Stellar boredom

Sunday, August 17, 2008–Astros 3, Diamondbacks 0

I took the train out to Houston, and that turned out to be quite a trek on its own. I guess people already know this, but Texas is a big state, isn’t it? I had to catch a greyhound to El Paso, and then get over to the Amtrak station. I got lost because I trusted some road signs over my memory of the Google Maps I had memorized of Downtown. I dozed off sometime on the train and awoke to visions of green, gently rolling hills and a fog. It was exactly what I imagine Ireland might be like. Never mind the fact that I was actually somewhere between Marfa and Sanderson. I arrived in Houston about an hour before sunrise and spent the morning wandering around aimlessly, and moseyed on over to the yard around 11 am.

Also during this trip, I took a trip to Space Center Houston and went on a tour of NASA’s Mission Control. One thing I didn’t realize until I was there that the visitor’s center is run by a private corporation that collaborates with NASA. I was expecting a museum, and found something that was ¼ museum and ¾ theme park. I’d prefer if they flipped that ratio, or at least separate the two, there were several summer camp groups that day, and the kiddos were a bit too noisy. Still, going up the stairs to the Apollo Program Mission Control sent chills up my spine. But you logged onto theballparktour.wordpress.com and not bobs_nerd_exploits.wordpress.com, so you probably want to hear about the game.

I get my tickets to these games months in advance, so it’s the luck of the draw as far as pitching matchup goes. As I was walking around downtown Houston in the morning, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. Randy Johnson vs. Roy Oswalt, undoubtedly the highest-profile pitching matchup I’ve seen on the tour. It’s the one I talk about when I want to impress other baseball fans, “Oh yeah, I saw Oswalt and Johnson go toe-to-toe,” but the game wasn’t really all that exciting. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a well played game, it just doesn’t stick out in any way, and considering the expectations I had, it was rather disappointing.

I was sitting near a cluster of “Fantasy Baseball” players, all of whom seemed to have a particular dislike of what outfielder Ty Wigginton was doing to their fantasy leagues. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember wherefore the abuse, but it didn’t let up even when Wigginton hit a three run homer in the bottom of the first. Oswalt was stellar: 8 innings, no runs on one hit. Johnson was pretty good too, settling down after giving up Wiggington’s homer in the 1st. Here’s the thing about pitcher’s duels, they’re gold… if you listen to them on the radio, can see the pitching artistry on TV, or feel like forking over the small fortune to get seats right behind the screen. From where I sat–in the third deck, offset from the plate just enough that I couldn’t really catch the movement of the pitches–this was an incredibly boring game. Looking at the card, I see that a D’back runner was thrown out at the plate, but I don’t remember the play.

The real noteworthy event of the day was the ceremony to retire the #7 of Astros legend Craig Biggio. After the 2-story number 7 was unveiled in the rafters in right field, Biggio was presented with a brick-and-sandstone tractor to help with groundskeeping at the high school where he now coaches. How very Texas a gift.

Here’s the scorecard.

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