Super Hero ETA Now Moves to ALCS Game 4

October 17, 2017

I’m Popeye the Astro Fan!
I’ll win us Game 4 Cause I can!
I fights to the finich,
Cause I eats me spinach,
I’m Popeye the Astro Fan!

 

Who’s afraid of the Astro Fan?
The Astro Fan? The Astro Fan?
Who’s afraid of the Astro Fan?
Ho! Ho! Ho! – That’s ME!

 

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See you Tuesday, October 17, 2017, in Yankee Stadium, 4:00 PM CDT.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Time for Morton To Get Salty

October 16, 2017

Charlie Morton RHP
Houston Astros

 

Charlie Morton is our Astros Game 3 starter in Yankee Stadium. He will take the mound in the beckoning call of greatness that showers down upon him from the Olympian wins already registered in Games 1 and 2 by Mssrs. Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander – and we shall all hope and pray, depending upon our individual beliefs in the need at hand, that Mr. Morton shall absorb all of the magically glistening energy as it descends upon him as – nothing less – than the fruit of his senior teammate artists’ legacy contribution to his own ascent into legendary performance gear. Let Charlie Morton rise as any pitcher should rise who has been named for the most famous salt company of universal note.

When It Rains It Pours! ~ So please close the doors! ~ On all future Yank scores! ~ Starting now!

We learned last night from a brief clip from Channel 13 in Houston that Charlie Morton grew up a Yankee fan. And that figures. He was born on November 12, 1983 – and he grew up in a little town across the Hudson River in Flemington, New Jersey. The TV sidebar last night was about a time that he and his sister had gone to a game at the Stadium as teenagers during the mid 1990’s and how they also had managed to finagle an autograph from current Yankee manager Joe Girardi while he was still active as a catcher for the club.

Although Channel 13 did not post this conclusion, the Morton-Girardi irony connection is one of life’s most playful action-tumbler outcomes. – Watch out – or Don’t Be Surprised! If you have enough love, obsession, particular ability, and willingness -and it’s all waded up in one early dream – try not to be shocked where it may take you someday.

And try to remember this fact too, Charlie Morton. – You don’t owe Joe Girardi a Yankee dime for that autograph he went to the trouble of giving you years ago. – Just go out there and be as mean and as bad tonight as Keuchel and and Verlander were to the Yankees in Houston on Friday and Saturday. You are a big tall guy with a very nasty curve. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go out there tonight and show them just how deep and wide this great Houston Astro pitching staff truly is.

Go Charlie! ~ Go Astros! ~ Take Game 3!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Astros: Use Your Ability, Increase Your Luck

October 15, 2017

Is there any big surprise out there as to why these four smart and athletic Astros also have a lot of “good luck” in the game as well?

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A Scoreboard Oddity. What are the odds against any team winning the first two games of both the divisional and league championship series by two pairs of identical separate scores for each series? Whatever they may be, that’s just what the Houston Astros just did in 2017. They defeated Boston in the ALDS, winning each of the first games they played at home by scores of 8-2. Yesterday, they pulled off a second game win over the Yankees at home in the ALCS by the identical score of 2-1 they posted in Game 1, with the second win coming on that exciting walk off/run off finish staged by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in the bottom of the 9th. – The odds of that happening – or ever happening again – have to be located somewhere – out there in the stratosphere.

Jeff Luhnow Deserves a Standing “O”. In fact, he just got his second standing “O” yesterday within the 24 hours it took for the Astros to win Games 1 and 2 at home against the New York Yankees. Whether it was acknowledged as such is immaterial to the fact that it could be measured by every fan who filled every seat at Minute Maid Park, creating the SRO need for tickets then sold to fans who were willing to stand and watch as best they could the live delivery of General Manager Jeff Luhnow‘s long term plan for championship success as it continues to unfold. – In that ancient rhetorical inquiry, “is it better to be good or lucky”, we always have chosen to believe that being good enhances one’s chances of being lucky – but that being lucky in itself is not much help to most situations requiring the presence of ability. Example: The Astros got lucky in the bottom of the 9th because a couple of guys like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa came to bat for them in that inning and saw the situation on some conscious to subterranean hungry mental level as an opportunity to “get lucky”.

