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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bizarro Astros Lead Team to Victory

As I listened to the Astros pre-game show on my home from work last night, they were talking about the Twins' starter, Carlos Silva, who--prior to the game--had posted an ERA slightly north of a touchdown and extra point. Opposing hitters were hitting something like .352 against him which--in my tortured, made-up "equivalent hitter" statistic, pretty much means that everybody who bats against Carlos Silva hits equivalently with the second-best hitter in the National League (at the moment, Freddy Sanchez of the Bucs, who's currently at .353). Of course, my first inclination, then, was to think, "He'll no-hit us or some crap."

Well, what happened more closely resembled the "some crap" part of my statement than the "no-hit" part, but we still looked pretty much like Morgan Ensberg a bunch of elementary school girls against him. We managed all of five hits and three earned runs against him in six innings, which technically qualifies him for a Quality Start.

Fortunately for the local boys, a few of the Bizarro Astros decided to pay a visit. Bizarro, of course, is the anti-Superman who lives on Bizarro World (also called "Htrae"), where people get arrested for being normal, etc. Anyway, the most notable of the Bizarro Astros consist of the following players:
Bizarro Biggio: Gets clutch hits with RISP
Bizarro Burke: Suffers from self-doubt
Bizarro Berkman: Makes great baserunning decisions
Bizarro Ensberg: Doesn't over-think at-bats; is fearless at the plate
Bizarro Wilson: Has good, quality at-bats where he works the count
Bizarro Lane: Brims with self-confidence; shows little promise but still gets hits anyway
Bizarro Ausmus: Terrific career hitter who's having a fluke bad year at the plate
Bizarro Everett: Always a home run threat; splatters hits to all parts of the park
Et cetera, et cetera. Anyway, Bizarro Lane and Bizarro Everett showed up and--because Gar[d]ner put them in the lineup because, not being Bizarro Gar[d]ner, he simply relied upon his usual conjecture, witchcraft, and "hunches" to make out his lineup.

Bizarro Everett collected a very un-Everettish 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and drove in 2 runs. Bizarro Lane had a clutch single to right field. Hooray!

Alas, Bizarro Ensberg did not make the trip. Regular Ensberg--"The Vortex"--showed up as a pinch-hitter, once again demonstrated that he's afraid of swinging the bat, and eventually popped up to the center fielder. I noticed, by the way, that Gar[d]ner finally observed what we'd noted a while back about the Vortex: he's afraid of hitting.
It's hard to tell if [Ensberg's] shoulder is bothering him or if the slump has gotten in his head. Garner gave him a green light on a 3-0 iptch the other night. Ensberg didn't swing at a batting-practice fastball.

"He's having a little hesitation in his mind about his swing," Garner said. "He's got to let the big dog hunt. He can't be too fine."
I think that pretty well sums it up.

In other Astros news, to make room for Fat Rog on the 25-man roster, Chris Sampson (1-0, 3.52 ERA in 4 appearances, 1 start) was sent to AAA. Here's a thought: why don't we just waive or DFA Trev-2ER Miller, rather than send down a kid who'd shown some promise? Oh, that's right: Bizarro Gar[d]ner doesn't manage this team.

Need to "Hate" More Often

Astros 5, Twins 3
So it's the fifth inning of last night's game, and I call up 'ole Shafty, who's trying to spend some quality time with his son, to complain.
"You know, I hate this team right now," I say.
"Why? What happened now?" Shafty answers.
I then give the rundown, as if he wants to hear every detail... at least, I assume he does because I don't stop to ask. Nevertheless, by the time I'm done, the Disastros suck, aren't making the playoffs, etc.
An inning after I hang up the phone, the Boys in Brick do it again. This franchise, throughout my entire life as a fan, has done the same thing time and again; and no matter how prepared you are for it, you still can't help fluctuating between hating their guts and buying their celebratory DVD, narrated by Dennis Quaid, that looks back at their remarkable run to the 2005 World Series (it's quite cool, actually).
Last night was no different. As soon as I'd given up on them, they came back and won the game. Adam Everett answered the question I've been asking thus far this season: Does Adam Ever-hit? He busted out three hits, two of which were clutch doubles, and had two RBI's. Pfc. Mendoza even got what amounted to the game-winning hit to score Skull Cap from second.
Needless to say, I'm VERY pleased with the outcome, especially since they overcame what looked like another loss to rally and win. What's more, Shafty and I will be at the game tonight for the Rocket's Return.
You know, last night's experience reminded me of a little "hex" that Shafty and I put on each other in the spirit of friendly competition. We'll head to the arcade after lunch for some air hockey, and one will inevitably "hex" the other with the following phrase: "You ready to kick my ass?"
What that really means is, "Prepare to have your ass kicked." So the opposite meaning is actually intended. Perhaps that's what happened last night. If so, I need to "hate" the Astros more often.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Astros Find Way to Lose... AGAIN

