Is it sad when fans are more interested in their team’s off-field dealings than what they’re doing on the field? I believe that it is sad, and yet such is how I find myself feeling. Such it will likely continue until this week is over.
Returned from Dallas late Sunday night… it was nice being back in Texas again, even if not Houston. I missed out on that Whataburger breakfast, but we made it for lunch, so all is well. Arkansas is strictly Cardinals country (why?), so I also bought an Astros BP cap on Saturday, which I think is my new favorite.
Not much big news out of Camp Kissimmee while I was away, except that Toby Hall is out of the catching race before they even started running. Which is… unfortunate. Bad for the Astros, who now have no veteran backstop, but worse for Toby, who is again unemployed. I wish him well, and maybe he’ll return to Houston under the right circumstances. The only other available non-Pudges are Gary Bennett, who is probably a step backwards from even the existing candidates, and Paul Lo Duca, who is not desirable enough to make him worth the loss of a draft pick (as a Type B free agent). Then again, Lou Palmisano destroyed a Clay Hensley pitch as his opening salvo in Houston’s intrasquad game today, and Towles got a hit too, so maybe we’ll be okay.
And speaking of games, tomorrow the Astros finally kick off the spring against the Nats. Huzzah! Hampton is down for the first two innings and Russ Ortiz after that, so it will be the first chance for each of them to live up to the praise that Coop has showered on them early. I really believe these two guys are the keys to a great season for Houston, moreso than any of the catchers or Michael Bourn, so I’ll tune into this game with great interest.
This has been my desktop wallpaper at work for most of the offseason, as the enduring image of the 2008 season and the last from the field before baseball went to sleep for the winter. I’ve never particularly been a Phillies fan, but as messy as it was, could there really have been a better ending to the series than that? As far as teams went, I liked Tampa better, but I wanted Brad Lidge to win it. As I grew up on baseball, one of the things that endeared the game to me was reading the great stories of seasons past, like the ’55 Dodgers or ’85 Royals or ’86 Mets. It never seemed Brad’s story received the attention it deserved – from dominating the National League in 2005, to that fateful Pujols blast, to losing a game and eventually a championship for his team and his city. Then struggling through two more seasons here before being given a fresh start in Philly. Then a perfect season capped with a perfect ending, and his photo should be placed next to “redemption” in the dictionary. The sweep in ’05 still stings for Houston fans, but almost Lidge’s story makes it worth it.
Tomorrow, Lidge and the Astros and all the rest return to the diamond to begin writing new stories. New images will be captured to endure thereafter. It’s why we love this game. Bring it on.