Archive for October, 2004

10/31/04: Life Is But A (baseball) Game, Sweetheart

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Today should’ve been Game 7 of Redsox vs Astros with Roger at Fenway, ready to kick Sox butt. Butt noooooooooooo. They get the victory parade and we didn’t even make the show. Do I sound as if I’m going thru severe baseball withdrawal?

As John Lennon would have written,

My eyes are wide open
Can’t get to sleep
Whenever I shut them,
I see Edmonds take Miceli deep
96 hours
rolling in pain
Crying to someone
Bring back baseball again

I’m re-watching the tape of Game 4 – Marquis on the mound. #1 Son looks carefully – “Dat Roger?” no, honey, not Roger. “Where’s Roger? I WANT ROGER!!!” Me, too, boy. Me, too. Husband knows better than to ask me why the sudden interest in Arizona, but he figures distraction is the ticket.

So we drop kids off with Nana. Husband and I go bowling with my brother and his girlfriend and a few other guys from work. I start perking up a little – balls, no sticks. Halfway there. But the object of the game is to throw strikes – I can dig it. Bowling is a lot like pitching. You get in a groove. You need to know the right release point and it’s best to pitch from the windup. And you can’t just throw the ball down the middle and expect to get that strike. Cuz you leave a mess on the corners.

So after 4 or 5 innings, I realize that I’ve forgotten the most basic of pitching rules – paint the corners. So since you have 2 chances to get that strike, I decided to get half-strikes. First time, get the inside corner and the next get the remaining pins on the outside. Also, finess definitely beats sheer velocity – stuff ain’t a thang without proper location. Husband sez – now whatchu doin, baby, you caint get a strike you throw the ball to the sides like that! Well, I say, I got the outs even if it ain’t as pretty – I’m a small Crafty Lefty, remember?! It’s what we do.I

Now, it’s the bottom of the 9th, I’m up, Husband suddenly notices that I’m ahead and sez – Baby whatchu dooin – you holdin the ball all wrong? Whatchu mean, wrong, boy – I’m holdin it and throwin it and the balls are goin down, right? Well baby, you gotta hold it with these fingers here and put those fingers on either side, like that, then you got some control over the ball, see. Boy, I got all the control I need, I’m gettin the outs, right? So I try to hold the ball the Right Way and of course, I can’t control it worth %&#! and I only get a few outs. I think I see someone smirking as he grabs the lead.

Lesson#1 – do NOT let someone screw with your mechanics if what you’re doing is working.
Lesson #2 – do NOT let the opposition mess your mind.
Lesson #3 – do NOT throw the curve unless you need to get that pin on the inside corner

By the way, bowling’s a doozy – has 10 innings – don’t let Husband get away with pitching your half of the 10th, too.

Bowling has doubleheaders. Tripleheaders, if your thumb holds up. Plenty of evidence of Substance Use in this league (beer.) I can tell you from watching the users that that particular substance is NOT performance enhancing.

Sometimes, pitchers have to get a little more tired for their pitches to be effective. So I’m starting to cruise and next thing I know, Brotherman’s saying to Husband – hey, man, Baby Sister’s whuppin your ass, hehhehheh. So I sez to Brotherman, well, why don’t YOU see if you can do any better. Brotherman struttin, yeah, full of confidence. Brotherman, he a Proven Veteran ™ and he ain’t real too worried about the Rookie – we all know them skinny, slightly built pitchers caint last.

But by now, I’m tired enough that I can’t really get much movement on the ball and the cutter’s cuttin only a little to the right. Brother man leading going into extra innings. Last pitch, perfect slider, strike one. Not quite enough, I’ve lost.

BUT wait – turns out, if you get a strike in the bottom of the 10th, you get to try for another strike – Brotherman “forgets” to tell me – dirty play like A-Rod bitch-slappin the ball outta Arroyo’s glove – but the umps get together and make the right call. Brotherman is out and I am up. And I nail another strike. And I get another chance for strike 3 – all I need is 3 runs to beat Brotherman. HAH!!! Just call me David Ortiz – sometimes a bloop’ll do ya. This HAS been the year of the comeback win in extra innings.

There IS something special about the underdog beating the odds.
Well, ain’t no rainin on my parade. Take that, Boston.
Wait until next year…..

10/30/04: Hearing Is Believing: Beltran Rumors

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

My daddy told me many times that people believe what they hear and hear what they believe.
Now I, personally, don’t always believe what I hear. For example, just the past 3 or 4 days I’ve heard:

1) Carlos Beltran is going to the Yankees, 10 years, 20 mill/year and they’re gonna get Glaus, move Arod to SS, Jeter to 2nd, trade Brown to the (get this) Braves (like they’ve just fallen offn a turnip truck) for their 2 top pitching prospects and sign Milton and Pavano. Oh. And trade Giambi for prospects so Bernie can DH. I’m still laughing.
2) Carlos Beltran to the Cubs, but he’ll hafta play left. Or right, cuz they’re gonna trade Sammy and his 35 mill contract to the Mets for Cliff Floyd and his 13 mill contract. I’d laugh, but I feel too sorry for the Met fans. Like Carlos really wants to be with crazy Dusty Baker and his band of Whiners. Right. Lookin forward to bein pals with Jay Mariotti. Uh-hunh.
3) Carlos Beltran to the Mariners, who don’t have a good answer at 1st, SS, 3rd and lack at least 3 good starting pitchers and a bullpen (except Rafael Soriano.) Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrre.
4) Carlos Beltran to the Mets. Like Wilpon would do something that makes sense. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha
5) Carlos Beltran to the Angels who will move Anderson back to left and keep Erstad at first and DH Salmon. They definitely need a few more pitchers, but this actually hurts when I try to laugh. Anyway, Jose Guillen will be tossed into the rubbish bin (hey, maybe Phil can keep his butt in line and the dude can field and hit…)

But
Ida like hearing any of this, so I disbelieve it all.
-Tell me something good…….
-Tell me that I’ll like it…… yeah

This afternoon, my brother, who works with a Spanish guy who said that he heard from his brother who has a friend in Puerto Rico who told him that someone heard that Carlos Beltran said on a local radio interview that he wants to stay with the Astros. (And of course it’s true cuz men don’t NEVAH gossip.)

-What he got to give will sure nuff do us good…
Now THAT I believe…..

Congratulations, Red Sox For Winning 2004 World Series

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

It’s the day after the last day of the world series. (I had planned to title this series “It’s the end of the world as we know it” but ESPN beat me to it…) Pretty soon, it will sink in – 138 days until Opening Day.

I can imagine the hysterical bedlam that must exist in Red Sox Nation. One interesting thing I saw – Fox and ESPN cameras panned the crowds in Boston and a sizeable number of the Sox fans were children, teens and young adults. I keep reading that baseball does not “appeal to the young” and is dying, blah, blah, blah. Not in Boston, fer sher. The great thing about Red Sox Nation is that their fans are hard-core thru horrible years as well as good. Here in Stro Land, this year, a lot of people caught Astro fever and I hope that our new fans will become as addicted and hard core as Sox fans.

I can imagine the humiliated disgust that must exist in Cardinals Nation. This nation has a fan base as hard-core and large as the RedSox, just less, uh, noisy, yeah, noisy. I had said to David Pinto that this team lost because it didn’t do the “little things” (pitching, hitting, running.)