The Presence of Justin Verlander. Speaking of ability transference into an increased chance for luck measured by wins, that nine inning full game stint by Justin Verlander in Game 2 may have been the best pitched game that some of us have ever seen. When you take into account (1) the stakes at play that came with winning or losing this particular game; (2) the presence of most able resistance forces within the Yankee group for also achieving success; (3) the absence of support for pitchers remaining in the game beyond the magical 100-pitch mark; (4) After the Yankees scored their lone run on back-to-back hits in the top of the 5th, Verlander simply stiffened his focus and got better; (5) by the bottom of the 9th, it was evident to all, even Astros manager A.J. Hinch – win or lose, Justin Verlander was going to finish this game – and indeed, he did. – And that set the tone for Mr. V’s brethren in baseball ability, Mssrs. Altuve and Correa, to bring the rest of this “lucky landing baby” home.

Luck helped along by ability. Even the uncaught ball by the Yankee catcher on Altuve’s game-winning score was a case of “luck helped along by ability.” Of course, it could have happened the same way, even with one of the Astros’ lesser light runners coming around third base on a daring dash for a run that was going to be as consequential as this one proved to be, but it just seems to enhance the luck of something going wrong with the defense under this pressure when the imposing actor in this presentation of fatal consequence is mighty little Jose Altuve.

Go, Astros! ~ Soak up some of that Verlander, Keuchel, Altuve, Correa fire! ~ Let’s put these Yankees to sleep in the Bronx and then get on with dispatching whomever else remains in the way of Astros destiny in the World Series ~ and, of course ~ do it all ~ one game at a time ~ one pitch at a time ~ one magically consequential moment at a time. ~ We’ve waited too long ~ to mess things up now by taking anything for granted or presumptuously.

One Little Hint. ~ Be grateful each morning for the particular natural gifts-for-the-greater-good that have been given to you in this life. ~ for your personal use. Feed those gifts with love and gratitude. ~ Then go use them in passionate pursuit of delivering whatever your gifts are to life ~ all the while, remembering ~ we all have something to give ~ even if some people are sadly short on owning what their gifts are. ~ And just know in your heart ~ that these all spread love further than it can get on its own ~ if it remains stuck inside us. ~ And ~ if you happen to be Jose Altuve ~ and you are racing home from 1st base on a hit to right field ~ and that helps make the catcher drop the relay throw that would have retired you ~ but now allows the Astros to score the winning run ~ just keep it up.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Solly Hemus: Forever in Our Hearts

October 14, 2017

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At age 24, Solly Hemus of the 1947 Houston Buffs was there at Buff Stadium, just playing baseball for the Houston Buffs with a pepper spark that made him over into the first hero of the game that many of us kids in the knothole game would ever know. Last night, a few of us 70-year survivors were there at the Memorial Oaks Funeral Home on the Houston west side to say goodbye to the late 94-year old super human being that Solly became over the course of his well-lived and blessed long life span.

Betty Hemus, Solly’s gracious widow, was there to greet all of us personally – and to express her appreciation for our acknowledgement and respect for her late husband and true life partner by being there with him, for at least one of these two special days, in spite of the ironic circumstances that both the Friday visitation and today’s Saturday funeral conflicted directly with Games 1 and 2 of the Yankees @ Astros ALCS at Minute Maid Park. It was a cruel irony that escaped none of us of the so-called Houston baseball community who had any contact with Solly Hemus and his preferences in life.

Had Solly had not died, and had he been sufficiently healthy this weekend, he would have been at MMP for both games – no question about it.

It simply wasn’t meant to be.

In another irony, a contemporary little “pepper pot” of a second baseman named Jose Altuve sparked just enough offense behind the great pitching of Dallas Keuchel to make the Astros’ 2-1 win over the New York Yankees in Game 1 a nice send off for the spirit and soul of another little guy who long ago trademarked that phrase for his “give-it-all-you’ve-got-from-the-gut” playing state of mind.

Farewell, Solly Hemus. And Godspeed.

There will never be another you, but the memory of you – shall live on ’til the end of time.

Forever in our hearts.

