AL Wild Card Race, thru Thur., 9/29/16

September 30, 2016
Neither the Astros or Yankees drank the Kool Aid on Thursday, but they were both were still "lemonaded" form contention the 2016 AL WILD CARD race.

Neither the Astros or Yankees drank the Kool Aid on Thursday, but both were still “lemonaded” from contention in the 2016 AL Wild Card race.

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF THURSDAY, 9/29/2016:

Teams W L Pct. GB WILD CARDS
GL
Orioles 87 72 .547 Co-Leader 3
Blue Jays 87 72 .547 Co-Leader 3
Tigers *
85 73 .538 – 1.5 4
Mariners *
85 74 .535 – 2.0 3
Astros *
83 76 .522 – 4.0 3
Yankees *
83 76 .522 – 4.0 3

GL above = Games Left to Play

* Green Lettering = Hanging-In-There Possibilities 

* Red Lettering = “Lemonaded” – as we called it in the 1950 Pecan Park sandlots, back in the days in which the expression quoted here was our phonetic term for “eliminated”.”

“…. And Down the Stretch They Come . … The O’s and Jays have it almost all to themselves coming down the stretch neck-and-neck …. but the #3 Tigers and #4 Mariners remain in the hunt for a spot …. as the Astros and Yankees bale at the “Wait’ll” @ “Next Year” points on the track. …. O’s seem energized to the goal of knocking the Jays out of the WC #1 spot in the playoffs ….. but let’s wait and see …. this 2016 AL WC race is simply another gallop down that even better known baseball track. ….. The games get decided on the field …. and not on paper.”

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

AL WC#2 Update, Thru Wed., 9/28/2016

September 29, 2016
The Astros Are Now Strapped to the Table. The Orioles May Use the Orange-Headed Needle Tonight.

The Astros Are Now Strapped to the Table.
The O’s May Use Orange-Headed Needle Tonight.

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF WEDNESDAY, 9/28/2016:

Teams W L Pct. GB WC#@ GL
Blue Jays 87 71 .551 + 1.0 4
Orioles 86 72 .544 Leader 4
Tigers 85 73 .538 – 1.0 4
Mariners 84 74 .522 – 2.0 4
Astros 83 76 .522 – 3.5 3
Yankees 82 76 .519 – 4.0 4

GL above = Games Left to Play

* Green Lettering = Hanging-In-There Possibilities 

* Red Lettering = Ready for the Needle

…. Down the Stretch They Come .… the finish line date still reads Sunday, but it could come today (officially) for the Astros and Yankees today, Thursday, Spetember 29, 2016. On more win by the WC #2 Leading Orioles tonight against the WC # 1 Leading Blue Jays tonight and both the Astros and still charging Yankees are officially eliminated from the possibility of a “play-in” status into the 2016 AL Championship Spot and World Series with the NL winner that shall follow. ….  As one of our cherished Astros “collateral damage starting pitchers”, Doug Fister did his part to sink hope by surrendering a 3-run homer to Robinson Cano Wednesday Night in Houston by allowing the third batter in the game to send a ball on a faraway fly ball beyond the left field wall for the immediate big lead that the locals would never overcome. We are told that the ball traveled all the way to the corner of Despair and Exit Avenues. …. Fister gave it his best, but he will need some help tonight to complete the Astros elimination process. Since the Astros have the night off today, it will all be left up to the O’s to finish off the “Stros and Yanks with another win over the Jays …. a win that would tie the O’s with the Jays for both spots in the WC race for positioning. …. And that could leave the door open for the Tigers, or even the M’s to sneak into the WC#2 spot by the end of day on this coming Sunday. …. One consoling thought remains. …. The Astros are bout to be eliminated from the embarrassing possibility of advancing to the World Series …. and then potentially becoming the same franchise club that helped both Chicago MLB clubs from ending their early 20th century absences from the taste of victory in a World Series. Prior to defeating the Astros in the 2005 World Series, the White Sox had not won there since 1917. …. The Chicago Cubs, who are still one of the favorites to reach the Series this year, of course, haven’t won there since 1908! …. And the Astros really do not need to add that one to to their bullet-list of crushing disappointments …..even if they are, thanks to their involuntary league reassignment and record with the Pale Hose from 2005 as members then of the NL, the only club that could fulfill this particular double pain whammy by being their as the AL representative, if and win the Cubs ever do shatter the antiquity of their still in motion “Since 1908” status as the validation basis for their also running “Lovable Loser” status. …. By not reaching such a nightmarish match with the Cubbies, pitchers like Doug Fister will now be denied their opportunities for notoriety on the disappointment shelves of both baseball and Houston sports history.

