"Just a .500 team"

added 7/29/2001 by Raymond Desadier
I've had several people try to tell me that the 2001 Houston Astros are nothing but a .500 ball club. As a die hard with dreams of a World Championship, I was always quick to reply with, "Certainly not, we are better than that!"

However, as I have listened to our team play a series against a bottom feeding Pittsburgh squad, I find that my defense had been leaky at best.

I was wrong. The Astros are a .500 team.

Since the Break, we have a .500 record, despite taking 2 of 3 from the Cleveland Indians. We are supposed to be better than the Padres, but they took 2 of 3. We are supposed to be better than the Cardinals, but it has been a stalemate. The Cubs have given little proof other than their record that they are better than us, and yet they too split a four game set with us.

Then, there are the Pirates.

Yes, a team that most anyone can beat with ease and yet the Stros make it look like brain surgery. Even when they have the bases loaded, trailing by one, Money Bags and Sir Lance-a-lot-of-hits merely whiff at the opportunity of being heroes. Even when they have them down 6 runs with one of the best 1-2 door-slamming punches in the league, they can't seal the deal. How can a club that can't beat the lowly Pirates more than they get beat be considered as a true contender?

While the Cubs get better through healing and acquisitions, the Astros sit and whine about needing a left-handed reliever despite the fact that one of the best in the biz is already on their roster and isn't even intelligent enough to know what Brian Giles can do with a grooved fastball.

As the old saying goes, you will win a third of your games and lose a third of your games, it is what you do with the other third that counts. In most cases, the winning third consists of the games where you can do no wrong – your offense clicks and your pitching is rock solid. The losing third is where destiny is not on your side and you never had a chance. So to win a pennant, it is imperative to put yourself in a position to win most of the other third, the "swing" third if you will.

The swing third includes games started by your fifth starter. Astros management have done a horrendous job of attempting to win these games. Jose Lima was given too long to work out his problems, as were Scott Elarton and Kent Bottenfield. Tony McKnight should have been in the rotation from day one. In April and May, we essentially had TWO # 5 starters in the rotation, and very poor ones to boot.

But aren't the only important games the ones played in August and September? Of course not, they count for the same throughout the season and if the Astros don't win the Central, you can chalk it up to the poor performance in April and May.

So, with most of the swing third already used up in 5 spot experimentation early in the season, we may be faced with only winning third and losing third games for the rest of the season. If that is the case, we can expect a .500 record from now on.

Houston Astros, contenders? I'm beginning to think it is more like Houston Actors, pretenders…

rjdesadier@hotmail.com

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