My affinity for the movie Bull Durham is well known.
In fact, I have been known to quote the movie quite frequently as there seem to be quotes that fit almost any occasion in life.
So while I was watching Monday night’s debacle of a game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers there were many Bull Durham lines that came to mind as the Double-A talent level Astros players with the big hearts and limited talent fell victim to the much more talented and much more Major League Baseball level Texas Rangers.
One line from Bull Durham that kept coming to mind as I watched the wheels fall off for the Astros once again was, “You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you?”
And of course anyone who has seen the movie knows that the answer is lollygaggers.
The Astros have found ways to make a very simple game of throw and catch anything but simple the past few seasons as they lollygag through their games. Of course this year they look like doctoral students in the study of ways to lollygag during ballgames.
Quite frankly, each game tends to lead itself to even more absurd ways to lose. Balls falling between three outfielders? Check. An overworked staff of pitchers giving up more leads than a reporter on deadline? Check.
The list goes on and on with the creative ways that the Astros have found to lose this year. But Monday night seemed to find new levels on the losing scale.
In addition to the game reminding me of some scenes from Bull Durham, it also harkened back to some bedtime stories that my mom used to read to me.
One of those books in particular came to mind Monday night as I was watching the Astros go through yet another epic fail. That book was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.
In the book, as the title suggests, Alexander has a bad day.
The book came out in 1972 which was long before the days immortalized in Daniel Powter’s one hit wonder song Bad Day.
So, for the more musically minded readers one can replace the imagery of the printed page with the melodies of song if they wish.
Whichever way works the fact remains the Astros had a very bad day, err night Monday.
As part of the bad night the Astros gave up 11 runs in the third inning with all nine Rangers players in the batting order scoring at least one run during the third inning scoring marathon.
Then in the fourth inning the Astros lost their catcher to concussion like symptoms. Normally when that occurs the backup catcher is rushed into the game since most squads carry two catchers on the active roster for situations like this.
Of course when you are using your other catcher as the designated hitter, as the Astros were doing, a little rule goes into effect where they cannot go behind the plate without a team being forced to use a pitcher at DH to replace them.
So with the options limited at catcher, the Astros turned to their emergency catcher, Jake Elmore. It is not like Elmore had never caught before. The announcers on the broadcast were very quick to point out that Elmore once caught an inning in a Double-A game in Mobile, Alabama a few years back.
To his credit, Elmore did a good job behind the plate. Of course he was helped by the fact that the Rangers were not trying to steal any bases with such a sizable lead.
The night for Elmore got even weirder in the eighth inning when he was called upon to pitch since it was determined that with the game so out of reach the Astros would just give the rest of the bullpen the night off.
Elmore needed only 11 pitches to get three outs and proved to be the most productive pitcher of the night for the Astros. Not bad for a guy making his Major League debut as both a pitcher and a catcher.
While there have certainly been games where infielders have been called on to pitch these are usually extra-inning games when the bullpens have been completely depleted. Elmore became only the 14th person to be both a catcher and pitcher in the same game.
The Astros keep preaching rebuilding and patience but when they decide to completely rest an ineffective bullpen in favor of an infielder who has never pitched in a Major League Game and he makes it look easier to get batters out than the bulk of the full time pitchers, there is definitely something horribly wrong and will certainly test the patience of Job.
So, it is likely that there will be many more terrible, horrible, no good, very bad games for the Astros this year. And the trend will likely continue for several years to come. There is no quick fix for a team that does not want to spend money on talented players.
Of course, there are players like Jake Elmore that have the talent and the heart to be Major League ballplayers for the Astros they just aren’t being given the supporting cast to be successful and are left feeling like they woke up with gum in their hair day after day after day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a certain book from my childhood that I think I will pull off of the shelf and read.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson