Archive for the ‘Houston’ Category

Serendipity in Astrodome Scoreboard Film Link

October 21, 2018

Chester Charge ~
Led the Momentum Storm of Support for the Houston Astros at their brand new 1965 Astrodome home.

None of who grew up with it will ever forget the gigantic animated scoreboard at the Astrodome that wrote the soundtrack to our game experience inside the great sports hall. As naive as we all were back in the 1960s to the changes that were coming our way via the computer, the Internet and social media over the course of the later 20th and early 21st centuries, it was impressive enough to us earlier ones that we had this little electronic cast of supportive animated characters that had come to life to boom and spread adrenalin-loaded smiles ~ and a winning attitude ~ to the faces and spirits of all Astro fans in the place ~ on any given game day.

No wonder the Astrodome so quickly came to be advertised and known as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” It did ~ because it was ~ in 1965 ~ the most out-of-mind-and-body human way to experience a baseball game that the world had ever seen.

It also is a little serendipitous that I write these particular thoughts this morning. It was only yesterday that our good friend and wonderful Pecan Park Eagle article contributor, Maxwell Kates, sent me this link to a YouTube film that held so many of those wonderful animated moments. I knew immediately that I had to share it with al of you. It’s only 10-15 minutes in length, but that’s enough time to get a really good “inside the dome” look at that era, even as to how formally so many of the fans dressed back in the day.

My biggest surprise was a little more personal.

Laura Foster, UH Cheerleader, 1965
Married former UH football player Richard Kirtley in 1967
(I was in the wedding party ~ The Pecan Park Eagle.)

Suddenly I found myself looking at Laura Foster, a good friend, and the widow of another good friend and fraternity brother from an earlier period at UH, the late Dick Kirtley. In the clip, Laura was leading a rally for Cougar support on the sidelines as a UH Cheerleader. I was a member of the Richard and Laura Foster Kirtley wedding party in Friendswood during the summer of 1967.

A double-thanks, Max, for sending us this link. It’s especially important to me and some special people in my life, and we all thank you very much.

Plus, it’s simply a great ride through the precious-to-Houston early period of the Astrodome. And for that treasure, we wish to extend our thanks to people like Wayne Chandler, Tal Smith, Jimmy Wynn, and Larry Dierker. You are all special members of our baseball legacy gift from Judge Roy Hofheinz and the rest of the baseball gods.

Here’s the YouTube Link. And make sure you turn on the sound and expand the picture to “full screen” for the best way to experience this particular little travel back into another era of Houston baseball time.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

ALCS Done ~ And Some Canine Fun

October 20, 2018

 

“Wish I Were With You Tonight!” ~ Babe McCurdy (1979) *

 

* Wish you were here tonight too, Babe!

As things played out in the ALCS 2018 Pennant Series over the past week, the Houston Astros lost to the better team over that period of time, the Boston Red Sox.

Here’s how our younger dog, a Poodle named Hope, and three of their neighborhood buds reacted this morning a short while after we asked our older dog, a Dachshund named Pluto, to break the news to his sister and the rest of them about Game 5’s bitter end last night to the Astros’ dream of repeating as World Champions in 2018.

“Yes, Pluto, the loss to Boston means the Astros won’t be going back to the World Series this year. Could you please help us find a way to break the news to your sister, Hope, and to your neighborhood buds who haven’t heard?”

 

“Mom and Dad! Help! Pluto’s teasing me! He says the Astros’ loss to the Red Sox means they are gone ~ and that, if they are gone, I’m gone too ~ because Dad always said that our hope goes wherever the Astros go!” ~ Hope McCurdy

 

“I’ll never be the same. And playing ball won’t be any fun either ~ not now, not for a long time. or maybe not even for forever ~ or even as late as next season ~ whichever comes first!” ~ Phideaux Faraday

 

“I tried to warn the young Houston couple who took me home from the shelter last winter in my native Chicago not to do it, if they were baseball fans, but they didn’t get my drift. My peeing all over their car tires was supposed to be a warning!” ~ Tinker E. Chance

 

“Bow! Wow! (All other words fail).” ~ Perry Mason

 

All is not lost, all of you human and canine caretakers of the game. Today was another day and tomorrow is yet another. Each one is taking us closer to spring training 2019 and the start of the next baseball season. In the meanwhile, we shall all just have to catch a piggy back ride on the fortunes and fates of the Red Sox and the one NL team, Dodgers or Brewers, that survives to face them in the 2018 World Series.

