Monday, May 31, 2010

A Forgetable Memorial Day!

I really don't like complainers, especially when it is me complaining. But there was lots to complain about or visit to Minute Maid Park this afternoon. First, the advertised holiday version of the Astros caps that were to be given away as promos were not provided. Not even the little American flags that we have received at games on Memorial Day were handed out this year. Can you say, "cost-cutting?"

Then when we got to the kids play area, that the Astros promote in an effort to attract families to the games, most of the activities were not open. We were told that they did not have enough staff to man all them. We had heard that the last three times we had taken to boys to a game, but those were on week nights/school nights. Today was a holiday and there should have been max staff on the job. More budget trimming?

Then the home plate umpire, Bill Hohn, decided he was the center of attention. He had, from our seats right behind the plate, squeezed the strike zone on Astros' pitcher Roy Oswalt. In the third inning Oswalt threw what both he and I thought was strike three to Adam Dunn. Hohn called it a ball, and on the next pitch, Dunn hit a bases loaded double, driving in three runs.

The next batter, Josh Willingham, had a 1-2 count. The next pitch was a fantastic pitch--I saw the replay when I got home and was right about my original opinion--but Hohn called it ball 2. Oswalt turned toward right field and raised his head and shouted. I don't know what word he said, but he was not shouting at the umpire, just expressing frustration.

But Hohn came out from behind the plate and walked toward the mound. He called Roy to attention, and Roy responded by pointing to the umpire. Hohn promptly ejected Oswalt. From there the pitching unraveled and the game got really ugly. The final score was 14-4. Most of the fans had left the building before the last out.

To add to the insanity, twice during the game, idiotic fans jumped the rails and ran across the diamond. Each time security captured the fan and led them away, one in hand cuffs. They will each pay a thousand dollar fine and spend the night in jail. Some fans find the trespassers amusing, but I am not one of those. I enjoy a baseball game, not jerks, whether they are behind the plate or trespassing on the field.

A thoroughly forgettable Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trading Roy???

Roy Oswalt has requested a trade. I hate the idea of him not being here. He is the best pitcher the Astros have developed in their history, with the possible exception of Larry Dierker. It has been a real joy to watch him perform.

But the Astros are at least a couple of seasons away from real contention for the playoffs, so perhaps trading Oswalt could expedite the return to respectability. That being true, I do not want to see Roy in another National League uniform. I do not want the 'Stros to have to face him on a regular basis.

So when I heard that Nolan Ryan had called to express interest to Drayton McLane about trading for Oswalt, I began to daydream about what Houston might get from the Rangers in the trade. How would it be if one of the components of the trade were Elvis Andrus or Nelson Cruz? I do not know if the Rangers would part with such players, but it would be the starting place of any conversation, if I were GM.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seeing Ubaldo

I got to watch Ubaldo Jimenez in person for the first time tonight. The Colorado Rockies' young pitching phenom is pretty special. He only allowed one hit in seven innings shut out innings, and hit 99 mph on the radar gun several times. And not only does he throw hard, he also has a nasty curve ball that he throws in the high 70's! His change up was clocked at 88 mph. The Astros had very few opportunities to score.

Again Roy Oswalt was the tough luck loser, giving up only 2 earned runs in 6 innings and giving up only three hits. But he was tagged for his sixth loss of the season.One wonders how many wins he would have if he had any run support at all.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Remembering Robin Roberts

May 31 1957 was a magical night for a young baseball fan from South Texas. My family was visiting my mother's family in Bordentown, New Jersey for a couple of weeks. My dad and my uncle took me to Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia to see my first Major League game in person.

The Phillies' pitcher that night was the awesome right-hander Robin Roberts. He was in the midst of 6 consecutive seasons of 20 wins. And he was facing the Brooklyn Dodger with their awesome line-up, Gilliam, Cimoli, Snider, Furillo, Hodges, Campanella, Neal, Zimmer, and the Don Drysdale as the opposing pitcher.

The game lived up to my imagination. There was excellent pitching and defense. There was a majestic by the great Dodger catcher, Roy Campanella, off the top of the stadium. But Roberts only gave up three hits, pitched a complete game and got the win. For years after that magical night I would want to be a second baseman like Junior Gilliam. And, in my mind, I would pitch, copying Robin Roberts and throwing the perfect pitch in the pressure situation.

Robin Roberts passed away yesterday. But the memory of his mastery will live as long as I do!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Johnny Neun Quote!

I just read a quote by a man who was in his late eighties and still swinging his fungo in spring training at the time. Johnny Neun had played in the 1920's for Ty Cobb and managed the Yankees and Reds. Young players today would do well to listen.

"It is important to remember how careful you have to be about the way you live your life. It's to your advantage not to do too many things off the field that interfere with your life on the field. You turn on the TV and you hear that some committee or other is investigating things out of someone's past and lives get ruined. When you play this game, you're in the public eye. I once heard a great poet say that if you're going to go public with your life, your life belongs to the public. Be careful with our life. In the long run the thing that's going to be the most precious to you, the thing you're going to treasure all your life, is your peace of mind."

Dig in and make sure you get the full benefit of your natural ability. Only a few of you are going to make the Big Club. But for the others, you ought to be able to leave saying. "I gave it my best." Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't worry about things you have no control over. Do it this way and someone may walk up to you and say, 'you're the one."


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Perfect Night at Minute Maid

Being at a ball game anytime is a great joy, but Tuesday night at Minute Maid was almost as perfect as one could ever expect. The April temperature was about 70 at game time, and not a cloud in the sky. The roof was open and the breeze was blowing gently.

To make things better, we saw the return of Lance Berkman to the line up for the first time, following his time on the disabled list. He was one for four with a double and two runs batted in, giving hope that the offense will be improving in the days ahead. Even Carlos Lee had a hit, also a double, sparking hope that his slump will end soon. J.R. Towles had a couple of hits! Things are looking better.

After giving up hits to the first four Florida hitters, Brett Myers pitched tough enough to keep the Astros in the game. Matt Lindstrom came in and closed out the come from behind win over the Marlins.

It would be hard to find a better day at the ballpark!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day At Minute Maid '10!!!

Opening Day has been a huge part of life for my wife and I. We have celebrated 43 anniversaries, 42 of them at Opening Day for the Astros. The only time we missed was when we celebrated our 35th in New York City. We just returned from the 2010 edition.

Roy Oswalt started for the 'Stros against Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, the reigning back to back Cy Young winner. Oswalt pitched creditably, but not well enough to avoid the loss. He gave up three runs in his six innings of work, while Lincecum did not allow a run in his seven innings of work.

Houston did not hit the ball hard very often tonight. Carlos Lee had a line drive off the wall in left, but the next well struck ball was in the 9th inning when J. R. Towles had a double to left center field to drive in the second run of the evening for Houston.

There were not too many bright spots for the over 43,000 in attendance. I wonder how many fans will be in the stands tomorrow.