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[Chron.com] Everybody up tonight for Big Puma

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Miguel, May 19, 2008.

  1. Miguel

    Miguel Contributing Member

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    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/5789203.html


    May 18, 2008, 11:58PM
    Everybody up tonight for Big Puma

    By RICHARD JUSTICE

    ARLINGTON — How about a standing ovation for the Big Puma? Wouldn't that be the perfect way to start a homestand?

    Let Lance Berkman know that you understand you're watching history and that after all these years, you're still thrilled to have him playing for your hometown baseball team.

    We've been lucky in Houston. Sure, we've had our gripes through the years with an assortment of management knuckleheads and playoff failures and stuff like that.

    We've also had a baseball team that has been among the most successful in the game over the last dozen years.

    We haven't just won. We've won with people who are easy to root for. Craig Biggio. Jeff Bagwell. Roy Oswalt.

    Now we've got Lance Berkman. He'll be hitting .399 when he steps into the batter's box against the Chicago Cubs tonight at Minute Maid Park.

    He leads the major leagues in home runs and is second in both batting average and RBIs. He has climbed to the top
    with a three-week stretch
    that's among the most remarkable in history.

    At some point, the numbers are incom- prehensible. For instance, he's hitting .586 over the last 15 games.

    Yes, .586.

    His on-base average during that time? Try .647.

    He's not just getting hits. He's getting hits that win games. He's producing for both power and average.

    At his current pace, he'll finish the season with around 60 home runs and 160 RBIs.

    So if you're at Minute Maid Park tonight, stand up and tell him thanks.

    Tell him you get it.

    Berkman's amazing stretch has come at a time when the Astros have won 19 of 27 to climb back into contention in the National League Central.

    They're playing with energy and heart, rallying from behind, making plays large and small.

    Are they a great team? Probably not. They've got holes in the bullpen and the rotation.

    Still, they've given us about as entertaining a few days as we've had the last three seasons.

    General manager Ed Wade assembled a group that's a near-perfect blend of youth and experience, a group that has come to believe anything is possible.

    The Astros finished a 7-3 road trip with a 5-4 victory over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon.

    Speaking of that game, Astros manager Cecil Cooper was ejected for the second time in three days.

    To get thrown out twice without uttering a single curse word might rival Berkman's recent hitting for a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment.

    He's no Angel
    Cooper got tossed Friday after arguing a call at the plate by Angel Campos. When Campos missed a play at second base Sunday, Cooper trotted out to argue. He was on the field about 30 seconds when he got it again.

    "I said, 'You're perfect. You're 2-for-2,' " Cooper said. "He said, 'Don't say it again.' I said, 'Why can't I ask you that?' That was it. It was all over."

    Back to Berkman. He has been so good that Miguel Tejada's .344 batting average has been pretty much overlooked.

    ''Hey, that's good for me," Tejada joked.

    Strange as it sounds, Berkman has never really gotten the credit he deserved. He played in the large shadow of Biggio and Bagwell for a few years. He had one of his best seasons in 2004, but Roger Clemens stole the headlines with a Cy Young Award season.

    Now he's the man. He collected two singles Sunday and had his average above .400 until a ninth-inning strikeout.

    If the play is phenomenal, the postgame quotes fell way short of the norm.

    This being a get-away day and all, Berkman was asked to deliver something really funny really fast.

    "You can't force comedy," he said, sounding defensive. "You've just got to let it happen."

    Okey-dokey.

    Hey, Lance, did you see that President Bush said Chase Utley is a better player than you?

    "I didn't see that, but I don't blame him," Berkman said. "That would be an excellent selection."

    This guy is as stubborn as a mule.

    Hey, Lance, do you think it's smart for a guy who intends to come back to Texas to pick a guy from the Phillies?

    "If it were me, I would take Albert Pujols."

    If Berkman is saving his good stuff for ESPN, there are going to be hard feelings among those of us who stood up for him last season when he was hitting .278.

    To be honest, we weren't there for him, but you know how these ballplayers are. They aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.

    "What do you want from me?" he asked. "I can't perform every day."

    The truth is that Berkman typifies a great hitter in almost every sense of the word.

    He believes he should be great every year, but he also understands there's a huge amount of luck involved.

    He expects this?
    "That's one of the things I've found maddening about myself," he said. "I don't want to sound arrogant, but I expect to hit like I'm hitting now. When I hit like I did last year, that's what befuddles me. When I hit .278, I'm like, 'How in the world did that happen?' "

    Anyway, he's hitting .399 as the Astros return home to play the team they trail by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central.

    It's a series that's one of many measuring sticks. Nothing will be decided, but it's the latest test for a team that has passed most of the others. And it's a chance to tell Lance Berkman thanks.











    I may just buy a ticket to tonight's game and give him a standing O, just because.

    (There you go, Lance.)
     
  2. Stack24

    Stack24 Contributing Member

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    I'll be at the game tonight and I sure as hell will!
     
  3. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    I am also gonna be there tonight.

    Does anyone know when the doors open?

    I will be getting everyone to stand up and cheer when he comes up to bat (really can't we just say comes up to hit at this point? or comes up to walk, his OBP is just sick)
     
  4. conquistador#11

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    can we bring twinkies as an offering?



    [​IMG]
     
  5. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    I was having a tough time imagining what a twinkie looks like.
    :p
     
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    I was in a deposition...so did it happen?? Did they stand for his first AB??
     
  7. Miguel

    Miguel Contributing Member

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    Yeah. Didn't get a chance to make it out, but it sounded very loud on TV, and they panned around the stadium and plenty of people were standing and clapping.
     
  8. v3.0

    v3.0 Contributing Member

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    Jinxed him...
     
  9. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    that was a pretty weaking standing O.

    Plus he went 0-4. :(
     
  10. TMac640

    TMac640 Contributing Member

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    Puma and the entire team sucked horse balls tonight.
     

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