The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Houston Astros’

We turn the page

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2017

Another baseball season has come and gone and even an old curmudgeon like me has to admit that this was a good one.  The Astros won their first ever championship and they did it in dramatic fashion, beating the high-profile Dodgers in a riveting seven game series.  The Dodgers dominated the regular season, as well as the first two thirds of the post season.  When it came time for the World Series, however, the middle of their lineup went into a collective slump, and their metrics-loving manager, Dave Roberts, spit the bit.

The Series was probably lost in game 2 when Roberts pulled his effective starter, Rich Hill after 4 plus innings and began using his bullpen (many of whom will almost certainly face rotator cuff surgery in their near future) with impunity.  Then in game 7, when Roberts should have taken a piss-poor Yu Darvish out of the game before facing George Springer, the hottest hitter in the universe, he left him in to deliver a cantaloupe.  The resulting three run bomb effectively put a fork in the Dodger’s season.

A word about the announcers:  Joe Buck and John Smoltz are a terrible listen.  It’s not that they don’t know baseball, but that they are dull as dishwater and humorless to boot.  Throw in the timber of Buck’s voice, which is akin to an amplified washing machine, and you can go crazy.  It’s as if someone was using a jackhammer outside of your apartment — for 5 straight hours!  I’m convinced that the best way to watch these games is at a bar with a TV and a jukebox.



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Pitching Madness in the World Series

Posted by keithosaunders on October 28, 2017

The way managers have been handling pitchers in the post season is beyond insane. It’s a mixture of by the book, automaton managing, and desperate gambles of 6 out saves from pitchers who have never done it before.

So far A.J. Hinch is thoroughly out managing Dave Roberts. Yesterday he played it old school allowing pitcher, Brad Peacock, to gut out a 3 & 2/3 inning save. Why not stay with the hot pitcher? The rest of his bullpen has been shaky at best. Go for the jugular while you can.

How much does Dave Roberts wish he had stayed with Rich Hill for a couple of extra innings on Wednesday night? True, his bullpen had been great, but even the best have bad outings as witnessed by Kenley Jansen’s last performance. You’re doing the other team a favor when you take out a pitcher that the opposing team is not hitting. The Astros should send Roberts a Christmas present.

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Bring on the playoffs

Posted by keithosaunders on September 30, 2017

This was a terrible year to be a Mets fan.  The team suffered a barrage of injuries early on, unloading much of the 2015 World Series lineup by the trading deadline.  It appears that Matt Harvey, thanks to overuse during the 2015 post season, is all but washed up. Mea culpa:  I was one of those who supported pitching him during that post season, and I still believe it was the right thing to do.  You don’t get many shots at a World Series ring, especially if you’re a Met.

This was also a terrible year for pennant races.  The National League seemed all but decided by the All Star break, although the Brewers made a run for the Central, and at this writing are still alive for a wild card slot. (although the Rockie’s magic number is 1.) I really can’t get too excited about wild card races, however, especially when the Mets are not in it.

Much to my chagrin the Yankees are good again.  I’m hoping that the upstart Twins can take them out in the gimmicky one-game play-in, but who am I kidding – the Twins are the Yankee’s bitch.

In the junior circuit I’ll be pulling for either the Astros or Indians.  Houston has never won a World Series and has only played in one of them.  It would be nice to see them get through.

In the NL I’ll be rooting for the Dodgers.  I can’t stand the Cubs fans, who I find insufferable, so I’ll be content with their team bowing out.  The Cubs seem to be peaking at the right time, however, and I would be surprised if they do not make it back to the Series. The good thing about the Dodgers going deep into the post season would be to watch these idiot Giants fans up here suffer. (I live in the Bay Area)  Talk about front runners!

Well that’s it.  I don’t have a dog in this race so I’m hoping for some good games and a minimum of exposure to Joe Buck.

Let’s go!

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Baseball’s wildcard fiasco

Posted by keithosaunders on October 8, 2015

In 2011 the fate of four teams and two playoff races were decided on the last day of baseball’s regular season.  The Cardinals defeated the Astros to win the National League wild card berth after the Braves had lost to the Phillies. In the Junior Circuit the Tampa Rays defeated  the Yankees in extra innings  after the Orioles had defeated the Red Sox on a walk-off single.  Tom Verducci, a writer for Sports Illustrated wrote, “These will go down as the most thrilling 129 minutes in baseball history.” 

He’s right.

MLB, in their infinite, corporate profit-driven interests decided that they could have this football-style do or die games every year and thus the current play-in wild card system was born.  Thanks to this unimaginative gimmick never again will we have the end of season drama that existed for over a hundred years.

Since the really good teams will have their divisions locked up, the best we can hope for is a race for the final wild card spot. In the event there are multiple great teams in one division, such as this year’s NL Central, all the teams will make the playoffs thus insuring that a superior team will suffer the ignominious fate of a one game post season.

What a shame that a team as talented as the Pittsburgh Pirates (98 wins) had to bow out of the playoffs so early.  Had the Cubs lost it would have been equally as egregious. Instead we are stuck with Dodgers and Mets teams that backed their way into the playoffs.  Full disclosure:  I’m a Mets fan, but come on, they’re not as good as the Pirates.

At any rate, let’s put this travesty of sports behind us and get ready for some real playoff baseball.  Accept no substitutions!

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The shtetl of college football

Posted by keithosaunders on September 7, 2011

With four weeks to go in the 2011 baseball season we face a September devoid of pennant races.  A coupe of weeks ago it was looking like I would be lucky enough to be residing in one of the few markets — San Francisco — involved in meaningful September baseball.  How wrong I was. 

The end of August saw the Giants three games behind the plucky Diamondbacks.  They were entering an easy part of the schedule, however which featured seven games against baseball’s worst team, the Houston Astros.  The Giants, however, spit the bit, losing four of the seven, while the Dbacks overcame a mini losing streak to rattle off nine straight. 

The Giants could not overcome the myriad of injuries they have suffered all season long.  Furthermore, the magic that journeymen players, Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff, and Pay Burrell delivered last year, did not carry over into the current season.  Their pitching had been brilliant, but now is showing the wear and tear of the stress that comes with having no margin for error.  Even their ace, Tim Lincecum, has looked mortal lately, blowing up during the last two games he has pitched.  

Currently the black and orange are riding a two game winning streak and are sitting six games out.  It’s not hard to imagine them putting together a streak of wins –they will be remain in the west all month — but in order for them to catch up, the Diamondbacks would have to play .350 ball the rest of the year, which seems unlikely given the fact that they will be playing the same mediocre teams as the Giants.

The NFL begins this week, and not a moment too soon.  Let’s hear it for labor settlements!  The trouble is, I’m stuck with the Raiders and 49ers, two teams that can ruin any given Sunday.  

This situation has, improbably, driven me to…college football.  Oy!

At least we have he 6th ranked Stanford Cardinals and their Heisman candidate, quarterback Andrew Luck.  Stanford started off in true early season NCAA form — with a 54 point slaughter of patsy , San Jose St.  This Saturday they will travel to Durham, North Carolina to play Duke, which should be a more competitive game — they’re only three touchdown favorites. 

But wait, there’s more.  I live in a little town in the East Bay called Albany, which is just a few blocks north of Berkeley, and that, as you know, is the home of a certain Cal Bears.  University of Berkeley, baby!  And they’re 1-0, coming off an impressive, if not sloppy victory over Fresno State.  

Having lived in the east for so long, where college football was an afterthought, it feels odd to live just a couple of miles from a bigtime college school.  I’m actually considering going to a game.  Cal doesn’t do that well attendance-wise, so scoring a ticket shouldn’t be difficult. 

In the meantime, tomorrow is Wednesday and the A’s are home.  This combination can only mean one thing:  $2.00 ballgame!  I am so there.  A’s – Royals give it!   

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Fun with announcing, starring Ralph Kiner and Keith Hernandez

Posted by keithosaunders on September 2, 2010

Lest you think that the Yankees, with Phil Rizzuto and John Sterling, have cornered the market on eccentricity in the announcing booth, I am giving equal time to the New York Mets TV team.  For years Ralph Kiner, the great Pittsburgh Pirates slugger, was a staple in the Mets announcing core.  These days he is mostly retired, but every once in a while, say five or six times a year, they dust him off, prop him up, and bring him in.  He’s always been a favorite of mine and he was a great announcer in his day, although he could be prone to mispronounce certain names or sponsors.  Manufacturers Hanover became Manufacturers Hand Over, while Reds pitchers Mario Sota was transformed into Mario Soda.

Once again, the great Jeff Mazzei supplied the anecdote:

…the highlight was Kiner & Hernandez strolling down memory lane.  Gary Cohen made the mistake of asking Ralph if the Mets and Astros had a natural rivalry in the early days because they were both expansion teams that arrived at the same time.  Ralph said it was actually very one-sided with the Astros winning most of the time, but he loved coming to Houston because of the hotel.  Keith chimed in that he knew exactly what hotel he was talking about (which he did). 

Kiner said, “Yes, they had a great bar,” and Hernandez reminisced, “Yes, they had that great brown bag policy.  Apparently, Harris County was a dry county, and this hotel let you bring your own liquor into the bar as long as it was concealed. 

