Astros vs Yankees…aka Good vs Evil

This is Brian’s happy place.

Texas 2016

We may or may not have moved our entire trip back a week cause the original dates we picked the Astros were on the road and we wouldn’t get to go see them play. No worries, we moved everything so we could catch a game. Unfortunately, they were playing the Yankees when we were in town…which is only a little better than them being on the road!

It’s the 8th inning. Yankees (we’ll call them the Evil Empire) were winning. An Evil’s fan (just shortening it a little more for ease of reading of course!) starts talking trash a few rows in front of us. As you can imagine, he’s not being gracious. Beckham even said “They are even winning, why is he being that way?”

Someone throws a peanut at him.

They miss.

But Evil fan isn’t happy about this (and has also had 8 innings to drink to his heart’s content, which he took full advantage of) and starts talking smack to a poor guy he targeted behind us as the thrower of the peanut that started it all. It escalated quickly. I saw security running towards all this and even thought “We won’t need them, this always dies down before anyone every really fights…”

I was wrong.

Evil fan proceeds to climb over the seats to get at the guy behind us. Sadie Piper is RIGHT in his path. I grabbed her and practically threw her over to Brian who was quickly ushering the other two kids to the aisle and told them to get up the stairs.

They escorted Evil fan out and all was right with the world again.

First thing SP said to Brian (while she was still shaking, poor girl) was, “THAT’s why we don’t like the Yankees, right Dad?”

 Texas Trip 2016

Springers’ vertical is amazing! Here’s Becks giving it his best shot

Texas 2016

Tal’s Hill…it’s last year. Don’t mention this to Brian, it’s a very sore subject.

  Texas Trip 2016

Doesn’t get better than Blue Bell ice cream in an Orbit (mascot) bowl! If we lived in Texas I would have said it was overpriced. Since we live in Kansas, I say it was a bargain no matter the price!

Texas 2016

 Texas Trip 2016

Then a few more days with family!

Texas Trip 2016

Duck (Brian’s dad) always has puppies. He didn’t let us down this time either!

Texas Trip 2016

Tricks Vicki, aka Big Foot, aka Brian’s mom!

Then one more friend stop in Dallas at a waterpark with George and Kasey and their cute boys!! A super fun day!

Texas Trip 2016

Gusty Gusters

Berkley is the most extroverted of all of us. She just doesn’t run out of juice. Ever.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Brian had Berkley at Becks’ baseball game this summer and he started texting me Berkley’s dialogue. You can’t make this stuff up…

June 2015June 2015
June 2015
June 2015

June 2015

June 2015

 

Pondering the Astros 2015 Season

So some guy brings a stuffed moose to the games, not a moose head, but the whole moose. It just reminds me that I need to step up my game in life.

I received a text on Tuesday evening before what would be the last game of the 2015 Houston Astros season. It said, “I ended up with an extra ticket to tomorrow nights game. I realize it’s a long shot, but wanted to know if you might be interested in going with me.” Well, let me think about…YES!  I never dreamed I’d get to attend an Astros playoff game, especially a final game in a series game.

My peoples at the game. #Astros #crushcity

Honestly, I hoped to win, but expected to lose. Two nights earlier my Astros melted down late in a game that would have won the series. That event swung momentum away from the Astros.

The environment for the game was electric. Oceans of blue shirts in every direction, a few scattered orange shirts, most of which were actual roaming concession men and women. I think we did all agree that the silver lining on this this evening was that no matter the result, it wouldn’t be the Yankees moving on having already slayed them.

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The seats were amazing. So amazing that Paul Rudd (Clueless, Ant Man) was sitting in front of us. The Astros lost and even so it was one of the best sports experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you Charles for giving me this memory.

The last few years I’ve watched a least a few innings of most Astros games due to MLB.tv. I’ve seen us lose so many games that this year made me uncomfortable. Early on when we were in first place in the West I took a screenshot thinking those days were numbered, but the guys kept that lead most of the year.

