Friday, April 08, 2011

The 2011 Houston Astros: I Watch So you Won't Have To!

What do we think we think?

1. These Astros will be something in Obama's second term--if the pitching comes around. Myers and Lee will be gone by then; Pence, probably still here. Brett Wallace at first base and Chris Johnson at third have the look of keepers. Until then, it's a matter of waiting for the young guys to mature, some money to free up, for Drayton to sell the team

2. Somebody do something about the Jumbotron. It's the best device I've ever seen for not showing much of anything. Lee was called out for "BI," as it read on the scoreboard; I assume that means "batter's interference." But whatever happened seemed to happen as he was rounding first during/after a poor throw, which sailed past the first baseman and into foul territory. thirty-five thousand people were on the same page: Lee goes to second with Wallace and Johnson due up. Bingo, a big inning.

Wait a minute. Here's Lee being thumbed out. Why, no one seemed to know. The screen, which flips between a standard-issue scoreboard complete with batting orders, innings, runs, hits, etc., and a Jumbotron screen, still listed Lee's at-bat as E1, pitcher's error, with a base advance. (It does have a neat scorebook-style batting line). But more important: It would not show the play. Instant-replay Diamond Visions have been strictly regulated since 1985, when a furious George Steinbrenner ordered seven replays, one after the other, of a close play at first, and the umpires threatened to walk off the field. (It was Billy Martin, of all people, who acted the role of peacemaker.) But this wasn't a close play. It was . . . something. Nobody knew. The next inning, I went into the Men's, hoping to catch Milo's explanation on the radio feed the park pipes into the restrooms. The speakers in my Men's Room, however, were not functioning. Came back, when Lee came up again: BI. Batter's interference. (Does "batter" in this instance refer to "batter/runner", a popular term in the rulebook? Still no replay--I asked.

There was no play for Lee's whatever-it-was; no replay of a soft Marlin pop-up that somehow--I would loved to have seen how--found a splash of greenspace between Lee and Johnson at third base; no replay, later on, of a collision at second that led to Hanley Ramirez, only the Marlins' best player, carried off the field with his left foot dangling. (The last time I saw an injury like that, live, was when it happened to Chien Ming-Wang, who on Father's Day, 2008, was headed for the Cy Young Award before he tore that cord of a muscle that runs diagonally under your foot. This happened at Minute Maid, and was never the same.) On the big screen, there was the kiss-cam, the Goya ball shuffle, a look at the Houston Zoo, a Q&A in which Wandy was asked which teammate could be a super-hero (Carlos Lee, Superman), and a pantomime in which Kids of All Ages were asked to play a drawing of a set of bongo drums. (I don't know either). Apparently Drayton (or the Park, of some measure of both) has paid for the world's most expensive screen-saver.

3. Oh, yeah, the final score. In one week, the Astros' bullpen, given eighth-inning leads of two and one runs, have allowed six runs in four innings, for an ERA of 14.50, and the only reason it's not higher is that, last Friday, the Phillies were playing at homeand didn't need to keep scoring after they went ahead in the bottom of the ninth.

4-3 Marlins. More loveliness tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service to the greater Houston community. You are a real hero.

I want Jay-Z and Beyonce to buy the Astros--they have loads of money. ~Melissa

texasyank said...

Anyone who is willing to actually pay for pitching, pay for prospects, pay for some power in the middle of the line-up.