But this was just the beginning.  Keith said, “You know, when I played triple A in Wichita, they had a bar with a policy that you could bring your own as long as you removed the label and replaced it with a label that just had your name, and you’d leave it on the counter.  I used to love to tell the bartender, “Give me a Keith & tonic”. 

And so began Ralph & Keith’s journey through the dry counties of triple A baseball.  It was all the more hilarious due to Kiner’s slurred speech which was interrupted by Gary Cohen’s vain attempts to call the game.  I guess you never know when Pandora’s box is about to be opened.

 From the Yankee game, Michael Kay was reading a promo for Yankee Classics on the Yes Network.  O’neill chimes in with, “Have the Yankees ever lost a game on that show?  They must be 1000-0, like the Harlem Globetrotters.”

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Revisiting Mets vs Astros: Game 6

Posted by keithosaunders on June 27, 2010

The game was played in the Astrodome on Wednesday, October 15th.  I was at game 5 which was played at Shea Stadium the previous day.  Nobody remembers game 5 because of the magnitude of the following game, but it was a beauty as well, featuring an epic matchup of Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan.  Darryl Strawberry tied the game at 1 with a home run in the 5th and the score remained knotted until the bottom of the 12th when Gary Carter drove in the winning run with a single up the middle.

I never saw Game 6 because of  my then steady gig playing solo piano for yuppies at a Wall street watering whole called St Maggie’s Cafe.  I ended up listening to most of the extra innings on the restaurant’s transistor radio.  (how quaint!)  

24 years ago postseason day games were not uncommon, especially when both leagues were playing on the same day.  The Mets game had a 3;30 start time because the ALCS game 7 between the Redsox and the Angels was scheduled for 8pm that evening.  The result was that New York City, on a crisp fall afternoon, ground to a halt.  People literally stopped working and flocked to office TVs.  On the streets people ducked into the nearest bar or watched department store televisions. 

After playing for an hour or so I was politely asked to stop.  I gladly took a seat at the bar and listened to one of the most gut wrenching post season games ever.  The game matched  Bobby Ojeda and Bob Knepper.   Ojeda did not have his best stuff allowing 3 early runs, but he settled down.  Knepper pitched a gem shutting down the Mets offense for 8 innings.

The details:  The Mets finally solved Knepper in the 9th inning putting up a 3 spot off of him and reliever Dave Smith.  When the ‘stros failed to score in the bottom of the inning the game headed to extras.  The Mets went ahead in the 14th on a Wally Backman RBI but Jessie Orosco blew the save allowing a home run to Billy Hatcher.  Finally, in the top of the 16th the Mets exploded for 3 runs silencing the rabid Astrodome crowd.  But the Astros would not go down easily and they battered a tired Orosco for 2 runs before Kevin Bsss struck out to end the game.

Living in New York City I have always looked at this game from a Mets perspective.  It was a tough, gritty win — an improbable win given how dominant Knepper was.  Ojeda was hittable but managed to get the key outs keeping the score within reach.  The bullpen was almost flawless and Keith Hernandez made several sparkling plays at first. 

From an Astros, perspective, however, the game looks much different.  In the bottom of the first Houston scored 3 runs and had the Mets on the ropes when Alan Ashby botched a squeeze play, swinging through a pitch and leaving Bass hung out to dry between third and home.  Just that one run would have made the difference.

The 16th inning rally began with a high fly pop up by Strawberry which dropped between three fielders.  Center fielder Hatcher had taken one step back before realizing that the ball was going to be in front of him.  This was probably a catchable ball.  When Ray Knight singled to left.  third base coach Bud Harrelson aggressively sent Darryl home.  The throw from Bass was up the line and Strawberry was safe, but a good throw may have gotten him. 

Imagine being an Astros fan watching this game.  Could there have been a more excruciating loss?  Boston Redsox fans would soon have an answer to this question.   

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Those wacky baseball uniforms of the ’70s.

Posted by keithosaunders on May 29, 2010

 Who besides me is nostalgic for this quirky period in baseball haberdashery?  Who can forget the banana-in-pajamas yellow of the Pittsburgh Pirates? 

  How about the seizure-inducing kaleidoscope that comprised the Houston Astros festival in orange?

 Even the seats of the Astrodome had this pattern!

And of course, the staple road uniform of at least 10 teams: powder-blue.   I was partial to the road uniforms of the St Louis Cardinals, which inexplicably had nothing to do with their home color, Cardinal red.

 How about those Whitesox, who for one game in the middle of the decade actually wore short pants!

I’m hoping that teams begin to break out of the  conservative period that we currently inhabit. Enough of this boring road grey.  I’m also tired of black jerseys that have nothing to do with the team colors. 

How about you?   What were, or are, or were your favorite uniforms?

Happy Memorial Day!

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