When your team isn't in the playoffs and the teams that you've pretended to be cheering for have dropped out before the Main Event, it's hard to remember that the baseball season isn't over already. I watched a bit of the Phillies games (the ones where Oswalt pitched), and took a passing glance at how Berkman did in the Yankees games. But once it got down to that Other Texas Team and Barry Bonds' old team, I lost interest. I guess I have to admit that being an Astros fan isn't quite the same thing as being a baseball fan. I love the game, but I love it more when my guys are on the field. It's a bummer for the advertising community -- I'm probably more typical than not, and this year's World Series is going to be a washout for advertisers. (I checked that out with my in-law Bob, who writes for Advertising Age.)
I have a confession to make: Although I did tell my in-law Bob and Frank from the office that I was cheering for Philadelphia, because of Oswalt, I had mixed feelings about the Phillies losing the pennant race. Yeah, it would have been great to see Oswalt pitching in the World Series. But in my heart of hearts, did I really want to see him pitching there in some other team's jersey? I'm a bit ambivalent about this. Maybe there's a bit of justice in his helping his new team get soooooo close - and then losing. He should have stayed with us. You know, we're going all the way... next year. There's always next year.
I don't have any ambivalence at all about Berkman not making it to the World Series in his Yankee stripes. On principle I cheer against all New York teams, even though both of my sons, their wives, and their unborn children reside in Brooklyn. Berkman was our guy forever, like Bagwell, like Biggio -- and then he wasn't anymore. I've heard musings about his coming back to the Astros next year. Why do we want him back? Batting average under .250? Only 14 homers and 58 RBIs this season? Was his sub-par year an anomaly or is he over the hill. Didn't the Little Pumas disband? I'm not holding my breath waiting for his return. Don't get me wrong - I loved Berkman when he played for the Astros. He was always fun to photograph at Spring Training. But he went over to the dark side. Let's play the young guys. They weren't 100 percent in September. But you know, there's always next year.
One piece of sad news for fans: Bagwell won't be returning as the pitching coach next year. I was looking forward to seeing him in an Astros uniform at Spring Training next March, but he's decided not to re-sign due to family reasons. Hard to blame him. He doesn't need the cash, and his daughters are still young. But it was always great to see him in the dugout during the games in the second half of this season. I may still get lucky and see him at Spring Training - he still works for the team and comes to Kissimmee for a week or two, hanging out at minor league practice, and sitting with the coaches during the Astros games.
The schedules for Spring Training and the regular season are out, and it's not good news for this Fan in Exile. I always plan my trip to Kissimmee to coincide with the week that has the most home games. The tentative schedule that has been posted is awful -- the home games are mostly on alternating days. If I go the first week, I can see 4 games. But I'd rather go later in the month, when the starting pitchers are throwing a bit longer. Hopefully, more games will get scheduled between now and January, when tickets go on sale. For the regular season, the Astros are coming to Washington again in September -- but it's a weekend series. Since I can't go to the Sabbath games, that means I'll only get to see them once in DC this year. I checked to see when the Astros will be playing the Mets, thinking that I could go up and see my soon-to-be-born grand babies and catch a ball game too -- and they're scheduled to be in NY on Passover. Yes, there's always next year -- but it looks like I'll be watching it all on mlb.tv.
Happy Halloween. Happy Birthday, Isaac! Diwali Mubarek to my Indian friends! Oh, is there a World Series game tonight?
There's always next year.