added 4/8/2012 by Dennis Condu
(Editor's note: This guest column is a response to the previous week's guest column from Jared Bargas about leaving behind his Astros fandom with the switch to the American League in 2013. If you wish to write a guest column, e-mail your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome all baseball-related guest columns of suitable length.)
Jared, I understand that you are upset with the move to the AL. I am very upset as well. Lance Berkman was right on the money with his comments. They were forced by MLB to move. I hate the AL brand of baseball. The DH should be eliminated. It's not real baseball.
But, Jared, to abandon your team? Come on.
I've been an Astros fan since 1972 when I was 10 years old. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but I just had to be different. All of my friends were either Phillies, Mets, or Yankees fans. So I liked this young CF named Cesar Cedeno, with all the comparisons to Willie Mays (my dad's favorite player). I liked the name as well.
In 1972, they also had a pretty good year hanging with the Reds most of the year and finishing second in the NL West. The next few years were pretty tough, especially 1975. Whoa, I was ready to change teams that year. But, hey, they were my team and things started to turn around. I was as high as a kite in July of 1979 having a 10-game lead. Of course, they blew it (something us Astros fans have become accustomed to, unfortunately).
But then came 1980, I was a sophomore in college. It finally happened, but of course they had to torture us those first three days in Los Angeles before Joe Niekro and Art Howe came through to give us a division title.
My Astros were finally champions (well, division champions at least). Then the first of some epic playoff series - that Phillies series was incredible, the ups and downs, being up 5-2 with Nolan Ryan on the mound. We were going to the World Series, but of course they are our Astros and they blew it, but not without a fight, coming back after trailing 7-5. A devastating loss, but I was very proud of my boys. They never quit.
Then 1981. Three more days of torture in LA. Damn, I hate the Dodgers! Then some more down seasons after that. Mike Torrez, you ruined Dickie Thon.
1986, the magical season. I can still remember those games right after the All-Star break. I think it was like six or seven straight wins, all down to the wire. Games won in the last at bat. And to top it off, Mike Scott's no-hitter, clinching the NL West. That was my message on my answering machine for years after that: "Leave your message after the Astros win the West" then it played Milo's call.
The Mets series. I thought the 1980 NLCS was incredible! This one was even more nerve-wracking. I'm still angry at umpire Fred Brocklander. Craig Reynolds was safe and, with that, an Astros win in Game 5, instead of an extra innings loss. Then Game 6, oh that Game 6. 3-0 going to the ninth and Bob Knepper rolling. Of course, another blown lead, but my boys wouldn't quit.
Billy Hatcher hit one off the foul pole. "It's tied! it's tied!," I was screaming (I was at work at the time and everyone was looking at me like I needed a white coat). Then Aurelio Lopez (aka "Senor Smoke") comes in and gives up three runs. Where was Jim Deshaies, Hal Lanier? But do my boys quit? Hell no, we get two back, but of course again disappointment. Kevin Bass couldn't figure out how to hit Jesse Orosco's slider.
And, wow, 11 long years of disappointment after that. But the Astros are my team - I will never leave them. I don't care how bad it gets. We earned four more playoff appearances but also more frustration. (Damn you, Kevin Brown and Walt Weiss.)
Jump to 2004, a fantastic run to the Wild Card and Carlos Beltran goes wild. We win our first playoff series! I never thought it was actually going to happen. Then, yet another epic playoff series and of course another epic loss (I hate Jim Edmonds - how did he make that catch on Brad Ausmus in Game 7?). Then, that winter, all indications Beltran will be staying (damn that Scott Boras!). I stayed up til that midnight deadline, finally seeing he didn't sign. I was devastated.
In 2005, I made my first trip to Houston. I'd been an Astros fan since 1972 and I finally made it to Houston. Saw four games in August against the Brewers. I was in heaven. I finally got to see my boys play in Houston.
And I was there during another fantastic run to the Wild Card. More postseason fights to the finish. Chris Burke, "It's gone, it's gone!" I was running and screaming through my house then right at that moment the wife and kids come home and again the men with the white coats were called!
Game 5 of the NLCS, ready to clinch. Two outs, nobody on when freaking David Eckstein, and, really Brad, you walk Edmonds to get to Pujols? That was the lowest of the lows being an Astros fan. I really thought we were cursed at that moment. But I was in front of the tv for Game 6 and Roy Oswalt saved the day, saved the series and put us finally in the World Series! I can still see Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio hugging after Jason Lane caught the last out. I cried and cried. I couldn't believe my boys finally won the NL flag.
Well, 2005 seems like a lifetime ago and things have gotten really, really bad as you all know. But for some stupid reason, I'm excited for this season. I can't wait to see how our kids progress. I'm glad they cut Jack Cust and Livan Hernandez. Let the kids play. We need to find out what they got. They may lose 100 games again this year, but they are my team.
So again, Jared, I understand your frustration but to leave your team? I'll be an Astros fan til the day I die and after that as well!