Shall I start the autopsy on the Cardinal Corpse?

1) pitching – well, let me tell you who did NOT suck
- Al Reyes – 1.1 IP, NO inherited runners scored
- Izzy – 2 IP – inherited 2 runners with no outs, walked one and stranded them all.
- Ray King – 1.1 IP, no inherited runners scored. no runs.
- middle suck – Danny Haren, who let 2 inherited runners score, but then pitched an additional 4 innings with no runs.
Starters didn’t throw strikes much. When they did, they were in the middle of the plate. And that’s being kind. VERY kind.
-Williams – 2.1 IP 7 ER (Haren let 2 of the inherited runners score) 70p, 42s/28b; 3BB, 1K
-Morris – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 89p, 50s/39b
- Suppan – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 89p -56s/33b
-Marquis – 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K (pitcher x 3) 121p -58s/63b (don’t think that he did well – sox stranded 11 runners – left bases loaded twice)

Hitting – (like, WHAT hitting?) Rolen was ofer the series with an RBI on a sac fly. Pujols hit .333, but didn’t have a single RBI because he left 6 RISP. Edmonds was 1 fer the series with a bunt single and NO RBIs. Larry Walker tried – 3 RBIs, only 2 LOB and hit .357 for the series. When you get like half your series RBIs from Matheny, Womack and Taguchi, this is NOT good…

Running – or lack of it – Sanders missing a base. Walker trying to score on a ball to shallow left in which even Biggio could have thrown him out – did he do this because Pujols was, for some odd reason going to third? Suppan – I didn’t believe what I just saw – even a GIRL (you know- throws like, hits like) knows to go home on a ground ball hit to right and you don’t need an effing coach to tell you that. Etc.

Managing – wuzzat? This is third time that TLR has had a team in the WS that sank like a stone – I remember the 1990 series with the Reds. This year, it’s the third vorst, same as the first…

I STILL have not decided who to give the Most Valueless Player award to….
Cards Fans, I’m so sorry. It’s hard to enjoy a ball game when your team doesn’t show up to play…

Carlos Beltran – Contracts, Part 3

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

Thank y’all for all the emails about Carlos Beltran.

I went and re-read all the Houston Chronicle columns mentioning him. Now keeping in mind that the local writers basically do NOT criticize the team, the players or the moves the manager makes, I got the following:

1) The numbers tossed around regarding contracts were 105 mill/6 years before the comeback and 120 mill/7 years after (Bagwell money.)
2) Carlos was quoted as saying that he didn’t want to sign if they didn’t re-sign Berkman, Oswalt and (believe it or not) Adam Everett (that boy has an OUTSTANDING glove and is a very good ballplayer – not all shortstops are HR hitters, ya know…) Who can blame him? No point in being a straw if there ain’t no drink to stir. Right, Reggie???
3) I had forgotten this, but the team refused to consider signing Berkman to a long term contract this spring, his second arb year. That was mucho stupido. He has had 4 years of excellence, in the top 10 of every offensive category for 4 years running and was MVP runner up in 2001. (He couldn’t beat out u-know-who either, Albert.)
4) The columnists are talking about bringing Kent back at a lower price and trading Burke for pitching (stupid beyond belief) but I SERIOUSLY doubt it.
5) The columnists seem pretty sure that Roger will be back – no direct quotes, of course.

Fact – Berkman is 28 and has been in the top 10 of ballplayers for 5 years and needs to be signed (but NOT for 8 years) to a good deal. We don’t exactly have anyone to replace him. Not all ballplayers go into serious decline immediately after turning 27. It’s not like the law of gravity.

Fact – Roy (just turned 27) is one of the top 10 pitchers in the NL, has been since he came up in 01 and needs to be signed to a long term deal because he’s 1 year from FA. (no 10 year contracts, duhhh)

Fact – Everett is first year arb – he could easily be given a like 4 year contract that wouldn’t be super expensive.

Another Fact – Kent ain’t worth keeping to give up Beltran and he’s good, but he ain’t THAT good. He CERTAINLY ain’t worth losing good, young players over a 1 year contract. It was DEFINITELY worth losing John Buck, our very good AAA catcher (and our only decent catching prospect) to get Carlos.

An opinion – Roger Clemens had the time of his life this year. When Andy Pettitte went down, Roger really started hanging with the young guys and teaching them and he found out that adoration isn’t limited to fans. He also LOVES being what made Houston turn into a baseball town this year. He had great support from Boston and NY fans, but this is a whole different level. So I would be REALLY, REALLY surprised if he’s not back.

Conclusions: Carlos is gonna get wined and dined by everyone with dough. He likes Houston, but is gonna see how we handle the contracts of the players we already have before he signs on the dotted line. He has ALREADY done the big fish in the small pond thing and he doesn’t want to go there again, dough or no dough; can’t blame him one bit, especially now that he’s tasted the postseason. He also knows very well that if he doesn’t himself be reasonable about contracts and deferring money, we can’t keep our good players, and he wants us to. Or so he SEZ. And he doesn’t strike me as the A-Rod sort who spouts carefully rehearsed phony baloney politically correct bs, even if they do have the same agent… I hope I haven’t been star-struck…

By the way…
1) I assumed Carlos would not be going to the Orioles regardless of dough because of his statement that he wants to go to a team that wins every year and the Orioles haven’t (ahem) won every year AND they have basically no pitching, so I don’t expect them to win until they do. No offense to Oriole fans.
2) I didn’t discuss the Cards, who ARE winners (I’m not THAT bitter) because they have an excellent CF on a long contract. And they are NOT George, who wants every star in sight, whether he needs them or not… Does George remind anyone else of a girl with a no-limit mastercard in a shoe store? (Yes, that really IS every girl’s dream. Don’t ask me why…)

Why Carlos Beltran Should Be An Astro, Part 2

Monday, October 25th, 2004

I’m sure that y’all have read the zillions of articles by sportswriters on how the Yankees choked, on how they’re not a “team” and Jeter is the only “real Yankee” left and is a true leader and clutch and said that “this team” couldn’t do it and that’s because they don’t know what it means to be a Real Yankee. Yeah. I got lost, too.

Now that the Red Sox are winning, you don’t hear anything about Francona’s ridiculous managing decisions and how the true key to winning was getting rid of that clubhouse cancer, Nomar and bringing in guys who Know How To Win. (Now that the Cards are losing, I guess it’s because they don’t have heart, are/aren’t doing all the little things (pitching or hitting) and it’s all because of TLR’s gloomy mood which has ruined the clubhouse. Or something.)

The reason I brought this stuff up is because there is a rumor going around that Will Not Die: Carlos has agreed to return to the Astros if Biggio is re-signed. Does this fall under the Jeter is Clutch category (fairytale)? Let’s think about this. I know for a fact that Carlos has said on national TV that he wants to play for a team who wins every year (that is, not Milwaukee, say) which means, over the past 5 years, the Yankees, As, Twins, Giants, Seattle (except last year), RedSox, WhiteSox or ?Cubs? and of course, the Stros.

Forget As/Twins because of $$
Add Angels because of $$ although they have not had a winning team every year. And of course, their owner is of Spanish descent and they have Latin players and Carlos, would of course rather play with them than people whose first language is English?

