Who was Puma sticking his tongue out at last night?

After umpires checked the instant replay and upheld Lance Berkman’s home run during Thursday’s game with the Braves, cameras caught Puma sticking his tongue out at someone from the opposing bench.

Braves manager Bobby Cox? The umpires? The fans?

None of the above. The gesture was aimed toward fellow first baseman (and friend of Big Puma) Adam LaRoche. Apparently, during the delay while umpires were reviewing the play, LaRoche was peering into the Astros’ dugout mouthing to Puma “it’s going to be a double, it’s going to be a double.” (All in jest, of course).

So when the home run was indeed ruled a home run, Puma let his buddy know what he thought of that particular prognostication. Just a couple of fun jabs between two comrades.

We Shall Never Forget

Here are some snapshots from the pregame ceremony at Minute Maid Park on Friday, in remembrence of Sept. 11. The Astros clearly left no stone unturned while tracking down the good people of Houston who make sacrifices of all sorts in order to keep the city safe.

The Astros first honored “invisible heroes” — 9-1-1 call takers who are “the calm, reassuring voice on the other end of the phone working quickly” to offer assistance.

Nearly 1,000 call takers were in attendance for Friday’s ceremony, many of whom held a giant American flag on the field throughout the event.

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Representing the 9-1-1 call center near home plate were the 9-1-1 mascots — “Red E. Fox” and “Cell Phone Sally”, joined by Lt. John Shannon, who was recognized by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for his commitment to emergency communications during Hurricane Ike. Wanda Richards of the LaPorte Police Department was recognized as a 9-1-1 “silent hero” for 2009, as was Kimberly Maldonado of the Jersey Village Police Department.

(I thought it was just so nice of Cell Phone Sally to look right at the camera while I took this picture.)

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The Astros recently hosted a contest at Astros.com where fans could nominate their community heroes to be honored before Friday’s game. The winner was Judi Meyn, who has served as an area paramedic for over 30 years and a member of the life flight team for 20. When she is off duty, she spends her time with a volunteer ambulance company or teaching EMT classes at San Jacinto College. Here she is with third base coach Dave Clark, just after she threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

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Heroes of all kinds marched onto the field: members of the United States Military, the Houston Police Department, the Houston Fire Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Galveston County Emergency Communication District and many other agencies from jurisdictions all over the Houston area.

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The Houston Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors.

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After a moment of silence to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Sgt. Ronald Hunter from the Harris County Sherriff’s Office performed the national anthem.

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Three representatives from police, fire and military sectors were recognized for contributions that “exemplify the spirit of a hero.”

Officer David Freytag (left) has been serving as a Houston police officer for 46 years, was a member of the HPD Honor Guard and also served in the United States Army.

Firefighter Jermain Wiggins (center) was recognized saving a life during a fire last January, when he went into a burning house, found a woman lying in the middle of the living room, grabbed her and carried her out.

While serving in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant David Worswick (right) survived both an attack on his base and the impact of a road-side bomb that thrust him head first into the windshield of his humvee, which knocked him unconscious. Once he awoke, he immediately began assisting those around who could not help themselves. Worswick received a purple heart for his actions that day.

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2 Comments

Lance sure does stay busy chatting with all the baserunners who make it down there to first base with him every game. He must be a pretty good conversation starter to have something to talk about with EVERY player who strolls his way.

I totally agree! Talk about multi-tasking.. from chomping on seeds or gigantic wads of gum to jawing away at any given baserunner & keeping him from stealing 2nd to making some great PUMA plays. That’s what keeping your head in the game is all about!

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