Our canine friends bear the real burden here. They are the ones left to keep looking for clearer ways to communicate with humans about their own thoughts and needs. All I know is ~ any canine custodian who doesn’t understand that big tongue slapping kiss in the face at the least expected times probably shouldn’t even be sharing quarters with a real live heathy, ready-to-love-you dog.

Either way, that’s probably something each Astros player could probably use right now from their own special animal ~ a great big tongue-splashing kiss in the face from their own dogs and these words from us fans:

Thank you, Astros, for another beautiful season of all out effort and baseball excitement. We love you! We still support you! And we shall never abandon you! Not if we are real Astro fans, and neither shall we ever leave you to face serious disappointment alone! ~ It’s like the old song says, “Our Love is Here To Stay!”

(And that’s as close as I shall ever come to a great big sloppy canine tongue love-kiss in the face for the great game of baseball. ~ I don’t kiss ballplayers on the mouth.)

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Astros Win in Game 4 a Must

October 17, 2018

 

Charley Morton’s Salt?
When he reigns, zeroes pour.

 

It’s the early morning after ALCS Game Three and the collapse of the Astros at home in almost every imaginable way yesterday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

What do you get when your now proclaimed closer comes into a game with the boys trailing 3-2 going into the 8th? You get two base runners; then you get two more by the HBP route; then you get a home run; and what’s the damage to the score as a result? The Red Sox get one run forced in by the second hit batter; then they get four more runs on a grand slam by Jackie Bradley, Jr. ~ and the famous shaking head words of closer Roberto Osuna that we’ve all heard before from countless others and shall surely continue to hear in every corner of baseball every time a pitcher ~ especially an alleged star ~ has a meltdown at a critical moment in the game.

“It was just one of those things! One of those bells that now and then rings! Just one of those things! And, hey! You know what? That is just one of those things. It’s pretty near the same thing the Astros did to the Red Sox in Game One with a 4-run spot in the 9th, converting a 3-2 Astros lead into a what appeared to be a 7-2 final score romp. This time, the Sox pasted their 5-run spot to their own 3-2 late lead ~ killing again hometown hope ~ and making this final score another blow-away mark of 8-2, visitors.

Charlie Morton needs to be on and the Astros need to win Game Four tonight. It’s not a mathematically “must win” situation, but the closest thing to it on the probability scale. An Astros loss tonight would mean that the Astros would then have to win all three of the possible games they have left with the Red Sox to take the AL pennant and advance to the World Series. And that would set up the following scenario:

If Boston wins Game 4 tonight, they lead Houston, 3 wins to 1, needing one more win.

Thursday @ MMP, Game 5: Astros must win behind Justin Verlander;

Friday: travel day

Saturday @ Fenway, Game 6: Astros must win behind a more relaxed Gerrit Cole;

Sunday @ Fenway, Game 7: Astros must win behind either the presumed starter, Dallas Keuchel, or possibly Lance McCullers, Jr. This one has several ways of getting ugly, now and next year, especially, if manager Hinch decides to not risk Keuchel and his “bad early run giveaway” syndrome with everything on the line. ~ And how much security is there that McCullers might come out with another night of low-in-the-dirt pitches that only get stopped by the backstop of the stadium.

Let’s hope Morton and the Astros can take Game Four ~ and we sure wouldn’t mind if one of the Astros big run-scoring innings could also come early for a change. a 5-run spot of their own in the first inning should be something of a support cushion to Morton that helped the situation. Our Astros starters have had to pitch all year in the hope that the Astros would get enough runs after they had been lifted to win the game. With a little more early run support, this team might have had two to three “20-game winners.”

At any rate, the next 24 hours will provide us with the real-time answers as to how dead or alive the Astros really are. Let’s hope for the best.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

’47 Buffs: Earlier Seedling of Houston Strong

October 6, 2018

(1947) Buffs Climax Great Year as Class of Dixie (Series)

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Epps, Beers Aces to Finish;

Houston’s ’47 Attendance Reaches 475,637

By Johnny Lyon, Houston, Texas

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Houston’s greatest baseball season is history.

Finis was written on the 1947 books at 10:22 PM, October 3, when Hal Epps, Houston’s most popular performer, smacked a base hit into center field with two on, two out and two strikes on him in the inning to give the Buffs a 1 to 0 victory over Mobile and the Dixie Series title in six games.

For the 10,675 spectators who watched that final game the conclusion was fitting and just ~ Epps breaking up the duel with a hit and Clarence Beers hurling a shutout in which he spaced four singles and allowed only one Mobile player to reach second base, that on an error.

All season long, it was Epps supplying the stickwork when a bingle was most needed and Beers coming through with superb pitching performances. Hal (Epps) led the team in hitting during the regular season and in the Dixie Series hit .375. A 25-game winner in the regular season, Beers won four and lost one in the Texas League playoffs and Dixie Series, three of the victories being whitewashings.

Everything the Buffs set out to do they accomplished.

When they hopped into the lead for the first time, May 9, they were determined to hold it until July 4 so they could win the site of the All-Star game.

Eight Out of Ten in Last Week

Although there were shaky moments in the drive down the stretch, the Buffs remained in front, displaying their mettle by taking eight of ten in the past week to shade Fort Worth by one-half game.

Tulsa bowed in four straight games in the playoffs and Dallas a victim in six contests in the (Texas League) finals. The Buffs really broke the backs of the (Dallas) Rebels in the fifth game when, held hitless and runless for six innings, and trailing, 6 to 0, they rallied in the last three frames for an 8 to 6 triumph.

Mobile went ahead of the Buffs in the Dixie Classic, two games to one. But the Buffs again had the bounce and took the next three, with Jack Creel and Beers fashioning shutouts in the fifth and sixth games.

The Dixie Series Players’ Pool was $25,681.90 with $15,415.14 going to the winning Buffs. This was the largest pool since 1931 when Birmingham won in seven games over the Buffs, who boasted one of the game’s great turnstile magnets, Dizzy Dean.

From the opening game in April until October 3, when the Dixie Series ended, Houston attracted 475,637 cash customers for its 86 games. This included 382,275 for its 77 Texas League games at home, almost 100,000 better than the loop record set in 1946 by San Antonio, 51,577 for home league playoff games, and 29,952 for three Dixie Series clashes.

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STANDINGS AT CLOSE OF 1947 DIXIE SERIES

TEAM LEAGUE WINS LOSSES W % GB
Houston Buffs Texas League 4 2 .667  
Mobile Bears Southern Association 2 4 .333 2

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Houston Pitching and Batting Statistics for the 1947 Dixie Series

’47 BUFF AT BATS POS G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA
Solly Hemus 2B 6 27 5 8 1 0 0 1 .296
Billy Costa SS 6 22 4 3 0 1 0 0 .136
Eddie Knoblauch LF 6 19 3 9 1 0 0 5 .474
Johnny Hernandez 1B 6 23 2 5 3 0 0 3 .217
Hal Epps CF 6 24 3 9 2 0 0 7 .375
Stan Benjamin RF-LF 4 14 3 4 1 0 0 3 .286
Vaughn Hazen RF 4 17 1 5 0 0 0 2 .294
Tommy Glaviano 3B 6 20 5 7 0 1 0 1 .350
Jack Angle 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Gerry Burmeister C 3 11 1 1 1 0 0 3 .091
Joe Niedson C 5 13 3 5 2 0 0 4 .385
Doc Greene C 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Al Papal P 2 7 0 2 0 0 0 1 .286
Jack Creel P 2 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 .143
Pete Mazar P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Herb Moore PH 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1.000
Roman Brunswick P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Clarence Beers P 2 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 .143
Charley Sproull P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
BATTING TOTALS   6 213 31 61 12 2 0 30 .286
                     
’47 BUFF PITCHING W-L G CG IP+O R H SO BB HB WP
Al Papai 2-0 2 2 18+0 4 17 6 2 1 0
Jack Creel 1-1 2 1 14+1 4 13 10 8 0 0
Clarence Beers 1-1 2 1 14+2 6 13 4 2 0 0
Pete Mazar 0-0 1 0 01+2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Roman Brunswick 0-0 1 0 02+0 2 2 1 0 0 0
Charley Sproull 0-0 1 0 02+1 1 2 1 1 0 0
PITCHING TOTALS 4-2 6 4 53 IP 17 48 22 13 1 0