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Please use this link to review the obituary for Solly Hemus – 0r to personally leave your own offering or personal message of goodbye to one of the great baseball and community stewardship figures in Houston history:

http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Solomon-Hemus&lc=0702&pid=186932323&mid=7589291

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Astros Face Yankees for AL Pennant

October 13, 2017

The Beginning of the New Good Old Days
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Continues Against the Yankees Tonight

 

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WORLD SERIES HIGH POINTS FOR

FOUR REMAINING 2017 CONTENDERS

FRANCHISE * W L W% First WS In Last WS In
YANKEES 27 13 .675 1921 2009
DODGERS 6 12 .333 1916 1988
CUBS 3 8 .273 1906 2016
ASTROS 0 1 .000 2005 2005
  • The above chart tracts the broad brush World Series records for each of the four remaining 2017 contenders since the fall classic was devised as the championship of baseball final playoff match in 1903 between the champions of the American and National Leagues. If a club won or lost their first or last appearance in a World Series, those dates are shown in bold type. Appearances are based upon the total numbers for each club by franchise and does not differentiate the Dodger totals on the basis of their times in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, nor does it separate their two earliest dates of 1916 and 1920, when the team lost as the “Brooklyn Robins”.

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Obvious Comments Upon What There is to See in the Table

  1. How Do You Get To Be a Dynasty? When you’ve won so many World Series titles that your 13 losses there are merely a minor injury statistic in the full tale of your franchise’s overall accomplishments.
  2. A Cubs Legacy. It’s still hard to think of the Cubs’ last World Series appearance – and not type “1908”.
  3. Is the # 7 “lucky” for the Astros? Hope so – because it sure isn’t lucky for me. In trying to write on the run this morning, I errantly typed “2007” instead of the correct “2005” answer for the year our Houston Astros made their only World Series appearance. – How big was that fact? It it’s been bold enough t0 jump out at me from the pennant that has hung over my head in my study for the past twelve years – and it still wasn’t big enough this morning to rein in my attention before it left early for the long car trip across town I planned, made, and just returned from, only a few minutes ago. My apologies for the error.
  4. Astros on Brink of 1st and Only Series “Double-League-Hitter”. If the Astros return to the World Series in 2017, they will become the first franchise to represent the same city there as champions of each league in modern history. If the Cubs also upset the Dodgers and reach the Series this year too, the Astros also will have become the first and only team to ever have played both clubs from Chicago in the fall classic.
  5. I don’t see it in the table, but I feel it. If George Springer leads off Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees tonight with a home run, the Astros are going to run right through the Boys from the Bronx and whomever else they have to face from the NL and make 2017 the year that Houston wins its first World Series title!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Boston Writer Mistook Texas Flag as Puerto Rican

October 12, 2017

10/05/2017: George Springer waving a smaller Texas flag prior to start of the ALDS Boston@Houston 1st game.

 

Here’s a follow up story to our big American and Texas flags presentation at Minute Maid Park prior to the opening of the ALDS on 10/05/17. Now it seems that The Boston Herald’s writer Jason Mastrodonato mistook the Texas flag for the one that commemorates Puerto Rico. “The Astros’ pregame ceremonies included a large Puerto Rican flag draped over the field next to a bigger American flag to honor the United States territory that was devastated recently by a hurricane,” Mastrodonato wrote.

Then, in describing a moment in which George Springer stepped out of the dugout and waved the Texas flag before the crowd, Mastrodonato did it again! “George Springer brought the Puerto Rican flag out with him when he was introduced and waved it back and forth to big applause.”

It’s a wonder the confused Boston writer didn’t first ask why the Astros kept brandishing the flag of their rival Texas Rangers prior to a playoff series. After all, it’s the Rangers who have imbedded the Texas flag into their own team colors and uniform styles. Of course, on some deeper level, it may simply have been prompted by another sad case of “racism by association”.

Associative Racism is easiest to grasp in these terms: “If you see a group of people, and you know that some of their principal members are Puerto Rican, you simply assume that all of them are Puerto Rican and that everything they might wear, touch or wave is also Puerto Rican.” – If you’ve done that yourself, you might be an associative racist.

At any rate, the public attention to this matter, until now, did not rise to suspicions of writer character creepism, but it did tread hard on the geographic, historical, and cultural symbol error of a Boston writer who was expected to have known better and not fallen to error on such a basic level. When Red Sox managers make mistakes on this level, – mistakes like getting yourself ejected in the 2nd inning of n elimination game that your club goes on to lose – they get fired. When Boston writers also make “dummy down” errors, their editors compose an appropriate errata to accompany the corrected copies of the errant writer’s material.

“A previous version of the (Mastrodonato) notebook inaccurately stated that pregame ceremonies included the unfurling of a large Puerto Rican flag. The flag was in fact the Texas state flag. We regret the error,” the Boston Herald errata in this matter now reads – as poor jolted Jason’s paychecks, unlike those of fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, still reach the bank for deposit.