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While on vacation this summer we realized the Astros were in Cleveland and we were somewhere near there so we drove to watch a game. That evening Javier Brackamonte the Astros Bullpen catcher tossed balls to Sadie Piper and Berkley, made their day. Sadie Piper later autographed her ball with Spring and Altuve’s names while Berkley personified her’s giving it a name and taking care of it.

In the summer John Vandewater moved here via the Army and upon coming to church I learned he too was an Astros fan. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere near another Astros fan.

The lone bad news with the Astros this year is that Tal’s Hill is slated for removal. I know it’s quirky. I know it’s strange and makes our field seem like a putt putt course, but it’s ours. It’s Houston and to remove it makes me so sad. You know, Keep Minute Maid Weird! Our new owner has given us a great group of players, but it’s been at the cost of no longer playing in the National League and removing the most interesting part of the stadium.

There were some great moments this year. Biggio became the first player to enter the Hall of Fame as an Astros (Nolan Ryan foolishly went in as a Ranger). Also this year Mike Fiers pitched a No Hitter, Altuve had 200 hits, Keuchel put together a string of games that might win him the Cy Young Award. McHugh won 19 games and just about everyone hit at least 10 home runs.

The Players we have are amazing, they performed like pros and celebrated like children.

ClubAstros

George Springer started “Club Astros” after victories. Club Astro eventually had a smoke machine, mirror ball and strobe light. He also instituted karate chops in place of high fives and some weird bowing thing with the outfielders.

Jose Altuve has proven to be the little engine that can hit 200 hits every year. The guy is so consistent and shows that he can play this game at the top level even though he’s the smallest in the league.

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Evan Gattis makes me feel like we’re all being had. Like a bear wandered out of the woods and brought a stick with him and we’re like sure, bears can play. They call him El Oso Blanco (The White Bear). He does not use batting gloves, no tape on his bat, huge beard. At some point in the season the team was feeding gummy bears to anyone who hit a homerun (this is why this team so fantastic!), well he hit one and after he ate a white gummy bear they accused him of cannibalism.

Dallas Keuchel has this strangely clean cut mountain man beard. Colby Rasmus looks like he should be in a garage band, Carlos Correa turned 21 during the season and should win the rookie of the year. He said when he got his apartment in town that the realtor showed him that he could see Minute Maid Park out the window so he can wake up in the morning and if the stadium isn’t on fire he knows he has to go to work. He says every morning he looks out his window and when he sees the stadium isn’t on fire, he gets to go play baseball.

So 2015 is over and I got to say after suffering so many losing seasons it was an absolute blast to watch these guys and can’t wait to see watch them play again next Spring.

This little team called the Astros

Some people are fair weather fans. You can call Brian a lot of things, but he’s a legit Astros fan. Here are his hats:

Astros hats

AND he continued to wear them even the three straight seasons the Astros lost over 100 games (which is hard to do guys). He claims each one of these hats is “totally” different than the others…

This was what he requested I make last year for his birthday “cake”

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And we have re-created Tal’s Hill in both of our yards…

Why, yes that is Minute Maid Park, Tal's Hill, a toy train on fence to right and a flag pole on the hill. #astros

We made the #Wiffleball field #Texas style, with a flag pole on the field. #astros #MHK #ManhattanKS

He stuck by the boys and their new plan to use analytics and young guys and hits to win. Here’s a good article from a few years ago explaining the strategy of the Astros. And claiming it will work eventually: “There’s no reason the Astros can’t be competitive next year, at .500 by 2015, and then become legitimate contenders in the AL West in 2016 and beyond.”

So when the Astros made it to the playoffs this year, it was sooner than expected (cause we totally would have taken winning half our games this year as a victory!!). This is how we felt about that:

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

Most people supported the Astros with us when they played the Yankees (of course!)

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

But we ran into opposition when the team we played next was the “hometown” Royals. So we were the outsiders, but it’s cool cause we are used to that. Sadie’s class had a “blue out” to support the Royals. She was the one in orange that day! And Becks wore his jersey to school 4 of 5 days last week.