Reference Sources:

An article by Johnny Lyon, The Sporting News, October 1, 1947, Page 25.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

High Noon at Texas and Crawford

October 5, 2018

 

 

Cast and crew members of the film “High Noon” watch the World Series opener between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants during a  break in filming, Oct. 4, 1951. From left: Otto Kruger, Thomas Mitchell, Gary Cooper, an unidentified studio staffer, Grace Kelly and Lon Chaney Jr.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Handel. Thank you, Tony Cavendar, for bringing this photo to our attention and stirring the muses of inspiration for the modest parody that follows.

 

High Noon at Texas and Crawford

Friday, October 5, 2018, 12:00 PM

Do not forsake us, Houston Astros
On our World Series Way
Do not forsake us, Houston Astros
Move, move along

We do not know what fate awaits us
We only know we must be brave
And we must face the teams that hate us
Or lie like cowards, all craven cowards
Or lie like cowards in our graves

Oh, to be torn ‘tweenst love and duty
Supposin’ we hit like Punch and Judy
Look at that big hand move along
Nearin’ high noon

They made a vow while in spring trainin’
Vowed they would win with no complainin’
We’re not afraid of death, but, oh
What will we do if you leave us?

Do not forsake us, Houston Astros
On our World Series Way
Do not forsake us, Houston Astros
Move Houston Strong, move along

Just move on, ~ move along
Keep movin’ on, ~ move along

Silence, followed by a mixed voice choral pleading finish

of one-note shouted, unsung words:

Take the next eleven ~ and we’ll all go straight to Heaven!

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POST FIRST ALDS GAME OUTCOME NOTE

Friday, October 5, 2018

4:45 PM CT

WE WERE NOT FORSAKEN!!!

The Houston Astros pulled out both the pitching and the power, defeating the Cleveland Indians, 7-2, in Game One of the 2018 ALDS, to go 1-0 in the series as they also reduced their total wins needed for another World Series title from 11 to 10.

The great Justin Verlander deservedly got the win with a little help from his friends, plus four solo shot home runs to left by Alex Bregman, George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Martin Maldonado and two RBI singles from Josh Reddick.

The Astros have the greatness to win it all. The rest remains in the hands of the three special baseball gods that control all final outcomes in every game. ~ And their names are Destiny, Luck, and Fate.

That being said, and for those of us who share these inclinations, let’s simply enjoy the prize served up to us fans by the Houston Astros on this glorious opening day of the MLB 2018 Post-Season Playoffs.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Astros-Brewers: World Series Odd Couple

October 4, 2018

Cartoon by Bill McCurdy

 

They owe their common ground to Bud Selig. As such, they are the only two clubs in modern 1903 forward baseball history to have been members of both the American and National Leagues, leaving both of them with World Series possibilities that are only available to their two-club shared potentials.

The Houston Astros are the only American League club to have made a previous World Series appearance as a National League member. They did it, as all of you know, when they lost, 4-0, to the Chicago White Sox of the AL in 2005.

The Houston Astros were later coerced by the then active baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, into transferring from the NL to the AL as a condition for gaining his office’s approval of their franchise sale to new club owner Jim Crane.

The Houston franchise, one that had been an NL club since their 1962 first season as an expansion team, then moved to the AL in 2013. As such, they became the first and only formerly based NL club to make that major change in league affiliations.

The Astros NL-to-AL league change in 2013 set up a baseball first when the club then won their first World Series in 2017. In so doing, the Houston Astros became the first and only MLB former NL club to have returned to the World Series as an American League team. As we all know too, this one happened last year, when the 2017 Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 4-3 first victory in the World Series.

It is a record the Astros hold that will never be tied, unless some other NL club is bamboozled into change in the future by the political needs of some other future baseball czar and then manages to become the second NL-to-AL franchise transfer to win  World Series as an AL representative.

One team exists in 2018 with a still on-the-table possibility of matching the Astros accomplishment in reverse, at least, prior to Game One of the 2018 NLDS playoffs. That team, ironically, is the Milwaukee Brewers, the former property of Bud Selig, the even later former commish who forced Houston to the AL.

