Yesterday I received one of those entertaining and insightful emails that just seem to flow from friend, colleague, and fellow SABR member Bill Gilbert whenever he seems disposed to write them. It was an open message to a number of us so I wanted to share it here with an even broader audience of interest in signs of hope and confirmations of decline in the short-term life span of the 2012 Houston Astros.
Here are Bill’s thoughts, complete with photo and by line attribution:
“Is Five the Magic Number?” by Bill Gilbert.
“Has anyone noticed that the Astros have already won five games in September, the same number they won in the entire month of August and two more than they won in July? In three of the wins, the Astros scored five runs. They have not lost a game this month in which they scored five runs. In each of the wins when the team scored five, Manager Tony DeFrancesco called upon an old Earl Weaver approach, the three-run homer, twice by Matt Dominguez and once by Brett Wallace.
“The crowds in Minute Maid Park have been non-existent, even against the Cubs. I read an account of the Monday night game that suggested the number of people in attendance was a couple of thousand, dwindling to about 500 at the end of the 3 hour, 50 minute game won by the Cubs 4-1. Jim Deshaies appropriately described the game as a “slogfest”. I also read that the TV ratings for the Sunday game (opposite the Texans game) were so low they couldn’t be measured.
“What a change from the September excitement at Minute Maid Park in 2004 and 2005 and even 2006. Not only that but we have to look at those ugly new billboards in left field.”
Thanks, Bill Gilbert. Your take on things is always intriguing.
Unfortunately, Wednesday night’s game with the Cubs proved that the number “5″ can smile on more than one down-and-out team as the next biggest NLC loser, the Chicago Cubs, took a 5-1 victory over the Astros after wrestling away a final chance by Houston to confirm the strength of their local power over the once famous Bagwell number.
Trailing 4-0 going into the bottom of the 8th, the Astros finally rallied for a hit-bunched run against Cubs starter Travis Wood, bringing on Shawn Kemp in relief. After Camp walked Jeff Lowrie to load the bases with two outs, up came J.D. Martinez with both the power and the possibility of grandslamming the Astros to a 5-4 lead and a hopeful continuation of the five-spot hand the club had been playing for wins in September.
Martinez quickly went in the hole – winging and broadly missing down and out pitches that would have each taken golf shots for some kind of sweet spot ride to paradise. After taking a close call on a another low and away pitch, Martinez than concluded his chances with a third wild swing miss for strike three and the end of hope for a sacks-full parade to the plate as runs.
Frank Merriwell is nowhere to be found on the 40-man 2012 Houston Astros roster.
Martinez later admitted that he was probably trying too hard to crush the ball an imposing 500 feet, which, unfortunately, is a distance that is way beyond the leave-the-park requirements of the cozy Crawford Boxes in left field, as we all know.
Who said it? “The fruits of over-eager are marked among the meager.”
At any rate, the Cubs capped “5″ with one more tally in the top of the 9th to go on and win the game, 5-1,and move 11 games up on the last place Astros with 19 games left to play for each club.
Oh well. Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue. But, enough, for now. We’ve thought about the Astros enough for one day. Let’s think about them tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day.