So the Dog Days of summer are here. Not sure if you noticed.
On Sunday morning I wrote a lengthy blog about this annual phenomenon. I’m not going to tell you that it was prize-winning prose, but I was happy with the way it read. Then I hit the “publish” button on my screen and watched in horror as everything I wrote vanished into the ether.
I could have been furious at worpress.com or my computer. But I was too tired. Maybe it was cached somewhere.
Fact of the matter is, I screwed up. I didn’t check to see when last auto-save took place. I wasn’t careful enough to copy the text before leaving the screen. I was reckless. Lazy.
That’s what happens this time of year.
The heat bears down on a guy. The baseball schedule and exhaustion start to wear like a lead jacket. If I didn’t know it first-hand, I surely would have noticed it last week.
When we arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday night, I watched Astros TV man Bill Brown struggle with his room key. Every weary traveler has dealt with this frustration, right? The card was mis-programmed or the magnetic strip is corrupt. Sometimes an older hotel room door can be sensitive or wonky.
Anyway, you have to gather up your stuff again, traipse back to the elevator, return to the front desk and wait in line. Once there, you explain the situation, dig out your driver’s license and start all over again.
Or, in Brownie’s case, you could just put your Starbuck’s gift-card back in your wallet and try your actual room key. Much easier.
Poor fella. He was all tuckered out.
I’m not trying to tell you that we’re all tired. I’m trying to tell you that we’re passed-out-at-the-lunch-table exhausted (yep…that happened too. Story for another day.). That is what the Dog Days are to baseball people.
Some teams compensate by injecting new players into the clubhouse (read: Dodgers, Braves, Giants, etc.). They hope for renewed energy and buoyed spirits with the additions. Other teams do whatever they can to work around injuries or loss of personnel as they try to keep their heads above water (read: it’s not nice to point fingers).
When I was younger, this was simply the time of year when pennant races took shape. When children pass the time looking for images in the clouds while contemplating nature and immortality. The structure-less days of summer blended into one another and Sirius began to rise with the sun.
Now I find myself in the lobby of a hotel in Milwaukee doing whatever I can to remember my room number. When the bellman asked me the other day, I realized I had no idea. I’m guessing I’d have a better chance of explaining why the Babylonians found Pi to be so irrational.
After the Astros homestand that begins Monday night, the team will head out for a stretch of five series in five different cities – with no more than 72 hours to settle in any one town. Here’s the upcoming travel schedule: Chicago – Houston – St. Louis – New York – Houston.
In mid-August. During the Dog Days.
Talk about a punishing schedule!
Last week, in Milwaukee, Brownie returned to the hotel in the middle of the day. He got off the elevator on his floor and started looking for his room. The floors at this particular hotel are circular. As he walked, Bill noticed that just about every door had a “do not disturb” sign hanging from the handle. Finally, he found one without a sign. He tried his key. Not his room.
He kept walking around and found another door with out a sign. He tried his key again.
Viola! Home sweet home!
STACKING UP THE NUMBERS
Among the many things baseball gives us, are the fascinating ways in which to examine the game. One fun way is through numbers. We find great discrepancies, odd parallels and inexplicable rarities.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the career stats for the Astros starting lineup on Sunday:
- J. Altuve 619 AB 180 H 7 HR
- M. Gonzalez 142 AB 37 H 1 HR
- B. Wallace 534 AB 135 H 11 HR
- J. Maxwell 401 AB 89 H 21 HR
- S. Moore 283 AB 64 H 12 HR
- S. Pearce 547 AB 129 H 12 HR
- B. Bogusevic 479 AB 113 H 10 HR
- C. Corporan 189 AB 41 H 2 HR
TOTALS 3194 AB 788 H 76 HR
We know the Astros are in the throes of a rebuilding project. The youth movement is well underway, to be sure. As a result, we saw a most unusual contrast in experience on Sunday. Check out the career numbers for the Braves’ cleanup hitter, Chipper Jones:
Chipper Jones 8837 AB 2691 H 464 HR
So Chipper has taken more than 5600 at bat more than the entire Astros lineup, collected over 1900 more hits and swatted more than six times more homers.
I’d say the difference is stunning, but that might be an understatement.
I stumbled across an jaw-dropping observation the other day. I’m not even sure why I was reading this article. It opened my eyes to a surprising fact, however.
So let me pose you this question: since May 15th, who do you think has led the American League in these four offensive categories (HR, RBIs, SLG% and OBP)?
Anyway, it’s not an obvious answer. At least it wasn’t for me. Maybe it’ll jump out at you, but think about it for a minute before you read the article.
If you happen to guess correctly before reading the piece, you’re invited to follow me on twitter: @daveraymond4