH SP Brandon Duckworth – signed with Royals as FA after 05 season, spent 06, 07 and 08 bouncing back and forth between ML and AAA, naturally beat the Astros in his game facing us. Sucked at AAA last year

RH RP Chad Qualls – traded to Dbax after the 07 season for Valverde - used as both setup man and closer in 08, closer in 09. Has done well, will be their closer this year, too.
RH RP Chad Harville – put on waivers 8/05 picked up by Boston, in AAA in 06, now OOB
RH RP Dan Wheeler – great setup/closer in 06, had bad year in 07, traded to the Rays for Ty Wigginton 7/07, did great as setup/backup closer in 08 and 09
RH RP Russ Springer – not resigned after 06 season – Tim Purpura’s STUPIDEST move (I don’t blame him for Jennings, Carlos Lee or Woody Williams because those weren’t his decisions, they were Drayton’s) deciding he didn’t want a great 1 inning guy, replacing him with Rick White, who had 10 scoreless games, blew up, then was gone. Springer had ERA+ of 201 for the Cardinals in 07 and 183 in 08. Was league average for the A’s and Rays last year
RH SP/RP Mike Burns – very successful closer for Astros at AA in 04 and AAA in 05 – had 30 relief innings for Astros with 1.19 ERA, but they didn’t want to keep him, not sure why. AAA for Cincy in 06 did well, had a couple lousy innings in the ML, released, picked up by Boston, who converted him to a swing man/long relief. Spent 07 at AAA Boston, spent 08 at AAA Cubs, spent 09  with Milwaukee, spent the first half at AAA, called up after the ASB, won his start against the Astros 8/15/09. Naturally.
LH RP John Franco – the black hole of massive suckage who cost starters runs and wins, who was almost always bailed out by some other reliever, was mercifully released at the end of June. I STILL don’t understand Phil Garner’s massive infatuation for this guy.
LOOGY Mike Gallo – went from good in 05 to horrible in 06, was sent down at the end of May. Spent 07 at AAA Colorado and 08 at AAA Toronto. Now OOB.
RH RP Scott Strickland – Threw 4 ghastly innings. He never did recover from his injuries in the 03 season. Has spent the last 3 years at AAA for the Padres, Yankees and Dodgers.
RH RP Travis Driskill – threw 1 inning in 05, spent 06 at AAA Round Rock, spent 07 at AAA Round Rock, and threw 6 innings for the Astros which I can’t remember. Now OOB.

————————————

8/17/08: Roy Oswalt Pitches An Ultra Ace Game On Biggio’s Day

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Well, I was hoping against hope that on his Number Retirement Day, that Biggio would confess the truth to the world – that he isn’t 5’11″ any more than Freddie Patek. You know, encourage vertically challenged athletes who are too tall to be gymnasts and not graceful enough to be skaters. (By the way, you can watch it on the official Astros MLB website.)

However, Roy about overshadowed the ceremony by throwing about the best game I’ve seen him throw since he faced Toronto – CG 4 hitter back in 05. He gave up one single and 2 walks , a LODP and an absolutely INCREDIBLE play at the plate by Bradley Smoking-Hotness receiving a throw from Hunter Pence. Even better than the play in which Erstad threw out that runner with 2 outs n the bottom of the 9th to win the game for the Stros.

Roy’s FB had absolutely OUTSTANDING movement – the best FB he’s had since Game 6 of the 05 playoffs (remember Uncle swinging at a FB around his neck?) and his curve and slider were working, too. You know it because he got SEVEN swinging Ks. AND it is even more of a tribute because the HP ump had a bizarre and inconsistant strike zone (Lance, um, scolded him for calling him out on a pitch waaaayyy up and out.) I was hoping Roy would finish up with a CG 1 hitter, but apparently not. Coop doesn’t think real too much of CG – then again, I don’t think real too much of Coop. And no, I don’t know whether or not it was Coop’s or Roy’s decision…

Wiggy, who is on the hottest of hot streaks, drove in the runs. Randy Johnson gave up 9 hits and a walk, but stranded 7 and got Miggy to GIDP. Miggy has the same number of GIDP as walks. He isn’t worth even 1/4 of his salary.

