Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bye Bye Backe

Brandon Backe was designated for assignment on Friday evening to make room for Felipe Paulino to come off the disabled list and start Saturday night.

This was the right move, and Paulino emphatically proved that by pitching one of the best games of his career last night, but I can't help but feel bad for Backe, mainly because he provided this franchise with some of it's very best good times.

Win or lose, big-time drama seemed to follow Brandon Backe. He was the only pitcher I've ever seen strike out the side on 9 pitches. Brandon was the starting pitcher for the NL Wildcard Winning game in 2004, as well as the game 3 win in the NLDS that year, and perhaps the greatest game I've ever watched from start to finish live, game 4 of the NLCS that year, wherein Backe pitched eight innings of one-hit ball (would've been two hits if Beltran hadn't made an unbelievable catch in the eighth to rob Tony Womack of what probably would've been a triple had Beltran missed, since Berkman or Biggio would've had to chase it into the visitor's bullpen to retrieve it). That game... there's not much more I can say about it if you've seen it, but if you haven't - well, it was one of the best single nights of baseball EVER.

In 2005, Backe was the starting pitcher for the 18-inning Chris Burke game, and although he didn't do much to help our cause, you couldn't help but feel his presence in the middle of the action, rubbing bats for good luck and shouting at everyone who could hear him, offering encouragement and just being a generally good teammate. Then, in the last game of our World Series, down three games to none, Backe went out and pitched seven shutout innings against a hot-hitting White Sox lineup, essentially saying, "I'm not going to be the one who loses this for us." It's that kind of effort in big moments that endears him to you as a fan.

Since he's from Galveston, you get the feeling that he's closely associated with this town and this team. It's easy for him to root for the Astros because he grew up with them, and we root for him because of that.

Unfortunately, you don't become a good baseball player in only the big moments of your career. If the moment wasn't big for Backe, he did not thrive, and we got used to cringing at his line after a mid-season start - eight earned, too many walks, innopportune homers. More often that not in the last three years, that was the Brandon Backe we knew.

He didn't get any better this season, and truth be told, he was a long-shot to make the team anyway. He lasted as long as he did because enough people out there felt like we owed him for all the good times. I'm as sorry as anyone to see that the good times have apparently come to an end.

Good luck, Brandon.

All for now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No, I'm Not Going to Start Making Crystal Meth. Stop Asking.

I have a Breaking Bad inspired plan for the next few blogs. Stay tuned (but not really, since you can just come back here and check, and staying tuned to this blog would be kind of silly given the erratic nature of my posts).

All for now.

Just Like That Singing Nun

Spending some time with the kids has gotten me to thinking about a few of my favorite things, so I thought I'd share with you a few that maybe you didn't already know about. I know I don't need to tell you much about my television habits or baseball, but I can't promise that some of that stuff won't sneak in there. I also know that in most cases I'm not breaking any new ground, but what the hell, I'm just putting m'self out there.

This list is not by any means comprehensive, and I've taken efforts to keep it somewhat short and eliminate the things that are really obvious, b/c chances are if you read this blog, you already know something about me. Also, these things are either somewhat new, or I just haven't really explained myself about them.

Kate Micucci / Garfunkel & Oates
The Crazy Ivans
Blues Traveler (a joyous rediscovery)
Joshua Radin

Speedy Centerfielders
Slick-Fielding Shortstops
Smart Catchers
Efficient Pitching

Summer Movies
The Hangover
Staaahhhr Trek
The Silverado 19 Tomball IMAX

David McCollough
Rodris Roth
The recently resurrected Seanbaby
The Onion AV Club

Lover of Strife
The Bloggess
Alan Sepinwall

Television / DVD / Internet Viewing
Jim DeShaies
Hank Schrader
Barney Stinson
SlumDunder Mifflinaire
Dr. Horrible

Summer Food
Sabra Classic Hummus
Green Grapes
Whataburger's Honey Butter Chicken Buscuit
Unsweetened Iced Tea
Jimmy John's
Beefsteak Tomatoes & Cottage Cheese
Rocky Road

Charlie Palillo
Music From the Movies
Eric Ladau
Wait...Wait... Don't Tell Me! & Car Talk (back to back!)

Dog Snuggling
Crepe Myrtles

All for now

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Went to Camp!

And now it's over, hoss! Children are not the boss of me no more.

Every now and then, I consider going into teaching as a profession. Then I do camp, and I'm glad I don't do that nine months out of the year.

I'm all achy and creaky and all I want to do this weekend is sleep.

