A Sad Day

added 7/26/2007 by Scott Barzilla

2007 has increasingly become about Craig Biggio for Astros fans. Certainly, the lifeline of the Astros over the last two decades deserves it all. For columnists, putting your own stamp on a moment like this becomes difficult. Everyone at the Chronicle had their say and even some national writers got in a few poetic phrases. Those of us at Astrosdaily certainly have said plenty about the man. What more is there to say?

That problem seemed even more true when Biggio began his press conference. He said all of the things you would expect a player like him to say. He spoke most eloquently about his family and about his desire to leave the game on his own terms. Then, as I watched intently on ESPNews, the network decided to switch over to the Atlanta Falcons press conference concerned Michael Vick's impending legal trouble.

The term "perfect storm" is overused and a bit chilling in this region of the country, but it represents this current period in sports about as accurately as any other phrase. All three major sports have scandals that would make Watergate look like a historical footnote. Turn on the television, radio, or crank up the computer and you can't escape it. Stories like Biggio's become the footnote.

Add in the endless fascination with starlets like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Brittney Spears and you wonder why Biggio even bothered having a press conference. Thankfully, the fans at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday showed him his value to them. You could tell that Bidge was touched and he touched them all one more time to win the game. In an interview, Biggio was asked if he would do it all over again if he could. He said no. Things were a lot simpler when he started playing. The game was about helping your team win and not about headlines from off the field.

The last few weeks have been enough to challenge any sports fans' faith in the whole enchilada. You have the commissioner of baseball site the constitution as a reason to watch a man chase a record. How far has the game fallen when you have to cite "innocent until proven guilty" in any mention of a record? The NBA and NFL seem to have it worse for the time being. Michael Vick's dogfighting story could only be trumped by a "rogue official" in the NBA. Where does Biggio fit into all of this?

In "The Natural," Roy Hobbs said his motivation for playing was to have people say "there goes Roy Hobbs. The best that there ever was at this game." Biggio can't do that nationwide, but he can do that in the city of Houston. People like me grew up watching Biggio play. We came of age when Biggio was in his prime. In essence, his retirement is the end of our childhood. We start referring to the new generation as "kids." I'm sure all of us felt a little older on Tuesday."

Endings are always sad. It was more sad that a player like Biggio couldn't have the news cycle all to himself. Not only is he a Hall of Famer, but he is a former Clemente Award winner. He represents the very best in what we want in our athletes. You might say he is the whole package.

Naturally, Biggio would never complain about having his press conference preempted. That's not his style. Moreover, he knows full well that Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, Barry Bonds, and rogue officials will become historical footnotes. When Biggio becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, most of those names will long be forgotten. Additionally, fans like me will be telling our grandchildren about Biggio forty years from now. ESPNews will be covering the latest scandal, but Craig Biggio will become immortal. Enjoy your last two months Craig. You deserve it.