In mild fairness to the mistaken writer, a quick look here at the actual flag of Puerto Rico suggests that they indeed are similar to the State of Texas flag:

Puerto Rico Flag

For further information, check out the following article and its link to another source:

http://therealside.com/2017/10/the-boston-herald-needs-a-flag-lesson/

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Boston Fires Manager John Farrell

October 11, 2017

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“Fire me? Why not? I’ve only led the Red Sox to 3 division titles and 1 World Series championship in my 5 seasons with Boston. It’s probably time they had a winner take the helm at Fenway.” … Sure enough, Boston fired Manager John Farrell today, 10/11/17, just as we were going to press with this post.

 

The Boston Red Sox fired John Farrell as their manager a few minutes ago and Boston Herald sportswriter Steve Buckley called the shot two days earlier in the wake of the club’s loss to the Astros in the ALDS. The body of bean town hope was still warm when the writer went to work on this outcome  in a column of October 9th that simply screamed for this happening ….

Buckley: Time has come for Red Sox to fire John Farrell

Read the article. And ask yourselves: How much was Buckley’s conclusion tied to the fact that part of his job is to write through whatever feelings he may be having in the moment of fan disappointment and state the most objective conclusions he can find? And how much could it have been a very different article, had Buckley’s Red Sox settled Game 4 on the winning side?

We don’t really know the answer to those questions either, but here’s one example of what we mused may have changed, had the 8th and 9th innings gone the optimal Red Sox way. First check out what Buckley said below about the Bregman homer, as quoted from his article. Then see our own playful musing on what Buckley might have written, had things gone quite differently in the Red Sox’s favor in Game 4.

Because of Bregman’s HR Over the Monster to start the 8th in Game 4, Buckley actually wrote ….

“Why was lefty Chris Sale, despite his heroic relief pitching yesterday, allowed to return to the mound in the eighth inning? Am I only the person who felt he might have been spent by then?

“Besides, Houston’s leadoff man in the eighth was Alex Bregman, a right-handed batter who hit .331 against lefties this season. He homered off Sale in Game 1. Sale remained in Game 4, and Bregman walloped a game-tying homer. Craig Kimbrel didn’t exactly mow ’em down when he took over, but one wonders about an altered course had the eighth started with the Sox ace closer facing Bregman.”

~ Steve Buckley, Sportswriter, Boston Herald, Monday, October 9, 2017

If Sale had struck out Bregman in the 8th and retired the Astros in order, and had the Red Sox gone on to win, Buckley could have written the following ….

“Chris Sale completed an heroic relief pitching job Sunday, going 5 2/3 innings through eight innings, striking out the side in his last frame and finishing the day with 9 K’s, no walks, 0 runs, 3 hits, and the win in a Game 4 ALDS series-tying 3-2 triumph by the Red Sox over the Astros that was closed by ace reliever Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

“Am I only the person who felt Sale had it in him to get the job done by pitching through the eighth?

“Nope. Sox manager John Farrell felt the same way I did. – We both deserve a raise.”

~ Steve Buckley, Sportswriter, Boston Herald, Monday, October 9, 2017

As the old song goes: “Some’s gotta win; some’s gotta lose. (Even) Good Time Charlie (writers) – get the blues.”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Baseball Gods Pull Off Perfect ALDS Game 3

October 9, 2017

THE BASEBALL GODS
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CURLY, LARRY, & MOE

 

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About The Baseball Gods: The Three Baseball Gods originated in mortal form during the Era of William Shakespeare from Stratford Upon Avon and his highly acclaimed London theatrical productions. As young aspiring playwrights themselves, the trio of merry young Englishmen had signed on as apprentices to Shakespeare in what each hoped would be their own first steps into the realm of literary and stage production acclaim.

Shakespeare called these men his “entourage” and he used their specific and variable talents to prototype the structural form and flow of energy for almost everything he wrote. Larry excelled as the story-line plot developer; Curly added the unexpected kinks, curves, and twists to the story-line plot that were intended to simultaneously drive half the audience to heaven and the other half to hell; and Moe did exactly what you suspect from his name that he did. Moe could take any event and shift the momentum of things so quickly – and so largely – that even the Red Sea could not have resisted his urging to part and stay parted, pending further instructions.

The boys were doing great until Shakespeare realized that he was beginning to share credit he had not intended to give away at all. Word got around that some people were even beginning to say that the entourage was writing all of Shakespeare’s plays and that he was only showing up to take credit.

