We’re spending a few days in St. Louis this week, catching a few Cards games before school starts back. These early August school start dates really wreak havoc on summer schedules. But I digress. We’re catching the first few games of the Cards / Astros series. Nothing like a good series with Houston when you’re in a three-way tie for first.
I’ve had this thought for a while, and tonight’s game only confirmed it: Hunter Pence is the worst-looking good player in the major leagues, bar none. He’s the anti-DiMaggio. Everything he does on a baseball field looks labored and awkward. I watched him long toss in the outfield during BP and he just looked out of sorts, lank and gangly. In batting practice, he kept popping the ball up, hitting the roof cage. Meanwhile, Carlos Lee goes out and hits about a half dozen moon shots to the delight of the crowd. In the second inning, he completely misplayed a fly ball that allowed two runs to score. And you’re thinking, “This is the Astros’ best player?” I’m not saying he’s not good; in fact, just the opposite. He’s so good, I can’t believe how bad he looks. But just when you’re about to give up on him, he opens up in BP and puts a couple in the bullpen and you see that he’s got it. Come game time, he’s raking opposite field screamers with the best of them. But 90% of the time, you wouldn’t know what a good hitter he is just by looking at him. Then again, there are a whole host of good hitters who would flunk that test (John Kruk, Tony Gwynn, Dustin Pedroia, David Eckstein…all anti-DiMaggios in their own right).
Other than Pence, the Astros are just pathetic. Quick: name the Houston starting infield. And no, Biggio and Bagwell don’t play for them anymore. The bad news is their outfield and pitching staff isn’t much better. Tonight, my Cards took J.A. Happ to the woodshed. How the Phillies convinced the Astros to give up Roy Oswalt for Happ, I’ll never know.
And while I’m hoping the Cards eventually run away with this division, I have to say it’s been mildly entertaining to watch the Pirates defy the odds and remain competitive for four months. Now I hear they’re in position to be “buyers” at the trade deadline. How cute. Maybe the curse of Sid Bream will be lifted and the long suffering Pirate fan base will once again enjoy the sights and sounds of October baseball in the City of Bridges.
But I doubt it.
Tonight’s game was especially fun because our youngest little Card fan was more “into” this game than any of the previous ones he’d attended. When we arrived at the stadium, he immediately wanted me to show him the statue of “Alvert Pujols”. (Funny how he mispronounced his first name.) Earlier in the day, he decided he really wanted his very own Cards hat, so we obliged him and for the first time ever, the little man kept his hat on for more than 5 minutes. In fact, he wore it all day long…in part to keep the blazing sun at bay, but also, I believe, because his old man was wearing his hat. A proud moment indeed.