It's Astros season again, which more than likely means copious losses, manly tears, beer bottles broken over televisions, and the testicular fortitude of a snake-charmer to get through nine innings of a game without the aid of alcohol, narcotics, or a distracting game of Angry Birds.
When we were young, the best distraction from a losing season -- and they were legion while growing up in the late '80s and early '90s in Houston -- was a pack of baseball cards and a few friends to trade them with. Somewhere at my parents house is a box full of most every Astros card from 1988 until 1996, or when I discovered the careers and measurements of Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra as better ways to waste my time.
Growing up, baseball cards meant the world to me. I opened a new pack with the same relish and wonder that smokers crack open a fresh pack of Marlboros first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee. Funny that I never noticed how inherently creepy some of the pictures on the cards were, when I wasn't busy rating my cards by how much they were worth according to my trusty Beckett price guide.
With the help of the Astros Baseball Cards blog, I culled a few of the weirdest Astros cards from over the years, and added my own captions.
15. Nolan Ryan
"What ya thinkin' about, boo?"
"Nothing. Just meat."
14. Brad Ausmus
Invisible Butt Secs
13. Bruce Bochy
"'We were ten miles out of Houston when the acid began to take effect..."
12. Doug Drabek
Hey, it's Doug Drabek wearing those cool mid-`90s uniforms, and HOLY SHIT CHECK OUT THAT CROTCH BULGE. 11. Todd Jones
Todd Jones looks like the kind of guy that...oh hell, that's a quality mustache, I can't hate. Play on, playa.
10. Steve Finley
Steve Finley used to always say he wore turtlenecks just to be ironic, but it was really to hide all the fake hickeys that Biggio and Bagwell would give him with a vacuum cleaner in the locker room to make Casey Candaele jealous.
9. Darryl Kile
This wasn't the late Astro and Cardinals pitcher's mound wind-up, this is actually a picture from the little-attended "Darryl Kile Hip-Hop Dance Clinic" on the Astrodome field after a game in September 1991. He signed my fanny pack.
8. Luis Gonzalez
This picture was taken as Xavier Hernandez was off-camera loudly threatening to pour Gatorade on Gonzo's clubhouse Nintendo.
7. Jeff Bagwell
After he won the Rookie of the Year trophy, Jeff Bagwell used to give out his baseball cards to chicks at the bars around Kissimmee during spring training, asking them if they would like to win the "Nookie of the Year" award. 6. Larry Andersen
Larry Andersen wants his daughter home by 10 p.m. or your ass is grass.
5. Craig Biggio
"Some of the older guys on the team said that we have secret Astros practice on the roof of the Astrodome at midnight tonight..."
4. Phil Garner
Phil likes going to the beach, antiquing, hiking and making sure that if he can't have you, no one can. 3. Hunter Pence
Bad "time" to make "air quotes," Hunter.
2. Ryan Bowen
People let me tell you about my best friend...
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1. Kevin Bass & Billy Hatcher
A promotional still from Bass & Hatcher, NBC's short-lived buddy-cop series starring the two Astros on the mean streets of Houston around the Astrodome. The pilot episode was preempted by a special edition of The Eyes of Texas where host Ray Miller took us to his favorite whorehouses.