Astros 5, Twins 6
Credit the Twins for knowing their opponent. Rather than deflate over Special K's dramatic, game-tying homer in the bottom of the 9th (on a 1-2 count with 2 outs... prompting a, "How 'bout deez nutz, beeyotch?!?" from me over the phone to Shafty), the Twins responded the way a hot team normally does... with an answer.
For some dumbass reason, Gar[d]ner decided to bring in Trev-ER (thus dubbed b/c he's good for an earned run whenever he's out there), who expertly gave the Twins the lead back on a first-pitch BOMB by some guy I've never heard of, further proving the fallacy of the myth of "left-handed specialist." The only thing this left-hander specializes in is disappointment. Nevermind the fact that Roy Harvey struck out the side in the 8th. Nevermind the fact that their lefties had been struggling against him all night. Nope, we "play the percentages."
*soft, slow, mocking clap inserted here*
I've got to number my complaints because my head's spinning this morning, but see if you can follow me...
1. Roy Harvey's rough 7th wasn't his fault.
With one out, and after giving up two straight hits, Roy Harvey gives up a third, routine single to left. With a runner in scoring position, PK cadillacs the ball and the runner aggressively heads for home.
Keep in mind that K-Dawg has a good arm... but seeing his approach, and with the ball in front of him, the runner tries to score. Not believing that the Twins would dare to run on him, K-Money air-mails the ball over the cutoff man, 3-4 feet in front of home plate.
The runner scores. The man on first moves to third. The hitter moves to second. So now, rather than having the bases loaded and one out, the Twins have cut the lead to 4-2 and have two men in scoring position.
The next batter hits a routine grounder to short, which would've resulted in an inning-ending double play with no runs for the Twins. Instead, it scores another run to make it 4-3, with two outs and leaves a man at second.
Then, with two outs and a one-run lead, Roy Harvey gives up a routine flyball down the left field line. I say "routine" because I truly believe most, if not nearly all, MLB outfielders make that play. Instead, PK takes a piss poor route, running straight at the ball (instead of taking it on an angle).
The ball zips over his head, causing him to do the ever-gay "ballerina move" to try to catch it. He doesn't, so the Twins tie it on the "double." Don't get me wrong, PK tied the game in dramatic fashion in the 9th, but wouldn't have had to had he just played common, tight defense.
2. Our pitching staff's lack of focus is pissing me off.
I can't, for the life of me, figure out why it's so freaking difficult for our pitchers to get ahead, stay ahead, and keep runners off base. I thought Roy Harvey did a great job last night; but can The Mole please pitch a damn inning without putting a runner on? Can we please get a lead and not give it right back? Can we please know the situation and execute?
What's more, The Mole is so concerned with striking hitters out that he forgets that's not the goal. The goal is to get hitters out... no matter how. In my book, a groundball is as good as a strikeout. But he plays to the crowd, which is why he uncorks a slider with the winning run on third (put there by him). It's also why he never holds the runners. Granted, Castillo is very fast... but at least throw over there once or something. Damn.
Twice now in two games I've seen our guys get a lead (or tie) and then have the pitcher give it back on the very first pitch of the next half-inning. UNACCEPTABLE.
Guys, you need to go back to Pitching Class. NOW.
3. Morgan Ensberg needs to sit.
I realize Mike Lamb's in a bit of a slump right now. Play Eric Bruntlett, then. Plus, I can't figure out why, when it seemed that Jason Lane was seeing the ball better, he's still on the bench.
If Morgan's shoulder is hindering his success, he should sit until it's well. If it's not bothering him, he should sit until he gets his eyes back. I've watched that guy take pitches right down the middle for strikes and then swing at crap. Granted, he got a hit to the opposite field, showing a nice in-at-bat adjustment; but he struck out THREE TIMES last night.
I like Morgan a lot. I think he's a great asset to our team; but as of last night, his average for the last three months was as follows... April: ± .309, May: .216, June (so far): .143. His average for the season right now sits at a whopping .250.
Get it together, Morgan... NOW.
I've already expressed my frustration with Trev-ER, Lidge, and Gar[d]ner. What's worse, is that the Cards and Reds both lost last night, giving us another chance to move up. We refuse... again.
I don't want to be doomsday this early (especially after last season), but this team is so mediocre right now, that I'm not sure even Roger Clemens can salvage much. Keep in mind that last year, our heroes were 2 games over .500 at the All-Star Break. Right now, we're one game over. With the way we're currently playing, it's not looking good.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Officially Unofficial Nickname Dictionary

