Sundays in the park without George

Apologies to Stephen Sondheim, but as much as he may have loved George Seurat’s paintings, that is how much we will all miss the heart of our Astros, George Springer.

George first came to our consciousness as the team was falling to the depths of their rebuild. He was drafted 11th in the first round out of Connecticut in 2011 when the team went 56-106. The next season as the big club fell to 55-107, we salivated about the young stud tearing up A+ ball at Lancaster (who didn’t?), though he fell off a bit in a call-up to AA Corpus. The tough season was 2013. Astros fans had to watch the likes of Brandon Barnes, L.J. Hoes, Trevor Crowe, Justin Maxwell, Marc Krauss, Jimmy Paredes, Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez suck up outfield at bats with the 51-111 Astros, while Springer was creaming AA and AAA pitchers to the tune of .303 BA/ .411 OBP/ 1.010 OPS/ 106 runs/ 37 HRs/ 108 RBIs/ 45 SBs. It was additional torture to see the team break camp in 2014 and head to Houston without Springer as they waited until mid-April to call him up and give him his major league debut.

The transparent attempt to delay George’s debut and push out his eligibility for free agency meant that this post was written about 2 years later than it might have been scribed. Might the Astros have extended him heading into 2019, if he had been eligible for free agency then? We will never know. But Springer debuted on April 14, 2014, and after his first 15 games where he meekly hit .180 BA/ .254 OBP/ .467 OPS with 0 HRs and 3 RBIs, we were wondering what the big deal was about. He then turned things around hitting 20 HRs with 46 RBIs in his next 63 games before being sidelined with a quad strain. When he did play, he was a critical new part of the team and came in 8th in Rookie of the Year voting. MMQB: It’s Springer’s World, we’re just living in it | CHIPALATTA

Looking at George Springer in his seven seasons with the Astros, there are both the statistical contributions and the team’s intangible contributions. He was a three-time All Star, a two time Silver Slugger award winner and received MVP votes for the regular season three times. Of course, no fan will forget how he went from a wildly swinging and missing windmill in the 2017 ALCS (and the first game of the World Series) to the eventual MVP of that 2017 World Series. Even though he played in about 30%+ fewer games than the players in the top 10 in Astros history, he still does show up in a few of the career stats tied to power. His 174 HRs are 5th all-time for the team, and he is 6th in both Slugging (.491) and OPS (.852). We can only dream about where he would have gone in the next five or six years.

But George was always more than just about the on-field performance. He was a symbol of a rising star for a phoenix team rising from the ashes. He was the inspiration behind “Club Astros” where they turned the Astros’ clubhouse into a mini-night club after wins. He always seemed to be in the midst of their dugout celebrations, especially those honoring others’ accomplishments. His support of those (like himself) who suffered from stuttering was inspirational. And he proved to cynics like myself that the leadoff man for the team did not have to be a traditional on-base, base stealing fiend to trigger what turned out to be a lethal offense.

It will be tough watching the team this season without their longtime “heart”. We will eventually get used to it, but there will be times when we will wish we had this fine man and fine player patrolling center field for us.

 

26 comments on “Sundays in the park without George

  1. Mrs. and I took the grandkids to FanFest in 2013 and George was one of the minor leaguers there signing autographs. I pointed him out to the kids and the Mrs. and told them that he is the next rising star for the team.

    Yep, gonna miss him.

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  2. Will miss Springer because he always played hard and always with enthusiasm. He always looked like he was having fun out there.

    Did he invent the outfield jump & bump celebration? If not him, I don’t know who did.

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  3. In the last couple of weeks I wore an Astros shirt with his name and number on the back.
    Even after the cheating, I didn’t walk out on him and the rest of his teammates.
    Even after the lousy regular season, I still watched the playoffs.
    Even after all the hate, I still love them every day in this blog.
    I didn’t walk out on Springer. Springer walked out.
    There will be somebody new to cheer for and Springer left for the money from another team.
    I like what Brantley did for the Astros. He looked around and decided to stay with our team. That’s who I will think about. That’s a guy I will pull for.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I thought after Sunday in the park you would apologize to Robert Lamm who wrote, Saturday in the Park, recorded by Chicago. You always have another riff at your fingertips, Dan!

    I like Op’s comment. I root for the guys who play for the H.

    Really, really loved Georgie, though. Aw heck, I wish him well, nobody’s perfect. Wish things had turned out differently. We should have had at least one more trophy with that assembly. Let’s do it with the new guys, then.

    Like Brantley said, we have some unfinished business to attend to.

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    • GS, I was just “playing” that song in my mind as I opened the thread this morning, wanting to post about it but then realizing it would not work. Then, BAM! you post the title. Great song.

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      • Dan just put it up on a tee for us, Sarge. Hope you and the rest of the gang are all well this morning.