Brief Brewers History. The Brewers started out as a 1969 AL expansion club known as the Seattle Pilots. After a failed first year out west, the franchise was purchased by Bud Selig and backers and moved to a midwest city, where they played the next 28 years (1970-1997) as the Milwaukee Brewers, a continuing member of the AL.

When the Brewers opened shop in 1970, the fans of Milwaukee were no rube strangers to the World Series. During the (1953-1965) period in which the city served as home to the Milwaukee Braves, that club had won in 1957 and lost in 1958, facing the New York Yankees each time.

The AL Milwaukee Brewers finally reached the World Series in 1982, losing 4-3 to the AL representative, the St. Louis Cardinals. In do doing, the Brewers had lost the World Series in their only time there as an AL club. It was the same pattern in reverse for the Astros when they later lost their one shot at a World Series win as an NL club in 2005.

The Brewers moved to the NL in 1998 in another schedule-balancing move, but have yet to reach the World Series as an AL club. Prior to their 2018 NLDS series with Colorado, their chances for this year are alive and well. And that’s important to their Astros tie as one of the two living two-league franchises.

Only the Brewers have the ability to repeat in reverse what the Astros have done. ~ That is, lose your first shot at the World Series in one league and later win your first World Series as a member of the other.

Speaking as an Astros fan, let’s hope it doesn’t happen in 2018

Another Interesting Relevant Thought: In 1997, Milwaukee owner Bud Selig seems to have volunteered the Brewers as the club to move from the American to the National League as a solution to MLB’s schedule balancing problems. In 2012, and in search of another scheduling balance solution, he seems to have used his power to force an imminent move from the National to the American League by the Houston franchise as a condition for getting his approval for the sale of the Houston Astros to the Jim Crane group. ~ A few ticks of the clock later, we’re watching Bud Selig getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I don’t get it. ~ No, that’s not it. ~ I don’t want to get it. It makes The Hall of Fame sound like it may be located in Cooperstown, DC.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

New Name-Dropping Astros Art

October 3, 2018

Minute Maid Park by Daniel Duffy
It is built upon the names of every player in the history of the Houston MLB franchise through a certain unspecified date.All of their names have been written in to form the shape, color, and scope of the ballpark the club now occupies in 2018.

 

Darrell Pittman sent me the link to this discovery yesterday. As with all things commercial, other than what we once in a blue moon send to publishing houses as a book proposal, we have no business interest in the artist’s sale of prints to this work, but we will look into it as a matter of subject interest and personal curiosity.

The one word that leaps to mind here for me is “tedium” to the nth degree. Compiling the lists, using the names without repeating or omitting any from inclusion, had to have been one formidable challenge.

Of course, some will argue “so what” to the possibility of numerous errors, including misspelled names. “Whose going to ever know the difference or prove you wrong” would be their rationale.

“Tedium” answers that you will be answerable for errors, even if others never know.

One far more difficult drawing along these same word or name inclusion lines would be a multi-color drawing of The Pentagon in Washington, DC based upon every single different word used in all new weapons proposals submitted to all branches of the service during this current fiscal calendar year. (“JK” big time here.)

Here’s the link to Daniel Duffy’s site and further information about the availability of prints:

https://t.co/MEbruOZAa0

MMP Player Name Book

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston Had Fine Season (in 1962)

October 3, 2018

Another timely news article contribution by baseball history researcher Darrell Pittman.

Victoria Advocate
October 2, 1962

As The World Turns

Winning over 60 games in their first big league season, drawing a gate of almost a million fans, and finishing 8th in field of 10 teams, including a finish higher than one club that had been there forever, the Chicago Cubs were ~ well ~ those were simply achievements that could not contain the grins of pride and joy of every baseball fan in Houston over the success of their brand new Colt .45s!

If we could do that well in our first season, how long could it possibly be before we brought home a World Series championship?

In 2018, we know the answer to that one too, don’t we?

Now, as we prepare to watch the Houston Astros do all they can to win 11 more games in the post-season for a second straight year and, hopefully, come home with our second World Series title in a row, our question about the future has shifted ever so slightly.

Our wonder now spins around this mystery. ~ How long will we be able to simply hold onto the  World Series title in a way that’s remindful of the Casey Stengel-directed New York Yankees and their 5-year dynastic run from 1949 to 1953?