At some point, we will enlighten the masses (i.e., all two of you/us who read this blog) with an explanation and possible dictionary of our made-up language, FEnglish (Fake English). Until then, we thought it’d be fun to give you a running list of MLB Nicknames that we have created, starting with our beloved Disastros and in no particular order thereafter:

Disastros = Houston Astros

The Magnet/Coin Flip = Taylor Buchholz, The Mole = Brad Lidge, Roy Harvey = Roy Oswalt, Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel (“Cletus”) = Andy Pettitte, Magic Wandy/Not-So-Magic Wandy = Wandy Rodriguez, Potato Chips = Russ Springer, Wheels = Dan Wheeler, Fat Lance/Fat Elvis/Big Puma = Lance Berkman, The Bidge/Beege = Craig Biggio, The Vortex/Mo = Morgan Ensberg, Private Mendoza/Pfc. Mendoza/Lanedoza = Jason Lane, Special K/K-Dawg/PW/P-Dub/PK/Skull Cap/Press'n = Preston Wilson, Willy T = Willy Taveras, Trev-ER/Mill-ER = Trever Miller, Does-Adam-Ever-Hit = Adam Everett, Assmunch/Suckmus = Brad Ausmus, Lambo/The Bomber = Mike Lamb

Satanic Red Fowl = St. Louis Cardinals

Hermaphrodite = Yadier Molina, Jimmy = Jim Edmonds, Doesn’t Exist/StL OF = So Taguchi, Poo-Holes/Albert = Albert Pujols, Eyeliner = John Rodriguez, Frying Pan = Anthony Reyes, The Pest = David Eckstein, Who? = Chris Duncan

Baby Bears = Chicago Cubs

Corky = Sean Marshall, Corky II/Cry Baby = Greg Maddux, When Healthy/DL/Shadows of Their Former Selves ("Shadows") = Mark Prior/Kerry Wood, Crazy Carlos/Señor Smug/Cra-ZEE/”Big” Zee/Wrist Action = Carlos Zambrano, Marty = Michael Barrett, Him-Roid/Roid Nevin = Phil Nevin, Nefertiti = Neifi Perez, E-ramis/Error-Miss = Aramis Ramirez, Jac-QUE = Jacque Jones, Perpetual Enemy #1 = John Mabry

The Brew Crew = Milwaukee Brewers

Slob/Jeremy/Turnblow = Derrick Turnbow, Redneck/Wife-Beater = Geoff Jenkins, Undetectable = Carlos Lee

The Giants = SF Giants

Barroid/Cheater = Barry Bonds

*sigh* The Braves = Atlanta Braves

Wilson Betemit = Wilson Betemit, Larry = Chipper Jones, Perpetual Enemy #2 = Edgar Renteria, AndRoid = Andruw Jones

Playoff Dodgers = LA Dodgers
No-MAAAH = Nomar Garciaparra, DWI/Furcalcohol = Rafael Furcal, Pornstache/Traitor = Jeff Kent, J.D. Droid/Punk/Perpetual Enemy #5 = J.D. Drew, I Hate That Guy = Kenny Lofton

Enemy of 1998 = San Diego Padres

Pert Commercial/Pretty Boy/First Baseman = Mike Piazza, Not-So-Young = Eric Young

America’s Best Bought Team = New York Yankees

The Farns = Kyle Farnsworth, Cheater II/Giambroid = Jason Giambi, Jeeter = Derek Jeter
gAy-Rod/Roidriguez = Alex Rodriguez, Passion of the Center Fielder/Johnny of Nazareth/CromagJohn = Johnny Damon

ESPN = Boston Red Sox

Suckett/One-Pump-Chump = Josh Beckett, Wickets = Alex Gonzalez, Manny/Man-Ram/Man-Roid = Manny Ramirez, Big Papi/Roidtiz = David Ortiz

White Sux = Chicago White Sox
(“Win, or Die Trying.” Then just die.)