UH COUGARS NOTE. GO, COOGS. GO! – BEAT UCONN TONIGHT! – Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle almost nailed it in his headline for the pre-game story this morning. It read: “No Way to duck Ward this time.” – Duarte missed the possibilities that UH starting QB flash, Greg Ward, who missed most of the only loss in Coach Tom Herman’s tenure at the Cougar helm last year due to injury, could, indeed, slip on a banana peel on his way to tonight’s 7:00 PM ESPN televised game, or be re-injured, but we get his intentionality, nonetheless. Barring re-injury to Ward, the Cougars (4-0) should be up to handling the Huskies (2-2) in style.

OU FLIP-FLOPS. Apparently beating OU before 70,000 plus at NRG in the season-opener – and in a year in which the alleged Big 12 favorites also lost to Ohio State at home to go 1-2 for starters, has turned out to be not a good thing for UH’s chances of admission to the same conference. The Sooners are now sending out messages that say “maybe we ought to hold off on expansion for now.” That’s code for “we would still like to expand the Big 12, but now we can’t do it without leaving UH out of the picture without appearing cowardly and unfair (because now we are getting the first hand message from personal experience that they will be too much of a threat to us as competitors on the field and in recruiting. If they are this good without our help, what are they are going to be like if they get to share our conference tv income as competitors for the same recruits?) I guess the Cougars may have to shop around for a first class conference that understands that added strength is a good thing. As a UH alum, I would much prefer to see the Cougars go into the SEC, but I also would rather see UH go into the PAC 10, than the Big 12. They’ve got great clubs out west – and I think they might value a connection to the Houston area as an addition to their recruiting power in Texas – and not see UH as a noisy inconvenience to their own recruiting in our area. – We’ll see what happens, even as we await the grubby ex-UH Athletics veep and new Baylor AD Mack Rhoades to make his own slimy weasel run at Tom Herman for the eventual head coaching job up there in Waco.

Have a Nice Thursday, Everybody!

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

AL Wild Card Update, Thru Tuesday, 9/27/2016

September 28, 2016

anddownthestretchtheycome_32x40

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF TUESDAY, 9/23/2016:

WC#2 Teams W L PCT. GB GL
Blue Jays (WC#1) 87 70 .554 + 2.0 5
Baltimore Orioles 85 72 .541 LEADS 5
Detroit Tigers *
84 73 .535 – 1.0 5
Seattle Mariners *
83 74 .529 – 2.0 5
Houston Astros *
83 75 .525 – 2.5 4

GL above = Games Left to Play

* Green Lettering = Nice Normal Comeback Possibility

* Red Lettering = 1964 St. Louis Cardinal Pennant Charge Possibility

____________________

Down the stretch – they pound their hooves

Most are sheep – which two are wolves?

In 5 days tops – we all shall know

Which 2 stay – and which 3 go?

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

A Gershwin Goodbye to the 2016 Astros

September 27, 2016

Why 2016 Almost Was and Never Was the Year of the Houston Astros

george-gershwin-quote-the-things-that-youre-liable-to-read-in-the

 

Sung to the George Gershwin Tune of ….