And tomorrow, we start a road trip. The boys “get” to face CC Sabathia, last year’s CY winner and a frontrunner for this year’s NL CY. Miggy and Erstad have seen him many times – Miggy is 9/28 with 2 doubles and 2 homers; Erstad is 9/28 with 2 doubles and a HR.

Randy Wolf will pitch for the Astros: he’s 5-3 in 15 GS vs the Crew. At Miller Park, he’s 2-2 in 6 GS over 35.2 IP – 21R/18 ER – 34 H, 7 HR, 17 BB, 26 K: 4.64 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .252 BAA.

By the way, Chad Reinecke (remember him???) won his first ML start yesterday for the Padres – 2 ER over 5 IP….

Getting Defensive About The 2008 Astros

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

I keep hearing how the Astros defense is going to be SOOOOOOO much better this year. I don’t get it.

Let’s take a look at the starters:
First Base: Berkman is Berkman – way below average as a  defender. Yes, no more Mike Lamb, but it is not like one great glove at first was replaced with a lousier one. And Loretta is even worse at first.
Second Base - Biggio to Matsui (Assuming Matsui will play 2 out of every 3 games, based on his history during his 6 year ML career) definitely better; Biggio to Loretta/Blum for the other 1/3 – minimal to no improvement there.
Shortstop – Everett to Tejada – ENORMOUS downgrade; Loretta to Tejada – some improvement, but not a whole lot, unfortunately.
Third Base – Ensberg to Wigginton – significant downgrade; Lamb to Wiggy -barely an upgrade as both are terrible gloves.
Catcher – Ausmus/Munson to Towles/Ausmus – no real obvious difference at this point as Ausmus has been declining with age and Towles hasn’t caught enough to really evaluate well, except to say that he doesn’t have a reputation as a lousy defender.
Left Field – It’s still Carlos Lee and he’s just awful and there is zero reason to think that a perennial lousy defender will suddenly improve.
CF/RF – Pence/Scott to Bourn/Pence – Pence and Scott were both average to a little above average; Bourn has a good reputation, but very few innings and we’ll have to see how well Pence handles right. I would assume that Pence will not be worse in right than he was in center and he has a reasonably strong arm – we’re not talking Pierre/Damon here – and, unlike Willy Taveras, Pence knows what a cutoff man is and how to throw to him. There may be some upgrade, but it won’t be much.

Conclusion – there is NO great defensive upgrade with the exception of the 100-114 games Matsui replaces Biggio at second. Like Porky Pig says at the end of the original Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 century cartoon, Big Deal…

Biggio Wins The 2007 Roberto Clemente Award

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Craig Biggio received national recognition tonight before the World Series for his work with the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

This is really good news, as it will bring his name into the consciousness of all the mainstream East Coast reporters who, amidst all the Red Sox Worship, are having to actually acknowledge that there are real actual baseball players west of the Hudson River.

This way, when he’s up for the Hall Of Fame in 5 years, all those guys just might could dimly remember that they heard his name somewhere…

9/30/07: Astros Win 3-0 In Biggio’s Farewell Game

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Although you’ve come
To the end of the road
Still we can’t let you go
It’s unnatural
You belong to us
We belong to you…

(apologies Kenny Edmonds)

And of course it isn’t REALLY finished – next year there will be Craig Biggio Appreciation Day and Retiring Biggio’s Number Day…

But for today, everyone came to send him off and end The Year Of The Biggio in style. The owner, the mayor, the teammates, his kids. He hit career hit #3060, double #668 and scored run #1844. I’m going to write a more complete career retrospective later on this year, the good and the bad, NOT the “perfect” ballplayer Richard Justice wants to pretend he was. No such thing as a perfect human being of ANY sort.

And as for the game – well, Felipe Paulino pitched decently. He kept Harris, Chipper and Francouer off the bases, gave up 2 hits, 3 walks and 4 K over 6 IP – 78 pitches, 46 strikes. McLemore and Moehler each pitched a scoreless inning and Borkowski struck out the side for his first save this year.

Speaking of saves, Brad Lidge will be getting his knee fixed at 7:30 AM. Should have been fixed at LEAST a month ago.