Forget RedSox cuz of $$$ (even though they have plenty of em, they still have Johnny Jesus Damon for another year and they hafta re-sign Varitek and get a new pitcher because they don’t have much farm).

Forget Seattle cbecause they don’t have pitching and their farm doesn’t look good and Bavasi has no sense a-tall about hitters and wants Proven Veterans. Even though the ONE player they desperately need is a Goldest Glove Ever CF.

Forget the Giants because they prefer Veterans On Their Last Legs to torture Barry Bonds by letting him sniff the postseason without grabbing any rings.

Maybe the Cubs, who have Corey Patterson to play CF, but has the bad luck to be young and play for a manager who hates playing young players and prefers Proven Veterans who Know How To Win (but not hit), a prima donna fading superstar (Sammy), a prima donna manager and a team full of guys who can’t catch or run and talk like a girl with bad PMS when the media calls them out on their poor play.

Anyway, Yankees need pitching, both relief and starting Big Time and they have a whole lot of prima donnas on that team and one sissy glove slapper/champion pouter and they ALREADY have 2 CF and a great one already on their club if only they had the common sense to put him there, Captain Derek, of course.

Get to the point, Girlfriend!!!
OK. Here goes. WHY ON EARTH would Carlos say such a thing? He SAYS he wants to go to a winning team. The boy has eyes and they work. But he wants Biggio to stay? Why?

Let’s take a look at Biggio. He really IS best suited for leadoff. His OPS drops 200 points with any runners on base, as it does with 1 or more outs. He no longer really has any speed – he used to average at least 20 SB per year and has a 70% success rate. He managed 7 last year with 2 CS. His lifetime OBP is .373, but it has dropped to .337 this year, mainly because he isn’t taking very many walks – only 40, down from his average of 66, and his HBP was 15, down from his usual hi 20s.

Fielding. Ohmigawd. His fielding. Do I hafta go there? OK – 9 errors in 83 games with a fielding % of 930 (mind you, this only counts the balls he dropped, not the ones someone better or faster would have had.) Range factor is 1.64 (this is Bad – Carl Crawford, a superior LF is 2.5 and even Barry Bonds is 2.0, old as he is.) ZR is .764 (BADDDD). I know that his arm is weak and inaccurate (my eyes work, too.) Jason Lane, by contrast, has a RF of 2.3 and a ZR of .917, a significant improvement.

So what does this tell us? Well, Carlos is gonna have to cover MORE ground to make up for a lousy outfielder. More work for Carlos. Biggio is declining as a leadoff hitter and won’t be on base as often as a good one – fewer runs to drive in. He doesn’t run well anymore – fewer double steals or hit and runs and more possibilities for GIDP. Fewer good stats for Carlos. So, Biggio isn’t gonna help him at the plate, on the bases or on the field. Unlike, say Jason Lane. And Carlos SEZ he wants to be on a winning team and YET, he says he wants an inferior player on that team, which will reduce his chances of winning.

Is Biggio that “Derek Clutch” guy in the playoffs we’ve all come to know and worship? Uh, no. To put it mildly. He batted barely better than zero with MOB over his 5 playoff series, OPS around .370 (shudder.) SO????

There can only be ONE answer – he LIKES Biggio and wants the team to throw a bone to a person he likes who he wants to play with. And believe it or not, Biggio isn’t even of Spanish descent, so the Angels will have a tough time defending that card.

Yeah, hard to believe, isn’t it. He wants to play with someone he likes. Maybe there is something to this clubhouse chemistry thing after all. So maybe he DOES want an agreeable work environment, not a clubhouse full of squalling cry-babies and harassing media types who write the kind of disgusting crap I’ve read these past few days (no names – judge for yourselves). So I think yall better put away those Cubs and Yankees unis. Ladies and Gentlemen! May I present – for the next 6 years, Carlos Beltran, Houston Astro!

Carlos Beltran, We Love You: Stay An Astro

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Carlos Beltran is NOT Brian Doyle, a never heard from before player who just happened to have a great world series (for the Yankees in 1978) then vanished, leaving behind only his stats. Carlos played in Kansas City, not exactly an interesting place to the NY/Boston/Chicago media, so he received minimal press except for the brief mentions he got when he won ROY in 1999, or trade talks this year – namely, where would Scott Boras send him, NY, Boston, LA or Chicago?

Well, he got himself plenty of press this postseason and deserved every letter of it, too. He hit 11/24 (.458), scored in every single game, a total of 12 runs, had 7 BB, 3 HR, stole 4 bases and left only 3 on base over 7 games. Unfreakingbelieveable. And that glove of his is more than Golden – saved us MANY hits and many runs. And let me assure you, EVERYBODY now knows who Carlos is. Like, unfortunately, George and Arte…

The national press has apparently given us about the same chance of resigning Carlos as a 60 year old woman has of getting pregnant – that is, just barely above the probability of a 60 year old MAN getting pregnant.

The vast majority have already measured him in a Yankee uni (a sight more hideous to me than Chris Farley in a G-string) although some, namely the Chicago press, think he will be a Cub (because the Mets will take Sammy Sosa – hahahahahahahahaha) and the LA papers see him in an Angels/Dodgers uni. I have been informed, rather rudely, by Certain Other Team’s Fans (yeah, you know who you are) that the Stros can’t afford Carlos. Really? Suppose we give him a contract 7 years for $100,000,000 (worth more, because there is no state tax in Texas, plus he gets to live here and eat REAL BBQ – plus not be hassled/disrespected/bothered by the media) or 14.2 mill/yr: Why not?

Using figures obtained from Dugout Dollars I see the following:
- This year, payroll was $65.25 mill, $72.8 mill with benefits and taxes

- Next year, we have to pay $31.2 mill in guaranteed salaries (Bagwell, 13 mill;Ausmus 3 mill: Biggio, 1 mill; Kent, 5.7 mill even tho he’ll be gone; Pettitte, 8.5 mill)

- due for raises:
Brandon Backe (300,000) rookie starter
Lance Berkman (6.5 mill) last arb year – needs to be signed to long deal
Bruntlett (310,000) rookie utility infielder
Chris Burke (300,000) rookie 2B
Chavez (320,000) backup catcher
?Clemens? (1.5 mill) SEZ he might could play 2 – 3 more years
Ensberg (380,000) 3B – first year arb
Everett (370,000) SS – first year arb (i think)
Gallo (300,000) LOOGY – rookie this year
Carlos Hernandez (300,000) “rookie” starter – second year
Lamb (350,000) back up 3rd base – last year arb
Lane (310,000) SHOULD start LF – not arb yet
Lidge (360,000) last year pre-arb- need to sign
Miller (3.4 mill) – can he still pitch? last year arb
Miceli (600,000) BOOOOOOOOO HISSSSSSS
Oswalt (3.25 mill) will start arb year #2 next year
Palmeiro (750,000) pinch hitter
Qualls (300,000) rookie reliever
Redding (400,000) ?????????
Springer icky RP
Wheeler OK RP

NOW, my wild guesses:
Backe – 400,000 (what they gave Redding)
Berkman 12 mill/yr for 5 years, but he’ll only get like 8 mill first year
Bruntlett – 320,000
Burke – 310,000
Chavez – 330,000
Clemens – 1.5 mill
Ensberg – 600,000
Everett – 800,000
Gallo – 310,000
C. Hernandez – 310,000
Lamb – 500,000
Lane 350,000
Lidge – 2.8 mill (what they gave Dotel)
Miller – this one’s tough – non-tender and incentives? 1.5 mill
Miceli – a long walk off a short pier
Oswalt – 6 mill
Palmeiro type guy 750,000
Viz type guy – we have Bruntlett
Qualls – 310,000
Redding – minor league contract
total – around 25 mill PLU 31.2 mill = $56.3 mill

Now, add Carlos – say first year is 11 mill = 67.3 mill
- ask Bagwell to defer 6 or 7 mill for some relievers = 67.3 mill
- add 10% in case I’m too low = 74 mill – still not too bad. And given the increased sale of revenue from tickets, merchandise etc., we SHOULD be able to afford it. We ARE the 4th largest city in America and it’s ridiculous to keep calling Houston a “middle market” team.

