Aggies Hook Horns, Astros Land Lee
By Christopher Gray,
1:38PM, Sat. Nov. 25, 2006
So the Fightin' Farmers from College Station - who, according to a front-page article in the Houston Chronicle, are now every bit as suburban, SAT-savvy, and middle class as their despised Teasip arch rivals, albeit still less apt to grow dreadlocks and major in things like Postmodern Film Theory - waltzed into DKR this morning and played Temple of Doom with Longhorn Nation, ripping out Bevo's heart, which still beat with hopes of at least taking the Big 12 South, and taking a juicy 12-7 bite. (So what if the Ags missed both extra points? That's why they call them "extra" points.) Barring a monumental fuckup by Oklahoma in today's Bedlam scrum, not at all out of the question considering the way Boone Pickens' boys manhandled Nebraska a few weeks back, the defending national champions will be spending their 2007 bowl season picking Cotton. As Adam Sandler once said, "Whoopity doo!" At least they'll be in the proper position: bent over. Adding insult to obviously-not-healed shoulder injury, Texas can't even count on possible revenge for LSU's 2000 Fair Park Filleting because of how the Tigers muddied the SEC waters with today's win over Arkansas. But today's game should lead to interesting offseason fishing trips for Colt McCoy and Burnet best buds Jordan Shipley and Stephen McGee. McCoy, suddenly evoking Major Applewhite's injury-prone side as well as his baby-faced sangfroid under pressure, should have plenty to talk about with UT's invisible wideout and A&M's big hero while he learns to cast his line with his left arm. Start with the bullshit offensive pass interference penalty that took a touchdown away from Limas Sweed just before halftime, continue with the Horns' run defense deciding that since it's Thanksgiving, they'd take a holiday from tackling (Rashad Bobino excepted), and finish up with supposed human tank Henry Melton's continuing inability to convert critical short-yardage situations. But, really, who cares? In case you hadn't noticed, and no one beyond the 281 area code probably has, one Division I-A Texas school has already sewn up a spot in its conference championship game, and in fact will host that game next Friday at Robertson Stadium. That's the University of Houston, y'all.. the reigning Major League Soccer champion Houston Dynamo gets most of the headlines these days, but they still play American football there too. And because poker players need a night off once in a while, ESPN2 is even televising this game, to decide the Conference USA champion, Friday, Dec. 1, 7pm. Go Coogs!
For news on the Astros and the signing of Carlos Lee ...
Yes indeed, it's pretty sweet to be a Houston sports fan right now. There's the Dynamo, the Rockets don't suck this year (to put it mildly), and the Texans get more lovably inept with every near-victory. Shit, even Applewhite's current employer Rice will go to a bowl if they beat SMU. But until the Rockets beat Dallas and/or San Antonio (preferably both) in the playoffs, and the Texans draft Adrian Peterson, sign Ricky Williams (which would be too awesome for words), or trade for Vince Young, H-Town belongs to the Astros. Now more than ever, because Drayton McLane (or "The Deacon," as he might be known in the clubhouse) whipped out his grocery-engorged checkbook late Thanksgiving night and laid out a pretty hot and tasty $100 million to secure the services of one Carlos Lee for the next six years. Unfortunately, this probably means the club will no longer have room for Jason "Turnin'" Lane, and the best nickname in Astro history will be just that. [Editor's note: A nickname coined by Chris and I with a little help from Mike Jones.]
But all of a sudden, the middle of the Houston lineup looks pretty damn good: Lance Berkman (No. 3 on your MVP ballot and lineup card, No. 1 in your heart), Lee, Luke Scott, and either Morgan Ensberg or Aubrey Huff. Deciding between those two should be McLane and GM Tim Purpura's next order of business; smart money says they keep Ensberg, but it's hard not to root for resigning Huff, because his bat has actually been known to leave his shoulder once in a while. (And don't forget Mike Lamb, who always seems to come up with a big hit every time fans start wondering if he's still on the team.) In a novel twist for the Astros, there should be plenty of RBI opportunities in 2007: Willy Taveras is rounding into a fine leadoff man without ever needing to hit the ball out of the infield, and Chris Burke will be a natural for the two hole once Craig Biggio (cough) gets No. 3,000. Maybe before. Best of all, this means Gold Glover Brad Ausmus and shoulda-been Gold Glover Adam Everett can concentrate on defense and quit worrying about driving in runs, because we all know how well counting on their No. 7 and 8 hitters for run production turned out last year. NASA scientists are still trying to figure out how a team with such shitty offense finished over .500 and came within a game and a half of the playoffs. Now, ironically, all the Astros have to worry about is their pitching, which they improved today by signing Cy-Fair, Alvin Community College, and U of H product Woody Williams. Williams is 40 but pitches like he's 30. Should McLane and Purpura entice Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to come back - which no one will know for sure until at least Opening Day, or possibly the All-Star break - it's entirely conceivable the Astros could have an 80% homegrown starting rotation with Williams, Pettitte, Clemens, and Matt Albers or Chris Sampson. (Ball High's Brandon Backe will be back in 2008, and how cool would it be if they could somehow sign Cy-Falls alumnus Scott Kazmir?) The odd man out is Mississippian Roy Oswalt, shafted in the Cy Young voting for the third year in a row, but he'll be too busy tooling around on his 2005 NLCS MVP bulldozer to care.