By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The Astros came out with their “victory beards” trimmed to goatees, leaving Brad Ausmus looking like some guy wearing chaps at Brazos River Bottom or the Montrose Mining Company. This bold move, however, did not seem to add to their ability to -- to use a hyper-technical baseball term -- get a goddamn hit with fucking men on base.
Pardon the language, but Astros fans are more frustrated than excited these days. Watching Morgan Ensberg quietly stroll back to the dugout after stranding even more runners gets kind of old, especially if you’re forced to endure it in five-hour lumps.
The tension, the frustration and the sacrilegiously open roof all conspired to leave the vaunted Minute Maid crowd almost silent, especially as the scoreless extra innings droned on. Things got so quiet at one point that we swear we could hear the conversation between Barbara Bush and her wayward son Neil, ostentatiously sitting behind home plate:
Neil: You know, Mom, for the life of me I still can’t remember how many Asian hookers I’ve had sent to my room on my business trips to Thailand. Isn’t that wild?
Babs: Well, son, you’re just luckier than a Katrina evacuee, is all. Now be quiet and try not to get divorced again in the next few innings.
The White Sox did everything they could to hand the Astros Game Three. The umps helped, too, with a bogus call on a Jason Lane “homer.” The Astros, as has been true in all three games, just wouldn’t make use of the gifts.
Now they have to win four games in a row. We haven’t heard for sure, but we’re betting the team has sophisticated plans to “take it one game at a time.” We’re just guessing, though.
Odd note: Did we miss a 20-minute power failure at the park? We didn’t hear anything about it during the game or on the news.
But in the pregame show, we saw Michael McDonald and several other singers get up and start warbling some strange power ballad. When they got to the part about the red, white and blue always being true, we decided it was a good time to go put some brats on the grill. When we came back a good while later, they were still screeching away, so we can only figure the stadium lost electricity and they had to restart the song. No evil genius would subject a captive audience to that long a piece of pseudo-patriotic crap, to be sure.
Quiz time: The game ended at 2:15 a.m. on the East Coast. Seeing as folks back east have already made it clear they couldn’t care less about this Series, how many people were watching when Adam Everett feebly popped out to short to end the game?
a) Both Astros fans in New York.
b) Back off, man -- there were dozens of people watching.
c) Fully three quarters of the audience who had tuned in to watch the Ab Energizer infomercial.
d) Every member of the Northern New Jersey Bee Lovers Club.
Publication date: October 24
Game Two: Make It Stop, Mommy, Make It Stop
Through the rain, darkly
We thought modern dramas were supposed to have three acts. Who went all postmodern on us and added a fourth?
First act: Astros take lead; no one believes it will last. Second act: White Sox take lead back, everyone thinks it’s over. Third act: Improbable hero brings the Astros back. Unnecessary fourth act: Brad Lidge tossing a gopher to a light-hitting Sox player.
We’re glad that Lidge isn’t letting things get to him, like blowing up against the Cubs in the final week of the season, like giving up the Pujols bomb, like making Scott Podsednik the new Bucky Dent. We’re glad he’s still confident on the mound, because the rest of Houston is getting carpal-tunnel from the frantic crossing of fingers whenever he’s given the ball.
There are many different methods to following the Astros: the wide-eyed optimist, the WTF is Garner thinking, the bandwagon approach of “Who’s that number seven playing second for the Astros”?
With this team, we prefer the Irish Fatalism approach, where you assume the worst is going to happen. And when something good happens, you feel more relieved than happy.
An internal monologue of an Irish Fatalist in the top of the ninth:
The Astros went three-up, three-down after the Sox’s grand slam, so here comes another inning of futility and a crushed team headed back to Houston. First up: Jeff Bagwell. Maybe he can at least get hit by the ball again. What -- an actual hit? Good for him, he won’t be 0-for-October, but it’s not going to make any difference. Lane up, strikes out swinging and not getting close to Jenks’s 100-mph bullets. That’s more like the Astros we’ve come to know and love. Burke walks -- maybe if they just never swing at another pitch they have a chance! Ausmus feebly grounds to first, moving the runners up. At least that puts both runners in scoring position, making the Astros’ stats for hits with RISP even worse. Time for a pinch hitter -- Palmeiro, of course. WTF -- Jose Vizcaino? The Jose Vizcaino, whose career started before Seinfeld was even on the air? Oh, Christ, why don’t you just wave a white flag and surren-- He hit the thing! And Burke is safe! I knew it all along!