We have:
1B – Bagwell
2B – Burke
SS – Everett
3B – Ensberg
backups Lamb, Biggio and Bruntlett
LF – Jason Lane
CF – Carlos Beltran
RF – Berkman
- backups, Palmeiro and some other el cheapo guy like Taveras (minimum)
SP – Oswalt, Clemens, Backe, Miller, ?Hernandez?
Closer – duhhhhhhhhh
RP – Qualls, Wheeler, Gallo
- need to replace Springer, Munro, Miceli (he lost us THREE games – don’t think he’ll be welcome back) and SURELY we can do that for under 6 mill.

In summary, HELLO CARLOS!!!
Just say NO to George (and Arte and Hendry, etc)

Note: for Astro fans, you can sign an online petition to Drayton McLean to keep Carlos. Also, you can click here to sign a pledge to Carlos’ favorite charity if he stays.
Astro Annie has written a song for Carlos. Check it out.

By the way, there is a game tonight – No Astros in it – Game 1 of the WS – Woody Williams, hometown boy who looked good in the NLCS, vs Tim Wakefield, Mr. Knuckler without his regular catcher. Question – will the redbirds be running, running or running? Question – for how long can the Sox keep Barry Pujols’ average under .500?

Sorry, my Red Sox friends – tonight I gotta root, root, root for my homie…
For a serious intelligent stat discussion of the series, read baseball musings.
For a hilarious series prediction check this – read comments 1,2 and 3 by Andy.

2004 NLCS Game 7 – Homeward Bound

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Hello, America! I know that it will surprise yall, but there is a baseball game tonight that does NOT involve Red Sox or Yankees!!!!!!!!!

Even though the national media doesn’t seem to know that – I checked for AP stories on baseball this morning – of 46 stories, 43 involved the cursing and/or choking of teams not named Astros or Cards. Tonight, the Final Chapter in the Race for the Pennant (yes the National League has a pennant, too) is a replay of game 3.

Roger Clemens on full rest vs Jeff Suppan. As you know, Roger pitched a great game and we won. Hopefully, history will be on our side because Clemens has faced Suppan 4 times this year and won all 4 times. Roger has a slightly ERA on the road than at home, but his BAA is .217 day or night, .207 at home and .235 away. Still pretty good.

I am a nervous wreck and Dogsss have been coming up to me, poking me with their noses and whining. I’ve cleaned up kids after dinner and they are in Stros t-shirts. I say “who rules!!” and they say “roger kemmuss!!” – I figger if we do this about a million times, maybe, hopefully, PEEEEEEEEEEZE, Roger will see Fenway one last time. Hopefully, the Cards will all be SO worried about the Roger/Brad dynamo that we’ll have the total advantage.

I’ve heard a lot of sneering remarks about bandwagoners, but you know, a LOT of kids have suddenly discovered that they love the Stros and as I know from experience, the Stros addiction lasts a lifetime.

You GO STROS!!! And Lord, please let Suppan have left that shutout stuff back in LA…….
We haven’t hit since game 4, basically. I’m hoping that FINALLY, Jason Lane will play for Biggio, and that the rest of our Bs start hitting, especially Lance Berkman, who hasn’t had a hit since game 4.
Long pause for game…

Well, we didn’t hit and we lost.
To summarize,:

1) Suppan was throwing junk in the dirt and he got basically all the hitters to swing at it. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Bagwell, Beltran, Berkman and Kent were ofer that junk and you can’t win if you don’t hit. Period. WAY too many swings on first pitches that were balls.

2) Roger wasn’t sharp from the beginning – wasn’t hitting the corners. I knew that he was in trouble when he had NO strikeouts by the end of the 4th. He was cooked by the fifth – throwing a lot of balls and he couldn’t keep the ball down. Almost every pitch he threw in the 6th was up.

3) When first is open and the tying/go ahead run is on base, DO NOT PITCH TO PUJOLS!!! Are you watching this Red Sox?! Do NOT ask the pitcher how he feels about staying in, or walking – learn from Grady Little’s mistake.

4) There was absolutely NO excuse for continuing to play Biggio instead of Jason Lane. He ended up hitting .188 with NO walks, 5 hits, 2 runs and 1 RBI. I guarantee you that Lane would have thrown out Womack in the 3rd. Viz and Kent didn’t make the tough plays – not errors, just didn’t get to the balls. We missed Adam Everett big time and I don’t know why he didn’t play. Defense DOES matter (see Rolen, Scott and Beltran, Carlos)

5) Edmonds made a Carlos Beltran catch of a Brad Ausmus sure to be double that would have scored 2 runs and we didn’t basically do anything after that.

6) Two scoring small ball plays – suicide squeeze for them; Carlos Beltran BB, SB, 3rd on FO, then home on error overthrow for us. I love small ball. Sorry. It is true that runners put a lot of presure on the defense and the pitcher. Carlos is now 34 for 34 for SB with the Astros.

7) Except for the refusal to play Jason Lane or Everett or pinch hit for Viz, I think that Phil made fewer mistakes as the post season went on, and considering that he’s gonna be our manager next year, that’s good news.

8) I noticed that the first team to score lost every game (except game 5.)

9) I sure do hope that all the bandwagoners don’t hop off. I saw LOTS of kids and teens in Astros gear. I’m dreaming of Astros Nation.

I know this isn’t the best entry ever, but I’m too depressed to write. And I have to be a “good sport” for my kids and that’s harder than you think. I’ll go and cry later. My mother the stat geek won’t cry. She’ll write up a whole bunch of tables to explain everything. We all grieve in our own way…

I guess it’s time to start wondering how we’re gonna keep Beltran….. I guess I better start wondering if we actually WANT to keep Beltran. Sigh.

Congratulations to the Cardinals.

UPDATE: 10/22 – just want to say thank you to all the people who wrote to say sorry and better luck next time…

2004 NLCS Game 6 – The Day Of The Reliever

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Of course we’re the afternoon game. Peter Gammons says that tonight’s MFY/Sox game is the most highly anticipated game ever.

Whoopie freaking doodoo.

You note that Peter is an avid Red Sox fan who has season tickets.