Punkzynski/A.J./Peeeerzynski/Seeing Eye Chart I = A.J. Pierzynski, Roidsednik/Punksednik/Scotty = Scott Podsednik, DyeRoid = Jermaine Dye... We hate the whole team, so any of them could be White Sux.

Cellar Dwellers = Kansas City Royals

Suckworth = Brandon Duckworth, Gabor = Paul Bako, Perpetual Enemy #3 = Mark Grudzielanek, White Trash/Ex-Con/Parolee/Seeing Eye Chart II = Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark = David DeJesus, Perpetual Enemy #4 = Reggie Sanders, Road Dawg = Matt Stairs

I’m sure there are or will be plenty more, but this will get you started. Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Great Day for Baseball

True, the Astros lost to lowly Kansas City yesterday. Well, Friday, too. But it could have been worse:

We could have had Mark Prior out there yesterday: 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 4 HR's. Interesting gamelog.

So there's a silver lining in the Astros' terrible weekend, after all. Heh heh heh.

Your World Cup Update

Who says we don't have World Cup coverage?

Astros Injure Necks in Process of Enthusiastically Tipping Caps to Duckworth

Following yesterday's disastrous 7-4 loss to the woeful Royals, the talk show lines were jammed with callers complaining about obvious goat Chad Qualls and, to an equal extent for having summoned Qualls, manager Phil Gar[d]ner--whose ability to predict the future was vastly inferior to that of the illiterate, toothless, foaming-at-the-mouth masses who invariably think it their due to second-guess every managerial decision following a loss.

There are plenty of goats for this weekend's disastrous showing. Rather than list each of the Astros individually on the sidebar goats section, we focused on the announcer, who once again committed an error in the late innings when he announced:

Now batting, centerfielder Mark... err, excuse me, David DeJesus.

We're now 0-2 when we're playing bad teams and the announcer commits an "E10" error. This one's all on him. Not that the Astros played well enough to win or anything, though...

No doubt feeling guilty about having cut loose Brandon Duckworth last year, after he had posted an 8.08 ERA in Houston over the course of two years (50 runs in 55.2 IP), the Astros tried to make it up to him yesterday by making him out as the next Cy Young--on and off the field.

Even the lowly Pirates had thought so little of Duckworth's skills that they did not even ask the Royals for a player in exchange, agreeing instead to accept only "cash considerations." Yet he managed to stymie the Astros yesterday, allowing only 2 earned runs over 5.2 strong innings yesterday. He also doubled and scored a run in their 4-run sixth inning. Duckworth's efforts were rewarded with the usual "tip of the cap" from Mike Lamb:
"Duckworth did a good job mixing up his pitches and kept us off balance," Lamb said.
Kudos to our hero of the game, Gar[d]ner, who dispelled Duckworth's entitlement to any "tip your cap" comments:
Garner preferred to give the Astros an assist for "making (Duckworth) look a little better than he threw."
Finally, somebody else said what we've been saying for years: don't tip your cap to somebody just because you hit like crap against him.

Passing thoughts not worth a full discussion:
  • Clearly, journalists need to stop with the "Andy's making a resurgence" crap. Although he's not solely to blame for yesterday's loss, coughing up four runs--and the lead--in only seven innings is NOT indicative of having a "resurgence."

  • Morgan Ensberg looks lost out there right now. Why is it that we started hitting after he got injured, then STOPPED hitting when he returned? Is he a black hole of crappy hitting, that his mere presence makes everybody forget how to hit? If so, get The Vortex out of there. Aw jeez, now we've got another nickname for somebody.

    The Vortex's average, by the way, is now down to .250. He was hitting .302 on May 9th. He then proceeded to hit 16-for-75 (.213) for the rest of May, and is hitting only .143 (4-for-28) in June so far.