        In the article, talking about Club Astros, it reminds me of the quote from Hinch attending his wedding, said that was the fastest “‘I do’, then onto dancing I’ve ever seen.” I really think his whole MO, his adapatability and rolling with the punches made him such an exciting guy to watch.

        Regarding support of his other players, never more obvious than allowing the guy who played the best that night to lead the funny dance in the OF after the win. If Tucker had a big night, they did some sort of bowling pin about to fall mover; if Brantley, they did some kind of washing the car, or fixing the tire move. Always kept things loose..

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We are never ready to see one of our beloved players leave. How would we have felt if Biggio had left in his prime…..pretty low I suspect. The only thing I couldn’t give up was my Springer jersey. I wore it on the first day of the season and the very last game of that year. My Memphis grandsons absolutely love this team and their Springer “dingers”. Like you fellas I will cheer for Uncle Mike and the entire infield. I’m sorry the whole scandal mess happened and trust me George and the rest of the guys still here will wear that until they are out of baseball. The clubhouse questions won’t stop, and George will have to answer them….painful as it will be.
    *Now….I have a good add to a meatloaf for you folks my family love it!
    Season your meatloaf however you like it, then on a big piece of waxed paper put your seasoned meat on the paper and Pat it out like a giant hamburger patty. Cut Velveeta cheese cheese in slices (not too thin) and lay them on the meat. Roll up the meatloaf like a jelly roll, pinch the ends and bake as usual. I use a 96% lean hamburger….don’t be alarmed if some of the cheese leaks out. When you cut it it’s like a jelly roll filled with gooey cheese….soo good! I use a can of tomato sauce instead of ketchup over the top I think ketchup has too much vinegar in it. AND it makes the best meatloaf sandwiches EVER!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Since Dan brought it up in his post I will reflect on the beginning of 2014.
    I was a huge critic of the Astros keeping Springer in the minors.
    The ploy to gain an extra year of service was something a bad Astros team did as a vision of the future.
    But backing off to get a clearer picture without the trees blocking the view, the Astros had acquired Dexter Fowler to play CF because of the awful outfields they had during the rebuild. When they sent Springer down to AAA they sent him with the intention of letting him play RF. Up until then George had played RF in about 20 games his entire career. He played 8 games in RF for OKC that spring and then the Astros brought him up and put him in RF, which I never liked. In retrospect, they had a legitimate reason for starting him off in AAA. Fowler wanted to play CF. Period. His attitude about not playing anywhere else but CF got him traded the following off season.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Off the WS championship team, all three outfielders are gone, and the catcher. Along with all the backups. 5 of the 6 starting pitchers are gone plus the 7th (JV) probably. All the bullpen is gone. Soon they will all be gone but the memories. Those are still good memories for me and 30-50 years from now, I will be long gone and the 2017 World Series Champions will still be the Houston Astros.

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  8. It hurt to see the Astros trade away Pence, Berkman, and Oswalt. It hurt to see Houston embrace Johnson and Beltran to see them snub us a couple months later. I think Verlander choosing to stay in Houston (despite what it’s costing us in 2020 and 2021) endeared him to me that much more because of those. I always hoped they could pull a rabbit out of their hats to keep Springer, but knew it wasn’t likely. I’m not going to go out and buy a Blue Jays jersey, but I’m also not going to boo him when they come to town. I’m just going to hope the franchise can develop/promote some new young players in coming years that make me as excited to watch the team as Springer did. And I’m going to continue to blame Luhnow and Crane for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll be following George daily, and by extension, the Jays. He will quickly become a fan favorite in Toronto. We got to see his game everyday, his always positive energy, his hustle, his demeanor, his leadership*. There are not many guys in MLB like him. He’s going to have more excellent years on a team that should be in the hunt going forward. I could not be happier for him.

    *he was the real leader on the Astro team. I still don’t buy the demonstrative Correa version of leadership. I can’t shake the thought of Correa being a snake.

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      • I wonder if Beltran had a job if neither public nor privately “he” wouldn’t say anything right now about the rest of his life. Since there’s nothing I’ve read about Beltran’s return, his prevailing thought has to be the flooded SS Free Agents that will dilute his financial dreams.

        For me, there is no blame on Crane or JL about Springer. He extended with us, those accounts were washed. It was almost the exact same situation as Morton — they wanted to go home. Else, they would have intimated 28 other teams as options. The exact opposite of Cole where it was clear his parents wanted him in LAA, and the biggest payday was the major consideration. If you listened to him on McHugh’s podcast about his analysis in considering NYY at draft vs UCLA, it was money vs “education.” He literally asked, “is $2.5m from Yanks worth a UCLA degree. And yet, he didn’t graduate.

