Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19- Houston Astros

I think it might be fair to say that I totally doomed myself when marking this hat, but I’ll get to that in a moment. The Houston Astros wore this cap from 2000-12, at which some could argue the 13-year stretch was the greatest of the team’s history. 2005 is the only year that the Astros went to a World Series, losing to the Chicago White Sox in four games under then manager Phil Garner. But, I disagree with that statement, which I’ll get to later in the season. Like a few teams I’ve written about previous to this post, the changing of the colors, uniforms, not to mention a new ball park (Enron Field, now Minute Maid Ball Park) only served to be the closing act of an era since their humble beginning in 1962 when they were called the Houston .45s. This was the last stretch the Astros not only played in the National League, but also the longest tenure they had in the NL Central, which they had moved to at the start of the 1994 season.

If you’ve noticed on my hats thus far, I ted to stick to only two jersey numbers. The four numbers I’ve been marking make for a great fit without being too distracting to the logo and its placement; however, on this hat, I went with three numbers. Primarily for the sake of the four total numbers that fit. With these three guys represented, it’ll make it a little difficult when I decide to mark and write about their black road cap.

#5- An obvious choice, but perhaps one I should have used for an earlier style. Jeff Bagwell played his final game in The Show at the end of the 2005 season. Despite being born in Boston and being drafted by the Red Sox in 1989, Bagwell never played a game for anyone other than the Astros, and holds most of the offensive records for the franchise: .297 AVG, 449 home runs, 1529 RBI and 1401 walks. Only one man has him beat on career hits. 2000, the first year of this cap, was the last great year, and quite possibly the greatest of Bagwell’s career in the Majors. Bagwell played in 159 games that season and hit .310 with 132 RBI (Second highest of his career) and 47 home runs, the most he had ever slugged in a season. Unfortunately for Bagwell, only Richard Hidalgo had as positive of an impact on the season. The team finished in fourth place in their division with a record of 72-90 under Larry Dierker. I assure you that this is not the last time you’ll see Bagwell-related numbers on any of my hats.

#7- The man who holds the Astros career hits record, and a guy who clearly got hosed on his first Hall of Fame ballot, Craig Biggio. Unlike Bagwell, Biggio stuck it out for 20 years. That’s not to say that Bagwell didn’t want to stick around, but Biggio was clearly the healthier and more resilient of the two. 3060 hits for his career, Biggio started out back in 1988. Throughout his career he became a real utility guy, playing at second base, catcher and some platooning in the outfield. Much like Michael Young in Texas, Biggio always made himself useful for everywhere on the field when needed. The 2000-2007 years were mixed for Biggio as he hit career highs in home runs (24- 2004 and 26- 2005), and he only hit over .268 twice (.292- 2001 and .281- 2004) He also never batted in more than 70 runs in that time. But, much to the chagrin of baseball writers, he clearly earned his way in the Hall of Fame, which will more than likely be recognized in the next few years.

#17- The one guy who probably deserves the most recognition on this era of hats, Lance Berkman. Berkman came up with the Astros in 1999 and stuck around halfway through the 2010 season when he was dealt to the Yankees for the remainder of the season. During his time in Houston Berkman posted .296/326/1090 and quite possibly could have been the one guy to shatter all of Bagwell’s Astros records. But, the Astros rained heavily on that parade. Berkman wasn’t the greatest fielder the team ever had. Hell, he only made 5 All-Star teams despite finishing well in the NL MVP run in five years. Berkman was head and shoulders about the rest of the team, talent wise, plus playing for a team that failed to give him a supporting cast didn’t help his case either, unlike Biggio and Bagwell in their early years.

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