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The Houston Astros: And We All Fall Down

Astros 3rd baseman, Matt Downs, inexplicably dives over his pitcher and nearly runs into teammate, Steve Pearce, as he makes an errant throw to 1st that leads to an errant throw home that leads to Nationals Victory over Houston (photo by Pat Sullivan/AP)

Baseball is not just about grace and excellence- it’s also about abject, epic, hilarious failure.  The 1961 Mets.  Bill Buckner.  All the Washington teams between 1935 and 2011.

But the poor Houston Astros, truly one of the worst teams the sport has ever seen; on pace to lose 109 games this season, defeated in 31 of their last 35 games- put on a circus show for the ages last night in one single play that will long be remembered in the annals of the sport.

Here’s the short version:  The Astros all ran into each other and fell down.

But breaking it down in all its disparate parts reveals the breath-taking wonder of the on-field collapse by half the players in the field.

Here’s the setting.  Nobody out, top of the 11th inning of a 4-4 game.  There’s hardly anyone in the stands because this is the Houston Astros- the worst team in baseball.  There is not a camera angle possible that doesn’t show a sea of empty seats.  It’s so quiet and dead in the stands that everyone in the stadium can hear the wailing cry of a single infant seated with its parents somewhere close to home plate.

Washington National’s centerfielder, Roger Bernadina singles to right.  And now the fun begins.   The Nationals’ new catcher, Kurt Suzuki, attempts a sacrifice bunt to try and get Bernadina to second.  Suzuki screws it up and instead of bunting on the ground, he pops the ball up. A tiny, little, baby pop-up.

Houston 1st baseman, Steve Pearce, moves toward the ball at the same time as the pitcher, Wilton Lopez.  The ball eludes them both and drops softly to the ground.  Lopez can’t seem to locate it between his legs.  Pearce literally pushes his own pitcher out of the way like a linebacker and picks up the ball.

Inexplicably, Astros 3rd baseman, Matt Downs, seemingly thinking maybe he has a play on the ball dives over the fallen pitcher and succeeds in partially interfering with the 1st baseman’s desperate throw to 1st base.  The ball flies over the head of Houston 2nd baseman, Jose Altuve and well into right field.

Bernadina sees all the madness and takes off, easily passing 2nd base and headed to 3rd.  Houston right fielder, Brian Bogusevic sees Bernadina completely ignoring his own 3rd base coach’s pleas to stop and sprints for home.  Bogusevic’s throw is airmailed over the catcher’s head, Bernadina scores and Suzuki, who had moments ago tried to make an out by bunting the ball in the infield, is now securely at 3rd.

I am not exaggerating when I say the last time I saw anything like this, 5 year-olds were hitting off a tee and the opposing team collapsed in a pile trying to field the ball.

For the poor, beleaguered fans of the Houston Astros- it was just all too much to take.  Here, some of their choice comments from the Houston Crawfish Boxes, a fan web site:

–        Wow

–         What the freakin…

–         Oh My God

–         Holy Lord

–         My Goodness

–         Okay, well

–         Wow- just wow

–         I don’t even know who to yell at

–         Dear God- you poor Astros fans

–         Don’t worry about us- It’s beyond anguish at this point.  I feel nothing.  I think most of us now are just trying to figure out if this is all part of some elaborate social experiment.

–         What the hell just happened?

–         You just gotta laugh at this point

–         I was mad at first but I’m laughing now

–         Cirque du Soleil Houston Astros

–         Come for the baseball- stay for the hilarity

–         Well what happened was….we got a baseball team, then 50 years later we got this shit

My Houston friends, we have all been there at one point another.  In fact, one of the reasons the Washington Nationals are finally contenders is that we were that bad two years in a row- so bad we got the #1 draft picks the next year and the year after and that’s how we ended up with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

And I must say, there is now, officially, a soft spot in my heart for the Astros and as soon as the Nats leave town, I will be seriously rooting for them to reclaim their dignity and kick a little butt.

But for now- thanks for the memories, boys.  One for the ages.

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