Sadie's class had blue out today to support the Royals. Of course we filed a discrimination case. #astros #CrushCity

Beckham and his sweet teacher had a no talking to each other thing going on, but that didn’t stop him from showing his Astros support on his school work:

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(I’m just impressed with his correct use of the apostrophe!!)

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We picked up the kids from school a little early for the Friday game and had them “earn” their Astros money for a ticket inside and concessions (can’t have them free-loading!). Pick up sticks, get $400 Astros money!

Astros Concessions Cropped

Astros Concessions CroppedHere’s the money Brian made:

Astros Money KeuchelAstros Money AltuveAstros Money SpringerAstros Money Correa

Astros Money Gattis

We sold concessions: drinks, popcorn, candy

Astros Concessions Cropped

Astros Concessions Cropped

The “problem” with fun events is that now it’s expected that they have concessions when we would watch the Astros (they even saved their money to use again)…and our boys went further than I planned, so we had to get creative.

The Astros dug out is young. And immature and really fun and one of the many reasons we love them so! One game they celebrated home runs with gummy bears! So we ran with that and threw gummy bears when we scored!

Astros gummy bears 2015

Astros gummy bears 2015

Astros gummy bears 2015

Berkley eventually got smart and just collected them from the ground while the bigs tried to catch them

Astros gummy bears 2015

Mr. Casteel invited Brian to game 5 in KC so he got to go root on his ‘Stros!! (you can see his rally cap, which didn’t work, shocker, but always worth a try!)

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More importantly, he talked to Paul Rudd!! Him and I go way back: I’ve had a crush on him since Clueless!! (swoon…)

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So we didn’t win, and now we will back the Royals, but we also had the best time rooting on our team! Yay for a really fun season! Now we wait impatiently for them to be back in the Spring!

And I leave you with SP’s drawing of Dallas Keuchel: 

Sadie Piper drew a picture of Dallas #keuchel #astros #cyyoung

Cleveland Rocks. Sorta.

While we were in Chicago Brian realized that the Cleveland Indians were playing the Astros the next day. We aren’t geography buffs, but Google Maps is, and we realized how close we were to Cleveland, so we took a detour and hit up Cleveland!

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Cleveland is no Chicago, it felt more like a city you would love if you had grown up there, but otherwise, not much to report.

In it’s defense, all we did there was go to a baseball game tho! (and props to them for having affordable tickets!)

Lakeside 2015

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When we would go on vacations growing up, my dad became the “yes man.” He put on his vacation head (and wallet) and would spend a little more to make the memory worth it. So Brian and I went with that thinking…and I didn’t tell him how much this bag of cotton candy cost cause only one of us should have to carry that burden of knowing what we paid for that smile right there! 🙂

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This is no Orbit, but we don’t care, they love pics with mascots! 

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Nor do they pass up anything you can get on.

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Being fans of the visiting team is more fun than going to home games I think. Cause the home team has 20,000 people rooting for them. The Astros in Cleveland? Let’s just say there aren’t 20,000….20 maybe? 🙂 (but we were sad we didn’t pack any Astros shirts so we couldn’t show our pride as well)

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But you could stand right next to the bull pens and watch the pitchers warm up, which was really cool. Since we were one of the few camped out at the Astros’ one, one of the managers threw up a ball to Sadie. She proceeded to get it “signed” by Jose Altuve (one of her favs)…but she did it the way Brian got one “signed” by RA Dickey:
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She also scored a George Springer “autograph” too…

Seems legit

Story of our life trying to get a cute picture. If it’s just one kid I need to adjust I can do it…I didn’t have it in me to address all of these issues!

