Game Four: A Bitter Sweep Ending

The Astrosí attempt to win without scoring somehow fails

The Crawford boxes: Come see the magical place where pop-ups and doubles transform before your eyesinto heroic king-sized dingers!

(In terms of actual home runs, like the ones major-leaguers hit, an example would be the bomb by Albert “Why the hell wasn’t I intentionally walked” Pujols that came in the ninth with two out, while Houston fans were frantically holding their breath. Nowwe know why they’re keeping the roof closed -- it’s to make sure no one on the street gets hurt by a Pujols homer.)

There are no Crawford boxes in St. Louis, of course. Luckily, there’s probably not much Chris Carpenter left, either. The Astros still have a great chance to take this thing. Just like last year, when they were up 3-2 heading back to St. Louis for the final two games.

Question of the night: How does Mike Lamb nothave his foot on first base when he’s catching the throw on a run-of-the-mill groundout? Isn’t this covered in First Base 101? We can only hope Lamb hasn’t missed much else of his baseball prerequisite classes, like Uniforms Include Pants.

Odd comment of the night: Fox play-by-play guy Thom Brennaman formerly broadcast the Arizona Diamondbacks. Analyst Bob Brenly used to manage the team. Both were there the one time the D-backs bought their way to a world championship. And last night they both agreed, somehow, that “Most every objective observer would tell you that that Arizona-New York series was one of the best World Series ever!”

Maybe if you live in Phoenix. Otherwise, not so much. Then again, these were the guys who kept telling us Prison Breakis “the most talked-about new show on TV this season!”

So now it’s back to Busch, with the Lone Assassin taking the mound. Let’s hope the Mannlicher-Carcano’s oiled and ready, the Secret Service is sleeping on the job, and Jack Ruby’s busy dealing with junkie strippers.

Publication date: October 16

The Bee Thing

Our (no doubt unsuccessful) plea to save a city

Is Tony La Russa still arguing? Because we’ve seen UN debates that have been cut off sooner than he was in the fourth game.

La Russa -- or Grampa Sunglasses, as we like to call him -- was taking issue with the strike zone of umpire Phil Cuzzi. We’ve got to admit, Cuzzi’s strike zone was a fluid, ethereal concept during the game, seeming to change according to Cuzzi’s many whims. But one iron-clad rule in baseball is this: If you’re a manager, you’re going to get tossed out for arguing balls and strikes.

Grampa, apparently cranky from being forced to wear prescription shades indoors, nevertheless chose to argue balls and strikes and was promptly tossed out of the game. Not so’s you’d notice, however.

La Russa started arguing with another umpire -- crew chief Tim McClelland -- for what seemed like 45 minutes. After about ten of those minutes, you started wondering just what the hell La Russa needed to do to be shown the door. We know he’s a genius and all, but the umps were standing there patiently listening to him -- afterhe’d already been thrown out -- like he was using that genius of his to tell a particularly fascinating, and long, anecdote.

Eventually, after a few hours or so, La Russa deigned to leave and the game went on. The Astros won again, of course, despite their stubborn insistence that winning does not require getting any hits with men on base.

The crowd was strangely quiet for most of the game, either out of the inherent tenseness that comes with Brandon Backe on the mound or just out of Sunday-afternoon torpor. Or maybe they were pissed that on one of the most beautiful weather days of the year, they were stuck inside. (All those tax dollars that went to making the roof retractable? Kind of like paying for the picture-in-picture feature on a new TV, never to be used.)

The relative serenity of the crowd meant that the home viewers got the full effect of the single most annoying stadium sound effect ever: the “buzzing bee” sound whenever an Astro comes up whose last name begins with a B. Apparently the hope is that the opposing pitcher is allergic to bees, or had a traumatic experience as a child when he threw a baseball into a hive. So far, however, no pitcher seems to have taken notice.

What about the Killer E’s -- Everett and Ensberg? Don’t they deserve something? Killer E as in ecstasy as in clubs with dilated-pupil partyers chewing on pacifiers -- play some techno music! (Side benefit -- the Killer E’s can handle 18-inning games with no sweat, although they tend to talk a lotduring their at-bats.)

The whole Killer B thing, we’re afraid to say, is inutterably lame. Signs and banners are great, but when you start dressing up like bees -- when you start dressing up helpless infants as bees -- the rest of the country isn’t saying “What great baseball fans,” they’re saying “Who dresses up in costume for a baseball game?”

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