That last presumption led to a non-published one-act play that Big Willie wrote on his own. Shakespeare had the boys quietly assassinated and buried in unhallowed ground with this curse upon their creative souls: “Let these genius younger brothers remain here, body and soul, as the gods of some as-yet-to-be-invented sport that makes abundant future use of some of my favorite words; words like “strike” and “ball” and “base” and “walk” shall never again be neglected until the crack of doom. And let there be only two conditions placed upon the delivery of the emotional gifts that shall surely result from the works of this new deity: (1) Let their audience joy be yanked back before it reaches all the way to heaven; and (2) Let their audience despair be pulled up before it falls all the spare distance to the deepest floor of hell.

A Post 2017 ALDS Game 3 Perspective on What Happened with the Baseball Gods in Boston on Sunday: We just happen to have intercepted a tape recording of The Baseball Gods in conversation with each other after the Red Sox’s 10-3 win in Game 3 re-ignited their slim hopes of catching the Astros, who still lead the series, 2-1, with the final game, if necessary, in Houston on Wednesday:

Curly: “Gotta hand it you, Larry. Your scheme for starting off the series with two big 8-2 wins by Houston at home really set the tone for our first quiet return to Fenway today.”

Larry: “Thanks, Curly, but you did a lot of the work too, my friend. Setting up Altuve with a 3-homer game on top of Verlander pitching the opener was a big part of it all in Game One.”

Moe: “Sure made my work easy. Until today, all I had to do was shout ‘timber’ and watch the Boston bodies fall. Curly, I gotta admit, once you helped Correa hit the first inning bomb to put the Astros up, 3-0, in Game Two, I thought for sure you were going for a ‘double ugly’ when Reddick launched that long bomb to right in the second inning. – Then – when Betts runs all the way over there and puts his glove over the low fence – and catches the damn thing – I suddenly realized that you had just handed the game to me, old man Mo, and that bloody Red Sox team and fan base. – Had that ball fallen in as a homer, it would have been, 6-0, Astros, and rest-in-peace, Boston. – Not now. – We had done the big 180 degree turn with the Betts catch. Now it was Big Momentum comeback time for the red-legged ones.”

Curly: “I gotta admit. I kept trying to fan the Red Sox comeback flames. Shortly after the Betts catch, I whispered in AJ Hinch’s ear, ‘Hey, AJ! – If Peacock gets a little shaky any time soon, why don’t you think about putting Liriano out there?’ – And I’ll be damned if he didn’t do that not long after. With the Astros lead shrunken to 3-2 and a man on in the bottom of the 3rd, he puts in Liriano to face Devers – and Devers unloads on him to right – to give the Sox their first lead in the Series – and one they would not surrender for the rest of the day.”

Larry: “I’d like to give shared credit to both of you for what happened next. Once we got David Price in there pitching for the Red Sox, that move proved to be the Curly-cut cutie and all the Moe-momentum mash that Boston would need to capture the game.”

Curly: “How did you like the finishing touch – in the 6-run Red Sox 7th? The last 3 Red Sox runs scored on a homer by Bradley that Astros right fielder Reddick, unlike Betts earlier, could not catch!”

Larry: “That was cruel!”

Moe:  “So what? We’re The Baseball Gods! We’re supposed to be cruel to everybody – and ultimately – in favor of nobody!”

Curly: “By taking baseball clubs to places that are not quite heaven – and not quite hell?”

Larry: “Yeah, but that’s OK. We may not be able to get anybody to heaven, but we still may inadvertently help get some of them to the World Series. – Win there – and you get to keep that good feeling for a lifetime.

Moe: “Yeah. – And if there’s anything better than winning the World Series in the next world, you’ll just have to have faith – or else – wait and see – to know for sure. That one’s the longest roll of momentum that we all share in life – from here to eternity.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Altuve and Four Other Houston 2nd Basemen

October 7, 2017

Jose Altuve

Craig Biggio

 

Bill Doran

Nellie Fox

 

Joe Morgan

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking at the Group of Five

Fox and Morgan made it all the way to the Hall of Fame, but they got there for the seasons they enjoyed – earlier with the White Sox for Fox and later with the Reds for Morgan. Only Biggio made it to Cooperstown as a career Houston Astro.

Barring an unforeseen banana peel on the sidewalk in the near years to come – or a suddenly voracious assault of avarice, greed, and runaway egos (See Yankees, Scott Boras, and numerous obvious actors in this potential melodrama for a deeper grip on what could go down here at some point), and Jose Altuve is looking more and more like a can’t miss shoo-in to follow Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell someday to that pristine village in upstate New York as the third all-Astro career great one to be enshrined.

Today’s Play Offs Game day off column is simply built around a little table I put together this morning with the help of data already compiled so neatly by Baseball Reference.com.

The following table simply normalizes a number of key career stats for one current and four former Houston MLB second basemen into how that data averages out, had the same percentage results by career been achieved over the course of a 162-game single season.

If you are unfamiliar with the initials that head each data column, simply check out their meanings at the conclusion of the table.

We note the most obvious. – Jose Altuve is the only active player in this group, the only three-time batting champion, a player whose power numbers are on the rise, the man arguably viewed as the most feared hitter in baseball, and a guy who is well on his decisively earned way to Cooperstown on clear and often glorious merit alone. (See Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS for an example of boom-boom-boom glory.)

Hope you enjoy what you see – and that you will leave your comments here at the column on what most peaks your interest from looking at these player comparative numbers.

Average Season Stats Based on 162-Game Season

For Five Houston Astro/Colt .45 2nd Basemen

Player PA AB R H HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
Jose Altuve 711 652 93 206 14 66 38 44 76 .316 .362 .453
Craig Biggio 711 618 105 174 17 67 24 66 100 .281 .363 .433
Bill Doran 660 572 81 152 9 55 23 79 67 .266 .354 .373
Nellie Fox 708 632 88 182 2 54 5 49 15 .288 .348 .362
Joe Morgan 693 567 101 154 16 69 42 114 62 .271 .392 .427

PA: Plate Appearances

AB: At Bats

R: Runs

H: Hits

HR: Home Runs

RBI: Runs Batted In

SB: Stolen Bases

BB: Bases on Balls

SO: Strike Outs

BA: Batting Average

OBP: On Base Percentage

SLG: Slugging Average

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Memoirs of an Unforgettable Day

October 6, 2017

The Big Flag, Opening Day
Minute Maid Park, 4/03/2017
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It looked pretty much the same when we carried it out there yesterday, 10/05/17, prior to the 8-2 Astros win over Boston in Game 1 of the ALDS. Only the stakes were bigger and we were wearing orange.

 

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By now, the Game 1 details are pretty much nothing more than another doughnut dunk. The Houston Chronicle even captured the essence of what everyone shall forever remember this morning when they simply repeated the same word in emphatic bold and big letter treatment:

“Boom! Boom! Boom!”

Need any help on what that headliner commemorates for history? We didn’t think so. And Justin Verlander and his buddies of the mound did a pretty good job of stifling all Boston Red Sox attempts to get back of the game too.

Brian T. Smith has become my favorite local game coverage writer. His opening and closing c0lumn words today about Jose Altuve’s 3-homer “dream game” descriptively sets the tone for the same thing I’m trying to say here too. So, what do you say we just borrow from the man who already has said it so well, and been paid for doing so:

Smith’s Opening Thoughts: “The third one was blasted over the Crawford Boxes, rocketing toward glass, sunlight and downtown Houston.  And at that point – surreal, earsplitting, wonderfully ridiculous – Jose Altuve told himself to snap out of it and just wake up. It couldn’t be real. He literally had to be dreaming.”

Smith’s Closing Thoughts: “If you were there or you watched it on the screen, you’re telling yourself the same. And in 10 years, then 20 and 50, we’ll be saying this. Remember the Astros first playoff game after Hurricane Harvey? When Altuve hit three home runs in one day? It wasn’t a dream. It’s already living history.”

Now do yourselves a favor and read the entire article in today’s October 6, 2017 Houston Chronicle Sports Section, pp 1,4.

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Our secondary big moment at the game was special because it was personal. I never dreamed I’d ever be on the field with the Astros at a special time like yesterday, actually even walking past the catcher as he was warming up Justin Verlander in center field prior to the game – actually looking over the catcher’s shoulder as he took a fast one that sounded like a small explosion as it landed in his glove. – Geez – I didn’t have a bat, but I couldn’t have hit it, anyway – even if I were an extra 20 feet further away from the normal 60’6″. – More on this experience shortly.

My good friend, Dr. Sam Quintero, had invited me to watch Game 1 of the Playoffs, but the day prior to the game, he found himself invited to be one of those people who bring the big American flag on the field prior to the game. He right away enlisted the help of his oldest son, UH student Sam Quintero, Jr., to also participate – and then asked me – me of the long tooth and incredibly poor old man exercise habits to join in the fun.