“It Ain’t Necessarily So”

It ain’t necessarily so

It ain’t necessarily so

The things that spell liable – in baseball’s root bible

They ain’t necessarily so

 

Little Jose is small – but oh my

Little Jose is small – but oh my

He slew old Goliath – the pitching ace dieth

Little Jose is small – but oh my

He’s the one with – the batting champ eye

 

Evan Gattis hits hard – like a whale

Evan Gattis hits hard – like a whale

He first made his home in – the DH abdomen

Evan Gattis hits hard – like a whale

When he misses – it’s always a bale

 

Senor Carlos is tall – he can fly

Senor Carlos is tall – he can fly

Run or throw, field – or hittin’

This cat ain’t no kitten

Senor Carlos is tall – as the sky

 

Georgie Springer’s got game – so it seems

Georgie Springer’s got game – so it seems

When he plays like he ought-er  – he hits the ball harder

Georgie Springer’s still building up steam

On his way to fulfilling – our dream

 

Dallas Keuchel pitched great – won the Cy

Dallas Keuchel pitched great – won the Cy

This year he turned over – like an aging Land Rover

And he fell on his sword – with a sigh

As we kiss our sweet pennant – goodbye

 

We could go through – the whole – GD roster

But Bad habits- for certain – we’d foster

We don’t blame the players – for layers and layers

To explain why our team’s – an imposter

Too little – too late – says it faster.

 

george_gershwin-copy

___________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

 

 

Bed, Bath, Bobby Thomson, and Beyond

September 26, 2016
When the baseball gods decide to intervene, They always seem to find a way to do so. Not so often as to be taken for granted, But often enough to let us know,  This game of baseball is enchanted.

When the baseball gods decide to intervene,
They always find a way to appear on the scene,
Not so often as to be taken completely for granted,
But often enough to raise us from pure despair recanted,
In the faith that this game of baseball is divinely enchanted.

 

The Astros’ Fading Hopes for the 2016 AL Wild Card # 2 Playoffs Spot. How bleak are they? The Astros are 3 games back of the Orioles for the 2nd American League wild card spot, with the O’s having 3 roadies left against the Blue Jays and then finishing with 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx. The Astros have 3 home games left against the Mariners, who are now a half game ahead of them, followed by 3 on the road against the Angels to finish the season. Not good.

To make things worse, the Tigers are positioned equidistantly between the O’s and ‘Stros, trailing Baltimore by only 1.5 games with 4 games left to play at home against the Indians before  finishing with 3 road games against the not-so-hot Braves.

For the Astros to take the 2nd wild card spot from here, Monday morning, 9/26/2016, their only hope is to control al that’s left to them and hope for help from the baseball gods and Lady Luck herself.

The Astros must win all 6 of their remaining games – while hoping the Orioles go 2-4 in some combination against the higher flying Jays and nothing-to-lose Yankees in the Bronx – while the Tigers go 4-3 in some combination from their 4 homies against the division-leading Indians and 3 roadies against the not-so-good Braves.

The Mariners have 7 games left, but an Astros sweep of the M’s and the other three games left for them will take Seattle out.

Put all that candy and nuts Santa Claus  hope together  in reality – and the Astros win the 2nd wild card spot with 88-74, while the O’s and Tigers finish in runner-up tie at 87-75, as the Mariners finish with a “best they can hope for” mark of 86-76 if they follow their sweeping series defeat on the road by Houston to a finishing series 4 game home sweep of their own over Oakland.

If all this “Bed, Bath, Bobby Thomson and Beyond” miracle actually unfolds, the Wild Card #2 Final Standings would look like this:

WC#2 W L PCT. GB
ASTROS 88 74 .543 _
ORIOLES 87 75 .537 1.0
TIGERS 87 75 .537 1.0
MARINERS 86 76 .531 2.0

“If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’

Were candy and nuts

We’d all have a Merry Christmas!

~ The Late Don Meredith

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Lasagna and Lagniappe on Sunday Evening

September 26, 2016

(1) Lagniappe

lagniappe

 

Lagniappe is an excellent word, indeed, for small bonus favors that sometimes come our way, but, like most people, I’d never heard of it until I went to graduate school at Tulane and then lived in New Orleans for a while back in the early 1960s. Merriam-Webster.com defines lagniappe as “a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly :  something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.” With the help of Mark Twain, the digital dictionary source adds the following fleshiness to the word’s bare word-bones:

