Game Four: A Bitter Sweep Ending

The Astros’ attempt to win without scoring somehow fails

Unfortunately, the Fox cameras can’t seem to get enough of the bee crap. Which means more people will be dressing up in order to get on TV. A free tip for folks desperate for TV time: Dress up and act like Bumble Bee Guy from The Simpsons. Fox won’t be able to resist! (You can always get your dignity back in a decade or so.)

Oddest Sight of the Game: Nolan Ryan actually cheering after center fielder Willy Taveras pulled down a long liner on the outfield hill to end the eighth. Why is it odd? Because Ryan -- who tends to get shown on TV every other pitch when he’s sitting in the stands -- normally looks as excited watching a game as a guy in his dentist’s waiting room. We didn’t know he could even look interested.

Publication date: October 16

Click here to enlarge.
Click here to enlarge.
Immediately following Game Six, thousands of fans swarmed the Academy on the Southwest Freeway for World Series gear.
Steven Devadanam
Immediately following Game Six, thousands of fans swarmed the Academy on the Southwest Freeway for World Series gear.

He Walks Among Us

Thou shalt have no false idols before Clemens

Saturday, October 15, dawned with most Astros fans in a hopeful mood. Most, admittedly, were hopeful that the team would take Game Three and get a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Others, perhaps a not-large minority, were hoping the team would be able to do it without Roger Clemens being declared an actual deity.

That second, smaller group had its hopes dashed pretty early, when they picked up the Houston Chronicle’s special Astros section, saw the headline “Simply the Greatest” and then read this dreck of a lead from columnist John P. Lopez:

“Mama called, and Roger Clemens had to listen -- that’s just how Houston boys are brought up. Mama was the city he called home. And Mama was the woman whose warm hug and spitfire inspiration helped carry Clemens to places he never imagined.”

Yikes.

And Mama also told him he was too big a star to travel with the team when he didn’t feel like it, we guess.

We tried to make it through the rest of Lopez’s column, but -- like the Great Wall of China -- there came this paragraph, saying why Clemens, after putatively retiring from the Yankees, had somehow, some way summoned the strength to play once again. He simply, Lopez wrote, had yet to accomplish “what his family always wanted and what could finally be the sweet goodbye for him, his home, his family, the Astros. Everything he ever loved.”

What, nothing about the troops overseas? Anyway, we naturally enough kind of gave up on the Chron at that point. But then came the Fox pregame show, which featured Clemens telling a crowd of sportswriters at a press conference -- which is as good as any venue, we guess, for talking sincerely about your innermost feelings for a dead parent -- that “a big part of my heart [is] missing with my mother gone.”

We know Clemens’s mother died earlier this year, mostly because the Houston media couldn’t stop saying how incredible it was that he somehow pitched on the day she left this mortal coil. And it’s sad enough when anyone’s mom dies.

But come on -- you already can do no wrong here in Houston, Rocket. Maybe you don’t have to play the dead-mom card quite so hard. Just let the media do it for you.

Nobly taking the mound Saturday, Clemens went on to throw pretty well for a few innings. By the fifth, though, he was taking more time between pitches than Bruce Springsteen takes between songs on stage with the E Street Band nowadays. You take that, and his throwing over to first a few dozen times whenever there’s an at-bat with a runner on, and let’s just say you don’t have to worry about missing much if you get up for another beer. (Or switch over to the Notre Dame-USC game, about which the less said the better.)

We weren’t quite sure what to think when we switched from the football game to the bottom of the fifth and saw Clemens actually leading off as a batter. “What is this elderly man still doing in the game?” we thought.

Sure enough, he gave up the tying run in the top of the sixth. The Astros scored in the bottom of the inning, though, so he could pick up the win and continue the Greatest Story Line Ever Told.

Quote of the day: Former first lady Barbara Bush saying she and her husband had rushed to the park after coming in from Kennebunkport. “We have not even been home yet,” she declared.

“We wanted to stay in the Astrodome on a cot, since that’s worked out so well for all those black folks, but unfortunately it’s no longer open,” she didn’t add.

Publication date: October 14

Game Two: The Lone Gunman Comes Through

We pick a new nickname for Roy Oswalt

America’s sports media loves nicknames, especially when it comes to baseball. ESPN’s Chris Berman has made a career out of such things as Wade “Cranberry” Boggs and Bud “Paint It” Black.

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