By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
On the Record
All great quests need to be chronicled. Some not-so-great quests, too. And in the Age of Blogs, no quest seems to go unrecorded.
And so we have the "Plunk Biggio" Web site, at www.plunkbiggio.blogspot.com, which follows the Astros' Craig Biggio as he closes in on becoming the major-leaguer who has been hit by a pitch the most times.
The blog is put together by a 31-year-old programmer from Boston who, understandably enough, prefers to remain anonymous.
"Before last Friday," he said recently by e-mail, "I was neither an Astros fan nor a Biggio fan, but as soon as I found out he was close to breaking a 102-year-old record, I became a fan."
In case you're wondering, the record for being hit by a pitch is 287, held by the not-so-immortal Hughie Jennings. Biggio's been hit 260 times.
Celebrating baseball's fanatical attachment to statistics, the blog revels in facts. "May 11th, in Biggio plunking history, is some sort of Pennsylvania vengeance day," a recent post read. "Biggio has been hit four times on May 11th, three by the Pirates and once by the Phillies. He has been hit in three of the four Pennsylvania ballparks he's played at."
Biggio, of course, is scorned by some baseball fans for the extensive armor he wears to the plate -- hard-plastic elbow and arm pads that are to the hit-by-pitch record chase what steroids were to the home-run record.
Should he be allowed to just go ahead and bat with a full Kevlar bodysuit?
"Kevlar is nice, but I'd like to see him wear something that would make a nice metallic cling when he got hit," the plunkbiggio guy says. "Maybe they could mike it up so the sound could echo like a gong going throughout the park."
Which would require ranking hits by decibel level, no doubt. Baseball, computers and too much spare time -- a deadly combination.
Proud to Be Anti-American
We all know the Liberal Media hates what is best about America, like the brave men and women in the armed forces. It's not often the media brags about it, though.
But there it was, a press release blasted around town by KHOU-TV. "An investigation by KHOU-TV's 'The Defenders' has led to a nationwide stand-down of U.S. Army recruiting efforts," it shouted.
That's great, Channel 11. Valiant soldiers out there fighting what we're told is a War on Terrorism, and you're happy making sure they have no reinforcements? Why don't you just run a few "Osama wants you" posters while you're at it?
The station had broadcast the voice-mail message of an army officer threatening a youngster with arrest if he didn't show up at the recruiting station. And reporter Mark Greenblatt admits they were wary about being perceived as troop-hatahs.
"You never know in our community, with it being so patriotic," he says. "It really came up in a big way in our discussions about how to do the story."
So far, though, there's been no backlash. "I have not had a single personal call or e-mail complaining," he says. "I think far and wide, people realize this is not something they want to happen in the army they have."
The Houston Chronicle managed to write about the May 20 one-day recruiting stand-down and the Houston incident without noting how KHOU broke the story.
Greenblatt takes the high road. Kind of. "If you look at The New York Times [May 12], you'll see KHOU credited on the national scene in one of the nation's most credible papers," he says.
We'll see if the Chron mentions Greenblatt's planned follow-ups, tentatively titled "Ten Ways to Avoid Registering with Selective Service," "The Army Is for Suckers" and "Motherhood and Apple Pie -- the Hidden Time Bombs in Your Kitchen."