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The Daily Boil: Backe's the News

Former Astros pitcher Brandon Backe is talking about his pitching future again, but this time it's in a courtroom about busted dreams.

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

2008 was a different time in the Astros' life as a club. The team was 86-75 that year, a .534 winning percentage. Cecil Cooper was the manager, and the end of season saw several games postponed because of the effects of Hurricane Ike on the city of Houston. ***I can't write this without mentioning the two games the Astros played against the Chicago Cubs in the home team. Yes, one of the many sore spots in Astros history.

It was a very different time. The number 41 was worn by pitcher Brandon Backe back then. Remember him?

The Astros acquired right-handed pitcher, Brandon Backe, in 2003 from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in a trade for Geoff Blum. When I think of Brandon Backe, I think of two things, 1) the October 2004 game against the Colorado Rockies that Roger Clemens was supposed to start that Backe ended up starting, giving up 2 hits in 5 innings and ultimately helping the team win 6-3 and make their way into the postseason for the first time since 2001, and 2) the October 2008 arrest he was involved in with friends in Galveston, Texas.

It's that arrest in 2008 that has him back in the headlines. On October 5, 2008, Backe and nine additional people were arrested in Galveston after a fight at a wedding. The original charges were on the scale of resisting arrest, but Backe's attorney filed a civil rights violation with the FBI, based on the accounts of those arrested (including Backe) that they were beaten by police officers.

Why are we talking about this and Backe again now? The case against the city of Galveston and fifteen police officers has gone to trial. Tales of cops raiding the wedding with stun guns and pepper spray are making for quite the narrative. Add to that story, the bright future of a pitcher who was injured in an attack by police that he claims, had serious implications on his ability to continue in his career.

Dane Schillers of adds the details of Phil Garner's testimony.

Former Astros manager Phil Garner testified how the team had to win the final game of the 2004 season to make it into the playoffs, but star Roger Clemens, who was scheduled to pitch, was sick.

"(Clemens) had the flu or a stomach virus or whatever and couldn't answer the bell, so we had to come up with a different plan," Garner recalled.He decided to give to Backe the chance, and he not only pitched "brilliantly" in front of the home crowd, but knocked in a run.

"Our ballpark, we were playing here, went crazy during the game," he recalled.

There were bright spots in the 2004-2008 Houston Astros' seasons of which Brandon Backe was a big part, that's for sure.

It makes for interesting reading as well as nice stroll down memory lane. It's too soon to guess which way the jury will land on this one, but what do you think? Was the ailing should that led to decline of Backe on the mound and his eventual DFA and release in June 2009 the result of injuries that night in Galveston? Or did Backe just never quite recover from his 2006 Tommy John surgery? He never made it back to pre-surgery form, only going 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA in his 2008 season. We'll never really know what happened with Backe and what caused his bright light to dim, but sometime in the near future, a jury will make a best guess.