Astrology 101

In the days leading up to what is nearly universally accepted as the greatest Super Bowl ever played, in a town almost universally accepted as the worst to ever host one, folks in Houston weren’t talking about Tom Brady, Jake Delhomme, and whether the Carolina Panthers had any remote shot at knocking off the New England Patriots.

Rather, they were discussing the city’s latest Rocket landing, native son Andy Pettitte, and the Houston Astros’ outstanding offseason.

In Texas, football-crazy, Friday Night Lights Texas, they were talking baseball with the Super Bowl being played right in their very own backyard in a matter of days.


Granted, maybe they knew then what we all know now about their pathetic Texans, but know this, Houston is a decidedly baseball town, and one that is going to enjoy its first World Series appearance starting this weekend when the White Sox and Astros face off on the South Side of Chicago.

Thankfully, we can now spare ourselves the question of how Tony La Russa would blow it again in the Fall Classic. Or watching Jeff Suppan run the bases as well as a brain-dead mule.

The previous two times the Astros had a chance to clinch a spot in the World Series, the Red Sox were waiting in the shadows. In 1986, the Mets downed the Astros in six games, and last year it was the Cardinals coming out victorious only to be swept by Boston.

In a way, those days leading up to the NFL’s big day were reminiscent of a city where baseball is on the front burner of the mind 365, a place where only Alex Rodriguez can put the historical pursuits of the local football team on Page 2.

And wouldn’t you know it, there are plenty of reasons for members of the Nation to put on their Astros pom-poms and stay up late into the night over the next week:

  • There is Roger Clemens, tied for the Red Sox franchise lead in wins with Cy Young, and is generally regarded as the best pitcher in team history. If you’re still angry with him for treason, get over it and enjoy this.
  • There is shortstop Adam Everett, the player Dan Duquette traded in the winter of 1999 for the cantankerous Carl Everett, White Sox designated hitter. If you have to root for one Everett, read this, and this, and the decision is simple.
  • There is Jeff Bagwell, of course, the 15-year veteran who was infamously dealt off to Houston down the stretch in 1990 by former Red Sox GM Lou Gorman for relief pitcher Larry Andersen. Andersen pitched 15 games for Boston. Bagwell is a future Hall of Famer, though he will likely be limited to DH and pinch-hitting duties in the World Series because of an injury.
  • There are three New England natives on the Astros: Bagwell and catcher Brad Ausmus (Conn.), and pitcher Dan Wheeler (Providence). On the White Sox, there is Rhode Island’s Paul Konerko, and … well, I have a friend who is cousins with Joe Crede.
  • Andy Pettitte beat your Red Sox so many damned times in the postseason, you have to like watching him do it to someone else for a change.
  • The Astros have never won a World Series. Chicago just won one in 1917.

    Tedy bears it

    The Tedy Bruschi should-he-or-shouldn’t-he debate rages on. The Patriots linebacker took part in his first practice yesterday since suffering a mild stroke in February, a matter that many rah-rahs supported, while some cringed in wonder as to why he might put himself through something like this so soon.

    If the doctors are 100 percent behind him, then Bruschi should be able to decide what he wants to do. He is a big boy. That doesn’t mean we can’t have disagreements on the subject, an inevitable result when a guy puts his health on the line for his livelihood.

    Perhaps the most hysterical and ill-informed view I heard this week came from WEEI’s Steve DeOssie, who claimed it was the “politically correct” among us who immediately expressed worry for Bruschi’s decision in regards to his wife and children.

    Politically correct? Since when is it politically correct to show concern for someone else?

    Look, some years back I dated a girl from Wellesley College, so I think I have a rich understanding of what is and what isn’t politically correct. There’s a difference between being overly sensitive for the sake of self-righteousness, and being concerned for another human’s health and well-being.

    God forbid that ever come into the equation.

    As for whether he should be out there or not, I don’t know. That’s not for me or you to decide. But we all have the right to express our concern in his decision, no matter what the health experts say.

    Short hops

    The New York Daily News kind of puts a damper on Alex Rodriguez’s mom’s excuse as to why he struggled in the playoffs. A few days after falling to the Angels, Mama A-Rod said that the Yankee third baseman had been struggling with the death of a close uncle. But as it turns out, within days of getting bounced from October, Rodriguez was whooping it up in Chelsea into the wee hours of the night. He apparently got over a lot pretty quickly.

    Not only is Dale Sveum on his way to the Brewers to be their new third base coach, Grady Little is being considered to be the team’s bench coach.

    Theo Epstein’s up-in-the-air contract status with the Red Sox has Dennis Deitch of the Delco Times wondering how he would run the Phillies. On the other hand, David Heuschkel of the Hartford Courant reports today: The Red Sox are expected to sign general manager Theo Epstein to a contract extension in the next week.

    Perhaps lost in the hubbub of the Astros’ win in St. Louis last night was that Larry Walker announced his retirement.