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Astros Clinch Record 103 Wins

September 30, 2018

Pictures of the Moment
Astros Win Record Game # 103
September 29, 2017
Astros Ryan Pressly Gets Called Strike 3 on Jace Peterson of O’s

 

The Astros outfielders did their little victory dance to celebrate the occasion. Now, on Sunday, 9/30, the Astros have a chance to expand their club season wins record to 104 in the last game of the regular season at Baltimore.

 

It sometimes remains hard for me to comprehend how far we’ve come in Houston as a major league city since our innocent beginnings against the Chicago Cubs on April 10, 1962. Our inner core of professionals who have built this house from Day One have all done their contributing parts, as have our players, owners, and moments of success and disappointment on the field. They have all been great teachers ~ and the seasons themselves have all provided fans with teaching points that have helped us come to terms with Great Expectations as they are brought crashing to the shores of a partisan club MLB season beach.

All of them, not just the Crane-Luhnow-Hinch team, have done their parts, even when it was personal experience over time instructing us avid fans from the lessons of our own pain as an opportunity to recalibrate our own often excessive expectations.

Nobody expected any kind of big success in our first big league year of 1962, As a result, no one was surprised or disappointed when the original Colt .45s finished in 8th place in the NL. By 1971, however, when the renamed Astros still had not found a way to being a serious contender after ten years in the big leagues, fans were beginning to ask the adult version of a child’s favorite  question on long boring auto trips: “Are we there yet?”

Had this business of being an Astros fan been an academic course, many people would have earned their master’s degrees over the two-season course of 1979-1980. The Astros were finally getting close enough to feel the burn when a pennant suddenly slipped away at the last moment, the cries of disappointment slipped into agony: “Oh! This hurts bad! I don’t know if I can take much more of this! Come on, Astros! Let’s make it right for once!”

The baseball gods saved the Ph.D in disappointment for 1986 and the 16-inning playoff game loss to the Mets in the Astrodome: “C’mon, Knepper! How do you pitch so well for 8 innings ~ and then go out there and blow a 3-0 lead in the 9th? ~ We had Scott going for us tomorrow! ~ But now there is no tomorrow! ~ Damn! Damn! Damn!”

For those who missed their doctorates in 1986, there was 1998, the year of Randy Johnson and those randier San Diego Padres: “Thanks for trying, Mr. Dierker, but you couldn’t bat for them too! ~ Besides, it’s beginning to look like the baseball gods just have it in for Houston!” (Bad symptom development here. ~ When a subject begins to personalize disappointment with the ideation that some external force is working against him or her, the road now leads to Paranoia and not to Paradise.)

2005 finally brought Houston its first World Series, but not without cost. This was the year that the Astros were stopped from an easier clinch of the pennant at home when a late inning bomb by Albert Pujols of the Cardinals over Brad Lidge of the Astros forced the NLCS back to St. Louis for one more game. Houston had to use Roy Oswalt to take the game, but that move forced manager Phil Garner to start an unready Roger Clemens in Game One of the World Series in Chicago against the White Sox. ~ The Astros got swept by the White Sox, leaving their longtime fans to choke on their fears of the outrageously sadistic baseball gods: “Oh well,” one Astros fan muttered. “Maybe, the next time we get to a World Series, we’ll only lose by 4 games to 1.”

Ugh!

The gutters got cleaned in 2017 as the Astros walloped their way through the cream of baseball’s hierarchical royalty franchise crop. They beat the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Dodgers in some of the most convincing and thrilling games ever played.

Houston Strong did it all! ~ And now it’s getting ready, hopefully, to do it again ~ and this time, as the club that now holds the record for most regular season franchise wins over the course of a single season.

Thank you, Astros, and simply know this too. ~ Most of us who have been watching you from your 1962 start no longer expect anything from you! ~ We simply believe in you ~ and the idea that, if what we go into together in the name of love is meant to be, it shall be!

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Mark Wernick: “Til The Last Man Is Out”

September 25, 2018

Mark Wernick’s Scorecard in the Game of the Big 8th.
Even the smudge marks sweat allegiance to his caring.

 

How deep is your fandom in the destiny and fate of the Houston Astros? And what do you do when the opposition scores 5 runs in the top of the 8th to take a 5-1 seemingly deadly lead over the local heroes on a night when the boys are home and hitting at their too often fatally anemic pace?

