Spring Training Doesn’t Count, Except for When It Does

The powers that be like to tell us that it’s just spring training. That the stats don’t matter and that the pitchers don’t care because they’re working on various pitches. Which, in some ways, is a valid point. But if it’s just spring training, and if the stats don’t matter, then why were the Astros working out Sidney Ponson last week? For those who don’t remember Ponson, he was a once promising pitcher who let crime and weight wear out his welcome in Baltimore, St. Louis, Minnesota, San Francisco and New York (Yankees).

But don’t worry, Astro fan. The Rangers, who are even more desperate than the Astros, signed Ponson to a contract on Sunday.

I’m not an idiot. I know that Brandon Backe is working on his spots. But I don’t care that Woody Williams is happy with his work, or that he thinks he’s throwing good pitches. If he’s throwing good pitches, then the batters must be exceptional because, like last year, they’re not having any trouble hitting those pitches. And Steve Campbell, Woody’s ERA for those immediate several seasons before arriving in Houston are irrelevant because Woody pitched for the San Diego Padres. And the Padres play at PETCO Park, a place where fly balls go to die in outfielders’ gloves. Hell, PETCO is such a great pitchers’ paradise that I think Jose Lima could have a great season there.

Speaking of Lima, you’ve got to kind of wonder why the Astros haven’t given him a call, yet. He can’t be any worse than trotting Wandy and Woody out there. And he’s a lot more fun to watch when he gets bombed.

Instead, the Astros are hoping Shawn Chacon will earn a spot in the starting rotation. A guy who couldn’t start for the last place Pirates last season. And the brass want him starting here. So I don’t care that it’s spring training, and that the stats don’t count. The pitching staff sucks, and no matter what kind of propaganda the Chron tries to shove down my throat, I’m not going to change my mind.

I’m sorry, but this is funny: New big money Astros acquisition Kaz Matsui is on his way to Houston to seek treatment for hemorrhoids. Yes, I know it’s painful. Trust me, I know it’s painful, but you’re telling me there’s not a doctor in the Orlando area who can handle the hemorrhoid condition and special treatments for said condition? Look, I know one of the Bush brothers ran that state for several years, and that state authorities, for several years, felt more concerned with the state of a vegetative woman than they did the state of medical practice (never mind that the state doesn’t seem to feel that it has to follow the rules when it comes to holding primary elections), but you’re really expecting me to believe that the medical facilities for hemorrhoids are that much more advanced in Houston than in Orlando?

Oh, and here’s some shocking news…Mike Hampton is injured. I was a big fan of Hampton when he was in Houston, but a team relying on Hampton to be a key piece of its rotation is kind of like a team hoping that Shawn Chacon will be a key piece of its rotation.

And here’s something that will give my friend Vicki a heart attack. The Cubs playing a season at U.S. Cellular Field. Oh, it’s not because Vicki is a Cubs fans and is despondent at having to venture to the South Side to see her Cubs. It’s because Vicki is a White Sox fan who despises everything Cub-related and who is, right now, undoubtedly clutching her chest at the thought of the posers who are Cubs fan walking into her stadium night after night.

Now, I’ve yet to see a game at Wrigley, but I did see a game at U.S. Cellular last year, and it was hardly the hell-hole that I had been led to expect. The sightlines were great. The scoreboard was full of useful information. The music was played at a tolerable level, and the fans I sat next to actually knew a thing or two about baseball.

But, Vicki, just remember. This could be the slogan for your team: Astros Baseball: Something to Do Before the Hurricane Comes Inland. – John Royal

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