Once upon a time, there was a professional baseball team based in southeast Texas...
This group of 25 men, who often times scored runs and struck out major league hitters, were not all that successful at their chosen profession. Sure, compared to say.....an inanimate carbon rod the Astros could play baseball pretty well, but on the whole, there was something lacking.
You know how some people just have It? That certain je ne sai qua where if you watch them even for an instant, you know that they are going places? Well, these Astros didn't have it. Their ranks were filled with men with unfortunate injuries, the worst stat line in MLB, big contracts and one whose wife outpaces him in the sports fame department with room to spare. Certainly, these were the worst of times for followers of this professional baseball club.
Who needs a major league career when you have Jennie Finch as your wife?
Everyday, it seemed, articles like this were written. And this. This too? Yup, and, wait for it....this. Hey! Look back up there at Jennie! (This too.) You saw that last link? You're good...too good. Don't think for a second (or 100) that those were the only 100 loss articles that concerned the Astros: a Google search yields 478,000 results.
True, this blog tried to be a port in the storm of hyperbole, but even our passionate, yet reasoned, intelligent, yet playful, take on the Astros was enough to counteract some of the vitriol associated with Houston Astros baseball. The mainstream was right: we were bad, and everyone knew it except for the Grocery Man in charge. (Am I the only one who thinks it's a little funny that Drayton's $28 billion dollar company's website is on the fritz?) Bleak didn't begin to describe the situation.
Gradually though, things started change for the better. Stars were traded, as Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt were sent east in exchange for prospects and Mr. Fissure and Mr. Feliz were both given their walking papers. Payroll was slashed, the team got younger, and a 100 loss season became less and less likely. The Astros started to play respectably, inching closer and closer to just being a regular ol' bad baseball team instead of a circus freak ugly baseball team. Sweeps of St. Louis and Philadelphia had Crawfishboxers brimming with
unbridled joy, tempered optimism.
Still, the first benchmark of the season was reached tonight, as the Astros topped the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 in comeback fashion. Win #63 of the 2010 season merely ensured the avoidance of 100 losses, a specter that hung above this team's head since the 0-8 start. While 79 wins as a pre season target may have seemed an unreachable dream in May, it would now "just" take a 16-11 finish to get there.
A come from behind win like tonight's are difficult against any team, even one like Arizona whose bullpen has been pretty bad this season. It's also sorta fitting that one of the few links to the root of our current problem, Carlos Lee, won us the game and has also been playing well of late. On one hand, shedding big contracts for more sensible deals is a good way to go for a rebuilding team like ours, but then again, even the old timers can produce. Lee hit a couple big home runs against the Phillies last week, and tonight his first pitch home run in the eighth inning brought the Astros all the way back from a 5-1 deficit. So while, we all look to the future, it's important to look to the past and learn from mistakes. Carlos Lee may have been a mistake, but he's been a helpful mistake during the last couple months. These Astros have avoided one dubious milestone, and they have time to keep climbing.