“Sure,” I said, “I’d be honored.”

If I live that long, I will turn 80 this coming New Years Eve. Not once did I stop to think: Is this an age appropriate commitment for a guy my age – and with my health issues? It was only when I turned in my waiver of liability certificate to the Astro Foundation that I began to think: “Did I just sign up with the “Make a Death Wish” program?

On the same day that Jose Altuve would come to wonder if he were living a dream, I would shortly earlier – in the same place – in total anonymity – be getting ready to go through the polar opposite experience as a volunteer big flag bearer. Was this little more than a living nightmare? And it all started with the absence of clear gate entry information on how we could enter the ballpark in our pursuit of our bowels-level volunteer assembly point. By the time that my buddy Sam and I returned from our two-block sidewalk misdirection stroll in the heat, I was beginning to mentally review my quick word “sure” agreement to do this thing in the first place. As I rolled around the firm “Sure!” in my mind, it began to playback in the voice of that Disney character they used to call “Goofy”.

We had to be there a couple of hours prior to our 2:45 PM presentation of the flag. About 30 minutes of that time was used by the 100 or so members of our group, just waiting outside in a sort of cattle-style transfer corral outside the down ramps we would be traveling. It was enough time to figure out that, holy smoke, I’m the oldest member of this merry little band by a long shot. Now my job boils down to just hoping I can stand in the heat for two hours without falling over. I would have sat down on the concrete floor, but then I could not have gotten back up. So, endurance against the odds has to be my focus for these two hours. I’ve done it all my life. Now I’ve got to do it again.

My expression must have been telling. My friend Sam smiled and asked: “Having second thoughts?”

“Not about carrying the flag,” I said. “I’m just hoping I can stay upright for as long as I’m needed to stay upright.”

I do have a balance issue that is helped by the cane I carry, but I had made the decision to leave the cane in the car once I learned that I would not be able to use it in my handling of the flag. Oh well, I figured the flag could keep me balanced. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on what was going to keep me upright while we waited to take the field – standing up continuously, holding the unfurled flag in our subterranean waiting area pit.

Sometimes humor is the only thing that saves sanity. After a long period of instruction on flag-grabbing, our specific placements, and then holding the unfurrowed and heavy flag like the world’s longest winding snake for the last half preparatory hour, I looked to Sam on my left and Sam Jr. on my right, and then made this comment to the elder one: “You know what, Sam, every time I think I’ve convinced myself that there really is no place called ‘Purgatory’, something like today comes along to bring it back, bright as daylight!”

Then, about 2:47 PM, we finally started moving toward the field. On the back side of the flag, our so-called east coast section, was the last to enter the full daylight of the reason we volunteers had come to do this thing in the first place. The pace was brisk. And the chance to fall was present. If any of us fell, our captain told us that we needed to then hit the ground rolling, making sure we remained under the flag and out of sight, rolling until the flag had come to its resting spot in center field. Fortunately, I did not fall, nor did anyone else. We got our job done through the presentation of the colors and Our National Anthem, sung by Clay Walker. At one point, I got a muscle spasm in the left heart side of my chest. It was a solitary scary moment, but I just recited The Serenity Prayer and pulled a little harder on the flag.

The pain went away. And everything worked out great.

All I can say now is that I shall be forever grateful that my friends, the Quinteros, both helped me be there, and got me though there, without me once failing, falling, or stumbling to any noticeable degree. I did slightly stumble once on our way out, but young Sam Quintero caught me long enough for me to find my balance again. And we all made it through OK.

High Moments

  1. The roar of the crowd when we all brought in the flag of our United States of America.
  2. The one pitch from Verlander that I got to watch from a little more distant batter’s perspective.
  3. The flight of the live American Eagle as he sailed directly over us as a reminder to us all. – We are the melting pot that is America.
  4. As Americans, we must all work together to make America greater than it’s ever been – and we must all understand that liberty and justice for all are the only keys that make that engine of American strength run on full power.
  5. Our group of 100 or so people who handled the flag yesterday got a special lesson from our flag experience. Few of us will never know most of the others who shared the honor of taking that giant flag onto the field at Minute Maid Park yesterday, but we will never forget what we did together on October 5, 2017 – and why we did it.

Go Astros! ~ Let’s keep it rocking and rolling!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle