Batty

I actually wrote the following at about this time last year, but anyone who follows these things knows this morning how relevant it still is, even in its sorry unfinished state:

Ten years from now I doubt I’ll remember exactly how it was that I managed to miss practically all of the Red Sox’s clinching victory and a full lunar eclipse on the same night—I just hope I remember that it was for a very good reason. As it was, the Red Sox’s four-game sweep of the Series came as an anticlimax after all the years of haplessness, so much so that the fourth game was barely over before the announcers were asking, “Which is the next cursed team?”

I wish I could claim something so redolent with mystery as a curse for my Astros. Everyone seemed happy that by dispatching the Braves in five games they finally managed to win a postseason series for the first time in the franchise’s 43-year history. The Astros’ problem, though, isn’t just winning any series, but the LCS in particular. They’ve been there twice, in ’80 against the Phillies and in ’86 against the Mets, and both times they were mercilessly mangled and ridiculed before being rejected by the mirthless gods of baseball. It doesn’t matter that in both cases their opponents went on to win the World Series; nor does it matter that both series (still in the old five-game format) were memorable for their high-anxiety theatrics. Game Four of the ’80 NLCS was a baseball anti-gravity house, rife with slapstick adventures on the basepaths, a momentum-turning play which, although it could only have been a single out or a triple-play, was instead deemed a double-play by the umps after they huddled for a 15-minute strange interlude, and a play in which the Astros leftfielder, rearing back to throw the ball, had it roll through his fingers behind his head before completing his full-armed throw to the infield, like a Little Leaguer faking out his teammates. (It was at this point that my buddy threw up his hands and yelled, “Do these jokers even want to win this game?”) Despite their own miscues and the calls against them, the Astros held a two-run, eighth inning lead with Nolan Ryan on the mound in Game Five, and still found a way to lose. 

[Insert sound of gunshot here.]

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