Let’s face it. Even in the most active times, the baseball off-season is pretty patchy as a source for new writing material.
There are definitely some peak times that get things roiled up a bit, but there are some slow times, too, in between the tendering and non-tendering, the 40 man roster manipulation, the Rule 5 draft, etc. Waiting for arbitration numbers to be exchanged and decided upon. (Do we really care if Player X gets $4.2 or 5.7 million?) Waiting for your team to sign a couple free agents, etc.
But now we are past that as the MLB and the MLBPA head into a standoff during the lockdown. It kind of reminds me of a line from that holiday classic The Christmas Story. The neighbor’s hound dogs have broken into the house and took down and took away the turkey. The narrator, who is the young boy, Ralphie, as an adult, says, “The heavenly aroma still hung in the house, but it was gone, all gone! No turkey, no turkey sandwiches, no turkey salad, no turkey gravy, turkey hash, turkey a-la-king, or gallons of turkey soup!” We are still clinging to the hope that the turkey will return before the season is trashed, but all we are left with is a wrecked and empty kitchen.
I do take inspiration from this rather odd posting on the Astros mlb.com website …..
I can only assume they posted this because there is some legalese reason to avoid some subjects while negotiations are ongoing.
Our blog will continue and cover whatever odd-wad thing this odd-wad writer can pull up out of the morass of ideas in his all too clogged mind. Suggested topics are always welcome!
I did want to touch on the death of one of the best managers the Astros ever had, Bill Virdon. Virdon always reminded me of my dad. They were both Midwesterners, Virdon from Michigan, my dad from Wisconsin and born a few months apart back in 1931. Both of them played sports despite having that handicap of glasses in that pre-contact lens time, and more importantly, they both were solid, good citizens and hard workers in their chosen professions.
After winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1955 with St. Louis, Virdon enjoyed a good, not great 12-year career spent mostly with the Pirates. He was on the 1960 World Series winners, the series where Bill Mazeroski hit the biggest walk-off homer to that time in Game 7 of the series that caused the Yankees to nudge Casey Stengel out the door.
When they cut the cord, the Astros had been suffering through an awful 1975 season under Preston Gomez, 47-80. Virdon was available because the Yankees had fired him for a slightly over .500 start to the season and then replaced him with the first version of the mercurial Billy Martin. As a manager, he brought in a solid, professional demeanor, often missing in the Astros dugout.
The Astros went 17-17 the rest of the way under Virdon, and then he led them to primarily competitive seasons the next 8 years as he was and still is the winningest manager in Astros’ history. But the most important thing he did for the team was to lead them to their first postseason appearance in 1980 as they got nudged by the Phillies in a thrilling series. They blew a 2-0 lead to the Dodgers in a mini-series in 1981, and he was fired during a less successful than expected 1982 season.
Bill Virdon is an integral part of the Astros’ history. He was a winner, and he taught his team to be one. Maybe he managed too conservatively, as was sometimes pointed out about him. But like my dad, that was the kind of person he was; solid and not flashy, but steady and dependable.