Speaking of pitching, Dave Wallace, the pitching coach, will not be coming back because of “family issues” – whatever that means. I didn’t see THAT one coming. He did a great job with both Lidge and Wandy, but I’m not sure that I should be blaming him for Woody or Jennings… He will be replaced by Dewey Robinson, the minor league pitching coordinator, who I know worked with a lot of the pitchers who came up through the system.

Speaking of replacement, Mansolino, the 3rd base coach, who was Phil’s man, will be replaced by someone else, not sure who, but I’m not exactly unhappy about that, as I thought his judgement was lacking a few too many times. Cheo Cruz will be returning to coach first base and Jackie Moore, the AAA manager for the past 8 years, will be the new bench coach.

I will be writing a team retrospective later on in October. I am really REALLY tired and am going to take a week off, then will re-start by writing player assessments. We already know what I think of the management from Drayton on down…

9/29/07: Brandon Backe Hits The Game Winning Run With An Opposite Field Homer

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Day 2 of Biggio Love-Fest.

The Good Lord/Mother Nature/Fate intervened with Drayton McLane’s plan to roast fans alive today by sending rain, so the roof had to be closed. Either that, or Drayton actually heard about the thousands of fans who were calling and complaining about his cheapness and maybe he didn’t want to get booed.

Anyway, of course it was – Craig is going to catch a few innings while Brad Ausmus plays second – day. Craig went over to the Braves dugout to ask them to please not steal any bases while he was pitching, and Bobby Cox was a good sport and said OK. So for the first 2 innings, Brandon threw all fastballs except for one curve. Adam Everett was allowed to start at short, probably to compensate for having Brad Ausmus at second.

And in fact, it actually did make a difference. In the second, Francouer hit a ball up the middle, which Adam had to range way over to get (Loretta would have just stared at it) and he made a fast offline throw to Lance. Frenchy didn’t try to advance on the throw as he would have if anyone but Biggio had been catching. Very next batter hits a grounder between first and second that was certainly playable, but Brad has the instincts of Jeff Kent out there and so the ball went on into right and Frenchy went to third and eventually comes home to score on a sac-fly.

And Brandon didn’t allow another run. In 6 innings, he threw 90 pitches, 56 strikes, with 4 hits, no walks, 1 HBP and 4 K. His FB topped out at 90, but he had decent success with both curve and changeup.

And defense? Lance Berkman made a fantastic diving catch of a liner with 2 out and 1 on in the second. Adam made an incredible diving stop on a ball up the middle in time to toss the ball to Biggio to get Frenchy running from first. I have MISSED his incredible fielding, I surely have.

Dennis Sarfate wasn’t nails out there today. He came in to hold a 2 run lead in the 7th, but his old location problems from AAA returned. He gave up 3 hits, a sac-fly and an ER while striking out 2. Qualls, the human rain delay today, came out for the 8th, gave up a single and a walk and struck out 2.

And Brad Lidge came out to shut down the bottom of the order. Brayan Pena did him a favor, flying out on the first pitch. Willie Harris took him to 3-2 before flying out on ball 4. Brad Ausmus remembered that Matt Diaz is a dead red hitter and so he had Brad throw only sliders to get him out. The entire stadium breathed a sigh of relief. Brad looks simply awful – his motion is totally screwed up and he looks awkward landing on his right leg.

So on His Second Day, BGO got a full dose of happy screaming fans (and by the way, there were a GOOD 3 thousand empty seats in this sold out stadium) and hit double #667 and hit # 3059 with a single in the 5th. With BGO on in the first, Lance launched a 3-2 changeup into the upper decks in right – the scoreboard said it went 441′ – yeah, try like 491′ at LEAST.

And Brandon Backe hit his only homer this year, and second career homer, into the right field seats just to the right of the bullpen. VERY cool. He really is a ballplayer, not just a pitcher.

Terrific fielder, intelligent, heads up baserunner, and good solid hitter. It was good to get him a W to finish up his year. And he should be even better next year.

Good thing he hit that homer – the Astros managed only 7 hits and 1 walk the entire game and the Braves kept Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence off the basepaths.

Biggio Love-Fest Part 3 tomorrow. Felipe Paulino faces AAA lifer made good, Buddy Carlisle, RHP.

9/29/07: Biggio Love-Fest Part 1 – The Sweat Box

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Well, as everyone knows, these last 3 days of this year are the culmination of the year long everything is all about The Biggio. These games have been sold out for months and giveaways and prizes have been heavily promoted.