        Just my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A lot can happen in a year. If Lindor struggles in 2021 and hasn’t been inked to an extension, the NYM may still push hard for one of the other SS. Until Correa signs and extension in HOU I’m going to expect he’s testing the waters and leaving. However, it would be foolish for him to say or do anything to harm his chances of receiving the best possible offer from Crane. Regardless, it’s never been my impression that his teammates disliked him. He was very popular in his minor league days. Put that in contrast to some other guys receiving huge signing bonuses like Mark Appel. As to the heated market next offseason, I can’t see a team paying a higher amount to Lindor/Story/Seager than they would offer Correa unless something happens this season. I don’t think any of the offers will even be within $5M AAV.

        Having defended Correa, I do think he deserves lots of criticism for the broken rib fiasco and hope he (and the Astros) learned a good lesson there.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Back in the early days (prior to free agency), my disappointments were tied to a stupid front office that way undervalued Joe Morgan. Mike Cuellar, Rusty Staub, John Mayberry, etc. and traded them away like Bill O’Brien was in charge.
    After free agency occurred, we occasionally dabbled in it – like with Nolan Ryan, but we seemed to lose folks we really wanted to keep as with Ryan to the Rangers, Mike Hampton, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Carlos Beltran, etc. – but most of the losses were not “out” guys – guys we developed and loved.
    But losing Pence and Oswalt was tough and now we are losing the first of our World Series warriors that we developed from scratch and loved.
    I will always wish George well and I believe he will have a shot at a championship with the Blue Jays. But I know he would have had a shot or two here too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • On this, Dan, I’d rather we fashion after the Rays. Stay young, keep mostly optionable players (blend some vets in with the savings), draft well and be smarter than everyone about advanced scouting. We cannot sustainably win trying to buy champiosnhips because as Moneyball proved, hidden value isn’t obvious to most of these execs. Well, maybe more so now than when Beane and Bill James were credited with innovative thinking. Those big markets would oust any GM who gambles on a Straw or McCormick, because why when you have 100 million more to spend, and could care less about taxes?

      I will gladly take all the heat I do for touting prospects, for just one chance to say I told ya so on the guys nobody saw coming. Then again, I’m just a blogger with no liabilities but my already flimsy rep.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The thing that worries me about Springer is that since he came up after 14 games in 2014, he has played in 795 of the 1018 games the Astros have played. That is 78%. For perspective, “fragile” Carlos Correa, who came up after 58 games in 2015 has played in 604 of 812 games played or 74% which is only a little worse. And George turns 32 this September and for most players, health gets worse, not better with age.
    Tough to know you will get what you want out of him over the next 5 or 6 seasons.

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    • That he came in 25 lbs lighter in 2019 amid same questions, I don’t question his commitment and unnatural abilities to suspend aging. What I question is his sense of throttling back when all-out effort isn’t needed, for the sake of the long haul.

      And too, mustn’t forget Edinson Volquez. How Springer administered his payback the very first time he met him again after the broken hand incident, it should tell anyone Springer’s ability to summon a thunderbolt from the gods as needed. Wow what a season he was headed toward when that happened. I can’t remember a time I was more ticked off than that singular moment he clutched his hand.

      I got a similar sick feeling when Osuna went down.

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  12. Your comment about Elizabeth Taylor reminded me of an old, old joke while she was married to Richard Burton.

    Burton got up in the middle of the night and told her, “I am going to the bathroom.” She said, “Richard, you don’t have to tell me every time you get up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom.”

    He replied, “I just wanted you to save my place.”

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Long mask day ahead.
    Going to see our 6th different doctor in the last 3 years to see if consulting a seventh one would be worth the effort. Just trying to ease her discomfort.
    Grocery, bank, post office, drive-thru lunch and then finish the goat fence this pm.
    It was 20 degrees yesterday morning and 50 degrees at the same time this morning. That does not often happen in January.
    You all have a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hang in there old pro – I know mask days are tiring. Prayers are out there for Mrs. Old Pro.
    Yes weather is bouncing around here too – in the 70’s one day and dipping into the 30’s for a low the next night.

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    • Bill Murphy did such a masterful job in Bielak in Buies Creek 2018. In retrospect now, Bill was making a name for himself among the other very talented, young pitching coaches on the staff.

      It’s very well-deserved and in good hands, should Strommie get up in the booth and do Front Office work in the background in 2022. As long as Strommie is up to it, there’s no way Astros will let him go back to grooming dogs. Although nowadays, he said he really enjoys traveling with his wife, last known was Italy.

      Shout out to Op and Mrs. Op. Prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ken Griffey Jr being named a Senior Advisor to Rob Manfred, is akin to being named Senior Advisor to Cal McNair.
    Flying over the Cuckoo’s Nest and landing in the dookie pile!

    Liked by 1 person

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