Game Four: A Bitter Sweep Ending

The Astrosí attempt to win without scoring somehow fails

Astros fans everywhere should get on their knees and thank Brad Lidge for doing what he’s been doing best lately: giving up the winning run. Otherwise we’d stillbe watching Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett getting out with men on base.

There’s only so much a fan can take. The Fox announcers -- every time Ensberg would come up -- would quote manager Phil Garner as saying the third baseman was “due for a hit.” Well, the Washington Generals are due for a win against the Harlem Globetrotters, but that doesn’t mean we’re expecting one.

By the end of the Series -- by the end of 15 straight fricking innings without a run -- Astros fans were reduced to hoping for the team to just go down 1-2-3 in each inning. A hit only served to again tease out that tiny bit of Garner-esque hope that said logically it’s all but impossible for a team that has made it to the Series to be so inept on offense. Logically, someoneshould be able to drive in a run.

Of course, logically by Game Four you’d think about having someone other than Brad Lidge as your closer.

In full sadist mode, the Astros seemed to insist on getting at least a single hit or walk each inning, just to twist the knife. If getting to second counted for a half-run, the ¬īStros would be the ¬ī27 Yankees.

The fans were so disgusted by the bottom of the ninth that, after the home team opened with a bloop hit and a sacrifice bunt, no one stepped up to pull a Steve Bartman when a foul pop went into the first row of the stands. “No, you go ahead and take it,” the fans said to Sox shortstop Jose Uribe. “We’d just as soon get this over with. The top of the order’s due up, after all.”

Maybe, after the bitter taste of the way the Astros ended the season begins to fade, fans will remember the good things: the torrid drive to win the wild card after a terrible start to the season; the way they bounced back after Albert Pujols broke their hearts; the way getting swept meant we wouldn’t have to endure Game Five and yet another chapter of hearing about Roger Clemens’s superhuman bravery, nobility and class.

Still, the lasting image of the Series, and the season, is likely to be Ensberg walking back to the dugout with his bat on his shoulder.

Some questions remain:

1) If, when Jeff Bagwell pinch-hit during Game Four, you found yourself envisioning a dramatic home run by the veteran, does that mean you secretly still believe in Santa Claus?

2) The Astros famously gave up shaving during the early part of their playoff run. Craig Biggio’s facial hair remained unchanged. Did he instead give up “manscaping” for the duration?

3) Sox fans famously harassed Biggio’s wife in Chicago, partly by pulling on her hair. We’re trying to picture a scenario where a person -- one who has at least the mental capacity to understand concepts like money, and the need for a ticket to enter a Series game, and even has access to that amount of dough -- actually pulls a grown woman’s hair. Is this a Chicago thing? Or was it a second-grader who secretly had a crush on her?

4) Hey, wait a second -- someone did tell Ensberg he was allowedto get a hit, right? Right?

5) Does Eminem have some kind of greatest-hits album coming out or something? We didn’t see enough ads for it. Then again, “Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity” does kind of nicely sum up the Astros’ Series performance.

Oh, well. At least now we can turn our attention to the Texans.

We’ve been too busy following the Astros to keep up -- has Carr gotten off to that expected good start?

Publication date: October 25

Game Three: Score One for the Anti-Bee Cabal

Astros apparently getting paid by the hour to lose

The Astros’ pitiful performance in Game Three of the World Series can be traced to one, and only one, factor: the Man. The Man ordered the roof of Minute Maid Park to be kept open, thus fatally diluting the awesome power of the Bee Buzz.

Many a major-league player has wilted under the onslaught of the Minute Maid PA system’s piping in an annoying bee noise. It’s rumored that Randy Johnson begged to be traded from Arizona to the American League Yankees rather than face the wrath of the Bee Buzz.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, painfully aware of the low TV ratings this Series is getting, wants this unwatched debacle to be over as soon as possible. The only way to do that was to disarm the Astros’ biggest weapon. Sure, he couldn’t stop grown-up fans from dressing like bees -- that would require serious clinical intervention -- but he could severely weaken their biggest weapon.

And it’s not just the buzzing. Can you imagine how loud the Minute Maid crowd would have gotten once they saw they had the rare opportunity to watch Ezequiel Astacio pitch? Fans who couldn’t make the trip to Round Rock to see the ¬īStros Triple-A team have been dying to see Big E give up some hits and walks, and now they had the chance to see it on the biggest stage of all. Baseball fever, indeed.

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