But like it or not media persons, the better baseball being played in the central time zone – they just mention Beltran so all the eastcoasters know just who it is that George intends to buy this winter…. Man this town has gone baseball crazy – a few of the sackers at the supermarket (no names – it’s against company regs) are wearing Astro caps. I’m standing in line with my kidz in their Astros t-shirts and like everyone comes over to say GO STROS!!!! I’m late for first pitch bcause I’m talking about Munro and Morris to total strangers.

This is just unbelievable - I mean, I had Astros caps for the boys when they were babies, and no one ever stopped me to talk actual baseball (just the usual are they twins, aren’t they cute, etc…) So I put the groceries (out of Dogs’ reach) on the counter and rush into the living room to turn on the TV and it’s the

1st inning – Morris does not look sharp. Biggio, who, for a leadoff hitter doesn’t take many pitches, has already GO on the second pitch and Beltran is at bat. Morris pitching VERY carefully, but Beltran walks, goes to third on a Bagwell single and scores on a Berkman SF. Kent hits a grounder – looks to like Bags beat the tag, but I guess I’m wrong and he’s out. OK, Pete. Go for it. But he’s a little shaky and Womack singles, Walker GO and you-know-who is up. I HATE that guy. First open, one on and we don’t walk him. Dumdumdum cuz after he fouls off a few pitches to get his timing down, he takes the next pitch over the wall. Sigh. We never learn, do we. OK, so Backe got him out 4 times on Monday. But Barry F. Bonds Himself wouldn’t have hit him either and Munro is shaky. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Rolen Ks, Edmonds singles on a low pitch, Renteria singles, Sanders FO stranding 2. Munro better throw strikes on the corners, not in the middle of the plate or we’re lost.

ASTROS 1 CARDS 2

2nd inning – Lamb walks. Morris is NOT sharp, either, praise be. We better hit. A LOT. A REAL lot. Viz hits into a FC. Lamb out. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. The board shows he’s hitting .313 but it’s not with men on and he has NO RBIs….. Ausmus is having a great at bat – 6 fouls in between the 3 balls, and Viz heads down to second on most of them. I don’t know if these are hit n runs, but Ausmus is not a good contact hitter and when he Ks, Vis is C/S. By a mile. He’s NOT a good base stealer or particularly fast… Munro back – is doing better, GO, GO, single, GO. Doesn’t seem to me that he’s using both sides of the plate well, but hopefully he can get thru the lineup at least twice.

3rd inning – Munro GO, Biggio LO. Biggio has not had a hit since the first inning of game 4, has NO BB, NO RBIs and has scored only 1 run, and that was in game 1. Sigh. I don’t know what it is about the postseason, but he seriously stinks it up every single year. Free Jason Lane, huh, Phil??? Beltran hits a long single down the right field line, but Walker plays it beautifully. He’s a GOOD fielder, yes he is. Then Bagwell doubles down the left field line, the ball takes a funny ricochet, which gives Beltran time to score. He can RUN!!! Morris looks wild. Berkman walks !! OK!! GET RUNS NOW!!! But Kent LO stranding 2 – he’s been doing that all series. Except Monday, of course. Munro back, Albert up, strike 1 almost gone, but he has to settle for a double. Munro must look like a BP pitcher to him. Rolen up. He’s doing that fouling off pitches stuff that Albert perfected lst inning and sure nuff, he singles to short, Albert to second. Edmonds up. He flies out to Biggio, who has, uh, to be nice, a weak arm. He throws the ball to Leadglove Lamb, who drops the ball, and Pujols is safe at third. I promise that if that had been Lane and Ensberg, he would have been out. Renteria singles up the middle. 2 runs in.
Munro out, Harville in. And Sanders singles. I remember the slaughter in Game 1 – oh no, but Matheny and Morris both K.

ASTROS 2 CARDS 4

4th inning – OK, down 2, but we can come back fer sher. Morris, still with lousy stuff, pitches to Lamb, who takes the 6th pitch out. Boy can HIT. Too bad he can’t catch or throw… Viz pops out, Ausmus singles, Adam Everett at the plate (is he gonna replace Viz??? I sure do hope so!!! 2 bad fielders and 1 OK fielder is not, uh, the best idea…) Adam is actually a pretty good player who has a good glove (well deserved) poor hit (not really well deserved – .273 BA with 22 sac bunts -thank you Jimy – hitting second, 17 BB, 8 HR, 13 SB with 2 CS . He hits into a FC, Ausmus out. Biggio FO. I need an explanation WHY Jason Lane isn’t playing. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Oh, I forgot – Veteran Presence. Lane would just freak out. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. 1 LOB.

Qualls pitching. Luna GO, Walker Ks. Pujols up. I HATE that guy (yes, I’d luv him if he was on the Stros – duhhhh) – hits a ball foul, almost outta here, then hits a ball to Lamb. If Ensberg there (let alone a Rolen) easy out. But Leadglove Lamb doesn’t get it and it’s a (cough) single. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. If Pujols scores, this is more proof, at least to me, that defense is WAY undervalued. Lamb needs to create a LOT more runs than he lets get created!!! Rolen hits the first pitch down the left field line (he or Ensberg woulda had it), Viz goes after it, sees that Pujols (not Mr. Speedy) is testing his arm (actually a good idea because strength and accuracy aren’t his strong points), and in fact we get lucky because Ausmus grabs the wayyy off-line throw and manages to twist around and tag Pujols, who made a very good slide. Qualls, who should be able to expect reasonably good defense, escapes Lead-glove syndrome. Thank you Brad.

ASTROS 3 CARDS 4

5th inning – Morris – 3 B up, 3 B down in 7 pitches – his first 1,2,3 inning. Qualls back. Edmonds pops up, it goes over near the dugout, Lamb calls off Ausmus and, of course, he misses the ball. We HAVE to have this rule called Everyone Calls Off Lamb. Poor Qualls. He does get out of the inning with out any runs, GO, K, 2B, single, K (pinch hitter Mabry – so hopefully we can get into their pen, and hopefully their pen will stink it up again.)

6th inning – Ray King pitching. Viz still at short, no Everett. Kent (1 fer 6) gets an infield single, but Lamb GIDP. Viz singles. King out. Calero in. Hope he stinks again. But Ausmus GO. Qualls get Luna, Walker and Pujols (YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS) on a GB to Lamb who actually handles the ball well. Glory be!!!

7th inning – Calero pitching. OK. Time to hit. But Palmeiro FO, Biggio PO (where is Lane???!!!) Beltran singles and Bagwell strands him. Another LOB!! Dan Wheeler in. He has had 3 scoreless innings so far. And he gets another. Lamb (yes, I admit it) makes a nice catch of Rolen’s line drive. Then K, single, single, FO.

8th inning – Guess Isringhausen’s gonna pitch 2 innings. Hope last night was a good sign. Lance, hitless today, FO. Kent doubles (Izzy breathes sigh of relief) Lamb Ks and Viz (4 fer 17 against Izzy) strands him. Another LOB. Wheeler gets Taguchi (in for Sanders in the double switch), Luna and Walker, in a very good 10 pitch AB.

9th inning – Izzy back. Phil is throwing pinch hitters in. GOOD!!! Morgan Ensberg PH for Ausmus, is HBP. Bruntlett PH for the pitcher (WHY can’t he bunt for himelf) bunts Ensberg over. Izzy’s curve is not getting over for strikes. Biggio (where is LANE??!!) FO, Ensberg to second. Beltran gets an IBB. Bagwell singles and WE’RE TIED!!! Lance up. OK!! TIME TO WIN THIS!! On the first strike, double steal!! But Lance, strikes out swinging on a ball in the dirt – not like him – usually he has very good judgement of the strike zone. But we have Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad who’ll shut em down. He comes in, and is put into Berkman’s spot in the lineup (good news – Phil IS learning) and Lane takes Berkman’s spot in RF – not to worry – Lane is a GOOD fielder. Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds up, Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds down on 10 pitches.

ASTROS 4 CARDS 4

10th inning – Izzy is back. WOW, the third inning. and 6 pitches later, Kent, Lamb and Viz gone. He threw 41 pitches. Not bad. Lidge back. 8 pitches, GO, K (the 11th K in this series, a new record. Brad is GOOD.

11th inning – Tavares pitching, broken hand and all. And he looks a LOT better than he did Monday – 3 up, 3 down.
Lidge back. 1,2,3 out. 32 pitches total. Well, it was a good gamble – the hitters just didn’t. So far. We HAFTA score like a zillion runs now, cuz Springer and Miceli are all that’s left. And guess who is up for them next….. Yep. Him.

12th – Tavarez back. Beltran and Bagwell gone on one pitch each. Brandon Backe pinch hits for Lidge – cmon, boy, hero time!!! But, he Ks after running the count to 3-2 with 2 fouls. Miceli in. Can he, for ONCE, not blow a game???!!! Nahhhhh. The question is, which one of them will kill us? I see Roy-O warming up!!! WHY isn’t he going in there for the 3 best hitters???!!! THEN put in Miceli/Springer!!! Oh well. I keep saying to myself, well, we’ve got Roger tomorrow… I really don’t wanna watch the end, but I just know it won’t be long now. Pujols walks (unintentional intentional), Rolen pops out, then Edmonds homers. What a surprise. I only hadda wait 2 minutes. This is the THIRD FREAKING time Miceli has given up the walk off HR this postseries. I do NOT wanna see that guy again unless we’re ahead by like 12 runs. Or maybe 20 runs.

ASTROS 4 CARDS 6

Even though we lost, I don’t think it was a mistake to save Roger for game 7, on FULL rest. We didn’t lose because of pitching (except Dan F. Miceli) we lost because we left 9 effing RISP. So, tomorrow, gotta hit, guys… WITH RISP!!!!!

Backe vs Woody Williams – Game 5 NLCS 2004

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

WannaB Backe turns into killerB
NewB Brandon Backe rocks the Box

No, I’m gonna call this game the 1968 game. Nerve wracking starting pitchers’ duel with spectacular defense from both teams. Nerve wracking closers’ duel.

I had heard that they were gonna leave the roof open tonight and was really surprised – not just because it was like 95 today, but because I had read that the guys were believin that the noise with the roof shut was helping them win. Husband was a little worried, but I said that if the ballplayers think a shut roof is good luck, the roof B shut, and it was. Gametime was supposed to be 7:05 – we figgered something was up when we got to our seats at 6:40 and the Cards were still doing BP. We then found out that game time was being delayed because the ACLS was only in like the 7th – man, those AL games take forEVER to finish – so first pitch was at 7:50 – strike 1 to Tony Womack.

The Box is filled with rabid, noisy Astros fans, many of who are using cell phones and palm pilots to follow the ACLS – every last one wants the Sox to win. Is it because the Jeter-worshipping national media wrote off the Sox, just as the national media wrote us off even before we started the NLDS? As our game goes on, we all are watching that scoreboard – starts out Yanks 4, Sox 2 in the 7th.

1st inning – And Brandon Backe looks like Roger Clemens in ’86, same motion, same delivery, same results, 10 pitches, 1,2,3 out. Oh. That third out? Mr. Pujols on a grounder to Kent. Woody Williams, Houston boy, pitching for St Louis. Last start here, he gave up 8 runs in 2 2/3 IP. Tonight, he’s starting sharp – except for a clean single to Bagwell, 4 up, 3 down in 9 pitches.
Scoreboard (time delayed) shows the Sox have scored a run in the 8th (Ortiz homered) and it’s 4-3 Yanks.

2nd inning – second verse, same as the first.
Scoreboard shows the Sox have tied it (Rivera blew another save, says the guy in front of us with a radio. This is a GOOD omen I say to my mother the stat geek, who, for once doesn’t start speaking stat and it’s the

3rd inning – Morgan Ensberg makes a fabulous catch of Reggie Sanders line drive – who does he think he is, Scott Rolen? 6 pitches later, Matheny and Williams are sitting. Woody Williams walks Ausmus, but after Backe strikes out trying to bunt (good grief, boy) Woody gets his groove back and Biggio and Beltran (yes, Beltran) out. Listen Woody, the cheering is for the hitters, not you.

4th inning – Brandon gets Womack, Walker AND PUJOLS (for the second time) out easily. 43 pitches after 4 IP-WOW!!! We’re up and Jeff Bagwell hits a ball down the left field line that should be a double, but somehow, Rolen manages not only to stop that ball, but to throw Bagwell out from his KNEES!!!! WOW!!! Man, you just gotta tip your cap to Rolen. WHY in the name of God did they run this guy outta Philly??? Ain’t like they didn’t get a chance to see that glove. Anyway, Woody walks Lance, Kent FO, Ensberg is hit on the top of the helmet by some slow curve – obviously NOT intentional- and there isn’t any fuss “to rally the troops” but Viz GO to end the inning.

5th inning – Rolen up. He isn’t just swinging, but is taking balls and fouling off pitches and on the 10th pitch, finally grounds out to Ensberg. I sure do hope these guys haven’t decided to work the count to get Brandon outta there and get to the soft meat of Harville and Springer, etc. Edmonds walks – hope Brandon hasn’t lost his command – but he gets Renteria and Sanders out on 1 pitch each. Woody gets 1,2,3 out. I note that his fastball is generally between 87 -89 MPH, occasionally 90-91. Guess it must move a LOT, cuz it sure ain’t the speed – and the change-up is around 85.

Brandon is throwing a no-hitter. Can we think that before the 6th? I mean, Brandon has said that he LOVES pitching here at home, at the Box where balls love the friendly skies and rack up the frequent flier miles and his 1.50 ERA here supports that. You know, Roger Clemens Himself has never thrown a no-hitter.
Yankees/Boston still tied top of the 12th…

6th inning – Brandon takes the field to approving screams. Matheny and Woody out. We know what Brandon’s doin and so do his teammates because no one went near him in the dugout…He goes 2-2 on Womack, and we’re chanting Back-e, Back-e at the top of our lungs and waving our Astros towels, but he breaks up the no-hitter with a clean single to right. Walker walks – omigawd, has Brandon lost command? Two on, Pujols (boooooooooooooooooo) up – we’re all clutching our towels, afraid to breathe, but mighty Albert pops up the first pitch to Kent. Relief flows out of us and we’re all on our feet, screaming our luv. If that boy pulls this game off, they better start printing a LOT of Backe t-shirts and jerseys.

