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Archive for October, 2006

10/28/06: That Dratted Pest!!!

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Oooooooh LOOK
You’ve got Pest around the bases
Pest around the bases
that DRATTED Pest!!!
You pitch
and you pitch
and you pitch
and you just can’t get him out…

(sorry,  old commercial for Wisk detergent…)

From the very beginning of the playoffs, I really didn’t EXPECT him to win the WS MVP – I was just hoping he would. And he did.

5’6″ 160 pound David Eckstein actually DID win the 2006 WS MVP. It’s true. The first position player I can remember winning the MVP who didn’t get it by hitting home runs. The lil guy that could played flawless defense at short on a rainy slick field, stole bases against the AL’s best defensive catcher, hit game winning RBIs twice, scored game winning runs, took first pitches, made the pitchers foul off waaaayyy too many pitches, and even though he was hitless the first two games, just played all around great baseball. Which is what he usually does, which is why I’ve called him the Pest. He’s so little, so seemingly insignificant, so easy to disrespect. You THINK he can’t hit good pitches. You THINK he can’t POSSIBLY throw runners out from deep in the hole. You dumb enough to go there, he gonna beat you – you disbelieve me, ask Brad Lidge (that fateful Game 5 last year…)

You see, you do NOT have to be a giant sloth-slow walker/HR slugger/whiffer (or a roid user) to be a great baseball player.

The lil guy that could. My favorite non-Astro (when he isn’t playing us – then I hate him…)

Albert Who?holes was a virtual no-show for the entire playoffs. Rolen pulled himself and his bad shoulder together, in spite of errors and had a decent postseason after LaRussa sat him in Game 2 NCLS. Edmonds had a decent postseason as well, even though he didn’t go all Dan Miceli on any of the pitchers (grrrrrrrrr – I STILL haven’t forgotten that.) Belliard didn’t get on base this WS. For reasons I do NOT understand, the Tigers kept throwing Molina inside FB, which he can actually hit, and he did unusually well for such a bad hitter.

Every Cards starter pitched very well, and Jeff Weaver redeemed himself – of course, too many people will say – yeah, but if he couldn’t pitch for the Yankees, like, so??? Well, tough. He beat the guys who beat the Yanks – good enough for me. Wainwright got the job done, in spite of a few mistakes here and there.

I’m only sorry that Larry Walker wasn’t on this team to get the Ring he deserved.

No, I take that back. I am sorry that all the Yankee/Red Sox obsessed sportswriters who all sulking because their teams got beaten feel the need to be all spiteful about all their predictions being soooooooo wrong and insisting that the Cards didn’t win, the Tigers beat themselves (yeah Verducci, I’m looking at you) or insist that because the Cards season record was so poor, that in spite of standing up to the rigors of 3 weeks of postseason play, lost travel days, playing in terrible weather conditions, that the Cards “shouldn’t” have even been in the series.

BAH!

Very childish, poor losers, BAD Examples For The Children, I must say. As I’ve said before, fact is that the team that plays in the postseason may barely resemble the team that played in the beginning of the regular season, and each of the 30 ML teams has a different schedule of opponents, so comparisons to W/L records in the regular season aren’t really accurate. Those who complain bitterly that the Tigers beat the Cardinals in 3 games during interleague play and are therefore superior are suddenly forgetting that it was the same short series they are now saying isn’t meaningful.

I still say that a champion is determined by who plays the best under pressure, and the Cards certainly played the best. They had to play under the same horrible conditions the Tigers did, and you didn’t see them making stupid errors, throwing balls away, or failing to field routine FB and grounders. You saw them hitting supposedly unhittable starters and relievers (ignoring the was Kenny Rogers cheating by using pine tar controversy.) Let me put it like this – a man can boast that he has enormous long lasting erections every day, but unless he can put up when puss comes to shove, it is an empty boast.

And the Cards, unlike the Tigers, um, pulled it off…..

Let The Good Times Roll – CBA 2006 Signed

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Believe it or not, this was the very last year of the MLB collective Bargaining Agreement. Usually, this is discussed over weeks, with many many sportswriters and sports commentators talktalktalking about it. This year, it merited 1-2 paragraphs on the ESPN, Fox and CBS Sportsline sites, mostly written by some anonymous AP writer.

The longest article, in fact, was on the mlb.com website, explaining some of the provisions:
The expiration and renewal of the CBA this year, unlike every other last year, Bud Selig wasn’t whining his usual whine about how all the teams (except the Hated Yankees) were losing millions and millions and it was all the players fault.

They tried to get people to believe that the players salaries alone were responsible for elevated ticket prices and they pretended they were all about to fold their franchises because of millions upon millions dollars of losses. Uhhunh. Like successful billionaires would really keep a business that bled 30 million dollars a year.

But this year, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME EVAH, the deal was worked out with NO “leaks,” NO badmouthing of the “state of baseball” by Bud, no threats of striking from the Union.

