Friday, June 23, 2006

Failure To Launch

Let me preface this blog by stating that I am an Astros fan. I would love nothing more than to see them in the World Series again, and watch them win it this time.

With that said, last night Roger Clemens returned from "retirement". However, he didn't look near as sharp as last year's first game back from a previous "retirement" where he gave up one earned run, struck out nine, and got the win against the Cincinnati Reds.

There's no denying that Roger Clemens is a phenomenal pitcher. He'll certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame someday, and his league leading 1.87 ERA last year had him in the running for another Cy Young.

Last night he looked sharp at times, and rusty at others. He seemed to still possess pretty good control, though his speed has decreased. One thing is for sure, his appearance on the mound energized the crowd at Minute Maid Park.

However, I often subscribe to the school of thought that you're only as good as your last game, match, etc. Before he went five innings last night, the last time we saw Clemens pitch in the big leagues was Game 1 of the World Series. He only lasted two innings, gave up three earned runs(including one homerun) and hobbled off with a bad hammy. It appeared that Father Time had finally tracked down "The Rocket", and he was capable of hitting everything Clemens threw at him out of the park.

Following the 2005 season, Clemens seemed to have the deisre to retire for good. He pitched decent in the WBC, but that was only two games. It's quite a bit different to commit to almost an entire season. However, on May 31 he accepted Houston's offer of $22 million(prorated to around $12 million).

During last night's game I thought about how the Astros could have spent that money differently. These were a few of the ways I came up with:

Invest that money into a real cannon in place of Jeff Bagwell's arm.
Sure it will make it harder for him to hit, but instead of sporting the proverbial "cannon for an arm" he'll have a real one. Plus he can shoot t-shirts out of it between innings.

Make additions to Tal's Hill.
Some people hate this part of the park. Personally, I love it. However, you can make some awesome changes with $12 million. What about making it bigger? Almost like a small mountain for outfielders to climb. Or how about fencing it in? Fans love to see players reaching over the railings for flyballs. Or my favorite, set up "Jabberin'" Joe Morgan out there in a lawn chair to do color commentary.

Replace the 19th century replica train with something more modern.
This is another thing that some people despise about the park. Like Tal's Hill, I also love the train. Yet, sometimes I think it could be a little bit cooler. What if it was a replica bullet train instead? And everytime an Astro hit a homer they would circle the train while playing the Simpson's rendition of "Monorail".

Lastly, pay Clemens' wife to be the
At the very least her presence on the field will distract the other team's batters. It might not be as efficient as a well-placed fastball, but it sure would be nicer to look at.




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