OK. We have the Bs up – time to score some runs, but 10 pitches later Beltran, Bagwell and Berkman sitting. Woody Williams pitchin out of his mind, too. Can you believe that these heavy hitting lineups are being shut down by a #3 starter and a kid who just came up to start games in August? This tense pitchers duel is far more exciting than slugfests and the country is missing this because
bottom of the 13th and Yanks/Sox STILL tied. We matchin them 0 fer 0.

7th inning – Brandon has thrown 84 pitches. No one warming up. Hope the boy hasn’t lost his FB. 8 pitches later, he’s out of the inning. Oh, by the way, he’s out because Carlos made a stupendous (incredible, amazing, spectacular, pick your word) catch of a diving liner to left center that maybe only Cameron, Erstad or Edmonds would have gotten to. WOW! Woody one-ups Brandon by getting 3 outs on 5 pitches. This is freaking unbelieveable. Mama and Susanna say this is even better than Game 1 of the 86 playoffs with Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden.

8th inning – Brandon out there. What a STUD! Remember, this is the guy we got from Tampa Bay for Geoff Blum in the offseason and Man, what a trade. This is gonna go down on the top ten lists of most one sided trades. We all know it and we’re all standing and screaming. Reggie Sanders hits the first pitch at LEAST 430 feet to dead center and Carlos has to run up that stupid hill to catch it. It must be how Vic Wertz felt when Willie made The Catch. The Box erupts. Dayton, I don’t know how much Carlos wants, but GIVE IT TO HIM!!! We’re standing screaming with each strike call and when Brandon strikes out Mabry pinch hitting for Woody, his 101st pitch of the night, we’re screaming, hi fivin and chanting Back-E, Back-E, Back-E all through the 3 minute commercial, but to our disappointment, he doesn’t come out of the dugout.

The good news is that Woody is out. The bad news is that Isringhausen iz in. See. You DO put your very best reliever in when you are tied and the game is on the line. And he gets Ausmus, Palmeiro (WHERE is Jason Lane, a MUCH better hitter) and Biggio.
Suddenly, there is cheering as the scoreboard shows that Boston has won, 5-4. Now I KNOW we’re gonna pull this off.

9th inning – And of course, it’s BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD. First pitch, Womack GO to Kent. Screams and yells. Larry Walker can’t catch up to those 96 mph FB and the screams are shakin the building as he swings at strike 3. We’re still standing and screaming as Albert, Mighty Albert strides to the plate and there ain’t no joy in Mudville tonight after he swings at big strike 3. 9 pitches and he hardly noticed it. Mariano who?

Izzy iz back. Carlos, still hitless and homerless is up and he hits a clean single to right. We’re standing, screaming, chanting I !!! B-Leeve !!! I !!! B-Leeve!!! Lance up, hero time, boy. And Carlos steals second on a 1-1 high curve. TLR to the rescue – IBB Lance to pitch to Kent, 2 fer 8 against Izzy. Ok Jeff, that’s an insult, boy, remember the Barry, and Jeff hits pitch #1 onto the tracks above the Crawford Boxes – knew it was gone before it landed.

The Box erupts. Pandemonium. To put it mildly. We’re standing and screaming for several minutes after Kent throws off his helmet, jumps onto home plate and is swarmed by his teammates and we’re all screaming Back-E, Back-E while he’s being shown on the big screen and when we finally get down the upper deck stairs and get into the hall, some guy holds up a sign that says “Backe for President” and we all start cheering. And in the stairs down we’re chanting “Houston!!!! Astros!!!” at the top of our lungs and people still yelling when we get in the streets.

Stros fans everywhere, many heading over to the giant party on Main St. but we’re just wiped and I’ve hardly gotten any sleep between games, blogging and regular life, so we head on home.

Cars full of Stro fans honkin horns screaming GO STROS!!! We feel invincible, we’re this year’s miracle team, we’re on an unending roll, we’re gonna go into St. Louis and come home with that pennant. And then we’re gonna roll into Boston and Roger’s gonna lead us to that Series Ring.

It’s our DEStiny….

Beltran, Berkman n Brad Beat Birds – Game 4 NLCS 2004

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Yall may not realize it with all the network hype about the Yecchies and the Dead Sox but B B no longer stands for Barry Bonds – it stands for (take yer pick)
BBeltran
BBerkman
BBraaaaaaaad
BBagwell
Let me tell yall about it…..

Yesterday was just insane when we Rocketed to victory. Question – is it possible for a crowd that broke The Who’s record for most decibels in a closed crowded place to be even louder than yesterday?

Oh yeah, baby YEAH!

Today, we’re sittin with a bunch of frat boys from BOTH A&M and UT (the lion shall lie down with the lamb – just don’t ask me which is which) and they yelling GO STROS during Cardinal BP.

MLB says game is supposed to start at 3, but Husband says, don’t be silly, they gonna wait until the football game is safely over, so the newspaper is right about the 3:40 start time and the Box is overstuffed by the time some Famous Guy, who obviously don’t sing for a living, sings the National Anthem double time -I guess to make up for Mrs. Pettitte yesterday.

Barbara Bush throws out the first pitch. Stros fans L U V her – don’t make no difference your color, age or politics -and she gets a standing O. We’re still screaming when the Stros take the field and Roy-O throws the first pitch…

1st inning – And it’s a strike!! to Womack, who GO on strike 3. Loud cheers and screams. Walker up. Roy’s throwing 96 mph fastballs, but he’s having a lot of trouble finding the strike zone, or the ump’s not calling borderline pitches, and Walker does just that. Pujols, 11 fer 32 lifetime vs Roy is up. Roy can’t locate slider or FB and Pujols sends the 2-0 just over the wall of the Crawford boxes, about 350 ft and just like that, they’re up 2-0. Rolen doubles. Edmonds GO, Rolen to third. Renteria draws a 3-2 BB. Mabry singles, scoring Rolen, then Molina mercifully GO to end the inning.

Already down 3-0. That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that Roy isn’t spotting his FB and the curve ain’t. 32 pitches already. I don’t remember him EVER looking this horrible in the first.

We’re up. Jason Marquis pitching. We’ve seen him 3 times this year – he’s 1 -1, and in his ND, faced Roy to a 1 -1 draw in 7 IP for both, and by the way, Miceli (remember him) lost the game in extra innings. Anyway, fortunately for us, Marquis seems to be having trouble with the strike zone, too. Biggio grounds out, Marquis pitched so carefully to Beltran that he walked. Bagwell, one fer St. Louis, doubles Beltran home. We B Jammin!! Berkman walks, But Kent Ks and Ensberg hits a looong fly ball to deep center, a good 400′, where balls go to die in Edmonds’ glove, and Ensberg strands 2.

ASTROS 1 CARDS 3

2nd inning – Roy back. Curve seems to be curving, but he’s STILL having trouble locating that FB, but 15 pitches later, he has 3 outs. Maybe he’ll hafta squeak by on borderline stuff. Marquis back. Viz flies out first pitch, Chavez GO on 2-1 and Roy GO on the 3-1. Gotta work the count, boys.

