My Biggest Game: A Baseball Story: A Bluster County Tale

Sports media: David Kaplan unplugged — the stories that didn’t make the story
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On the hill: our invincible fireballer, Lights Out Lidge. In sports bars and living rooms from Beaumont to Columbus, Corpus to College Station, and there among the screaming hordes in the ballpark on Crawford Street, Astros fans watched, nostrils flared, eyes wide-open, as Lidge faced down Pujols with a trip to the World Series in hand, and, and, and. We watched Pujols launch a sloppy Lidge slider into low freaking orbit. Kayla was there too, at age two.

Heard the clunk. At least not at first.

The next night, Oswalt came out and made mincemeat of Pujols, and the Astros won the game and the series. After decades of frustration, the Astros had finally won the pennant and were going to the World Series.

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Maybe this would finally be our year! Lights Out Lidge got lit up in two of those games, one thanks to a walk-off homer by a guy named Scott Podsednik, who had a grand total of zero home runs in plate appearances during the regular season. The Astros happened. Shannon had been right: the Pujols blow was crushing, and it crushed the organization for years to come. In fact, the thing you remember from that season is a really negative moment. No Super Bowl appearances or World Series wins.

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The Oilers titanic catastrophe in Buffalo, blowing a 35—3 lead in the playoffs to a backup QB. The Rockets being almost but not quite good enough to take down the Celtics twice in the eighties, and when they finally did break through, in the nineties, with two straight titles, the national media marking our only two major sports championships with an unofficial asterisk because Michael Jordan had retired, even though he had returned before the second one. Our beloved football team left town, and our beloved baseball team was frog-marched to the American League.

Cheryl and her mom, Florence, at the last regular-season game in the Astrodome, on October 3, Back in March, there was every reason to believe this Astros team could be the one to reverse the curse. The Astros ended their final spring training camp in Kissimmee, Florida, boasting a young team loaded with talent and brimming with optimism. It seemed fortuitous when emerging star Correa hit the last home run in their spring training grounds of three decades, a towering shot to dead center, not far beneath the soaring ospreys gliding above the park.

SI was on board. The magazine had revised its timetable, proclaiming that the Astros, after their surprising season, would be champs this year , not next.

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I see it every day in this game called baseball. And we were fortunate to get a very personal look at where that passion comes from. The Giants were approached on multiple occasions with offers to replace the plaque, but the management refused, citing a preference to keep the team's New York history separate. Every time they saw a butterfly, they would say it was Grandma fluttering past for a visit. Houston has never had a National Hockey League franchise, although the former World Hockey Association had the Houston Aeros which found some success, winning two championships in and They qualified for the Final on 18 September where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game.

Cheryl and Kayla were feeling optimistic, though it was tinged by trepidation, which every Astros fan has learned to adopt as a coping mechanism. They decided to attend both opening days this year: the season opener at Yankee Stadium and the home opener in their new seats. The home opener was electric. The place was sold-out, and to Cheryl, the buzz in the stadium felt like a playoff game. As of May 1, the Astros record stood at , second-worst in the American League.

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And hello, it was April. There was so much baseball left to play. Indeed there was, and before long, they turned it around. It seemed as though everything was falling into place, especially since Giles had found his mojo in the bullpen, Correa and Springer had been solid, and Altuve had played otherworldly all year long. But then the offense began to struggle, with Bregman collecting only 2 hits in his first 35 at bats.

The team would lose 16 of its next 23 games, dropping to third place in the AL West, ten and half games behind the Rangers, and to the fringe of the race for the last wild-card spot. Yet there was still time, 41 games to be exact. The baseball season, after all, is a marathon, games and six months long. The length of the season makes baseball fundamentally different from other sports.

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A football team, for instance, plays for three hours once a week, and devoted fans spend the other six days debating what will, or did, happen. Very little of football fandom involves actually watching the game. Baseball is the opposite. The joy is in the journey, the experience of watching your favorite players every day for half the year, always there in the background of our lives, until the heat of the summer fades and the season winds down and eventually, inevitably, they break your heart.

A treasured family relic is a letter my grandfather Moe Taylor wrote in June to my grandmother Susy, who was visiting England with her aunt.

Back in Texas, Moe was holding down the fort in a crowded old house on Institute Lane, a twenties-era spread that had just lost half its copper roof and a third-floor sleeping porch to Hurricane Alicia. He was a bit of a scoundrel when it came to cable TV. Moe saw no percentage in buying more than one box, not when he could rig all the TVs in our three-story house and garage apartment with clandestine wiring, and every day of every summer, each and every one of those second-hand, illicitly cabled TVs would be blaring the Astros at full volume.

Four of his daughters, three of them college-age, and two of his grandchildren were under his roof, along with a lodger or two and several dogs.

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Nolan Ryan is pitching for us tonight. Moe had gotten the house sprayed, he wrote. Libby had an upcoming date with a real cute St. Thomas student from New York.


And: end of first inning, Astros 2, Dodgers 2. Moe then delved into a brief account of sisterly combat over the washing machine and the general pecking order that I excise to protect the guilty and the innocent. Jenny and the children just came into our room bug-eyed. I saw it this afternoon.

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Some political news follows. Moe was actively involved in Republican politics at the precinct level. Bad news in the sixth. So Dodgers scored three runs on one hit and our three errors. We continue to beat ourselves. How could you not? As calamity followed calamity, you learned to trust your dread, and he did so over and over again, with every game that the Astros lost 2—1 while leaving fourteen men on base. The Astros were swept and eliminated from contention, and Moe died a few months later, his long-earned lack of faith in the Astros rewarded with no championships. After the debacle in Milwaukee—just as Moe did during that terrible game against the Dodgers in —I turned that mess off and went to sleep.

For a period of years.

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Everything seemed bolder, brighter, like someone had Technicolored the Astros. Gone were the bland, muted shades favored by former owner Drayton McLane. And once more the Astros were in contention.

Fightin Phils' Williams positioning for success

Orange County Register Hill went on the disabled list twice that month with a blister on his is mounting to suggest that the baseballs used by major league teams are applying one to a pitcher's hand in-game violates a different rule. Knott's Berry Farm brings back Bear-y Tales dark ride in with. Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish maintains that a blister on his right ring finger will Archives · Chicago History . Elizabeth 'Two Tales' Warren running out of creation myths in an official game — major-league rules prohibit pitchers from attaching . Before joining the Tribune, Gonzales covered baseball for the.

Their record stood at after a hot streak that saw them win 12 times in 20 outings and creep close to a playoff spot. Cheryl and Kayla arrived unusually late—Kayla had had a bear of a Spanish homework assignment that night—and by the time they got there, in the third inning, the Astros had taken the lead on two great plays from fresh-off-the-DL and newly mulleted Rasmus, who both threw out a guy at the plate from left field and later launched a homer to right.

As they always do, Cheryl and Kayla took their seats in section decked out head to foot in Astros attire, including accessories; on this night, Kayla wore a blue pullover, her mother a blue-and-orange hoodie. They never wear the same ensembles twice in a row. She did admit that she would wear the same Astros necklace and bracelet to the next game if the Astros won, and that Kayla would wear the same jersey over her T-shirt under the same circumstances.

Cheryl, an attorney, also has an Astros shrine, which she keeps on her desk and which has, until recently, followed her from law job to law job. Its highlight is a piece of vintage Astros folk art: a lamp hand-crafted by former Astros bullpen catcher Stretch Suba.