Why?
The MLBPA had absolutely no reason to strike, since they weren’t hearing all kinds of bullstuff about how the owners were bleeding money and “needed” a salary cap, how there should be contraction, how the players were all overpaid greedy worthless scum, blahblahblah. And they don’t give a rat’s patootie about the drafted players or minor leaguers, really, so they don’t particularly care how much the owners squeeze them,

Well more than half of the owners have stadium debt and can’t afford a strike. The teams and owners are simply rolling in dough – even the Pirates and Royals are making plenty, thanks to revenue sharing, lucrative TV contracts and other income from MLB lisencing. So WHY would they want to stop all that lovely money from rolling in? They could, of course, want more – hey, they didn’t all get to be ultrazillionaires by deciding they had enough already…

I know that 2 decades ago, the owners were obsessed with revenging themselves on the players who had won their freedom from the enslavement of the shameful reserve clause and agreed among each other to not hire other teams’ free agents. Of course, they saved themselves money in the short term, but they lost so much money in collusion damages that they foolishly opened 4 new franchises to recoup the losses. They learned exactly nothing from this experience, trying one last time to seek revenge in 1994. They lost a TON of money that year and had to work to reclaim the audience they had lost. (And people wondered why the owners ignored the steroid use of sluggers like McGwire – there’s no secret, it was money in the bank. Money talks and principles walk.)

My Granma used to say – don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Or maybe, I should say, what’s the point of revenging an old loss if the revenge causes you to have a new and greater loss. Money talks. The players are raking it in in spite of some huge contracts and the owners are rolling in dough. Scott Boras, the shark de la shark has a nose for money (as Drayton McLane found out) and he says that MLB is awash in money. Now THAT I believe, because you best believe he is gonna get as much of it as possible for each of his clients, and all of his clients are doing VERY well.

It’s funny – Marvin Miller himself once said (back when they formed the union in the 60s) that the smartest thing the owners could do would be to make all the players free agents EVERY year and that would actually keep the salaries at the lowest possible market value. But you look at slaveowners over time and they set the slaves free when the cost of keeping the slaves exceeds their value.

Fact is that with all the other sports available to elite athletes, the owners couldn’t get the best athletes to put on the field if there were somehow able to pay the players a pittance and return to the reserve clause. The quality of play would sink and we’d be seeing mostly minor league quality players and there is a reason that those ticket prices are lower and the attendance is lower than the Marlins’. The revenue would dry up and the owners would lose money.
I read somewhere (sorry, I’ve forgotten where) that perhaps the amicable negotiations were made possible by the fact that almost all of the owners who were hell bent on revenge and participated in the collusion and the 94 strike are mostly gone and replaced by new owners who have no interest in someone else’s old war, ESPECIALLY because they are making money hand over fist and see no reason to do anything that would stop its flow.

Perhaps.

We’ll see if the conflict will resume in 5 years if the money decreases. Youneverknow….

10/23/06: Cards Vs Tigers – May The Best Team Win

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

There was no joy in Metsville
Might-he Jackal had struck out…
hehhehheh
HEHHHHH HEH HEH HEH

The experts had mostly predicted a Yankees-Mets rematch of the 2000 WS
Yanks over Tigers (wrong)
Twins over A’s (wrong)
Yanks over Twins (3 strikes and you’re out)
Padres over Cards (wrong)
Mets over Dodgers (hey – they got one right)
Mets over Pads (double wrong)

Lots of complaints from the sportswriters, partly because a whole lot of them are closet (and sometimes not so closet) Jeter/Yankee fans. Lots of complaints from stat geeks who are obsessed with “paper” and saying that in reality, only the stats in the regular season are important because what happens in a short series is “luck.”

The sportswriters have consoled themselves with all the accounts of how the Tigers lost 119 games 3 years ago – even th0ugh this is not a team composed of the exact same players, and how Jim Leyland is the magic man, the winner, ignoring how he up and quit on the Rockies as soon as he realized that winning in Coors was not ever gonna happen. But the Cards, the Cards hanging on has upset darn near everybody who is not a Cards fan or a St. Louis sportswriter or anyone old enough to remember the last great WS of the high mound era.

I keep reading it over and over and over again – whine, whine – but the Cards are the worst regular season team to play in the WS – we want the “best” teams to face each other.

Well, baseball is NOT what it was in 1968, the last year of the Pitchers’ Era, the last year before division play started. There are almost twice the number of teams. There is an unbalanced schedule. There is (unfortunately) interleague play. Fact is that if the contest rules are different for each contestant, then you simply can’t conclude that team A did better than team B in the exact same contest. You CAN say that team A won 100 of 162 games and team B won 8 of 162 games, but like, so???

At the end of the year, in each league, the three teams who win their divisions and the team who has won the most games but did not win a division title are separated from the rest. So, who is the “best team?” AND remember that the roster of a playoff team may have quite a different composition than the roster it had for even the first 3 months of the year.

But is there that certain somethng about playoffs that arouse some players, some teams? Is it suddenly “real” and somehow guys just fight harder? Do they find some sort of grim determination to win that had been lacking before? Not that they didn’t TRY to win, but some sort of something extra?

How does Brandon Backe, a very league average pitcher pitch waaayyy above league average in the playoffs, including 2 playoff games of 8 inning shutout ball?

How on earth does Kenny freaking Rogers pitch THREE games of 8 inning shutout ball at age 41? Where did THAT come from?

I disagree that this is simply attributable to luck – that is disrespecting a player as a human being – pitching 3 shutout games in a row in the playoffs in the same YEAR after years of playoff failure is not simply luck. Anthony Reyes pitching the game of his life might be called luck. But not 3 times in a row. Nope.

