Baseball’s Back in Town!

April 2, 2010: Astros serve up lobsters in 3-3 tie with Blue Jays.

Baseball’s back in Houston, friends. That is, if you consider a ten inning “tie” played with the DH rule in place in a National League park in a game that didn’t count, but the prices for tickets and concessions did on a night in which the Astros served up more lobsters than  a Kennedy family campaign dinner in Boston a real game.

All kidding aside, it was good to back in Minute Maid Park, and in all fairness, it was a little too little too soon to see the whole flow of this season unfolding with Berkman still out, Oswalt and Wandy yet tested under fire in games that count, and Manzella with a little more time under his belt at shortstop. What we saw is what we don’t want to see too often this year:

The starting pitcher gives up 3 runs in the first and then settles down. The offense then starts pecking away, loading the bases and, inning by inning, it starts racking up the lobsters, but no runs. The starter settles down, but the relievers are forced into being perfect as the Astros 1,1,1 their scoring way back into a 3-3 tie through nine. The ‘Stros might have taken the game in the bottom of the ninth, but a stumble-bum running older rookie named Shelton tripa on second base after doubling in the tying run and is retired to save the night for the Blue Jays. The game plays out uneventfully in the tenth as a 3-3 tie by common sense and mutual team agreement. There’s no point in wearing out arms and legs in extra innings on the last weekend of games that mean nothing in the 2010 standings.

Sammy Gervacio is straight out of the Mark Fydrich school of dramatic posturing.

I really hope that reliever Sammy Gervacio makes the bullpen roster over time this season. He is already, by far, one of the most entertaining pitchers to come down the Crawford- Street-Texas Avenue pike in years, as things stand. Gervacio’s full wind-up ritual is a thing of beauty to behold, one that would make oldtimers like Mark Fydrich and Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky quite proud. As you may be able to see in the picture, Sammy seems to listen to his baseballs before he turns with a menacing glare toward the plate and lets them fly with more body-torqing movement off the herky-jerky fulcrum area of the hip that you are likely to ever have seen.

Nobody scored on Sammy and his reliever pals, but starter Brett Myers gave us too much of a copy on a bad Wandy Day. The three-runs that Myers gave up in the first, but they proved enough to keep us from winning on a night that critical hitting failed all over the place. Hopefully, the Astros will get better before Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants hit town for Opening Day on Monday, April 5th. Like it or not, the 2010 Astros are going to have to prove themselves better than mediocre. That means they can’t have too many games that are accented by early bad innings from starters and the appearance of termite bats in critical offensive situations.

Check out SABR at Fanfest Today, Saturday, April 3rd.

Just a note: Don’t miss SABR today! Our Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research) will man an information table at the Minute Maid Park Fanfest today. We will be located next to the player autograph area on the first floor concourse behind home plate. If you’re at the park this morning or later for the 1:00 PM Astros game with the Blue Jays, drop by and say hello. Find out the simple and affordable benefits of SABR membership and consider joining us. SABR is for every fan that enjoys close up contact with the people who play and run the game – and it thrives for folks who like their baseball news served up on a year round basis. There’s also plenty of room for those who want to do research or writing on baseball, but those aren’t the main things you have to crave to enjoy SABR. You simply have to love baseball in a way that never tires your desire for more.

Former Astros slugger Jimmy Wynn and others have promised to dropped by our table today, so please join us, if possible. You never know who you may run into and have a chance to meet.

Meanwhile, Happy Easter! And GO ASTROS!

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5 Responses to “Baseball’s Back in Town!”

  1. Doug Stewart Says:

    Al Hrabosky was the “Mad Hungarian” and still adds some flair to Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Doug:

      Thanks for thawing my brain freeze. I’ve corrected my memory of Al Hrabosky from “Mad Russiam” to “Mad Hingarian,” as all of us from that era remember him (most of the time).

  2. Sue Says:

    Buff, The Mangler & I were at the game last night, and at one point I glanced at the video screen, did a double-take, and swore I saw YOU on camera. White Jersey, white cap…. “That looks like Buff!” I cried to TM; he agreed, and at once we began scanning the stands for you. We couldn’t locate you, but your offering this morning confirms my suspicion that you really were in the house last night…and on camera. …Yeah, it was great to be at the ball park again, and among friends. Hope to see you there again one day, in person, preferably!
    ~ beetle

  3. Sue Says:

    Well…we discussed it, and we still you were the one. Both jersey and cap were an older style, and gray may have looked lighter/brighter under all the lighting. No one else was in the shot, and of course it was only on the screen a few seconds, but we both felt it was you. As I was concentrating so on the be-whiskered visage, I may have missed the blue crown of the cap. At any rate, whether it was you or not, it was a thrill to look up there and * think* we saw someone familiar. This was a bigger thrill than a game ending in a tie (but at least it was a tie!).
    Good to hear that Neal went to a ball game…all the way from Alpine just to see Toronto? 😉

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