I have friends who ask me why I watch baseball. They think the game is slow or boring or the season is just too darn long. As an Astros fan there are times that I would agree. The long road to a 100+ loss season is painful for everyone involved, but certain points during the season are more exciting than others and we're in the thick of it right now.
1. The trade deadline. Happy MLB non-waiver trade deadline day! What? You don't celebrate that with cupcakes and sprinkles? I do.
Some hate it, some love it. Regardless of your feelings about this time of year, if you're reading this then you are likely counting down to 4pm ET today. You're also scouring twitter, Facebook and refreshing The Crawfish Boxes every 15 minutes or so waiting to hear if GM Jeff Luhnow has moved Bud Norris for yet another crop of hot, talented, young prospects. Or maybe this time it's someone closer to major league ready?
The speculation is entertaining. When you factor in the heart string factor of a player who is loved by fans like Bud Norris, the trade deadline is a bit like crack - addictive as hell. Who can forget the drama of the Hunter Pence trade happening mid-game? There was twitter talk the moment Norris was scratched from last night's game. The trade deadline turns every baseball fan into a conspiracy theorist. It drives me crazy and entertains the heck out of me and at the same time and I find myself completely swept up in it. Baseball is boring? Hell, no.
2. The month of September. As Astros fans, the month of September isn't quite what it used to be. The call ups of young talent in recent years has happened before September has dawned. September for Astros fans has really expanded to the whole second half of the season.
So perhaps I should have just called this "The Rookies." Hand the ball to a kid who's been playing baseball for 15-18 years dreaming of playing on the biggest stage and tell him he's going to the bigs - he's getting his shot and watch what happens next.
The level of effort, excitement and craziness inserted into rookie baseball is hard to stop watching, even when your team is down. For example, does it get better than Jonathan Villar stealing home? Yes, it does when he pairs that with a pretty remarkable diving catch at short to rob Adam Jones of hit. Nothing is better than young players trying to prove they are worthy. Don't get me wrong - it sometimes leads to disaster when they jump the gun or don't think ...but very entertaining disaster. The enthusiasm is infectious.
3. The Race to October. I know, I know, the Astros aren't in it and won't be for at least a couple of years, but this is the time of year that the men are separated from the boys. The talent rises when the water boils and heaven knows that 105 -110 games into a 162 game season that the water is boiling and the truth becomes evident. Fans, regardless of affiliation, start to pay attention to the leaderboards about now. We're all anticipating one thing - the World Series. Who will get there and how, and no one wants to miss out on the road to the series.
Yesterday I almost missed the start of the Astros game because I was enthralled in the double header between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a 2 game battle between two of the best teams in baseball right now, boasting .604 and .590 winning percentages respectively. It's exciting to watch that level of talent and play and know you could very well be watching the Pirates break that bad juju they've been sportin' since the early 90's.
So here we are, in the thick of it, waiting and watching, anticipating big moves (and this year we're also waiting on those Biogenesis suspensions). There's a lot to be excited about in baseball in the dog days of summer. I'm not bored in the slightest. If anything, right now it's hard to know which direction to look - just ask Wei-Yin Chen.