The Astros finished up the season by defeating the Braves in two of three games this weekend, the Sunday final being 3-0 Astros. But let’s face the truth, no one cared about the Astros game yesterday. There were over 43,000 people at MMP yesterday, and they were there for one thing, to see Craig Biggio.
I actually attended yesterday’s game, and I’ve got to say, I’m shocked. I was expecting the Astros to pull out all of the stops and put on one of those pre-game ceremonies that delay the start of the game by half-an-hour. I figured Jeff Bagwell would come back and make another speech about his pal. And I thought Drayton would trot out the Kile and Caminiti families. And I just knew Milo would be down on the field giving a 30-minute speech and making us all realize that it’s all about him. But there was none of that. Drayton said a few words. Biggio said a few words, and that was it. It was on with the game.
Lost in the fanfare regarding Biggio was the fact that there were several guys playing that game who might be with different teams next season. For Brad Ausmus, it’s not only whether he will be with a different organization, but whether he will actually play next season (yep, Brad’s been taking lessons from the Rocket). Mark Loretta, who got the start at short, is a free agent, as is Mike Lamb who came in for a couple of innings at first base during the middle of the game. It was announced before the game that coaches Dave Wallace and Doug Mansolino will also not be returning.
I have not been able to confirm the rumor, which I’m now officially starting, that Jesus Ortiz will be removed from the Astros beat because of overall suckitude. Really, come on, anybody, can any of you name a worse beat writer?
Speaking of which, if you read far enough down in the comments to this Richard Justice posting, you’ll note a statement that he’s going to have an announcement later in the week regarding his status at the Chron. I wonder if this means that he, like John Lopez, is quitting the Chron so as to make more money in radio. What does that say about working for the Chron if you’d rather work for a radio station which has a signal that no one in the city can pick up? And if you do leave, please take Ortiz with you. You’ll also note in that post that he says Pat Gillick is the one responsible for building this Phillies playoff team which is kind of funny seeing as it was just several weeks ago that he was saying Ed Wade was the one responsible for this Phillies team. (It’s called Google, Richard, it’s one of those newfangled Internet things that lets you easily find previous things you’ve written.)
And I know that I’ve been hard on the MMP entertainment crew throughout the season, but I think they did a good job yesterday. The music was restrained and not blasting at its usual Spinal Tap level. I liked how they trotted out the old PR-spots and commercials from the 90s with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio pitching for people to buy season tickets (they’re going to need to use those spots this off-season because maybe they can trick people into thinking Bagwell and Biggio are still playing, otherwise, there’s going to be no reason to go to the Astros games next season because this team is going to stink). I also liked that Cooper let players like Ausmus and Loretta get some credit from the fans before finally pulling Biggio to a standing ovation.
And I know that I’ve said nasty things about Biggio this season. But yesterday, I went with the mindset of remembering Craig Biggio from 1988. That kid from Seton Hall who the people of Houston despised because he was replacing Alan Ashby. I remembered the Craig Biggio of the mid 90s, who could hit the ball into the gap and make anything a double. That Biggio’s been gone since 2000 and the knee injury, and I’ve been thinking that he’s just been hanging on and I hated him for robbing me of the memories. But it was kind of nice in that I actually worked his first game as an Astro, and I got to see his last game.
As for the rest of the baseball world, well, there is a playoff game today, a game between the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, in Denver, to determine which team will be the NL Wild Card. The Rockies earned this shot by winning 13 of its last 14 games.
The Mets made history by losing. The Phillies are going to playoffs on the basis of the Mets becoming the first team in baseball history to lose a seven-game lead with 17 games left in the season. See, Drayton, maybe if you could’ve held off just a few days, Willie Randolph would’ve been available for that manager’s job you gave Cecil Cooper.
The Arizona Diamondacks finished with the best record in the NL and will have home field advantage throughout the NL postseason. The other NL playoff team is the Cubs.
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The Diamondbacks will be hosting the Cubs in a series which starts on Wednesday. The Phillies will host the winner of the Padres/Rockies game.
In the American League, the Red Sox finished with the best record in the majors and will be home team throughout every round of the playoffs. The Red Sox will start their playoffs on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. The Cleveland Indians meanwhile will play host to the New York Yankees.
I’ll return later in the week to give my thoughts on the playoffs and to hand out my regular season awards. But I’ve got to get in one final dig at Jesus Ortiz. Jesus, you may remember, predicted the Astros would go 93-69 and win the World Series. He wasn’t off by much. The Astros went 73-89 and finished fourth in the NL Central. (See, like I said, the guy’s the leader in general suckitude.)
Oh, before I go, I have to hand it to Drayton McLane. To celebrate three million suckers coming out to watch his awful team this season, Drayton gave certificates to the people attending yesterday’s game. The certificate entitles you to a free ticket to a game next season. But make sure to read the fine print – that ticket is for an exhibition game and it entitles you to one seat in the Upper View Deck – those are the seats way up by the choo-choo train. Stay classy, Drayton. Stay classy. – John Royal