In that 1952 Western classic with McCarthy era overtones “High Noon”, Marshall Will Kane, played by Oscar Winner Gary Cooper, is up against it. There would be a spoiler alert at this point, but if you have not seen this movie yet in your life, you are probably never going to see it. Let’s see, every single friend he has in town has turned their backs on him, goaded on by the greatest turncoat speech in the history of film by the underrated character actor Thomas Mitchell. The ones who are not his friends are openly in support of his getting his come-uppance for upholding the law. The only people willing to join him in a hopeless endeavor are foolish kids or the infirm. His wife of one day, Grace Kelly, who is only about 40 years younger than Kane is not totally behind him due to being an anti-violent Quaker, plus she is jealous of his previous girlfriend (Katy Jurado, who is a fiery counterpoint to the ice princess Kelly). His former deputy (Lloyd Bridges) in a jealous rage beats Kane up while also getting beat up and then heads out of town. Oh and four really, really bad guys including the one he put in prison are coming to town with one thing in mind, Kane’s death.
Flash forward 64 years and from the unreality of celluloid to the unreality of professional sports. The Houston Astros are limping back into Minute Maid Park from a 3-4 game road trip that could have been better. They are on the teetering brink of falling out of the race with a 2-1/2 game gap to the 2nd wild card spot. Their starting rotation is a shambles with Lance McCullers Jr. and Dallas Keuchel out, Collin McHugh up and down, Doug Fister pitching like Doug’s little sister, Brad Peacock and Joe Musgrove and David Paulino pitching like three or four innings will be good enough. The bullpen has been expanded by a bunch more folks, which is not always a good thing. The best short stop the Astros have ever had, Carlos Correa missed the end of the road trip with an injury. Many of their fans have turned their backs on them and towards the Texans or have turned on the up and down performance of the front office. It seems the only players who can help are the kids and the infirm. Oh and two really great teams with the best records in the majors, the Chicago Cubs and Darth Bannister and his Imperial North Texas Troopers are coming to town for three games each.
Will the Astros pull things together like Gary Cooper did so many years ago and slay the dragons and ride away with Grace friggin’ Kelly? Even back then Marshall Kane needed all his cunning, an unexpected assist from Princess Grace and some luck.
A week from now the Astros could be still in the race with a favorable schedule facing them the last couple weeks of the season or they could collapse from the weight of expectations and misfortunes and be 6+ games out of the race. Which would basically be the same as being out of the race.
- What do the Astros need to do in the next week to keep themselves relevant?
- What kind of breaks do they need?
- Who will give them the unexpected performance(s) needed to hold things together?
- Where will they be a week from now?