And the Cardinals pulling their sore, aching DL ready selves together to win 2 series in a row that they were “supposed” to lose – well, sorry, this is not just rolling computer dice. In the end, the best team is the one who wins and there is more to winning than looking at stats of what went before. Because that was then and this is now, this is the real thing and sometimes ragtag bands of grim determined people outfight larger and better equipped groups.
And it IS baseball, so youneverknow…

UPDATE: about all the columnists lip flapping bout did/did not Kenny Rogers have some illegal foreign substance and this is why the ball moved and the Cards didn’t hit… All I can say is this – they don’t know TLR like I know TLR and if for one second he thought he could get Rogers kicked out of that game he would have. TLR objects to EVERYTHING he can if he thinks he can get an advantage, trust me on this. Well, I guess I can say something more (hey, I’m a girl, it’s what we do…) Kenny Rogers didn’t exactly do worse after washing his hands after the first inning when the smudge was noticed, did he? And am I the only one who is wondering why TLR didn’t pinch hit for Molina with bases loaded 2 out in the bottom of the 9th?

10/18/06: Brad Lidge Sez – Boyz, I Feel Yer Pain

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Brad Lidge, a nice guy (so I read), a team guy (so I read) had, um, let’s say, a bad playoff series last year.

The infamous hanging slider to Uncle Albert in Game 5 NLCS – which, in truth, really lost us the WS.

- Now, as best I understand it from the sportswriter guys who all have extensive training in psychology, this home run completely destroyed Brad Lidge’s ability to pitch – he lost his mojo (or something…)

- Want proof?
The homer to Geoff freaking Blum…
The homer to Scott effing Podsednik…
The bleeder up the middle to Jermaine MVP Dye…
The 5. something ERA this year, the TWO grannies, the 5 BS, etc.

This complete destruction (ahem) of a pitcher courtesy of one Albert Pujols has caused TONS of complaints from “loyal” Stros fans wanting to see Brad traded for either an aging hellaciously expensive slugger, a reliever who never fails or a bag of used chewing gum.

And now, maybe some of the Astros fans who want everyone but Lance, Roy, Wheeler and Luke Scott off the team (and want us to pay 15 mill a year for stiff legged .810 career OPS Carlos Lee and GAWD knows how many mill a year for GAWD knows how many years for Soriano – like he’d ever come here in the first place and think that for some reason Barry Zito would WANT to leave the bright lights of the coast for obscurity at ANY price) might could want to look at the newest post season closer goats:

Huston Street, native Texan, Oakland A’s closer, who gave up the series clinching 3 run homer with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Mr. Street, I must remind yall, blew ELEVEN saves during the regular season, and lost 2 more games, but has escaped the same sort of criticism from the fans that Brad Lidge has received because his ERA this year was 3 runs lower…

Billy Wagner, ex-Astro, the guy who firmly believes that the reason God gave him a mouth is to talk, and he can so he does, well, he went all Brad in Game 2 and coughed up 3 runs, including a home run to So Taguchi, slugger extraordinaire. The understanding NY media screamed “Billy-Goat!!!” in the headlines.

But somehow, no writer suggested that either closer had had his mojo destroyed by either homer. hmmmmmmm….

So I would guess that mojo or no mojo, at LEAST 20 ML teams would line up to get Brad Lidge in a trade. At LEAST 20 ML pitching coaches would boast they could straighten him right out.
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Fact is that NO closer is infallible, not even The Mariano. Fact is that the Astros do not have any ML ready lights out closer waiting to take over. But actually, I don’t see what is wrong with rotating bullpen guys to close. If Wheeler is rested, threw 7 pitches for a 1,2,3 8th inning and the bottom of the lineup is coming up, why not send him back out? The sticking points seem to be
1 – guys egos
2 – dinero.

IF from the very beginning you tell Qualls, Wheeler, Lidge and maybe even Nieve that ALL of them are gonna close sometimes, and you are gonna go based on how rested or tired some guys are or ANY reason. Yeah, I guess this IS the closer by committee idea that the Boston guys tried to try out a few years back, But the problem was supposed to be that all the relievers were all indignant because they insisted on a set “role” – like only the 7th, or only leftys. Or only with less than 2 on 2 out. Whatever. It seemed to work at the end of the season, it might could work all year…

No Astros news, really. Roy uses his new bulldozer. Lidge, Wheeler and Qualls go hunting. Luke Scott and Taveras go fishing. Brad Ausmus, Mo Ensberg and Jason Lane go surfing. Or swimming. Adam Everett sez – I’m teaching my daughter to pitch.

Biggio is close to signing a contract. Duh. He’s not taking a pay cut. Duh. He expects to play. More Duh. Burke will go wherever he can play. Duh.

Lessee…
No news on the new pitching coach yet.

Very bad news – looks like the team is going to keep the lousy radio announcers. What a shame.
I read on cbssportsline that Scott Miller thinks that Albert Pujols is always a moody jerk. OK. Now that Barry Lamar Himself has turned into a nice guy and team player I guess SOMEone gotta inherit the moody jerk title… Not that Uncle has exactly shone in the playoffs so far – just like Himself before 02. And how strange it is to find myself rooting FOR that dratted Pest…

Of course the Tigers made it a very boring sweep of the A’s and now the experts are saying they should sweep the NL team, too. Which of course makes me root even harder for that Pest to won WS MVP. Either him or Speizio, who I thought should really have won it in 02.

