Astros' Adolescence: Ramblings at mid-season

Tom Pennington

It's past the halfway point in games, the All-Star Game is around the corner, so it's time to talk about what I think about Astros baseball in 2014 and how they've found themselves firmly in the middle of puberty.

Here we are, Astros fans. The Houston nine have played 92 games and are only a handful of  games away from the All-Star break (go #VoteKeuchel), the team is tied for last no matter how you stack the teams in major league baseball, fans are restless, the owner is restless, and it's time for me to babble a little bit about what I think of the 2014 season so far.

I'm bored.

Yep. I'm bored. Yes, there have been great moments. Jose Altuve has been a highlight. To see him excel when so many thought his height would limit him has been great. Springer Day was fun, but then George arrived in Houston, started hitting SpringerDingers with regularity and I nodded my head, thought, "Okay, the kid's as good as we thought," and I carried on in my day. Jon Singleton's an Astro now, so there's that. We haven't seen a decent player at first in a while, so it's refreshing.

But all in all, I'm bored.

The Astros started reconstructing this team and I was solidly on board. I'm still of the mindset that the massive overhaul was necessary, but I'm an American for heaven's sake, we honk in the drivethru lane and aren't exactly known for our patience. So waiting 5 years for the team to be good? It's getting boring.

But I'm not saying not to continue down the path. There have been commenters and tweeters and random people on the street calling for GM Jeff Luhnow's head on a platter. There have been rumblings that Bo Porter is a great motivational coach, but perhaps makes tactical decisions that should have gotten him canned by now. As a side note, I distinctly remember when Bo Porter was hired that the terms of his contract weren't really made public, so no one has a clue how long his leash it. Regardless, I'm not asking for anyone's head. I'm just asking for a little excitement to get us though the season.

I didn't expect the 2014 Houston Astros to be contenders. I didn't expect them to play .500 ball. They don't have the pieces in place yet to do that. I guess all that to say that this team is doing exactly what I expected it would and, well, that's just boring. They're not as bad as the last couple of years nor are they as bad as that recent losing streak would have you believe, but they aren't as good as that last week of May and first couple of weeks of June would have you believe either.

The Astros are better than last year. That's it. No more, no less. They are marginally better and more tolerable to watch, but no magic has caused the heavens to open, a perfect bullpen to drop into Minute Maid Park (or a fantastic shortshop for that matter). This team is exactly what it is and that's still a team in transition.

Who likes transition? That's like saying you liked puberty. Who liked that? No one. It sucked because you didn't  know what was going to happen next, how long it was going to take, and if you were going to be picked on for one more day or forever. That's where the Houston Astros are in this reconstruction - puberty. Will Jon Heyman say something nasty about the Astros again today? Probably. Will the Astros continue on a roller coaster of good and bad baseball? Definitely. Do we know when it's going to be over? Nope.

When news that Ground Control got hacked was all over the internet, bullying was the first thing I thought of. It felt as if someone was simply trying to embarrass the Astros, as if the past few years hadn't been embarrassing enough on the field. If most hackers are after money, the Ground Control hacker was one of different sort. You can assume it was corporate espionage and that makes it a little more intriguing, but it felt more like the Jocks hired one of the Smart Preppies to show the Nerds that showing off their nerdiness isn't cool. Again. It's adolescence in the grown up world.

This week has been enjoyable since the Texas Rangers don't seem capable of stuffing the Astros in their locker anymore. Score one for the little guys! By the way, I firmly believe that anytime the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers, the win should count double in the standings. THAT would make this season more interesting, wouldn't it?

But no one will double count wins in Arlington and I recognize that this year isn't THAT much better than last year and think about the trade deadline instead. I need a little excitement and I'm counting on the Vampire front office to inject a little levity into this part of the season. I am counting on trades that break at 2am and names being tossed around that not even the nutty TCB writers contemplated in a trade.

In the meantime, I'll watch a little more baseball and hope that the Astros' adolescence ends sooner rather than later.

Also, please go #VoteKeuchel - he's not only a good pitcher, but a genuinely nice guy.

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