Lakeside 2015

But these boys pulled it off! 
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Did I mention it was bobble head giveaway night? Cause now we have five bobble heads of a random Indian player. Yay…

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Dodgers Baseball (Beckham)

This year Beckham played for the World Famous Mike Bean Dodgers Machine Pitch Team. It was fun to see his confidence grow over last year as he began to relax and just enjoy the game. His teammate were great and they had a great time playing and goofing off when things got slow. We are very thankful that God put us on this team though sure wish Aiden and Jackson could have been on it too. (Manhattan Parks and Rec won’t let you pick anyone to be on your team).

I’m a dork and actually keep his stats. Here they are.

Beckham – Dodgers Game Average AB Hits 2nd 3rd HR RBI Runs K BB
TOTAL 0.824 17 14 11 0 0 8 11 0 0
Athletics 1 1.000 3 3 10 0 0 3 2 0 0
Royals 2 1.000 2 2 1 0 0 2 2 0 0
Rangers 3 1.000 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Giants 4 0.333 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
Braves 5 0.750 4 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
Pirates 6 1.000 3 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 0

Dodger 2014 (Beckham)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)


Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Here Beckham is the first batter of the inning, he’s up there ready to bat focused like the ball is on the way, however the ball is still in the glove of Coach Mike who’s nowhere close the machine yet. He stayed that way for about two minutes.

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

This guy was 3 for 3 and I felt sick every time I yelled "Go Dodgers"

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End of school year happenings

I mean really.

It almost looks like one of those trick photos where the feet are someone else’s!

Beckham’s class went on a field trip to the K-State bowling alley on campus. I think it’s super fun that they walked there!!

We got to join Beck's school for field trip bowling today at K-State. #mhk they even let Boo bowl

This is how Berkley bowls…

I asked Sadie to write a thank you letter to her teacher. She asked what it should say. I told her, “Thank you for teaching me.” This is what she wrote. I love that girl!!

Day one of Summer!!

Brian’s playing softball through the city this summer!

When the games are early enough for us to come watch, you can see here the girls are captivated…

…by the “stage”

His team praying with their opponents after the game. Super cool!

Travis and my softball team, Amazing Grace, praying with other team (New Hope) after game. Having a blast, feeling old. #mhk #manhattanks

 

Houston Astros Birthday Cookies

 

For my birthday every year Laura makes something desserty with the theme of a sports team or something I’m interested in. In the past it’s been FC Dallas Cookies or Astros Cake  even WCA cookies. This year she made a Hall of Fame worthy collection of historical and current Houston Astros jerseys. Even has most of the current roster in numbers.

She so outdid herself this year, I have no idea what she is going to do next year.

Laura made the best #Astros cookies ever for my birthday. #mlb #cookies @astrosbaseball

This is the team that started on the night before my birthday. Including new rookie George Springer in right field.

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Dexter Fowler in a throwback jersey

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From 1962-1964 the Astros were named the Colt .45s after the gun.

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Cookie Springer

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Rainbow Jersey from the 1980s

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1965 Astros Jersey with shooting star on the front.

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Chris Carter in current orange jersey

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This is the rainbow side current Sunday jersey, my favorite.

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More #Astros cookies. I love them

This was their logo in my childhood.

Dallas Keuchel in throwback Colt’s jersey

 

 

 

If I Were the New Baseball Commissioner…

Baseball Commissioner

At the end of the 2014 MLB season Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is stepping down. Like the previous Pope he’s had enough and he’s calling it quits. This is the office that legend has it George W. Bush really wanted and only after he realized this was out of his reach did he settle for the office of President of the United States. So with the office vacated I would like to throw my hat into the ring and run on the following platform. Just like the coke machine in the lunch room every person who has ever run for Student  Council promised, this is my list of what I would I change about America’s pastime.

1. Get Rid of Instant Replay. I fully understand reply would get calls right, that it would take umpires out of the results of the game. I don’t care. I hate instant replay. I used to watch football and really enjoyed it. I don’t enjoy it anymore for two reasons. First there are only 11 minutes of live game action in a 3 1/2 hour games (researched fact, not assumption). The other reason is instant replay.