Cards are now up 3-2. The experts are now sure that the Mets will take the last 2 back at Shea. Because they can’t ALWAYS be RONGGGG now, can they???

10/9/06: Why I Love Wandy Rodriguez And Hate The Yankees

Monday, October 9th, 2006

After I wrote my column last week wondering who to root for, I got several emails wondering why I have anything about Derek Jeter and the Yankees, seeing as how they aren’t even in the NL.

Well, I guess it would be for the same reason that Wandy Rodriguez is my favorite Astro, even though he is, well, not a very good major league ballplayer. But you see, he sure doesn’t have “the good face” and he’s too small and too skinny, but there he is anyhow and a person who succeeds in spite of being told he can’t or he shouldn’t is someone I really gotta root for.

I think that Americans both root root root for the Underdog AND hop on winners’ bandwagons with equal fervor.

If us Americans didn’t love Underdogs, there wouldn’t be all the endless remakes of the Bad News Bears (different titles, different faces, same story.) Of course, in the movies, the Underdogs always win. And of course, in the movies, the Underdog has a fighting chance – you never see 100 pound crippled old ladies in a wheelchair boxing a 250 lb professional male boxer. And baseball, of course, is the perfect game for the Underdog because in a short series, even 7 games, anything can happen and there are PLENTY of times when the best team on paper didn’t win.

And us Americans love to hop on winners’ bandwagons too. Who hasn’t noticed that gross ugly guys try to succeed as musicians because even thought they are the same gross ugly dorks they always were, suddenly a WHOLE lot of females think they are hot BECAUSE they are musicians? These days you hear all about the zillions of Yankee fans, and how they’ve always had millions of fanatical fans, and their tooth and claw rivalry with the Red Sox about which everybody in the entire northeast USA has chosen a side to fight and cry for. Funny thing, I disremember any of that kind of talk on ESPN when I was a kid, and now, seems they don’t actually realize there are baseball teams besides NY and Boston.

Now my mama went to a Yankees-Red Sox game in the Yankee Stadium in 1992 and she said there weren’t even 20,000 people there. Then again, those teams were simply terrible that year and I guess a whole lot of all those “fans” had something else to care about. In fact, in spite of having the largest market by FAR, the Yankees were in the bottom half of the AL in attendance. In 1994, they were in first place when Bud Seligula decided to end the season, and they were STILL in the middle of the pack in attendance – AND, it didn’t begin to really rise until they had won their second WS in 3 years, in 1998, and even then they were 3rd behind Cleveland and Baltimore.

It is really a fantasy that the early winning NY teams were all a bunch of homegrown guys, raised by Showalter and tuned to perfection by Joe Torre. Truth was that only 7 of all 25 position players (who played for the Yanks that year) and 5 of 24 pitchers were actually produced from the Yankee farm system – the rest were obtained by trades of ML players and FA signings.

But somehow, it didn’t SEEM as if George was just going out and buying every top FA on the market every year, so even though 4 of 5 starting pitchers were all top notch FA, somehow they didn’t seem like hired mercenaries, even though, of course, they were. As for the starting lineup, only 2 of 9 were homegrown Yankees – Jeter and Bernie. But somehow those Yankee teams got the reputation of being “gritty” instead of being “greedy” – probably because Baltimore and Cleveland still had higher payrolls and higher attendance.

Sometime around 1999, maybe 2000, when David Wells was swapped for Roger Clemens and it seemed they were trading any decent young up and coming player for vets and a few too many fans AND George started talking about the WS trophy as if it was the Yankees’ divine right, I started seriously rooting against them.

Of course, that was about the time when a WHOLE lot of people started hopping on the bandwagon – some people LIKE the idea that their team has some sort of divine right to a trophy.

And the Yanks FINALLY got their comeuppance from another (almost) all mercenary team – the 2001 Diamondbacks, who managed to defeat, for the first time in 4 years, The Mariano with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Game 7.

Pride goeth before a fall. The Yanks had to walk back into ther locker with the plastic all up and nothing to celebrate. And that was the beginning of the end.

And with Bud Selig screaming and el-cheapo greedy uncaring owners like McClatchy and Glass and Ms. Selig screaming bout “unfairness” and taking plenty of money out of George’s coffers, the Boss decided that the solution to losing would be to go get more and more and more expensive FA and All-Stars and BUY that trophy. The regular season doesn’t matter – it’s only marking time until the REAL season begins. Sorta like how guys hafta take you on a date and buy you flowers and dinner and flatter you and listen to you blahblahblah on and on and say uhhunh and mmmmm yeah baby yeah because it’s just marking time until the REAL thing starts – you give it up.

When George and some Yankee fans say who cares about the 6 months of the season, pitchers great years, hitters great years, it just shows contempt for all the hard work and accomplishments of the players and the team for 6 months. Like it or not, Billy Beane WAS right – the playoffs ARE a crapshoot. Heck, even the sorry ass Royals have swept the Yanks in 3 games.

