Woe and agony! Darkness and despair! The team that Cecil Cooper predicted would win at least 90 games has dug itself a hole and is on the verge of missing that mark, if they drop but 72 more. Of course, we started the spring with a win, then took 19 consecutive non-wins to follow, so maybe the guys are onto something here. The ’05 World Series team started the season with a loss, too, and Zachary Levine points out that this is actually the most offense the Astros have mustered on Opening Day in at least the last five years. Oswalt didn’t pitch poorly, the team didn’t play poorly, so there’s really not much to complain about after last night, aside from the failure to pick up a “W.”
At least it wasn’t a collapse on the scale of C.C. Sabathia, who needed to pitch a perfect game with 27 strikeouts on 81 pitches and hit five home runs as his own DH to live up to expectations. It’s only one game.
Busyness at work and craziness of life outside of work have conspired to limit my time here, and the week I spent in Philadelphia threw off my groove. I had been meaning to post a nice tribute to ex-Astro Curt Schilling, who announced his retirement while I was in Philly, but I never found the time to write it. Unless Luis Gonzalez catches on with another team, Schilling was the last of the 1991 Houston Astros, who are still one of my favorite Astros teams in spite of sporting the worst record in Houston history. Schilling had a lot to figure out early in his career, which is why he never caught on in Baltimore or Houston, but once he found himself, he developed into a modern baseball legend. Even with “only” 216 career wins, I strongly believe he should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. He played the game the right way. We’ll miss you, Curt.
I’ll still be around here as I can. Wandy tonight, and I smell a win.
6:05pm tonight! After a longer-than-usual spring that never seemed it would end, that blessed rite known as Opening Day has arrived. It doesn’t much FEEL like spring in many places across the country – we’re under a freeze warning here in Arkansas – but the calendar says it’s time to get underway. Weather permitting, that’s what every team not in Philadelphia or Atlanta will do today.
I liked the Astros going into spring training, but I like them still more now – this is a better team than we started camp with. Russ Ortiz won the fifth starter’s job, exactly as I had hoped, and the other four starters looked equally sharp (and healthy!). Pudge Rodriguez is a noted upgrade over Toby Hall, aged or no. Jeff Keppinger is probably an upgrade over Aaron Boone, too. Jason Michaels ended up hitting enough to satisfy me, and Michael Bourn did enough likewise to earn another starting shot. Kaz Matsui is healthy to start the season this time. All the guys that started the spring slow were coming around by the time they left Kissimmee, and we’re opening at home, looking for revenge against Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs.
Regardless of weather… it’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. Bring on the baseball!