I've got an admission to make. Baseball is my true love. My favorite sport. Yet I haven't really been following the Astros these past couple of weeks because I've found myself busy with the Houston Aeros. I know a little of how the team's been doing, and that Cecil Cooper once again has no control of clubhouse, but I just haven't seen the team play any games lately. (Hey, it's not like I'm the Chron's Brian McTaggart who is having to report on just about every team and sport in the state of Texas. I don't know how he is able to work beats for all of those teams.)
So I made it a point to watch the Astros battle the Milwaukee Brewers last night. And before doing so, I brought myself up to date by reading Jose de Jesus Ortiz's latest S.O.S. from the Astros clubhouse in which, once again, the guys appear to be openly mocking Cecil Cooper -- I say "openly" because the players don't mind texting Ortiz to mock Cooper, but yet they're apparently too cowardly to go public with their criticisms.
With that in mind, I watched the Astros play last night. And, frankly, Hunter Pence aside, they looked pretty damn bad.
I see that the team still can't score with runners on base. They lost 4-2 last night. Just think what they could have done if they could have hit with runners on base seeing as how they stranded 18 runners last night. Both of the Astros' runs came by pure luck -- Michael Bourn got picked off of first with Kaz Matsui on third, and in the rundown to tag Bourn, Matsui scored. The second run came on a Russ Ortiz home run, and Ortiz was only pitching because Mike Hampton got hurt and had to leave the game early.
Once again, as was the case with Jose Valverde and Geoff Geary, Cecil Cooper let Hampton pitch even though he knew Hampton was injured. Sure, Hampton's injury was only a cut thumb on his pitching hand which he injured on a soap dispenser in Wrigley Field, but Hampton was barely able to make it through four innings. At some point Cooper is going to have to tell one of his pitchers that, no, they can't pitch when they are injured.
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But at this point, I think I'm more pissed at the players than I am Cooper. I don't like Cecil Cooper as a manager. I don't like the moves he makes. I don't like how he handles his pitching staff, or his batting order. But damn it, I make my complaints about Cooper public. The players, however, are too cowardly to go public with their complaints. So they send text messages to Ortiz mocking Cooper's moves or questioning why Cooper does what he does. And I agree with them. But the only way they're going to get changes is to actually go public with their distrust and dislike of Cooper.
I'll give Roy Oswalt this: when he had problems with Cooper last year, he let it be known. But this year, so far as I can tell, none of the players have really gone public. They just take the coward's approach and pick on him behind his back.
And it's my opinion that a team of cowards can never win anything. Not that I expected the Astros to actually win anything this year. However, maybe if they would spend a bit more time worrying about their fielding or hitting or pitching or base running, and less time wondering about what they're going to text to Ortiz, then maybe they could find some way to knock in a few of those 18 runners who were left stranded on base last night.
And Cooper, as for you, damn it, stop it already. I know your pitching sucks, but that's no excuse to keep letting injured guys go out there and get hurt even more.