Do you stay or do you go? 

This e-mail I received the other day from friend and colleague Mark Wernick in the wake of the 9-run rally in the bottom half of the same 8th inning by the Astros in Game Two in the immediate wake of the recently concluded three game series sweep of the Angels not only speaks for itself to the questions we now put forth, ~ it also qualifies for elevation of Mark’s work to column status as a man who thinks, writes, breathes, bleeds, cries, and sweats baseball with all the other deepest blue fans of our great game.  ~ So here goes.

Mark Wernick

 

Til The Last Man’s Out

By Mark Wernick

I didn’t finish the tallying for this scorecard – too exhausted. If you can read it, you’re amazing.

This was actually 2 games. Justin Verlander out-dueled Jaime Barria over 6 innings in the first game, 1-0, and Ryan Pressly shut down the Angels in the 7th. Verlander yielded one hit, no walks, and struck out 11, while Pressly yielded 2 hits, no walks, and struck out 2. So the Astros defeated the Angels in the first game, a 7 inning pitchers duel, by a score of 1-0.

The second game only lasted 2 innings, but it felt like 7 innings. Hector Rondon set the table for the disaster to follow, his 3rd consecutive poor outing. Rondon immediately walked the 8th inning leadoff man, pinch hitter Eric Young, Jr, (slash line .210/.257/.314), who is extremely fast and a base-stealing threat.

Young immediately stole 2nd base. Then pinch hitter Francisco Arcia, hitting .233 with 5 doubles in 90 at-bats, pounded a double to drive in Young with the tying run and blow Verlander’s masterpiece. Rondon did manage to strike out the next batter, whereupon manager Hinch replaced Rondon with the usually reliable Joe Smith.

Smith proceeded to have one of the most disastrous outings I’ve ever seen by a relief pitcher. He faced 5 batters and made a throwing error on the first batter to put two runners on base ahead of the best hitter in Major League Baseball, Mike Trout.

Trout then launched a 414 foot home run into left field orbit. That’s 2 batters and 3 runs, putting the Astros in a 1-4 hole. Then Smith yielded an infield hit to Shohei Ohtani and walked Justin Upton.

Then a passed ball by Brian McCann allowed the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd. Then Andrelton Simmons just missed a three-run homer to left, the ball bouncing off the concrete wall in left center, barely below the yellow line. The ball was hit so hard that the ricochet came back to the fielder fast enough to enable the defense to keep Upton at 3rd, but Ohtani scored to make it 1-5, Angels. Mercifully Hinch pulled Smith, who faced 5 batters and retired no one. Collin McHugh then came in and put out the fire.

I was at this game with my old buddy from San Antonio, Stephen Smolins. We looked at each other at the end of the inning, shrugged, and then looked at the multitudes filing for the exits. “Wanna go?” I asked. “I’m in no hurry”, he answered. I was glad he said that. I’d have gone without a whimper if he had wanted to leave, but I preferred to stay to the end.

I told my friend a story about a game I attended with my son and my cousin and her husband in New York in 2004 as a lesson in leaving early. Here’s the box score and the play-by-play of that game. It will be self-explanatory. My cousin (may he rest in peace) decided to leave the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees trailing to San Diego and Trevor Hoffman (in his prime) 0-2.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/box…/…/NYA200406130.shtml

By way of very brief summary, we remained, and the Astros scored 9 runs in the bottom of the 8th, nicely capped by a monster 2-run homer by Jose Altuve, who went 3 for 4 with a walk and was the Altuve of old. So the Astros also won the second game, 9-5. Very glad we stayed!

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And all of us are the richer for the fact you wrote, Mark Wernick. Thank you for turning the hose of that eternal flow of passion for the game of baseball you channel upon all the rest of us.

Things are looking sweeter by the day. The Astros’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays last night has taken us to 99 wins on the year and a reduction of our magic number for clinching the AL West title from “3” to “2”. ~ Oakland kept it from further shrinkage on Monday by later taking their game at Seattle by a 7-3 count.

If the Astros win and the A’s lose today, the AL West is ours and manager Hinch can rest and plan his use of personnel for the playoffs through the end of the regular season this coming Sunday.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle