Rest in Peace, Astros...

Anyone up for a Rogering next season?

...Boring, Bungling, Steroid-Using Peace, That Is...

Like most Houstonians this year, we gave up on the Astros a long time ago. But we forget to take into account the utter ineptitude of the rest of the National League, whose highlights should always be accompanied by that song that plays while Benny Hill chases buxom blondes in fast motion.

The Astros came back to life in the last two weeks of the season, if coming back to life can be defined as winning seven games in row at one point. As it turns out, that definition can work, because the division-leading Cardinals were busy losing seven games in a row at the same time.

We had long since made other plans for our life, officially determining that the last weekend of the baseball season would not require any Astro-watching, so we were only able to catch scattered bits of the season-killing series in Atlanta. What we took away during our brief glimpses: Friday night, announcers Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies line up the pitching match-ups for the series. The Astros, it seems, aren't sure who'll be pitching Saturday. A great sign!

The Astros go down 2-0 just as the Cards go up 2-0 against Milwaukee after former 'Stro Preston Wilson hits a homer for them. Preston Wilson can hit home runs?

What's up with Adam Everett's puffy hair? He looks like Wayne Gretzky circa 1986. While someone may have told Everett the extra foliage would cover up his giant, flapping ears (it doesn't), the hair certainly hasn't increased his feeble ability to hit.

Friday's loss ends with newcomer Aubrey Huff caught looking at strike three. Welcome to the Astros!! Huff can fill in for Morgan Ensberg should Ensberg be hurt and the team needs someone to strike out looking in a clutch situation.

Saturday's first inning sees the 'Stros load the bases. "Due up, Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus," the announcers say. No need to watch, we say.

Sunday, if the Astros win and the Cards lose, there'll be a one-game playoff. The Cards do their part, giving up four runs in the first so the Astros know the Big Chance is there. And the Astros do their part, stranding 10 of the 11 guys who get on base. Bottom of the ninth, down by two, the top of the order up — including slugger Lance Berkman batting third — it's Astros Time!! Time to go down 1-2-3, that is.

The season also ended with spectacular non-denial denials by demi-gods Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, accused in an affidavit of taking steroids.

Both said they have passed every test for illegal substances. Neither noted that you can't test for human growth hormone. Pettitte said, "I've never used any drugs to enhance my performance on the baseball field." He didn't say, "I've never used any drugs that help me recover between workouts or pitching appearances, which technically wouldn't count as on-field performance because it's more about recovery, you see."

Here's what Clemens, for his part, didn't tell reporters:

"What are you trying to say — that a 44-year-old, chunky power pitcher needs some artificial help? Just look through the history of major league baseball — there's been hundreds of guys like me!"

The Astros season — and Astros fan, you have to admit, 78 percent of it was excruciatingly boring — is over. Now the real fun begins. Now we get to listen to months of speculation and rumors about whether Clemens will bless us with His presence again.

Meaning that on this day, in more ways than one, it really sucks to be an Astros fan. -- Richard Connelly

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