3rd inning – Omigawd it’s Barry, er I mean Pujols again. Hopefully Roy’s gotten command of his pitches. Nope. Pujols walks. Better walk than HR, I say. Rolen hits soft looper to left that Biggio traps (sorry to say, but Jason Lane would’ve had it) Pujols goes to third and he comes home on Edmonds’ sac fly. Renteria FO and Mabry GO. Biggio pops out after a 10 pitch AB. Then B eltran singles. B agwell singles. B erkman doubles them home. We B comin Back. Thunderous screaming, but Kent pops out on 1 pitch and Ensberg Ks, stranding Berkman.

ASTROS 3 CARDS 4

4th inning – Roy starts off well – Matheny FO on 2 pitches, Marquis singles to right on the next pitch, but for some reason, tries to stretch it into a double and is easily thrown out by Berkman. Ok!! 3 pitches, 2 outs, and it’s Womack, who’s 1 fer 9 against Roy. But unfortunately, Roy can’t get anything over and he walks Womack. Uh-oh. Walker singles. Pujols (grrrrrrrrrrr, can’t ANYBODY get this guy out???!!!) singles Womack home. Rolen FO to Carlos, stranding 2. Pujols is hitting over .600 – I wonder if his name was Barry, if he’d get walked. Marquis back. He gets Viz, Chavez and Roy out on 12 pitches.

ASTROS 3 CARDS 5

5th inning – Roy back. Box is quiet. But 6 pitches later, Edmonds, Renteria and Taguchi (in for Mabry) are out. WOW!! Roy has suddenly got the FB under control and the slider hitting the corners. He hadn’t pitched in 5 days, maybe he just needed to get a little tired out. The crowd, which had been awfully quiet, comes, suddenly, deafeningly alive when Carlos makes a great catch of Taguchi’s FO. Cuz now it B time to come Back.

Biggio leads off again, third time tonight, and this time singles. Suddenly, Marquis starts with the throwing to first, walking around the mound twice between pitches, and it’s obvious that LaRussa has decided that twice thru the lineup is enough and time for the best bullpen in the NL to come in and shut us down. Or try to. Kiko Calero in. Beltran Ks. Bagwell Ks. Berkman at bat when Biggio gets CS to end the inning. Calero looks good, unfortunately.

6th inning – Roy is back and so are his pitches – he looks the way he usually does in the first. Just needed 79 pitches to get loose. Barry Pujols singles, of course – playoff average must be like .700 by now, but Rolen, Edmonds and Renteria go right down – slider slidin and curve curvin. Looks like Roy gonna go a few more innings – 96 pitches and NOW he’s cruising.

Calero back to face Berkman, who was AB when Biggio CS. Berkman homers on the 3-1. Guess he can homer from the left, too, TLR. We B doin it again and we rockin the Box, screaming, hi fiving and waving our Stros towels and “Believe” signs. Kent has already Kd on 3 pitches by the time the screaming starts to die down, then Ensberg FO to the warning track in deep left – poor guy – 2 well hit balls that died. So it’s Viz who hits the first pitch down the left field line for a double and Chavez (BA about .200) who singles him home.

TIE GAME!!!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

It’s Roy’s AB, but this is the go ahead run, so Phil sends the lefty Palmeiro up to pinch hit. That’s odd – doesn’t Phil realize that TLR will just pull Calero and send in King and Palmeiro hits .167 off lefties? Why not Lamb, who hits righties and lefties the same (.286?) Of course, putting in King is just what TLR does and Palmeiro’s out. Might as well have left Roy in – he can get an out just as well.

ASTROS 5 CARDS 5

7th inning – Dan Wheeler relieves Roy. He’s had two 1,2,3 innings, but he’s gonna face the meat this time, so how will he do? We’re all holding our breath because Pujols is up. He singles, of course. (well, better than double, triple or HR, right?!) But Wheeler just concentrates and gets Rolen, Edmonds and Renteria out easily. Boy is lookin good!!!!!

OK. Stretchhhhhhhhhh.
Famous Guy sings God Bless America slightly off key and double time. OKKKKKKKKKK.
Then it’s

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Let’s go and beat the Carrrrrds
Carlos and Lance will hit baseballs out
Lidge will come in and then shut them all down
So it’s root root for the ASTROS
It’s win the pennant or bussssssst
Cuz it’s 1,2 3 strikes they’re out
And left in the dusssssst.

Then the Texas National Anthem:

The stars at night
Are big and Bright
clap clap clap clap
Deep in the hearrrrrrrrrrrrrt of Texas…

King out, Tavarez in. Biggio flies out to lead off. Carlos up. Loud screams – we want him to be REAL sure we like him. He’s due, I say to Husband, and sure nuff, Tavares throws Carlos one too many sliders and #5 lands in the right field bullpen. Screaming, yelling, cheering ourselves hoarse – I think Carlos has to take a curtain call to shut us up – can’t see over all the people, but the noise hasn’t really died down when Tavares, who is even more wild than Roy was, walks Bagwell on 4 pitches. First pitch to Berkman bounces away and Bagwell is at second. Berkman gets himself an IBB so they can pitch to Kent, who ain’t swinging well today, but Tavares hits him with a pitch. Bases loaded!!! OK!! Insurance run time. But Ensberg, (BOY!!! whatchu doin swing at that stuff? man ain’t shown he can even THROW a strike!!) who is really pressing GIDP. That’s 6 LOB for him tonight. Beltran needs to tell him to relax. Is that who I think it is warming up in the bullpen after Carlos went POW, gone???!!!

Yeah, baby, YEAH!!!

ASTROS 6 CARDS 5

8th inning – BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!! Now I know some of you might could think, but why not leave Wheeler in, he was doing so well? And after Braaaaaaaaaad threw 41 pitches yesterday? And I say, because this is the PLAYOFFS and we’re playing the Cards, (not the Dbax) we are leading by ONE run and there is NO room for all that “role” bullstuff. 7 pitches and it’s 1,2,3 out. We’re screaming ourself hoarse with each strike and out, waving towels, jumping around . TLR brings in IZZY to prevent a few insurance runs and he gets 3 outs with 5 pitches.

9th inning – Man, am I a nervous wreck. One lousy run. Jason Lane (LF) and Eric Bruntlett (2B) in for defense.
BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD to pound the nail in the coffin. Womack fouls off 4 pitches before he grounds to Bagwell, who barely gets the ball to Brad in time, But he does and it’s 2 outs to go. Walker up and the wily ol coot lays off the sliders and he’s on first after 4 pitches. At least he won’t run. I’m holding my breath. And screaming. Yes. Both. Pujols FO to Lane!! We got him out!!! We got him out!! FINALLY!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! And with the Box shaking with the screams, we scream with each of Rolen’s 3 strikes and
ASTROS WIN
ASTROS WIN
ASTROS WIN!!!!

We’ve tied the series at 2-2 and I’m absolutely exhausted, hoarse and soaked with sweat. It takes like forever to get down from the stands, thru the crowded hall and down the stairs to the street. People still shouting LETS GO ASTROS all the way down the hall and stairs, streets crowded with cheering people. Cars with horns honking, people waving Astros signs – my favorite – “Carlos for President” and talking excitedly about Brandon Backe gonna nail it down tomorrow. It takes over an hour from the time Brad strikes out Rolen to the time we get home. Thank God for chicken because I’m too tired to cook.

Tomorrow, a Tale of Two Texans, Woody Williams vs Brandon Backe – repeat matchup of Game 1, except that THIS time we gonna win!!!!!