You know, sometimes the convergence of the perfect storm is a marvel to behold… unless you’re the one stuck in the middle of the hard blowing wind, torrential rain, the flood waters and you’re seeing your brand new HD television with stereo system floating away down the middle of the street. When you’re sitting on top of your rooftop, you get to think a little, especially why in the heck anyone would think this is fun. I know, Wah Freaking Wah!
Well the major league baseball equivalent of a perfect storm that will just rain on anyone’s parade is Interleague Play and Angel Hernandez and home plate umpire duty. I know this will sound like whining, so be it, but to me the biggest annoyance is the mere idea of Interleague Play. Who in the world thinks this was a great idea other than Bud Selig? Oh yeah, the owners who rake in the dinero over the ILP weekends from fans who buy hook, line and sinker the whole marketing scheme. Here is the deal: You have baseball men working hard over the off-season to build teams to compete *in one league* only to have one weekend interruption where you have to somehow reconfigure the whole team to play another league’s style of game. If the Astros are supposed to play American League ball, then freaking put them in the AL and let them do their work over the off-season to build an AL team. Works the same when an AL team has to magically somehow become an NL team for the weekend. What happens is just horrible baseball and the Astros have rarely captured the idea of reconfiguration quite well enough to make any of this enjoyable for anyone.
Is there some sort of online petition I can sign to stop this madness? No? Damn! (Note: I know you’re thinking: Hey, what about the All-Star game and World Series? Oh please, not even close. These interleague games have none of the intensity of a post season classic and thus the false manufacturing of rivalries and intensity by marketers to try and persuade you that there is. They can shove that boot right up the fissure area for all I care).
Well, here’s the deal when Houston has to play interleague ball:
Yeah, karma is a bitch, ain’t it? But at least when the Astros trounce a team in the NL, it’s not because said NL team wasn’t set-up to play by the same rules. And that brings us to Angel Freaking Hernandez and the whole idea of his umpiring skills behind the dish. This guy is the worse home plate umpire in the world and is always looking for a fight from players, managers, mascots, play-by-play men, concession stand operators and little four years olds who scream out at him “What? Are you blind, blue?!?!” The question is of course rhetorical, but the rhetorical answer is “Yes, yes he is!”
So on this night, you settle in for a night of baseball with already that sick feeling that Interleague baseball sucks, the Astros can’t play AL ball well and maybe, just maybe they can steal a game before anyone figures out that they’re not very good at this whole abominal idea. Too late, in strides Angel Hernandez donning his death mask ready to call the balls and no-strikes for Roy Oswalt, the man who drew the short straw on this night. You watch as the Astros score a first inning run care of Kazuo Matsui’s legs and Tejada’s clutchy hitting. 1-0 going into the bottom of the inning, so far so good.
Well, it didn’t take long for the whole thing to fall apart and before you knew it, the Rangers playing AL ball in an AL park with AL rules bitch slapped the Astros back into reality from 1-0 to down 1-4. Two homeruns of the two run variety in the first two innings did in Oswalt and then it was Angel Hernandez’s turn to take over. The mystery magical floating strikezone shaped like a trapezoid I’m sure was in full effect when Ranger erstwhile starter Padilla took the bump. Every corner was deemed access granted for Padilla and access denied for Oswalt from the second inning on. Houston never mounted much of an attack from that point on, and pause for a moment to ponder upon that for a second… how long has it been that you’ve heard that this Houston Astros team *has failed* to mount anything resembling an offensive attack to climb back into a game? See, that is the Angel Hernandez effect that comes in like a tornado after a thunderstorm to knock you on your arse! Lance Berkman did get a chance to drive one over the left field fence just to remind everyone he’s still hot as a pistol hitting a baseball and that, oh yeah, I own Vicente Padilla and if I say dance, the man will do the lambada if I so desire!
The Rangers then added two more runs in the 7th inning as Roy Oswalt felt that oh so not very fresh feeling in the groin (again with the groin? What the heck is up with groins this year? They just don’t make them like they used to, eh?) and had to leave the game. Byrdak and Nieve came in to try and dose the fire… on the field not in Roy’s groin… but in doing so, allowed two more earnies to go into Oswalt’s mlb account and thus close out the scoring on the night. Rangers 6, Astros 2 and this weekend couldn’t come to a close any quicker for me (and many others). Thank you Bud Selig for giving the Rangers three games against a team that did not build their team to play this sort of baseball. Thank you Rangers for being gracious host and taking and taking and taking and somehow thinking you don’t suck (psst, you still do). And thank you Angel Hernandez for proving once and for all that you’re one bad muchacho of the high suckitude kind.
I wish I could say “pray for rain” tomorrow but the weather man says no such luck, heat and more heat scheduled for 2:00 pm where the Astros try to ride Brandon Backe’s arm to at least one victory this weekend. One can only hope that Angel Hernandez umpiring at third will mean less collateral damage than necessary.