We picked up one excellent word, wrote Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi (1883), “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word-‘lagniappe’…. It is Spanish-so they said.” Twain encapsulates the history of “lagniappe” quite nicely. English speakers learned the word from French-speaking Louisianians, but they in turn had adapted it from the American Spanish word la ñapa. Twain went on to describe how New Orleanians completed shop transactions by saying “Give me something for lagniappe,” to which the shopkeeper would respond with “a bit of liquorice-root, … a cheap cigar or a spool of thread.” It took a while for “lagniappe” to catch on throughout the country, but by the mid-20th century, New Yorkers and New Orleanians alike were familiar with this “excellent word.” – Merriam-Webster.com

Lasagna is simply the lagniappe gift to my desire an for alliterative title to this Sunday column. I don’t really have any lasagna here with me, but that’s OK. I have learned in life that wishfulness doesn’t always get me in trouble. Besides, when we wish for something we don’t have, it sometimes helps steel our discipline to do without the satisfaction we seek in the moment and strengthens our grip on Spartan resolve to abstinence. The only fly in the ointment to this experience is the clock. Without commitment to disciplined avoidance, the shelf life of our resolve has about a 24-hour shelf life.

At any rate, if you have not yet taken the “TL/DR” path in relation to the apparent length of this latest blog entry, here are our Pecan Park Eagle servings of imagined lasagna and soul-gifting lagniappe for the first autumn Sunday evening in Houston:

(1) Belated Happy Birthday, Larry Dierker!

Happy Birthday, Larry Dierker! Spetember 22, 1964 18th Birthday 1st Major League Game

Happy Birthday, Larry Dierker!
September 22, 1964
18th Birthday
1st Major League Game

 

Our belated best wishes go out to our dear friend, Larry Dierker, the Astros pitching and managerial icon, baseball broadcaster and newspaper columnist, baseball historian and book author, and contributor, along with his family, to the promotion of reading among the school age children of Houston. As you probably know, Larry won 20 games for the 1969 Astros, posting an overall Houston franchise record of 137 wins for the Astros over 13 seasons (1964-1976), with another short final 14th season at St. Louis that took the final tot board on his complete career to 139 wins, 123 losses and an ERA of 3.31 with 1,493 strikeouts over 2,333.2 innings of MLB pitching. Larry also pitched a no-hitter for the Astros during the summer of 1976.

After his playing days were done, he worked the history/color side of Astros broadcasting, working with both the disparately different and differing Astros mike men who each later won the Ford Frick Award, Gene Elston and Milo Hamilton. Of course, Larry also was blessed to have some time working with the soon retiring Bill Brown in the booth as well. Along the way, between his broadcasting and local newspaper column writing, Larry revealed himself to be the renaissance man he always was – a player who appreciated the game’s history and the sport’s value to the American culture. In 1997, the Astros pulled Larry from the booth and made him field manager of the club. Wow! What an impact move that turned out to be. Under Dierker’s management, the Astros went to the NL playoffs in 4 of the 5 years in which he managed. Only in 2000, their first year in the new venue we now know as Minuted Made Park, did the club fail to qualify. And 2000 was also the year following Larry’s collapse from a brain tumor-induced seizure in the Astrodome’s last 1999 baseball season. Larry recovered and even came out with a book later that germinated from his seizure and tumor issues. It was about managing – and Larry played it with that dry non-blinking Dierker sense of humor by calling his first book in 2003 by the apt title of “This Ain’t Brain Surgery.” A second book followed in 2006 called “My Team.” In this later work, Dierker picked his favorite starting MLB lineups from the four decades he spent playing and watching baseball.

Larry Dierker pitched his first MLB game for the Houston Colt .45’s on his 18th birthday at old Colt Stadium in Houston on 9/22/1964. He didn’t win, but he struck out Willie Mays while the “Say Hey Kid” was still playing at the top of his game. Larry Dierker is a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. The Houston Astros also retired his number 49 sometime after the completion of his managerial tenure, and our local Houston SABR group is named in his honor as The Larry Dierker Chapter. Today, Larry Dierker is also an active member and supporter of our SABR Chapter objectives for bringing baseball history, particularly our local baseball history, into the light of day over the three separate centuries it has been a part of Houston’s daily life and heartbeat.

Belated public birthday wishes, Larry! My apologies for having to slip this message to you under the Sunday lagniappe door.

(2) LSU Fires Head Football Coach Les Miles. Yesterday, it briefly appeared that LSU had managed to crazily throw a touchdown pass that won the game from home club Auburn on the last play. For a few moments, Miles and his celebrating players and staff were jumping around in a state of pandemonium. Then came the kicker. The Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn, challenged that the LSU QB had not gotten the playoff before the game clock ran out, signalling the end of contest. There was 0.01 seconds left on the clock before the plan was run, but it was on temporarily on hold until the referee whistled it to start again. The LSU QB faced the maybe impossible task of taking the ball snap in that nanosecond time gap that apparently exists (in theory) between the referee’s whistle and the clock rolling to 0.00. As it turned out on appeal or referee review of the tape, the LSU had not done the maybe impossible. The clock had reached 0.00 and the LSU QB was still waiting for the ball snap from center. Now it’s Auburn hitting the pandemonium button and LSU people falling like felled trees on the turf. And finally, there is Coach Miles, strolling off the field in a gait that was remindful of a “dead man walking.”

Today, Coach Les Miles found out how prophetic that zombie walk may have been. LSU has fired Head Coach Les Miles and his offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, from their jobs, effective immediately.

Wow! Common sense says that the LSU people have been looking for an excuse to fire Miles, anyway, but come on, did they really need to fire him for a victory that had been snatched away by a nanosecond early tick of the clock that negated a sensational winning play for LSU?

Sometimes in my idealistic mind, it occurs to me that competitive winning at the highest levels of American Sports today has nothing to do with ethical considerations at all. And maybe that’s been true forever, but it still sucks to think that winning has nothing to with loyalty by club decision-makers to their players and fans – or by players to their clubs, if they can get more money elsewhere – and the sooner, the better. Only the fans seem to show up out of loyalty. No one can really buy our hearts away from our favorite teams. We are here because the decision-makers are putting a team on the field that represents our city – or even more deeply sometimes, our alma maters. And it hurts the fan loyalty every time a crack in the door opens up to reveal that some club decision-makers are not really trying to win, but they do understand that they have to keep the fans thinking that they are doing everything possible.

Even though we know it’s not true, many of us  fans also like to think that every manager or coach has the kind of mutual team loyalty that Knute Rockne had at Notre Dame, or Darrell Royal had at UT, or Bill Yeoman had at UH, or Tommy Lasorda had with the Dodgers. No ethical decision-maker in their right mind would have fired any of those guys on the heels of a day like Les Miles had yesterday. If I were an LSU alum, I’d be about ready to get off the emotional connection train as a result of something like the Miles firing. – Even if many of the fans no longer trusted Les Miles to get the job done of winning the National Championship every year. Oh, that’s right. I forgot. Les Miles hasn’t won a NCAA national football championship since 2007. He needs to go. Right?

(3) AL Wild Card Update, Thru Sunday, 9/25/2016.

Wild-Card_0

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF SUNDAY, 9/25/2016:

 

TEAMS W L PCT. GBWC1 GBWC2 GL
BLUE JAYS 86 69 .555 LEADS + 1.5    7
ORIOLES 85 71 .545 – 1.5 LEADS    6
TIGERS 83 72 .535 – 3.0 – 1.5    7
MARINERS *
82 73 .529 – 4.0 – 2.5    7
ASTROS * 82 74 .526 – 4.5 – 3.0    6

GL above = Games Left to Play

* Red Lettering = Slim Chances & Close to Elimination

“…. And Down the Stretch They Come …. Jays and O’s are pulling away for the only spots that will count …. Tigers falling back … still possible for the Bengal boys to make a run on the O’s …. but not so much on the Jays …. M’s and Stros show signs of catching life, but the spread of space between now and the end is now way too big to matter …. unless the three horses in the lead all drop dead at once. …. Time to get your hopes and dreams and money down for next year, Astros fans …. Shall we go straight from the track to spring training??? ….. Uh Oh! …. we feel it coming on like a sound booming down on us from the hard wood forest hills and plains of North Texas … Can you hear it??? …. There it is again!!!! …. ‘Hi Yo, Silver, Let’s Ride! …. The Texas Rangers …. Ride Again!!!”