Anyway, there's nothing like not being able to blog that makes you want to blog, but then you can't remember what it is that you wanted to write about in the first place, so *fart noise.*

Do you think living in the 18th century would be cool? Then come visit me for a week and I'll convince you that it certainly was NOT. Oh, sure, you could find clean water, but the teeth, my friends, the teeth! And jobs and nature were plentiful and there was no need to worry about being blown up by a nuclear nuclear, but there was no asteroid defense system in place! We didn't even know we needed one. And sure there was no urban overcrowding in the American colonies, but then again... bears. And there was no baseball yet, so I don't really know what you're talking about when you tell me you'd like to be a wood turner and live in Philadelphia in 1775. Chances are you'd have a soldier quartered at your house, doing your wife and eating all your food, so *fart noise.*

*Fart noise* on the whole bunch of it!

All for now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The most sublime opening segment to a sitcom episode comes from a late-series episode of Cheers, a perfect bit of character comedy, transcripted here for your pleasure:

A Man enters through the front door.

WOODY: Welcome to Cheers, what can I get you?
MAN: Beer, please.
WOODY pours.
You know, you can't go home again. The old saying's true. Twenty years ago, my job took me to Alaska. This is my first time in Cheers since the 60's, and everything's different.
Points to the stairs leading up to Melville's.
That staircase, you know, it used to go up the other wall... and the floor used to be all ugly green tile. They've even changed the paneling.
WOODY: Where?
MAN: Over there, behind Norm.

All for now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not That This Comes as a Surprise

It's a lot more fun to watch a team win than it is to watch a team lose.

All for now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Tug Means Pull Me Up, Two Tugs Means I'm Out of Air

It turns out Bill Brown is off because his mother passed away. These Apples wishes him the best.

I am about to enter the History Camp zone, which means you are very unlikely to be hearing from me between June 8 - 26. Camp eats my lunch for breakfast. I barely have time to do anything other than working with our campers, and that precious extra time is devoted to getting all of my other daily work stuff done.

I haven't exactly been setting a record pace here, so I don't suppose you all will miss me terribly while I'm gone. Nonetheless, an explanation prior to the abscence will keep any surprise kvetchers from kvetching so fraughtfully.

All for now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Whozzah? Wha...?

Where was Bill Brown tonight? Not that I hate Dave Raymond, but...

Bill Brown has been the voice of the Astros since my childhood. When the time comes, and there's no indication that it may be coming soon, I want the opportunity to say goodbye properly.

I'm operating on the assumption that Raymond was filling in for Bill tonight while he took a well-deserved night off.

Word out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seven-Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ

Okay, I'm gonna try this, and I'm starting with the season finale because if I decide to abandon this project next year, no one is bound to notice.


No, "ABQ" did not stun me the way the way last week's "Pheonix" did. "Pheonix" had me talking to the couch pillow while my dogs stared at me like I was a crazy person. "Breakage" saw me pacing the room, shouting at my television. "Negro y Azul" kept me from sleeping that night. "4 Days Out" had me sick to my stomach with anxiety.

"ABQ," as far as season finales go, is one of the best I've ever seen, and yet it's not as good as at least four other episodes from its thirteen episode season. How awesome is that?

I should clarify at this point if it isn't abundantly clear that I am now a full-fledged Breaking Bad fanamaniac. I am totally caught up in the world Vince Gilligan has created. The withdrawls I experience until Season Three premieres at some point in 2010 may be on par with anything Walt can cook up in his RV.

Why on earth has NBC (I'm singling them out because of their dismal failure this year) not picked up the AMC model for TV-making? Find a genius, allow him complete creative control of his series, and let him do what he does. Allow him to hire quality writers / directors / actors who are free from trying to please network censors, and the ratings will come. Breaking Bad, while not the same story as The Big Bang Theory's stunning rise to prominence, has made a significant jump in the ratings between this year and last year on the strength of being THAT GOOD. I know that doesn't necessarily work for all shows, particularly comedies, unfortunately, but maybe NBC would benefit from cutting some of the fat and focusing on becoming a critical darling for a few years. It's a better bet that some of their shows will actually get popular. I know this is unfair to The Office and 30 Rock, which are both awesome, but the general truth about NBC is that it is in real trouble as far as scripted programming is concerned.

Now I'm pretty far off of my original topic, which was to again extol the virtues of Breaking Bad's incredible second season, and to let you know that to avoid completely cutting the show out of my life for nine months, I will gladly come and watch it with any of you, and then talk about it. Or just talk about it after you watch it. Please, folks. I need more people in this club so I can geek out about it.

All for now.