But you know, maybe I don’t really need to hate the Yankees any more. Yeah, they stick their noses in the air, act like their poopoo has no odor, act like they are the best team money can buy and they are entitled to that trophy. You see, ballplayers talk seriously about “respecting the game”, about “playing the game the way it should be played” and “chemistry.” Seems to me that the Yankees as a group are not any sort of team at all, just a group of prima donnas who are all about their own stats – and I mean hitting stats. Watching them “field” is painful – there isn’t one guy on that team who looks to me like even a league average NL fielder. Actually, it seems all they are good at is walking and hitting homers, and this supposedly perfect lineup looks helpless against any unintimidated pitcher who doesn’t either throw junk or nibble. Their pitching is execrable, to be nice about it. They simply do not appear to play together as a team. Even Captain Perfect Jeter the Star isn’t able to get his teammates to play as a team.

smile

Guess The Boss and the Yankees kinda reminds me of that old story about the fisherman’s wife

But as for me, the sorry ass Yankees aren’t the underdog quiiiite yet. And how I LIKE all the knowitall “experts” being dead wrong about the outcomes of 3 of 4 of these series. Me, I’m rooting for either that dratted Pest or maybe even Brandon Inge to be the next Brian Doyle 1978 WS or Mickey Hatcher 1988 WS all over again. Or even Barry Lamar Himself 2002 postseason. Because, you see, it IS baseball and youneverknow…

10/5/06: Ex-Stros and Extras

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Might as well get this over with first – of COURSE there is no word whether or not either Roger or Andy will be back. I will really be surprised if there is before at LEAST November 1. Fer SHER Drayton needs to know wassup before the GM meetings in December. No committment? Plan for the year without Roger or Andy. Sure Roger can retire and unretire in June, but we HAVE to build the team as if he is never coming back.

As for all the steroid talk about whether or not Grimsley told IRS agent Nowitsky anything that he put in his affidavit, well – who knows WHAT Grimsley told Nowitsky. You see, Grimsely didn’t write and sign a statement and the conversation wasn’t witnessed or videotaped, per standard FBI and police protocol. VERY strange. And seeing as how this is the SECOND time Nowitsky has done this (the first was Victor Conte, who denied essentially everything that Nowitsky said) and you’d think that a lot more people would be a lot more suspiscious.

As for me, I don’t see ANY evidence in the stats that Andy somehow suddenly improved right after the arrival of Roger on the Yankees, and I can’t see how anyone else could either. Everyone says, well Roger suddenly improved when he left the Red Sox and went to the Jays. Well, wins, sure. But there has to be something else. Well, look at how well he did when he went to the NL. Yep. Facing a new league, living at home, not making road trips where he doesn’t pitch, getting the usual leg and groin problems in September. This year, he didn’t even start until June 22. His FB generally runs about 92-93, so can’t nobody say he never lost velocity. He can’t pitch moren 6 innings, usually, and he goes to a WHOLE lot of 3-2 counts.

Sigh.

I want a LOT more evidence besides – IF he is accused THEN he must be guilty. Or – since a lot of ML ballplayers did roids, and Roger can’t prove he never did them, let’s assume he is guilty since he’s good (never mind the fact that almost every caught drug user has sucked…) I ALSO want a little more proof besides Barry Lamar Himself that roids actually improve a ballplayers performance in any way besides making him stronger. Ryan Franklin, for example, has sucked just as much this year as he has every other year. I’m getting seriously tired of all the self important self-righteous reporters who somehow “didn’t notice” all those years dropping accusations right and left, knowing that the accused can’t either prove they were innocent or sue the accusers.

Next:
Well, all the guys suddenly playing decent baseball the last 2 weeks covered a multitude of sins and got Phil a contract extension until 2008. Peachy. Guess this means another year of Munsons and ex-sucky Tigers Phil wants on the team.

Of COURSE
they are close to working out a contract for Biggio. Like some other team was gonna take him and play him full time. Like McLane would give up the one distraction he is guaranteed to hopefully take fans minds off the suckiness of the team. It’s a much needed backup in case Roger for some reason decides that he really doesn’t want all the usual yearly pleading and begging and rear-end kissing.

Roy Oswalt
was the NL pitcher of the month. Naturally. HOPEfully, he will win the CY even though 5 guys have 1 more win than he does.

And now for a lil something Ex-Stro -
Remember Jeff Kent the jerk – the guy with something nasty to say to even nice guys like Lance Berkman. Remember how this guy has made friends with Bill Plaschke and TJ Simers, 2 of the biggest jerks in the reporter world? Remember Kent crawling all OVER the ass of Milton Bradley last year for not scoring on a Kent single, depriving him of an RBI and the other team of an out and Kent’s nasty bitchy little friends driving Bradley off the Dodgers? Well, what goes around comes around and Kent didn’t manage to score from second on a sure FB single to right and was out by 6 or 7 steps – he was running like he had all the time in the world and had one of the worst slides I’ve ever seen. Up in Minnesota, Bradley was laughing his rear off. Funny I didn’t read Simers and Plaschke describing Kent’s execrable baserunning, let alone with the contempt it deserved.

Julio Lugo is STILL making errors and poor plays left and right. Yeah, Dodgers fans, he was like that in 2001 – he almost singlehandedly lost us the NLDS against the Braves.
Billy Wags is still getting the job done. Linebrink is getting the job done. Preston Wilson played in game 1 and went 1 fer 4 with a run scored and left just one on base.

