In sandlot football growing up, we always had a saying after touchdowns that "losers walk," meaning the team that scored stays at that end of he field to kick off and the "losers" on defense have to march to the other end of the field to receive.
So it's probably appropriate that, due to the NBA calling a presser to announce the 2013 NBA All-Star Game's coming to Houston, the Astros had their scheduled lunchtime news conference today moved at the last second to a 10 a.m. brunch instead.
While the Rockets have been no great shakes lately, they haven't come close to the recent futility of the Astros. So in the battle of dueling pressers, the Astros had to move things to 10 a.m. Losers walk.
So the Astros kicked off the 2012 season today with a little brunch, and I can't decide whether to get excited for the upcoming baseball season or brace myself for another summer of trying to book `80's movie stars for my radio show. (Truth be told, I could and probably will do both. There's NEVER a bad time to talk to `80's movie stars.) But how does one go about getting excited for a team that went 56-106 last season? Well, I'm guessing spring training will uncover a few methods along the way, but for now here are the first few off the top of my head:
5. Will Millsy and Luhny become best friends? Okay, maybe it's a little bit of a reach to think that manager Brad Mills and new general manager Jeff Luhnow will become best friends. Mills, who I think is a good manager and who may not get a chance to show that until he is somewhere else (likely after getting sacrificed at some point), has the rank stench of Ed Wade on him, and I frankly envision the Mills and Luhnow meetings going a lot like the meetings with Michael Scott and Charles Miner on The Office after Ryan was fired. Michael and Ryan wallowed somewhat unknowingly in a sea of underachievement and dysfunction, and when Charles came in it was a complete culture shock for Michael that eventually led to him quitting and starting the Michael Scott Paper Company. I like Mills, but if the upshot of the Luhnow Era is Mills leaving and starting the Brad Mills Baseball Team, then bring it on.
4. So Brett Wallace (and his pants) at third base, huh? Apparently, Brett Wallace was originally drafted (by Luhnow, of all people) as a third baseman by the Cardinals, so with Carlos Lee
no longer able to run to left field now a full-time first baseman, Wallace's best chance at sticking with the big club is to get some time in at the hot corner. Of course, if he hits like he did in the Dominican League, where he was cut in November after batting .173, he could be the second coming of Brooks Robinson and it won't matter. But there is a big part of me that would love to see a Wallace/Lee combo on the corners, if only so we could see the two of them riding onto the field on tiny mopeds like those 800-pound twins in the Guinness Book of World Records.
3. Will Jose Altuve reach double digits in walks? The diminutive Altuve (or "Toovey," as the kids call him) was about as selective at the plate as a shitfaced college student hitting on coeds at the bar at 2:30 a.m. He had five walks in 234 plate appearances. FIVE. To analytical nerd types like Luhnow, if the sport of baseball were a computer, players like Altuve are the Storm Worm virus. 2. Will the Cardinals be Luhnow's booty call? I'd like to think that Jim Crane is enough of an "outside the box" thinker that he would look to hire a similar "outside the box" thinker in Luhnow, and that, unlike his predecessor , Luhnow will actually dial up all 29 other teams to engage them in trade talks. This would be in stark contrast to Ed Wade, who I like to think made all of his trades by calling Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro while hammered drunk at about four in the morning after devouring a huge bag of Taco Bell. If either Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez winds up in St. Louis, it's open season on the Luhnow booty call jokes. Look the hell out.
1. Another season of wisdom from Milo Hamilton. Sweet. I hate to pick on an octogenarian, but much the same way that a player who plays hurt is still subject to the same criticism as any other player, so too, is an announcer who keeps coming back each season even though the innings where he is doing play-by-play are the verbal equivalent of a dense fog. They say great radio announcers paint a picture for their audience, so if that's the case, Milo Hamilton's painting looks like a four-year-old's finger painting where some little kid smeared six colors together in streaks and blotches and says "Look, a house!"
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And on that note, I'll leave you with a link to the greatest Milo Hamilton impersonation you will ever hear. Enjoy.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.