It used to be when the Aggies or Oilers scored a touchdown I could go nuts; we scored and if there was no flag in the first 2 seconds of that celebration I knew it was real and thus celebration could be enjoyed. After reply I learned that there was a delay in my celebration. The player scored and I waited, no flag, this was good, then I waited to see if any time in the next two minutes or so a coach threw a challenge flag, now it had to be reviewed and only then can I celebrate. Who has real excitement a few minutes after the actual event? It killed the joy of celebrating and it left me on the side of the situation hoping for a flag. I was not longer watching football so much as coaches and refs were making the big plays, the actual moments of excitement and really, that’s just boring. It slows down the game and ruins the pace.

I also don’t care if they get the call wrong. It’s a game, its entertainment and I love the conversations the come up around missed calls: one guy proclaims victory while the opponent decries injustice, but again, it’s a game. With replay that conversation is gone.

Plus replay ruins the manager throwing a fit. I know these moments are not always edifying, but there is something that makes you love your manager when he goes and argues a call for your team. Hat turned backwards, dirt being kicked up, maybe a bat or two tossed onto field. It’s embarrassing, but it’s passion, it’s real emotion and instant replay removes passion from the game. Now, the manager calmly turns in a challenge request and we all wait while they look it over. No emotion. No passion.

2. Outlaw Symmetry. Basketball has a set field size and shape. So does football, and soccer is always a big rectangle. Every stadium is basically the same in those sports. Baseball is unique, every field can be difference. You want a left field that is only 315 feet, that’s fine. You wanna giant part that is hard to hit out of it, have it. You want a giant green wall, you got it. Ivy on brick, that may kill someone, but ok. A hill in centerfield with a flag pole on the field of play, that’s insane, but go for it. All of those are real fields in major league baseball. I love it. But then there are the uncreative, symmetrical “for the sake of consistent stats” people who want every field to have same symmetrical dimensions. I’m looking at you Jon Meyers.

So with my power as the Commissioner I would ban symmetry, force the Dodgers into doing something creative with their least interesting field in all of baseball.  In MLB there are only four symmetrical fields left, so this would be an easy fix with some construction in LA, Toronto, Oakland and Kansas City.

However as MLB Commissioner I would overstep my bounds and require every league in the world to do this too. College fields, high school, little league, Japan, Australia, Mexico, wiffleball in the yard, yes every field.

It would give us unique fields everywhere. Little league fields should be awesome. Each town should have their own stadium quirks, not uniform metal mesh fields. Make them all different, one is great for lefties, another for righties, pitcher parks, hitter parks. Yes limits on minimum fence length, but let’s see some interesting designs. Work existing buildings not just into the background ascetics, but the fence itself.

Best Fields: Fenway, Wrigley, San Francisco’s AT&T Park, Houston’s Minute Maid Park, Camden Yards.

Worst Fields: Dodgers, Toronto, Oakland, New York

3. Wooden bats at every level. Baseball is not a futuristic sport, it has no clock, when you play time stops, you have to slow down which is weird because all at once baseball is one of the most American things and also counter-American culture of rush rush rush. But I digress.

Part of what makes baseball great are the little things, including the sound of a ball cracking against a wooden bat, I hate the ping of metal, sounds like golf. Make wood universal for bats except in the littlest of ages for the sake of being able to swing light bats. Mostly for college and high school though, wooden bats only.

4. Town Teams. Return to a time when every town had a team made up of residents. Someone organizes regional leagues for smaller towns to compete against each other with local players of any age in the summers. I’d love to see Manhattan vs Topeka or Junction City or Overland Park. Not for money, but for for the pride of home.

5. Use MLB to promote Wiffleball or some soft version of baseball. When I was watching Ken Burns Baseball documentary I was really surprised at the photos of the early days of the game. No gloves on the players hands and people standing to watch insanely close to the batter, mothers in dresses, barefoot children, bands playing music all within feet of the field and nothing to protect them.

Then it was a game that could be played anywhere without fear of someone getting killed. The ball in later years became harder and thus dangerous for games to be played in this fashion. Now we need fences to protect spectators and helmets and baseball gloves and that’s fine for organized baseball.

