Astros-Nationals: Back from Vacation and Ready for the All-Star Break

When I departed on vacation, the Astros had just finished losing three of four games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. I didn’t take my computer, and I was doing lots of sightseeing around Minneapolis and New York City, so I wasn’t exactly keeping up with the Astros – besides, about the only sports news I could get in New York dealt with how Madonna was affecting the Yankees.

Let’s just say, though, that I was not surprised to discover, upon returning home, that the Astros had lost two of three to the Braves and two of three to the Pirates. So when Roy Oswalt left Friday’s game after the first inning, I kind of figured the Astros were in for another of their many lost weekends. And it didn’t help that the Astros then went on to lose that Friday game 10-0. So imagine my surprise when the Astros actually found a way to get their act together for the rest of the weekend and win the rest of the games with the Nationals – then again, the Washington Nationals do have the worst record in baseball, so the Astros should have had no problems in defeating them.

Thankfully, the All-Star Game break is now here, so we don’t have to worry about the Astros losing any games for the next four days. As it is, the team is 4-8 on the month, so far, with a season record of 44-51, and they still sit in last place of the NL Central. Roy Oswalt’s hip abductor is still aggravated, and it looks as if he won’t be available for the series with the Chicago Cubs starting this coming weekend.

So while it’s depressing that some things didn’t change over my vacation (like, you know, the Astros sucking), at least I did get to see some good baseball in Minnesota, and I did get to see Xanadu on Broadway. Now let’s just hope that after the break the Astros will be able to go to a place that they’ve not yet dared to go – a place where they play good baseball for a prolonged period of time.

Oh, who am I fooling? This is the Astros I’m talking about here. The team that put the suck into sucking.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

General Manager Ed Wade told the Chron’s Jerome Solomon that he is not pushing a panic button, and that the team is not about to become a seller of players. Wade says that selling off pieces and starting over doesn’t work. Which is kind of funny when you consider that it worked in the past for the Astros, that it has worked twice (and maybe three times) for the Florida Marlins, and that it seemingly works every couple of years for the Oakland A’s and the Minnesota Twins. Then again, all of those teams seem to have competent management. And the words “competent” and “management” haven’t been used in the same sentence when discussing the Astros since the days when Gerry Hunsicker was running things.

****************** I can’t believe the Astros haven’t yet placed Roy Oswalt on the disabled list. It seems to me that Roy O’s health and availability for next season is far more important than his use is for this season.

****************** Our quote of the weekend comes from Astros owner Drayton McLane, who I heard during the game on Saturday night say the following: “We’re going to restock the farm system but still continue to be competitive year-after-year.”

So, Drayton, when does this being competitive year-after-year thing begin? I’d really like to know as it appears the Astros are about to go three straight years without making the playoffs. Or are you talking about being competitive for last place year-after-year? If that’s the case, then your boys are doing a damn fine job.

****************** Things could be worse for the Astros. Jim Bowden could be running the team. Bowden, the Nationals’ general manager, and his assistant, Jose Rijo, are supposedly under federal investigation for their supposed roles in the skimming of money from signing bonuses meant for players in the Dominican Republic.

I’ve yet to see any sign that Ed Wade is competent enough to pull off anything like this.

****************** Speaking of non-competitive, Teddy Roosevelt lost all of his races during this weekend series. Teddy has yet to win one of the Presidents Races since the Nationals started with the things.

But after his Sunday victory, Abraham Lincoln is on a seven-race win streak.

****************** There were two things that made Friday’s 10-0 loss to the Nationals bearable. Number one was reading Brian McTaggart’s running commentary on the team’s ineptitude over at Chron.com. The second was Jim Deshaies’s constant worrying about whether the game would end in time for the promised post-game fireworks ceremony – due to a curfew, the fireworks show could not go off after 10:30, and the game ended just in time for the show to get started. – John Royal

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