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I came across this little nugget at SI.com the other day:

“Houston fans have fallen for the Astros' rookie phenom, Hunter Pence, even as some of his teammates are looking at his super hyped-up ways with a cross between detached bemusement and barely contained annoyance.”

That statement, more than anything, is perhaps the best reason that the Astros are sitting at 21-22. It’s a team with no passion. And the one guy who really seems to care is treated with contempt. I never minded the statements about Jeff Bagwell not being emotional, about how he always played on an even keel, because I could sense that he cared, that he deeply cared about what happened to the Astros. But that’s just something that I get from the players on this team.

There’s this whole attitude: why worry about a slow start since the team showed in 2005 that the start doesn’t matter. And it’s a mediocre division, so the team doesn’t have to be great to make the playoffs. And why shouldn’t Craig Biggio hit leadoff? What’s more important, the guy getting 3000 hits, or the team winning a game? And who cares if Adam Everett or Jason Lane or Morgan Ensberg can’t hit? Or that Woody Williams or Matt Albers really sucks or that the second best starting pitcher is Wandy Rodriguez?

This is a mediocre team. And the only life on this team is coming from Hunter Pence. If there’s really people on the team that treat him like the puppy who just wet the rug, then those people should be sent down to AAA Round Rock, or AA Corpus. It’s time that they relearned what life is like in the minors. And maybe they will start caring again.

And somehow, I think if Jeff Bagwell were still around, then the treatment of Pence on this team might be a little better. The Bagwell clubhouse was open, and diverse, and treated everyone as equals. It was a clubhouse where the Limas and Hamptons and Everetts and Bells could thrive.

I just don’t see that with this team. Except for Pence, this team looks like a bunch of paper pushers at Dunder-Mifflin who just got their Schrute bucks and are trying to exchange them for Stanley nickels.

So, instead of harking back to 2005, time after time again, maybe these guys should be asking what they’ve done to make themselves champions. And except for Hunter Pence, the answer is, not much. -- John Royal


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