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

AL Wild Card Update, Thru Saturday, 09/24/2016

September 25, 2016

AL_crop_north2016Wild-Card_0minusthemariners-ipad-4_edited-1houston-disastrosnew-york-yankersand-sign_origkansas-city-broils

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF Friday, 9/23/2016:

TEAMS W L PCT. GBWC1 GBWC2 GL
BLUE JAYS 85 69 .552 LEADS + 1.5    8
ORIOLES 84 71 .542 – 1.5 LEADS    7
TIGERS 83 71 .539 – 2.0 – 0.5    8
MARINERS *
81 73 .526 – 4.0 – 2.5    8
ASTROS *
81 74 .523 – 4.5 – 3.0    7
YANKEES *
79 75 .513 – 6.0 – 4.5    8
ROYALS *
78 77 .503 – 7.5 – 6.0    7

GL above = Games Left to Play

* Red Lettering = Slim Chances & Close to Elimination

“…. Rumbling down the stretch …. the finish line is now in sight. …. It bounces side to side and up and down in the eyes of the salivating-hungry lead horses …. as better than half the field now begins to cascade back to the slim-to-none section of baseball’s Star ship Hope! …. The 7-spot Royals pick up a small gain on the # 6 Yanks …. as NY and the #4 Mariners and #5 Astros fall back from near fatal chance losses … the Jays hold tight to the WC #1 prize as the O’s halt the AL East-leading Red Sox to regain the WC #2 spot from the Tigers …. whose loss to the Royals halts a 5-game winning streak surge into prime time contention. …. It ain’t over til it’s over, but it sure is looking bleak for every club, but the current win-place-show ticket of Toronto, Baltimore and Detroit! ….”

PS: Pay no attention to the WC standings in the Sunday, 9/24/16, Houston Chronicle. Their published results did not include the Astros late time loss to the Angels that missed the paper’s print deadline. That extra Astros loss is the stinger that created the half game separation in their current relative standings to each other.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

AL Wild Card Update, Thru Friday, 09/23/2016

September 24, 2016

AL_crop_north2016Wild-Card_0houston-problem

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF Friday, 9/23/2016:

TEAMS W L PCT. GBWC1 GBWC2 GL
BLUE JAYS 84 69 .549 LEADS + 1.0 9
TIGERS 83 70 .542 – 1.0 LEADS 9
ORIOLES 83 71 .539 – 1.5 – 0.5 8
MARINERS 81 72 .529 – 3.0 – 2.0 9
ASTROS 81 73 .526 – 3.5 – 2.5 8
YANKEES 79 74 .520 – 5.0 – 4.0 9
ROYALS 77 77 .500 – 7.5 – 6.5 8

GL above = Games Left to Play

“…. further down the stretch …. the hooves of the Jays, Tigers, and Orioles are heating up for the final charge at the two-horse winner finish line ….. as the ‘Stros watch the M’s rumble past them …. There’s an old saying at this track and most others …. you can’t win a race if you can’t hold a lead ….. and you can’t hold a lead without pitching in the late innings ….. even if you do get a little angel dust in your eyes ….. you either fight it off and keep moving up …. or you fall back while the halos keep throwing banana peels under your horse’s feet for the only joy left for losers …. and that’s to spoil it all for some of the contenders who were only pretenders from the start. ….. When a guy you let go because he couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag gets to drink champagne with the his new division-winning club on the same night that your guys are choking to death on served up stale angel food cake …. all we can say is …. “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM” …. but not-to-worry …. food poison is worse on the jockeys than it is on the horse you rode in on! …. Want some consolation as this race rolls on to a finish without much surviving hope for another AJ Hinch “F-EM” serenade in the WC#2 spot winner clubhouse this year …. just remember …. ‘WE ARE H-TOWN – WHERE MEMORIES ARE SHORT IN THE SHORT TERM, BUT PAIN IS FOREVER IN THE LONG RUN …. WHEN IT COMES TO OUR HOPES FOR VICTORY ON THE VARIOUS FIELDS OF OUR ATHLETIC DREAMS!’ …. at any rate, we are technically NOT out of it yet …. so, let’s finish the race before we schedule the funeral. …. They shoot horses, don’t they? …. How about relief pitchers?”

