Today’s Game was a Short Course on Life

The Oakland A's counter- rallied their way to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros Sunday in the bottom of the 9th by 5-4. This pictured celebration was from an earlier A's walk-off win, but the ritual was pretty the same thing we saw today from agony of defeat Astro side.

The Oakland A’s counter- rallied their way to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros Sunday in the bottom of the 9th by 5-4. This pictured celebration was from an earlier A’s walk-off win, but the ritual was pretty the same thing we saw today from agony of defeat Astro side.

Had Rembrandt been a surrealist, he would have painted the top of the 9th inning Sunday in Oakland for beleaguered fans of the Houston Astros. After falling behind, 3-1, to a two-run spot by the Oakland A’s in the bottom of the 8th, the Astros came roaring back with the full weight of baseball fantasy pushing their sails, causing a moment of instant euphoria for Houston fans and another three outs for unreality to commandeer the commentary judgment of play-by-play Astros road guy, Alan Ashby.

The dream sequence covered the first three Astros batters in the visitors’ 9th: Carlos Gomez singled; Carlos Correa singled, sending Gomez to third; and Colby Rasmus then jacked an international flight HR to right that suddenly lifted the Astros from 3-1 down to 4-3 up!

Of course, all Houston fans were jacked too, but this was a road game. It wouldn’t be over until the Astros finished batting and again took the field one more time and tagged the A’s with three more outs without allowing any further Oakland runs.

The impression came through here that someone either forgot to share this reality with Mr. Ashby – or Mr. Blum either, for that matter.

Marwin Gonzalez followed Rasmus as a pinch hitter for Luis Valbuena and lifted a can of corn fly ball out to left field off former Astros reliever Fernando Abad. There was no comment from the booth that surfaced as an expression of hope for more runs. There was another orgiastic replay of the “Colby-Jacked” homer, almost as though we already had all of what we needed – or worse – that the game was really over and the Astros were just hanging around to catch their breaths before they went back out to 1-2-3 formally finish the A’s.

The camera focused on three glum-looking A’s on their own bench. “That’s what it looks like in the A’s’ dugout,” says Ashby.

At one point, Ashby also paused to publicly ruminate this question: “Wonder what Angels fans will think when they see that score the Astros put up in the 9th?”

Then Chris Carter batted and did his thing. He went out on a high infield pop fly to the second baseman that was made more difficult by the brilliant sun sky.

Then came Jason Castro, who also popped out, this time to the shortstop in shallow left.

“Castro’s 0 for 4, but it doesn’t matter,” said Ashby, as the coverage went to break with yet another replay of the Colby-Jack, great fade away music and no further words.

The Ashby thought, “it doesn’t matter”, raced through my mind. Of course it matters. We haven’t won anything yet. The Astros could have used more than a one-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

You probably watched or read about the rest of the game. From an Astros standpoint, the bottom of the 9th was another Stephen King horror show as the A’s came back against Luke Gregerson to load the bases with two outs and lefty Josh Reddick coming to bat.

On a 1-1 pitch, Reddick lashed a hard line shot low back to the left side of the mound. It was a nanosecond faster than Gregerson’s reflexes to catch it for the final out and it bounded away off his wrist just long enough to score the tying run from third base.

Danny Valencia then finished the home team revival by singling to left – and turning the 2-run bottom of the 9th rally by the A’s into another heartbreaking road loss for the visiting Houston Astros.

Look, I’m not trying to beat up on Alan Ashby. I like him. And I admire his ample baseball moxie. He just needs to consider never saying again in a live game that any lost scoring opportunity doesn’t matter. They all matter. And he really knows that they do.

The three lame/lamb at bats that followed the Ramus heroic 3-run homer in the top of the ninth did matter.

What matters about this game is the especially cruel way it slipped from our grasp – and how this sort of thing so accurately reflects the way the long season of baseball so accurately portrays within the game experience itself some of the hardest life lessons we all must either face or get creamed by in everyday life:

Things aren’t always fair; worthwhile goals are never easy reaches; never take anything for granted; don’t count your money until the market bell rings in the afternoon; never count your chickens before they hatch; and never think you’ve done all you can do to assure your best chance for a win; and – very important here – even days like today can be our best teachers, if we are willing to learn from the pain of all that went into making it happen.

We could talk about the lessons of this one game from here to New Years Eve and still be putting together a seminar on all of its value as a summer course for managers and GMs.

______________________________ (W)

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2 Responses to “Today’s Game was a Short Course on Life”

  1. shinerbock80 Says:

    The Astros road broadcast crew leaves a great deal to be desired in all directions.

  2. Jeff Share Says:

    Ashby is a terrible play by play announcer; he was OK on radio where you have to take up the dead time but he’s impossible to listen to on TV. Blum is decent but needs a much better partner. Robert Ford on radio is even better than Ashby. He never shuts up, thinks every hit from Chris Carter or Castro means they’re going to get hot and keeps raving about this terrific bullpen right before they blow another lead. The reality of baseball is that over a long season your weaknesses will always come back to haunt you. No closer, no decent first baseman, a catcher who can’t hit, and by the way, how about toning down Altuve’s running game? He gets thrown out an embarrassing number of times.

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