ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO
It is personally very gratifying to know that the Houston Astros won 100+ games this season, and won their division handily (while the Rangers finished almost last.) From afar, the team seems to be a good mix of young stars and veteran contributors. That is a good combination to have, I think, especially in the post-season. As the Red Sox just found out. Hah!
The good feeling around the team and its fans and, particularly, in the OWA forums I intermittently glance through, is a beautiful thing to see and, I am sure, a beautiful thing to experience. And remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that things around the old Enron, BUS, Minute Maid, whatever, weren’t quite so wonderful.
Here is the opening from a Series Preview I wrote before the last series of the 2012 regular season, in Chicago against the FTCubs. One of the last Series Previews I ever wrote, actually. 2012 was, you will recall, right in the middle of nuclear winter, in the dark, dark days at the close of the McLanezoic Era. The hapless Astros ended up losing 107 games that year.
“CHICAGO (SnS) – If there has ever been a less meaningful season-ending series than this one, you’ll have to tell me about it. Two 100+ loss teams – two pretty unlikeable teams – going absolutely nowhere. Facing off against each other, with lineups full of unknowns, of wannabes and never-wases, of has-beens. In a shit-pile stadium, full of – collectively – some of the dumbfuck-est, most imbecilic and moronic specimens of humanity ever produced in human history, most of them stupid drunk on shitty-tasting beer by the fifth inning … Who the fuck wants to watch that?
Well, I probably will. Just because it will be my last chance to do so, if nothing else. I have been a passionate Houston Astros fan for most of my life, and I think of my emotional break from the team now as something akin to breaking up with a long-time girlfriend. You put her out of your mind immediately afterward, and try to avoid her. Then a good while after the split, you get the news she is moving away from your town for good, and she’d like you to come by and see her, just one last time. For the memories.
And you know you are being used, in a way; being manipulated by her once again, just like you always were when you were together. But you go, anyway. You don’t love her anymore, your emotions for her no longer run hot, but down there in the pile of cold ashes in your heart where your love for her used to be, down at the very bottom of the pile, there are one or two coals that haven’t quite gone completely cold yet. You get out some old pictures of her you kept, some old pictures of the two of you, and it feels so weird to look at them now. You don’t feel love, or longing, but there is some shadow of an emotion, still lingering. There is something still there, flickering. It is not nearly enough for a flame to re-ignite, and it will die out soon enough, and those coals will go cold and dead, just like the rest of those in the pile. But for the moment, you cannot deny there is some little something, still there. And then you look away from your collection of photos, and gaze out the window; at the branches of a tree just starting to drop a few leaves. Fall is just around the corner, and then winter after that. You involuntarily shiver a bit, just at the thought of it.
And so you go. You go to see her off. The meeting is pleasant, and light. You discern none of the old feeling for you in your old girlfriend, and you feel none in yourself for her. Just some small sympathy, a bit of favor, for one you once loved so much, and spent so much of your time with.
And then after some little time of exchanging pleasantries, she tells you it is time for her to be going, and she kisses you lightly and emotionlessly on the cheek. And she tells you goodbye, for the last time. And so you walk away from her; and you discern no urge in yourself, as you go, to turn and look back.
She is gone now.
She is gone now, and you are gone now, too.”
I am really looking forward to the upcoming American League Championship Series vs. the Yankees. I think it will be a good one, hard fought. And of course, I will be pulling for the Astros to prevail and go on to the World Series, and then to prevail there against either the Dodgers or FTCubs.
I am pulling for them to do it, but I must admit, I don’t really care all that much. Something has been lost, something has changed. It would be natural enough to assume the old disgruntled fans would come back, once the team was successful again. Especially with such a genuine, and genuinely likable collection of players to pull for. And I am sure many of those old fans have come back. I am happy for them, to be able to have their love for the team reignited. What a tremendous feeling it must be.
Of course, I am especially happy for my old friends here at OWA, the die hard fans who never left or gave up to begin with, who endured all the 100-loss seasons and sub-mediocrity and stuck with it, in (mostly) good humor and bonhomie. I am very happy about that; for, while my emotional connection to the Astros may have been severed, I have never lost my affection for or gratitude to the odd collection of individuals who have made up the AC/SnS/OWA over the years. I am genuinely happy for you guys (and girls.)
I guess some part of me hoped this banner year would bring me back, too. I wasn’t against it, I was very open to it. The is a fervent part of me, who started following the Astros in 1966, when I was 7 years old … all through my teenage years in the groovy 1970s … through young adulthood, getting married and starting a family in the 1980s … all the way up to the late 2000s, with my middle age approaching … that part of me wanted to belong again, to care, no, I mean to really care about the fortunes of this team again, and to talk about it and fight about it and laugh about it with the best Astros fans there are anywhere, right here at Orangewhoopass.com.
Alas, it didn’t happen for me. That is wholly on me, and no one or nothing else. Again, from that bittersweet Series Preview written seemingly so long ago, now:
“Lastly, I do not wish for anyone to follow me on this, in this winter of my discontent. I believe I have seen the direction of the commentary at SnS take a subtle turn over the last month or so, as we contemplate the end of the Astros final season in the NL. While at first, after the news of the league change became public, the overwhelming sentiment here seemed to be entirely negative, now I see hard-core fans saying, well, let’s wait and see. And I am glad to see it. I hope the team moves into the AL West and at some point gets itself back together and starts kicking asses and taking names, particularly where the Rangers are concerned. And I hope the SnSers are right there with them, balls to the wall, heart and soul, just like we always have been with the Astros.
It’s just that I won’t be along for that ride, is all. My heart is black, and my lips are cold, and I don’t love the Houston Astros anymore. And I know, deep down, that I never will again.
I am truly, truly gone. Gone for good.”
Good luck to the Houston Astros, and the best to all of you. Somewhere out there, in some parallel universe, is the old me, the crazy-ass fan I used to be, watching, waiting, and hoping fervently for the Astros to win it all.
Then we can all celebrate. Hallelujah!