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Bill Brown: Great Man, Great Broadcaster

September 24, 2016
Bill Brown Texas Baseball Hall of Fame 2004

Bill Brown
Texas Baseball Hall of Fame
2004

The retirement of Bill Brown from 30 Years as the Play-By-Play Telecaster for the Houston Astros on Thursday came as only a mild surprise to all of us who heard him defer from answering that query at a SABR Meeting only three days earlier, this past Monday night. “I won’t be answering any question about my future palns tonight,” Brown said, “but something will be coming out soon in that regard.”

“Well, Bill, what are you going to do whenever you do actually retire?” Another SABR member asked.

“Go to SABR meetings,” Bill answered with a smile.

How typical of Bill Brown to answer in that fashion. He’s one of us fans too, you know – and not some rarified sports diva ego who holds himself above us commoner fan members of the greater baseball family because of his truly select and beautiful contribution to our sport as a fine teacher to the others that follow him on the art of baseball telecasting prose. That’s what it is, you know? and we are privileged to now have three living veterans in Houston who have given so much to the essential literacy of baseball broadcasting and color coverage on both television and radio. The other two valuable contributors, of course, are the multi-level impacting role player that we all know and love as Larry Dierker – and Greg Lucas, our Human Wide World of Sports guy, who also may be known, for all we know,  as either The Toast of Kokomo or The Butler Baritone. Lucas eventually gave his home town heart to the Astros through his own retirement from the FOX Sports network a couple of years ago after a longtime word painter of Astros baseball and other sports.

All three of these men are bright and unique broadcasting contributors. All three men are knowledgeable and sociable treasures. And all three are authors of several fine books on baseball. And we shall look forward to new works from each for as long as the well-spring of baseball knowledge and wisdom continues to flow in each of their bloodstreams as “my-this-time-in-life” passions. One more shared honor that our three living Houston media veterans hold together speaks highly for them all. Larry Dierker, Greg Lucas, and Bill Brown are all inducted members of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. That said, we shall now return to discussing the only one of the three Houston announcer amigos that’s retiring at the end of this season, and that’s Bill Brown, the only telecaster to do 30 years of continuous broadcasting service for the Houston Astros through another of America’s great periods of change.

When Bill Brown began telecasting in Houston in 1987, the Astros were just coming off their most devastating loss to the New York Mets in Game 6 of the NLCS in the autumn of 1986. Bombastically enthusiastic Milo Hamilton was two-years deep in town by then as the secondary broadcaster behind the legendary Gene Elston during the 1985-86 seasons when Brown came aboard. In fact, Elston himself even played a role in the hiring of new guy Bill Brown by getting fired after the ’86 season by Astros GM Dick Wagner for giving only a tepid “there it is” statement on TV, followed by silence, as his call of the last out in ace starter Mike Scott’s no-hit division clincher win at the Astrodome in the last game of the 1986 regular season. The Elston firing was not a popular decision among most Astros fans, but this is the climate that Bill Brown walked into in Houston in the spring of 1987. It hardly looked like a garden in which 30-year careers could be cultivated in magnificence or significance.

So, how did this long and storied career of Bill Brown’s survive and flourish? Allow me to post this humble opinion: Houston had never met any baseball media person like Bill Brown until 1987. We can’t claim to know what actually happened inter-personally between Bill Brown and Milo Hamilton, between Bill Brown and the Astros ownership brass, or between Bill Brown and the players, but we do know something about what happened between Bill Brown and the fans from 1987 to 2016. And I also got to know a little more about Bill Brown personally from just being around him socially during my time with the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. In the short time I worked in a minor way as an active research colleague of Bill’s for his book on the Astros – and through our mutual involvement in the local SABR chapter from 2004 to date in 2016, I’ve come to know the man modestly better on the personal level.

Allow me also to share what I’ve learned about Bill Brown from even light social contact. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet:

(1) Bill Brown is not motivated by ego to do what he does so well. He is motivated by his passion for the game – and for his passionate respect for how the game is broadcast – or written – for fans.