My Husband and brother bought tickets for all of us to go to the game tonight, and we showed up in time (opening time 5 PM) along with some 8-10,000 odd fans to get our retro Biggio t-shirts. However, we got an incredibly unpleasant surprise as soon as we walked inside – the roof was open and it was at LEAST 90 degrees inside the concourse. Husband turned green (a bad color for a man of ANY race) not just because it was so hot, but because he knew very well he couldn’t just demand we leave immediately because then he would have to deal with 4 crying kids and one upset wife and he knew he’d have to suffer. AND if you decide to leave before 5:30, your ticket will be voided.

And suffer he surely did. We ALL did. There wasn’t so much as a breath of breeze or any cool place to stand and he and most of the other people milling around were just as hot, miserable and sweaty. And complaining just as loudly as Husband and in much, uh, less polite language.

And frankly, all I can saay is that Drayton is such a cheap &*R$&^%&$%! that he felt it necessary to save on air-conditioning on such an incredibly hot and humid night. Apparently he decided to keep the roof open this morning in spite of the weather report, knowing full well that he wouldn’t suffer from lost ticket sales and would gain money from increased liquid sales. The customer care booths were packed with lines of furious customers and in fact, there were plenty of empty seats and I watched people, especially the very old and parents with very young children leave even in the first few innings because it was too hot to tolerate. We were sitting in the cheap seats and it was so hot that even the vendors wouldn’t come out.

It was hot when the new Army recruits were sworn in. It was hot when the childrens choir sang the national anthem. And in fact, Husband was so miserable that he took his empty soda cup, went to the mens’ room, filled it with water and used it to cool off his head. It was still hot when the Astros took the field (after like half an hour of commercials) and there was only half hearted applause.

It was hot when Matt Albers used 27 pitches loading the bases before striking out the side in the first. It was too hot for people to even bother to groan when Jojo Reyes needed only 4 pitches to dispose of Anderson, BGO and Berkman. And even the applause for Biggio wasn’t near as enthusiastic as it might could have been because all clapping did was make you even hotter.
By the time Matt Albers struck out in the bottom of the second, leaving 2 on, people in the rows in front of us were getting up to leave, and Husband and Da Bull moved down a row to have a little more breathing room.

In the third, maybe Matt Albers was too hot and tired to grip the ball and he walked Chipper on 4 pitches, then walked Texiera on 4 pitches after getting him 0-2, then maybe Biggio was too hot and tired at his age to turn the DP on Francoeur’s easy grounder to third. Nah, Biggio and Loretta and Wiggy just are slow and stink at turning DP no matter what the weather. But after Albers managed to get out of the inning giving up only 2 runs with 24 pitches, the kids were complaining about being hot and thirsty and so with Husband refusing to budge an inch, I went to take them to get some more water and we had hardly gotten down the stairs to the concourse when Anderson, Biggio and Lance got themselves out on 8 pitches.

It was even hotter inside and the poor food service people all looked as if they were about to pass out.

On the TV monitor, I saw Miller hit a grounder down the LF line – have I ever mentioned that Wiggy is completely incapable of getting ANY ball that is hit down the line and not on a hop – and finally strike out Alcides Escobar and Willie Harris. Then Lee, Pence and Loretta singled and with one run in and 2 on base, Wiggy, Towles and Albers got themselves out without driving anyone in.

We got back upstairs in time to see Chipper manage to reach in the top of the 5th – it was a close play in which Lance threw the ball to Albers and the ump said that Albers wasn’t touching the bag when he caught the ball. Albers didn’t agree, got a little upset, got Tex to flyout in front of the RF bullpen, and then served up the same pitch to Frenchy, who got ALL of it and sent it into the RF bullpen.

Braves 4 Astros 2.

Meanwhile, Husband had gulped his bottle of water down and after Matt used up another 18 pitches getting the next 3 guys out, he said he HAD to get more water. Reyes needed 8 pitches and 3 minutes to get Anderson, BGO and Lance out. Yeah, again.

As soon as we saw Randolph trot out from the bullpen, Husband looked at me and said – well, here comes 3 or 4 runs for the Braves and said that he was sorry but he was about to pass out from the heat and Da Bull was feeling sick too and there was no point in staying any longer. I wasn’t near as miserable as my husband and brother, who I guess, didn’t read the Dusty Baker Manual on heat, but I called my Mama, who was sitting in another section and was as hot, miserable and angry as we were and we decided that Husband and Brother would leave and take the 3 boys and Little Miss and I would stay until the end and go home with Mama.

And sure enough, Randolph served up 3 runs. Not, mind, that it was entirely his fault as neither Loretta nor Biggio managed to turn what should have been relatively easy DPs and could have gotten Randolph out of the inning. But it surely wasn’t their fault that he then served up 2 singles and an RBI double before Cooper FINALLY pulled him and sent in Sarfate to get the final out. It’s about time that Cooper faced facts and it is MORE than clear that Randolph can’t pitch in the bigs.

Anyway, the Astros mounted a comeback against a tiring Reyes in the 7th, but with bases loaded and 2 out, Lance Berkman failed to drive in any runs. And that really was all she wrote.

Little Miss begged to stay to see the fireworks and I guess Auntie and Nana were too hot and tired to protest much and besides, we both love fireworks too and so we stayed with the other 5000 remaining people to see them. And of course, I was thinking how the previous 3 years the last games were so incredibly exciting because we were fighting to the last minute to reach the playoffs, instead of being concerned about getting Biggio t-shirts and umbrellas and the crowd was loud, enthusiastic and happy instead of resigned – AND hot and angry with Drayton for being such a cheap *(^*&$%#!

The music started off, fittingly enough with “Thanks For The Memories”, “Desire” and “Glory Days.” Isn’t it ironic?

And to everyone’s great overwhelming shock and amazement, Bud Selig’s order to keep Cooper as manager was obeyed and he was given a 2 year contract. Isn’t that special? I SHOULD say, isn’t that tampering? But I guess it’s OK if the commissioner does it…

After we got to the car and turned the AC on full blast and sat gratefully in the cool streams of air, we turned on KTRH and listened to the post game show, which was NOT about the game played, but had caller after caller calling in venting anger and fury that Drayton chose, knowing the weather report, to open the roof on a sweltering night like this, knowing full well that he wouldn’t have to worry about losing ticket sales and knowing that he would profit from the increase in soda/water/beer sales. Tom Franklin, the host, tried to suggest it was for Biggio, as he was an old timer Who Had Played The Game The Right Way. As one lady told him, icily (hahahaha) please remember that Biggio, in the Old Days, PLAYED IN THE DOME!!!!!

It will be interesting to see if Drayton responds to all the fan anger and closes the roof tomorrow. The game starts an hour earlier and it will be even hotter. Brandon Backe will be throwing to Biggio, who will catch “an inning or two” and he will face Jeff Bennett, who has pitched 7 ML innings this year with a 2.57 ERA.

9/25/07: Brad Lidge Strikes Out The Side For His 17th Save

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

OK, so he hit one, walked 2 and loaded the bases before getting that last strikeout and limping off the mound. I haven’t heard an explanation from the Astros Organization as to why they’ve insisted on running him out there for no reason instead of shutting him down early and having his knee operated on. Pretty stupid. As usual.

Anyway, I missed the beginning of the game. I should have known something was wrong with Da Bull when I  picked him up from preschool. He was unusually crabby and kept telling the twins to shut up, which is not like him at ALL. But when he didn’t want any chicken pie, his very favorite food, I KNEW he was sick. And since he didn’t want to hear any sound, I knew it was an earache. And I KNEW that if I just gave him some tylenol and benadryl and put him to bed, he would be up screaming at one in the morning and then I’d have to take him to the ER and if there is one place I don’t want to be in the middle of the night, it’s the ER. So as soon as Husband walked through the door, I told him that I was taking Da Bull to the night clinic for his earache and he could re-heat the pie.

Which is how I ended up having to listen to the first inning on the radio. Have I ever told you how much I hate the Astros announcers? I had been looking forward to checking out Homer Bailey, the Red’s #1 pick last year, a guy from LaGrange, the town that made Marvin Zindler and the Chicken Ranch (not dressing – hahahaha) famous.