And just for a lil extra
The Cards are 2-0 on the Padres, who were supposed to sweep. Giggle. Hopeless giggle. You know, it just might could be that one day teams that don’t see Uncle near as much as I do might could actually accept that he is Barry Lamar kind of good and treat him just the same. Much better to walk the guy than to throw him something good and hope he misses…

10/3/06: And Its Root Root Root For The, Um, Whoever

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Root, Root, Root for the home team, if they don’t win, um, uh,
it’s kinda a boring offseason.

Let’s see – during my life, we’ve been to the playoffs in 86, 97, 98, 99, 01, 02, 04 and 05. Kinda been spoilt lately. Now it is true that except for the last 2 years, we’ve been beaten in the first round and so I had to think of who to root for in the rest of the playoffs.

So here I go again.

First, I always root for the NL team – now if the Cubs ever make the WS, ESPECIALLY if they face the Yankees, it will sure be like the devil and the deep blue sea.

So which NL team? The “experts” say the Mets are the best team. Fine on paper. But there’s been a WHOLE lot of times that the best team on paper lost because its baseball and youneverknow.

Now, Carlos the Jackal is on the Mets and there is NO way I could root for him. But on the other hand, Billy Wags is on that team too and he’s one of my favorite ballplayers. But on the other hand, this is a team that is hazing and humiliating one of its rookies, Lastings Milledge. Not sure what he’s done to deserve this or even IF he’s done something to deserve this, but I don’t like the whole idea of picking on the new kid and trying to get the media to hate him. (My Gawd I sound like the father in Fiddler On The Roof…)

The Padres? The team that shut down the great Astros team of 1998 – and remember, this was the team that had the invincible Randy Johnson on it back when he was THE Randy Johnson. On one hand, they have Houston homie Woody Williams pitching. Woody, in case yall forgot, is the very good pitcher who has been trying to hook up with the Astros for YEARS, has said on the record more than once that what he wants most is to pitch for his hometown Astros, and the boy can’t get his phone calls returned. (Maybe this year, with a pitching staff of Roy plus a bunch of rooks, they just might could pick up the freaking phone and give him an offer…) And Scott Linebrink, the former Astro they stupidly put on waivers for no reason at all and who got grabbed by the Pads and who has been one of the 20 top relievers in the NL for the past 3 years – yeah, he’s on the team too. There’s no Jackal-like creature on the team, neither. So this just might could be a go.

The Cards? Who we’ve been in closest contest with for most of the past 5 years for the top spot in the division? Who have Uncle, a hurting Pest, a slumping Rolen, a cast of suckables and a AAA bullpen without a closer? And a starter who has, um, not been good down the stretch, to put it nicely?? Who plan on succeeding with Jeff Suppan and Chris Carpenter and, um, and, um, and um, and… Reminds me of 2004 when we tried to win with Roger, Roy and his bad rib, Brandon Backe and, um, and – oh yeah – Pete Munro. Of course we did have Brad Lidge back when even Uncle didn’t want to see him, but we also had Dan F. Miceli who lost three games for us in the playoffs and didn’t save one. The Cards are also burdened with Preston Wilson and his air conditioner bat. How could they POSSIBLY win anything???

So yall know me and the underdog. Any girl who her favorite Astro is Wandy, you KNOW she LUUUUUVVVV the underdog. The one who everybody say shouldn’t be there. The one who everybody say can’t succeed.

So me, I’m rooting for the Cards and I’m hoping all the pitchers try to show how, um, manly they are and they pitch to Uncle with the game on the line. (Brad Lidge would like this too, OK??? You best believe he had, um, sympathy for Cla Meredith the other day, yes he surely did…)

If the Cards don’t make it, then the Pads. And if it’s the Mets, well, I WILL root for them. Except I hope the Jackal goes ofer the series, GIDP a lot, makes all KINDS of errors, gets CS every time, but the Mets win anyway in spite of him.

Now in the AL?
I just don’t really care as long as it is not the Yankees and their band of mercenaries. I can say that if I grew up in NY and was a AL fan I’d root for em no matter WHO played for them. But I can’t bring myself to root for anyone on that team except for Bernie Williams (and he is just about fully cooked) and Wang because he’s homegrown and he wins without striking out hardly anyone on a team that has absolute butchers for defenders. And I don’t guess I mind Damon that much – his team didn’t WANT him back.

Tigers/Twins/A’s – any one of em fine with me. I just want the NL to beat them. Especially with all the media going ona nd on and on bout how the stupid DH league is so “superior” and all that crap.

In case any of yall looking for me to predict anything – no freaking way. Absolutely ANYTHING can happen in a short series and shocking things do. I’ve seen the Cubs lose when they were up by 3 and 5 outs from the pennant. I remember Dusty Baker taking the game ball from Russ Ortiz. I remember ALL those bad calls by the umps that went in the White Sox favor last year – ESPECIALLY the Doug Eddings stupidity. I remember the 116 win Mariners losing in the first round in 3 games.

So like I said, its baseball and youneverknow so I have NO idea who is gonna win anything. All I can say is I hope it ain’t the Yankees. Break ol Tim McCarver’s heart St. Jeter and his gang get knocked out in the first round again. And I will go for THAT.