However, MLB needs to get develop some version of the game that makes it accessible anywhere and anytime. A recreation version that is fun for, kids, families, church picnics, city streets, etc. Wiffle is best existing option, but MLB has no relationship with the Wiffle Ball company and the generic  plastic ball with swiss cheese holes are just not fun. Make a deal and promote wiffleball for the sake of baseball evangelism, spreading the joy of playing the game. Or develop something better, a softer, version of the game that replicates the actual game pretty well.

6. Make video games simple again. I want real players names, minor league teams and players, stats to be kept, I want all that stuff to be real, but I also don’t want to spend three weeks training so I can play a video game. So I would mandate MLB develop a game with only two buttons, no more. I want my old man dad and my little boy son to be able pick it up and play against each other right away. RBI baseball returning this spring gives me hope, please be simple. Baseball Stars or MLB Power Pros is what I’m thinking. I just want to see a baseball game that can serve as a fun game to be played between people rather than a second life to be dedicated to.

7. I would establish a club for people who have visited every MLB ballpark currently in use. Seems like great father-son or group of friends goal to be working towards. Some official way to register each new park visited and then an exclusive club to be in that gets fans something. Free nachos or a room in each park only for people who have hit for the Ballpark Cycle.

8. Color. This will likely be what gets me impeached, but I would mandate brighter uniforms. Why does it feel like our home team always plays the same team no matter who is in town? Oh yeah, it’s because everyone we play wears gray. Unless gray is your team’s color don’t wear it. I want to see Oakland in green when they are in town or the Astros in orange when the visit Kansas City. Brighter uniforms.

9. Player Retention. Make minimum contract length 3 years once free agency is earned, promote players staying with a team longer. Biggio and Bagwell have helped grow a love for the Astros, they are part of the fabric of Houston because of permanence.

10. More knuckleballers. Ok, no way to make this move with the support of logic or reason, but I’m in this scenario I’m the Pope of baseball  and I wanna see more knuckleballers. So teams fielding knuckleballers get $5 million for each knuckleballer. We’ll collect these funds from teams with a knuckleball pitcher. That makes R.A. Dickey and Blaine Sims more valuable. This Kershaw guy is ok, especially being from Texas, but knuckleballers are really where it’s at.

11. Round Up. To get in hall of fame a player needs 75% of the votes. Craig Biggio received 74.8% of the vote this year. One idiot turned in a blank ballot trying to make some point that was lost on me. This is a problem because any ballot turned in counts in figuring the percentage. Another guy only put one name on his ballet to make a statement for last year of eligibility guy, Jack Morris. Biggio came 1.25 votes short of being the first Astros inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nothing a little rounding up wouldn’t solve. You take a math test, get 74.8%,  That’s a 75 in any grade book. If we need instant replay for anything it was the hall of fame vote this year, let’s get this call made right next time.

 

Summary: Also I would put a coke machine in every junior high lunch room in the country. Wouldn’t baseball be great if I were the Commissioner? That’s my platform, so please vote for me. What? There is no election? I’d change that too!

My Return to Baseball

Astros and Papa

My Papa, Alec Anderson, was a baseball fan. I remember his Toledo Mudhens hat and his high-fronted ill-fitting Astros hat. He took us games in the AstroDome where we howled with the crowd “Jose Cruzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” My Papa was a fantastic grandfather.

As a child I played one season of little league. It was elementary school and I was on the Angels with the halo “A” and I hated it. The game moved too slow and I while I can’t remember if I actually did quit, I know that was my desire.

I returned to baseball again in 5th and 6th grade. My family had crumbled during sixth grade, all summer long I feared the Fall when school would return and a huge dude named Donny promised to smash my face in. The last time I saw him he had his hands wrapped in chains on the last day of school looking for me while I was hiding from him. Between that very real fear and divorce my life was unstable, but not baseball. I could count on baseball.

I loved the A’s that summer. Jose Canseco was my hero and I checked the newspaper box score every morning to see how he did. My Aunt Sally and Uncle Roger on July 5th, 1991 took me to Kansas City to watch Canseco play while I was staying with them. He hit a grandslam. It was one of those  great moments that just seem silly looking back, but it meant so much to me. It was that rare moment that a hero actual lives up to the title.

The following day we came back to watch the next game and Danny Tartabull hit three homeruns in a single game. It was like watching the Greek Myths in real life.

In the years that followed David Waindel, Eric Haig and various other people played a version of baseball in our front yards with a tennis ball and a metal bat. The house roofs were homers and it was great. I even signed up to play in a league again. There were tryouts and drafts. David made the majors and I was in the minors. The fields were great, non-symmetrical like any stadium worth anything in the big leagues with advertisements across the outfield fences. It was great.

The following year Jeff Bagwell was destroying everything thrown at him. I met him and Craig Biggio at the card shop in front of our neighborhood. It was the best year of baseball ever and then the greedy players and the greedy owners couldn’t agree leading to a strike. That made me so angry at the game. It felt like my family’s divorce all over again. Two selfish people can’t work it out and it was the little people getting punished. In this case the fans. The once stable baseball was broken.

The owners and players did reconcile, but it just wasn’t the same. I still went to games. As soon as we could drive, Aaron Armstrong, Brian Attaway, Keith Carpenter and others would drive down to the AstroDome and get five dollar outfield seats. We’d heckle the other teams’ outfielders and have a great time feeling free to be in the city with no adults.

My love of baseball fizzled; I kept up with the home run war between McGuire and Sosa and later Bonds, but that all seemed fake even as it happened. When the steroid scandal bust open it was tough to hear. I mean we all knew it, but to hear my childhood hero was an actual fraud hurt even at an older age. (That bubble never burst with soccer. In fact soccer has been on an upward trend my entire life and I love that, but baseball has always been less sport and more life to me.)

In baseball, Spring time is like New Years Day where hope is alive no matter how unrealistic it is. It’s like opening the fresh pack of baseball cards that just might contain the next Honus Wagner card. It’s also long and slow and people play big roles and small roles and they all matter.

I was still on strike from baseball in 2005 when the Astros finally made it to the Series. We lived in Dallas and watched every game, but my heart wasn’t there; I still hadn’t forgiven baseball for 1994. While at Redeemer I was drawn back into baseball listening to Jon Meyers in the office and playing Wiffleball with Ubuntu and Sam Basham in the back field every chance we had. I’ll never forget Sam being robbed of a home run one day by a tree and then the next day looking out my office window to see he and Chris Earnshaw cutting down the tree with a chainsaw. Never again would he let that tree interfere with a home run. I know I should have stopped them, but it was just too great to interfere.

My love for the game began to return in Kansas City. Beckham and I play catch and Wiffle and go to games together in Houston on vacation. It’s a shared experience in life that will continue long after I’ve gone to be with my Savior.

Baseball is different than soccer and football and basketball. It doesn’t mimic what modern life is so much as model what modern life should be. It’s slow, it’s thoughtful, it facilitates conversation at the games and in the office. There is a clear villain in the New York Yankees with legions of  glory hunting fans. It’s unfair that one team can have a payroll of $230 million and another $23 million, but true to life that the favorites sometime fail to succeed and the underdog can triumph.

There is no clock, time just stops in this game. You can’t run out the remaining seconds, just holding the ball is not an option because you must face your opponent, you must play to get to the end successfully.

This is not a knock on soccer or other sports, I genuinely enjoy sports of all sorts. I’ll be ecstatic when the World Cup plays this summer, but baseball is unique, it’s been a comfort to me these last few years. As my Astros have played the three worst seasons in their history, I’ve enjoyed every second of it and I can’t wait for the new season to begin. I’m glad to be back in baseball.

I got a kick out of seeing our photos tagged with baseball in Flickr, here they are.