Anyway, he plunks Josh Anderson, who promptly steals second, goes to third on a WP and scores on a Biggio sac fly with the first out. Small ball is pretty kewl, I do say. Paulino got through the first inning giving up only a solo homer.

Then, we left the clinic, heard a Hunter Pence hit a homer, then a 1,2,3 inning for both sides and I walked in the door just in time to see Wiggy lineout and Brunt tag up and run to third – heads up baserunning. Husband and twins were sitting on the couch and I gave Little Boy his medicine and ear drops and sat down in time to watch the start of the bottom of the 9th. I was absolutely STUNNED to see Lidge out there. What is the point about humiliating the guy? I couldn’t take it, got up and put Little Boy to bed and when I came back, it was over and somehow, no one had scored.

Good grief.

So I replayed the game to see how things went…

Homer Bailey – well, he made it through 5.2 innings, giving up 5 runs, 2 earned on 3 hits, 2 walks, a HBP, 2 ROE and a WP. Stuff didn’t really seem like anything special except he had a great curve, which he didn’t always throw for strikes. He is only 21, and there aren’t real too many really REALLY impressive 21 year old rookies.

Paulino? Again, he wasn’t very impressive. He gave up 4 runs in the second, but got therough the next 3 innings without trouble. He has a fast FB, but his command really isn;t that good and he has trouble throwing the change for strikes. The only regulars in the lineup were Javier Valentin the catcher and Brandon Phillips the second baseman. Everyone else was a bench guy or AAA callup. Dude does not look to me as if he’s ready for prime time.

Everyone but Wiggy and Ransom had at least one hit and Biggio hit #3056 and passed Rickey Henderson into 20th place on the all time list, where he will end his career.

No bad fielding, no errors and Towles and Anderson hit with men on base again.

Tomorrow, Juan Gutierrez will face Tom Shearn, a 30 year old right handed rookie who was drafted in the 26th round in 1996 by the Astros. And so far, he’s 3-0 in 5 GS – 6 HR, 11 BB, 16 K over 32 IP with a 3.94 ERA. 6 homers over 32 innings is a LOT of homers. `

UPDATE: MORE ON ED WADE
Check out THIS comment from Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated:

Puppet regime ahead in Houston

While the Pirates at least appear to have a clue, the Astros just completed one of the most pathetic GM searches in baseball history by hiring Ed Wade, a proven failure.

Everyone who has ever worked could tell you that the best person often isn’t the one hired. But what’s remarkable about this search is that Houston interviewed a succession of retreads (plus a few logical young candidates who were spurned) and managed to pick the worst of the retreads. Not easy to do.

Wade’s record as a GM in Philadelphia wasn’t just poor, it was putrid. In a recent interview with Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wade cited his two great regrets as trading Curt Schilling and firing Terry Francona. But that is really the tip of the iceberg. As GM he gave Pat Burrell a $50 million extension, Mike Lieberthal multiple extensions and David Bell a $17 million free-agent deal. He also engineered what has to be one of the all-time worst two-steps, by trading Scott Rolen for Placido Polanco, then swapping Polanco for Ugueth Urbina.

Wade didn’t make the playoffs once in eight years in Philly, while Schilling, Francona and Rolen have won four World Series titles between them since leaving Philly.

But take heart, Astros fans, Wade — who is known to some co-workers as “the biology teacher” for an abject lack of charisma — is merely signing up to play puppet to club owner/head puppeteer Drayton McLane. Wade’s greatest qualification appears to have been that he once worked as the p.r. director for club president Tal Smith, and will say “yes” to Smith and McLane.

“The idea normally is to hire someone to lead,” one competing GM said. “They hired someone so they can direct him.”
If that was the Astros’ goal, they probably got the right guy.

I want to add that the reason that Rolen “had to be traded” was not because he turned down 90 mill of guaranteed money plus 4 club options, it was that Wade stood by and let both Dallas Green and that unpleasant bully Larry Bowa disrespect Rolen for several YEARS until the situation was frankly iuntenable. It wasn’t that he traded Rolen for Polanco, a very good player, it was that he played David Bell instead and left Utley, who was more than ready, in the minors, when he should have traded/released Bell and played Polanco and Utley. And Ugie Urbina is just one of many in the long long line of crummy middle relievers Ed couldn’t Wade to get his hands on at grotesquely inflated prices…