It Ain’t Over Till Its Over And The 2006 Season Is OVAH

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

So Phil decided to start Sampson today instead of Roy on early rest. Me, I think it was a psychological thing – the Cards are more worried about facing Roy than any other pitcher…
Yall know I think that Sampson had done a great job so far this year and I know that Roy is no question the better pitcher and all the statists think this was a mistake…

It started out with bad luck for Sampson – Burke made an error on an easy 4-3, overthrowing it and Giles scored on a Renteria sac bunt then a Chipper Jones GO – Lance threw to home hoping to get the speedy Giles instead of the sure out, but got neither. An unearned run still counts on the scoreboard, unfortunately. But Chris shrugged it off, Kd Andruw, and then Burke made a beautiful leaping grap of McCann’s scorching liner.

So do Chris and Lance come back to the dugout and say to Sampson – hey dude, we gotcher back and we’ll get that run back and then some???

Well, Chris sure tried. Huff singled, then Burke hit a bloop double to left. No out, men on second and third. Adam LO to second. No chance. Then Quintero hits a FB to shallow center which Francoeur makes a sliding catch on. Francoeur has an arm like Clemente and Mansolino sends Huff, who, if yall remember Phil almost always pinch runs for in the late innings because Huff runs about as fast as Quintero. STUPID. Huff was dead meat 20 feet from the plate.

Yeah, the pitcher was up next, but Sampson, who hit over .300 as a pitcher in AAA, was a better bet to drive a run in than even Willy T was to beat Francoeur’s throw. That was as stupid as sending Andy Pettitte home from second on a single to shallow center. Sigh.

Errors. Inability to get guys home with men on second and third with 2 out. Seriously stupid coaching mistakes.

Chris makes one bad pitch to Francoeur in the second – he hangs a slider and Francoeur Pujolses it into the stands. That guy will swing at ANYTHING – rookie mistake by both Sampson and Quintero to throw him anything in the strike zone…

Braves 2 Stros 0

3rd inning – Sampson PO. Willy Ks again, Lamb singles. Berkman singles. Will Luke Scott heat up again? He’s been pretty cold for the last 5 games. HBP on the knee. Bases loaded for Huff – here we are with RISP again – and we strand em all. Same ol same ol.

Chris pitching – Renteria walks, Chipper singles, no outs. Sampson has thrown 40 pitches now – not sure how long he is expected to go today. Hickey to the mound. And Andruw hits a ball to third. Lamb grabs it, fires it waaaaay past Berkman for yet ANOTHER error and Chipper scores and Andruw is on third. McCann GO and it is ANOTHER UER for poor Chris.

- One more time – a SCREEEEEMMMM out to all the people who think that all that matters is bats bats bats and Adam Everett should be poopoo-canned. No pitcher alive, not Nolan Ryan, not Roger Clemens, not ANY pitcher has ever struck out every one of 27 batters and the fielders just MUST make plays.

Fact is that Chris had made exactly ONE bad pitch – the hanging slider to Francoeur and I hope hope hope that the Organization does NOT use these 3 runs to decide that he does not deserve a GOOD chance to be in the rotation next year. Chris can’t make the rest of the lineup hit with RISP and seem to me that Roger wasn’t criticized for it. There is NO reason to waste a very good starting pitcher in the mop up role like Borkowski, which is sure nuff what it looks like they plan to do.

Unless our rotation next year is Roy, Webb, Santana, Smoltz and Verlander, there is no reason to waste a very good SP. Who is it they think is better – Wandy? Albers? Hirsh? Patton? They have already decided to use Nieve as yet another cruddy 1 or 2 inning mop up guy so forget him. You best believe we aren’t going to pay for 4 FA top line starters and even the available crud isn’t better looking than Sampson.

4th inning – Smoltz got three runs to play with and this guy is not going into the Hall for nothing – and he still got it you know, he’s definitely in the top 10 pitchers in the NL this year. And he gets 1,2,3 out.
- Sampson – no rookie jitters – he gets east FB, K, BB, GO.

Four excellent innings and they send up pinch hitter extroardinaire Jason Lane, who, of course, Ks on 3 pitches in the bottom of the 5th. Smoltz faces Luke Scott with 2 out, men on first and third and gets a weak GB. Looks like Luke has picked a bad time to quit hitting. Smoltz has now thrown 83 pitches through 5 innings and seeing as how the Braves bullpen has practically looked like Gagne 03 against us this series, I am not counting on Renteria’s glove winning the game for us again.

Nieve comes in in the 5th – gets a K, then a long FB to center which Willy loses in the sun and it falls in for a GR double. No error, just crappy fielding that will count against the pitcher. Chipper walks – and the balls are NOT close. Andruw walks. Good grief.

- GAMUS INTERRUPTUS: Anthony Reyes started for the Cards on short rest – single, K, homer, K, homer, triple, single – and it’s goo-bye already. 0.2 IP and 4 ER… Tony is PRAYING Stros fielders keep making really bad errors

Back to nervous – Wandy is in to face the second best hitting lefty in the NL, Brian McCann. Strike 1, foul, ball 1, FB to center and Willy atones for his stupid misplay on that FB and fires to Quintero who tags Renteria, who has pulled a Jeremy Giambi. 8-2 DP. Cool.

