This evening, all of our prognosticating stops being relevant. Astros baseball will stop being something we continue to imbue with life via blog posts, spreadsheets and conversation. For better or worse, we won't be able to discount on-field performance as being irrelevant because the games don't count. When Roy Oswalt delivers his first pitch tonight, everything counts.
It won't matter anymore what spin anyone wants to put on the Astros as a francise, or on their offseason. And that's frightening, as much as it is exciting. We have done a lot of arguing in an effort to change people's perceptions of the Astros. While we haven't necessarily tied the credibility of our arguments to the Astros actual performance (i.e. they're going to great), the Astros not tanking would certainly go a long way.
I don't have any kids (and hope not to for some time), but I equate my feelings at the beginning of an Astros season as probably pretty similar to sending a kid off to college: you're going to love them no matter the outcome, but you've got a lot on the line in terms of their success. Sure we're probably hoping the Astros hover around a 3.0, but there is also a lot going on to unnerve us into believing that they might be coming home on academic probation.
I can't help get the feeling that watching Roy deliver the first pitch will probably give me the same feeling my parents had knowing that I was having just a little too much fun that first semester of college (no parents, no rules). Lance Berkman is sidelined and I'll be watching Roy Oswalt's back with bated breath no matter how much time goes by without an issue. The bullpen's health is already in question (the Cooper-effect?) and they haven't thrown a meaningful pitch yet.
There are enough troublesome variables in play that I can almost picture that letter from the Dean of Academic Success notifying of academic probation.
More so than anxiety I have swirling around the Astros 2010, today is about one thing: love. The reason we are all here because we love this team. And because of that love we will be watching tonight full of hope for the best, but a hope tempered by honest appraisals of their talent. It's why so many of us here have rushed to the defense of Ed Wade and the Astros time after time this offseason, and it's while we'll stick around even if those to whom we stood up to end up being right. Perhaps it may end up being a fools errand, but that's what you do for the ones you love: point out the good in them when everyone else turns their backs (in our case all we did was point out the mediocre).
One last note before I get to spending the rest of my day fruitlessly checking the time to see how much closer it is to 6:05 PM: A hearty thanks, David. Since coming on board last fall, you've carried Evan and myself, and, I believe, made this blog a much better place. But most importantly, thanks to all of you, the readers. You keep up us inspired and honest. More over, if it weren't for you, we'd just be writing this in a vacuum and pressuring our families and friends to please read it and validate us. So thanks for three things: inspiration, honesty and uncoerced validation.