SOMETIMES THE BEST TEAM JUST DOESN’T WIN
Last updated 11/5/2019 at Noon
There’s no one who appreciates a great effort and a winning performance than me.
I’ve been involved in the sport of baseball as either a player, manager or sports analyst for nearly seven decades.
I’ve become really attached to the Houston Astros and walked with a little pep in my step when it became apparent with statistics that my team was the best and winningest in the major leagues.
The Astros getting to the World Series was more than just a pipe dream, but a realistic idea, especially as the season was wearing on.
The team had the best pitching—both starters and in the bullpen—had the highest team batting average and was among the top teams in defense.
Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had all this top-grade material to formulate a championship team and did a marvelous job of getting the proper players in his daily lineups, yanking the starters at the right time and putting in the best relievers for the prevailing situation.
Hinch guided the Astros to win the American League West Division in a runaway, getting a first-round bye in the wild card playoffs, beating Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS and taking care of the mighty New York Yankees in the ALCS to attain their spring-training goal of reaching the 2019 World Series.
The World Series turned out to be one of the weirdest ones in history, mainly because the home team lost all seven games of the series.
The Astros’ fans were panicked when their team lost the first two games at Minute Maid Park, But, when the team returned from the nation’s capital, these same supporters were elated because Houston won all three games at Washington.
Houston needed to win just one of the two home games as the city officials were already planning the winner’s parade even after the Nationals won Game Six 7-2.
Zack Greinke, the only Astro to win a Golden Glove, was pitching one of the best games of his 16-year career.
He was shutting out Washington on a one-hitter through six innings with his team holding a slender 2-0 lead.
The only bad pitch of the 80 Greinke made in this pivotal seventh game was a low, outside slider which was belted into the screen that protected the right field foul pole by Astros’ nemesis and Rice alumnus Anthony Rendon for a solo home run.
Perhaps the worst managerial decision I’ve ever seen occurred after Greinke walked the next hitter and was sent to the showers by Hinch and gave way to ace reliever Will Harris, who had been a stalwart in the bull pen all season long including the playoffs.
But this just wasn’t Harris’ day as he served up a hanging slider to 36-year-old Howie Kendrick that ended up in the Crawford boxes over the left field wall giving Washington its first lead 3-2.
Harris only threw five pitches, but eventually was socked with the loss in Game 7 that ended up 6-2.
The next few days were followed by a bunch of “what ifs” that are still happening today.
But let’s face it folks, the Washington Nationals beat Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole
and Zack Greinke so we have to give them some credit, even though they started the 2019 season with a paltry 19-31 record.
And that’s a lot better than the 0-4 World Series record of the Houston Astros in their home park.
In the 115-year history of the Fall Classic, no losing team had ever suffered all of its defeats at home until last week.
So put those DYNASTY banners away for another time.
Hopefully it will still happen in my lifetime.
KWICKIES…Congrats are in order for my McNeese State Cowboys who overpowered Northwestern State 30-20 Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Lamar Cardinals were not so fortunate as they were pummeled by Central Arkansas 45-17.
The two rivals will meet Nov. 23 at Provost-Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.
And while on the topic of college football, this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll shows little change from last week with the top five (LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Penn State) remaining the same.
Georgia moved up two places to No. 6, Oregon remained No. 7, Utah and Oklahoma moved up one place and Florida dropped four spots to No. 10.
Undefeated Baylor moved up one slot to No. 11 while previously- undefeated SMU spiraled down from No. 15 to No. 23.
The replacement for Jimbo Fisher didn’t work out well at all at Florida State as second-year coach Willie Taggart was let go after posting a 9-12 record.
Longtime FSU assistant Odell Haggins was asked to take over as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
The Houston Texans crossed the pond to play the Jacksonville Jaguars and played one of their best games this season at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday, crunching the Jags 26-3.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson made some of us old-timers remember Minnesota Viking’s Fran Tarkenton and the way he could scramble out of trouble and complete passes.
Watson made several Houdini-like moves, connecting on 22-of-28 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and an impressive 120.4 rating.
And speaking of the Houston Texans, their 6-3, 350-pound defensive nose guard D.J. Reader was not only a star football player at Clemson, but he also played baseball for the Tigers—he was a first baseman and also pitched.
He said he had a fastball clocked at 92 miles per hour.
He must have been a scary sight on the mound.
JUST BETWEEN US…I finally got to watch Orange native Earl Thomas III play with his new team—the Baltimore Ravens—on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Even though he’s only played half a season, it was quite apparent that the free safety is fitting in perfectly with the Baltimore defense, which harassed 42-year-old star quarterback Tom Brady into making bad decisions as his team upset the previously undefeated New England Patriots convincingly, 37-20, which I picked as my Upset Special of the Week.
The game was still pretty close midway through the fourth period when Earl picked off a Brady pass that resulted in an eventual touchdown that assured the Ravens victory and upped their record to 6-2—the best in the AFC North Division.
We can watch Earl again in two weeks when the Ravens host the Houston Texans in Baltimore in a noon game on CBS.