Still Braves 3 Stros 0

6th – Huff Ks, Burke singles, Adam walks. Smoltz looks like he’s tiring, but I’m not holding my breath with THAT guy out there. And it’s Quintero who GO. Men on second and third. Palmeiro PH. So will he face Smoltz or a lefty? Smoltz. Strike looking, ball, foul, ball, foul, foul, K swinging. Two MORE LOB.

- sigh

Russ Springer in – Francoeur K, Ward GO, Langerhans GO3.

7th – McBride, LHP is there in relief. Willy singles. Big deal. Lamb loops a single to left. Lance is like ofer 15 his last righty AB. And he singles up the middle and Willy scores. Luke Scott – it IS time to hit up. I mean HEAT up. Nope. He Ks after getting 3 straight balls. Can Huff come through THIS time? Nope. He Ks on the 8th pitch. So it’s Chris Burke in to face RHP Tyler Yates and he FO. 

Two on, no out and THREE different batters can’t do anything.
Astros baseball right there. We have now left ELEVEN MOB and St Louis is getting their brains beat in in Milwaukee. Great.

Brad is pitching. GO 4-3, GO 5-3, GO 6-3. Six pitches, all strikes. WHY can’t he pitch like this ALL the time?????

8th – Adam GO, Biggio PH for Quintero FO to right, Ausmus PH for Lidge – GO. You KNOW if Brad Ausmus is PH instead of Mo Ensberg that Mo is gonna be outta here at the end of the year. I just sincerely hope we get something good for him and he goes to the AL so he won’t come back to kill us as son as he gets his swing back.
Chad Qualls is pitching – Chipper FO, Andruw FO, McCann FO. 3 outs, 5 pitches.

9th – Wickman in to close. He’s a GB closer and somehow I don’t think we can count on Renteria spotting us 3 runs again. Willy gets himself the sombrero. Lamb GO to Renteria. Lance FO.

You best believe the Braves are enjoying revenge for the last 2 years, knocking us out of the playoffs this year.

This game was basically a very accurate snapshot of the Astros entire season.
Would I have felt better if we had just lost 1-0, as it would have been if there hadn’t been any errors?

The Braves were 3 hit. Yep. Three hits and 4 walks and the only run scored on a solo homer.

The Astros left 11 MOB, Braves left five. How many times have we had games exactly like this? (By the way, Taylor Buchholz had the second lowest run support of any starter who pitched at least 15 starts in the NL – 3.28 runs/game… Not that he didn’t have 5 absolutely 5 horrible starts too.)

The fact is that even had we somehow won, we would have been knocked out by either NL West team in the first round, in spite of the quality of our pitching. See today’s game if you disbelieve me.

This loss means, I think, that Brandon Webb will win the CY by a hairlash over Carpenter, who will come in second ahead of Roy because the Cards won the division. Not fair, but hey, that’s baseball.

And unless Albert beats the Brew Crew today, I think he’s going to lose the MVP to Ryan Howard of the Phils, who has more homers. Yes I know the Phils didn’t even win the WC, but hey, you are talking about HOME RUNS here. Lance who? He’s gonna come in 5th, if that, after the NY guys, even though the 2006 Astros would have made the 2006 Cubs look like the 2001 Mariners without him.

I’ll do the yearly autopsy on the 06 Stros after I have had time to clean off the corpse…

10/1/06: Brave Last Words

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Well, I GUESS Chris Sampson is gonna start, that is, unless Phil decides to start Roy on short rest and have Roger face St. Louis, if he needs to. But honestly, I think the Cards are a LOT more reluctant to see Roy than even Roger.

They start their game an hour after we do, so I suppose if we’re losing by 10 runs or something, then TLR won’t hafta start Carpenter and can save him for the playoffs. And cmon, if he loses again, Roy should be the clear CY winner ESPECIALLY after he defeats St. Louis on Tuesday. Sorry but no cigar Mr. Webb.

So I don’t guess we’ll really KNOW who will start until the game Phil hands the ump the lineup, so I won’t post stats again…

Remember, we hafta win today and St. Louis must lose both today AND Monday for us to win the Division…

I know I got my wish to finish at at least .500 and I know I’m getting greedy, but what can I say
It makes a woman proud to be a Stros fannnnn
(from Jim Bouton’s Ball 4 – well, juuuuuuuust a little misquoted…)

-

John Smoltz, RHP
- really really great RHP who should go into the HOF with his exes Glavine and Maddux

- he’s actually had a pretty darn good year, but since his team has sucked, there hasn’t been much said bout how he’s been the ONLY pitcher Bobby Cox could count on. Me, I just hope he’s thinkin bout fishing and not about revenge for last year…
- this year: 15-9 in 33 GS: 3 CG, 1 SO: 23 HR, 52 BB, 206 K over 224.1 IP – 3.53 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a .248 BAA
- and he has 23 QS – more than supposed to be CY Chris Carpenter
@ the Ted: 204 80 42-24 in 80 GS & 124 relief – 79 Saves, 10 CG and 4 SO: 49 HR, 150 BB, 614 K over 687 IP – 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a .241 BAA
vs Hou: 15-13 in 35 GS, 10 relief ,7 Sv, 3 SO: 16 HR, 74 BB, 222 K in 250.2 IP – 3.05 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .246 BAA
- man, I can’t believe he’s actually lost 13 games – seems he beats us every time