(2) Because Bill Brown is not driven by his personal ego, he has the ability to work with those whose makeup hungers or demands that they be treated as the center of the universe, without sacrificing his own integrity.

(3) As noted by former Astros great Craig Biggio in this morning’s Houston Chronicle, “Brownie had a special way of talking about the game, being judgmental and being critical and yet also being positive all at the same time. He was special at what he did. He was magnificent with what he did, and he’s truly going to be missed.”

(4) Brownie also has a resonant, clear-speaking baritone voice. He sounds like the friendly neighbor you wish you had living next door to you in the neighborhood. With that same talent, he could adjust to the gifts and styles of his working partners as well as anyone I’ve seen at these media level reins. He made the gifted humorist that is Jim DeShaies sound like the baseball resurrection of Mark Twain; he makes Alan Ashby sound like one of the the most astute game-observers to ever travel down the Tim McCarver Freeway; and he helps Geoff Blum get across his sometimes quirky utility player game observations in ways that would have been lost, had Geoff Blum been forced to play second banana to one of baseball’s “legend-in-my-own-mind” people. In other words, Bill Brown possesses the rare quality of being one of those people who actually makes it possible for others to give their work their best by his presence – because Bill Brown is not concerned with being “out-shined.”

(5) Bottom Line: Bill Brown is one of those wonderful human beings who followed his passion to find the field of his chosen life work. And now he is using that same barometer in making the tough decision to retire at the end of the 2016 Astros regular season.

At his retirement press conference yesterday, Bill Brown cited “faded abilities and a diminished level of passion for game preparation as (his) reasons for stepping away.”

People governed by their egos do not make those kinds of honest disclosures. Again, Bill Brown is not such a person. Bill knows that his heart must be in the job full strength. He understands that a slip in passion, the redundant pounding of the same-old-same-old over time, and the normal wear and tear of aging take their toll on how one goes about doing their chosen work.

Bill Brown values that it is far better to note the slip in passion and move on to some other placement of that same energy into something that is both fresh and again playful.

We selfishly are hoping that Bill again catches the writing bug, once he’s had some time to catch his second passion wind. His wisdom is a reservoir of information for the minds of all those young people out there who may be thinking of going into sports broadcasting.

Thank you, Bill Brown! And Good Luck, Bill and Dianne Brown! – The world is now yours to enjoy in the moment for as long as you allow yourselves to be free of worldly anxieties – by living for health, wisdom, peace, love, beauty, and creativity – in the only time zone that any of us ever own – the wonderful here and now.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

AL Wild Card Update, Thru Thurs., 09/22/2016

September 23, 2016

AL_crop_north2016Wild-Card_0tiger-sweep

 

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF Thursday, 9/22/2016:

TEAMS W L PCT. GBWC1 GBWC2 GL
BLUE JAYS 83 69 .546 LEADS + 1.0 10
TIGERS 82 70 .539 – 1.0 LEADS 10
ORIOLES 82 71 .536 – 1.5 – 0.5 9
ASTROS 81 72 .529 – 2.5 – 1.5 9
MARINERS 80 72 .526 – 3.0 – 2.0 10
YANKEES 79 73 .520 – 4.0 – 3.0 10
ROYALS 77 76 .503 – 6.5 – 5.5 9

GL above = Games Left to Play

” …. And Down the Stretch They Stretch …. Jays standing pat for the WC#1 spot …. Tigers now biting and scratching their way past the O’s into the WC#2 hole lead …. Royals falling fast from further mention at the #7 place …. O’s fall to #3 as “Stros stumble to #4 ,,,, and the #5 M’s gain a step on the fumbling H-Towners and the #6 Yanks also fall back a step …. as the great abyss looms as the destiny for all but two of the surviving wild card horses …. WAIT! …. as Spike Jones once reported …. from out of nowhere …. hoofing up her own cloud of clabber …. here comes the filly, GIRDLE …. if she gets here …. what a story that could make …. “GIRDLE IN THE STRETCH!” …. what an elastic finish that could be!!!! …. Stay tuned in the stretch to your nanosecond action ear … We’ve got the whole thing covered right here on TPPE Sports Radio!”

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas