A special Astros holiday greeting from us, to you. With our thanks.

For most of us, the holiday season means a few things: a time to celebrate with family, to take a break from work and/or school, to eat a lot, sleep too much and watch a whole lot of football.

For those of us in baseball, the holidays are sort of like Groundhog Day: We have just about six weeks left of the offseason before we head to Florida. Visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads will soon be replaced by real-life images of players practicing pickoffs, rundowns, hitting the cutoff man, infield popups and running quickly and efficiently from first to third.

But before we get too excited about pitchers fielding practice and driving 80 mph on the Florida Turnpike, we still have a few items of business to cross off the offseason check list.

Consider this holiday blog, first and foremost, a salute to the fans, intended as a hearty “thank you” for all of your support this year. Thank you for reading, emailing, tweeting, participating, responding, cheering, booing and venting. Thank you for the give and take, the back and forth, the daily interaction that is now, thanks to social media, a means of communication that is no longer an enigma — it’s simply a way of our sports-watching life.

The best part of social media is the ability to present the players and staff in a very real way — to show them as every day people who are not much different from you and me.

They have families. They have hobbies. They are funny. And smart. And opinionated. And strange.

They watch the news. They have political views. They think “The Hangover” was really, really funny. They think “Old Dogs” was really, really stupid.

They take losses by their college football teams personally. They think California is too liberal (if they’re from Texas). They think the size of the trucks people drive in Texas is absurd (if they’re from California).

They think Kenny Powers is one step below God. They feel the same way about Miley Cyrus, but won’t admit it.

They see “Maury” (as in Povich) as an acceptable way to pass the time before batting practice. They pour Advil onto their bats during losing streaks. They eat Lunchables and M&Ms on flights. They spend too much time on their hair. When they’re thinning at 30, they shave it off.

They shop at outlet malls. They eat at Whataburger. They’re addicted to their Xboxes and Wiis and Kindles. And their iPads. And their iPods. And their iPhones.

They gossip. They bicker. They debate. And when they accidentally…well, they blame it on the guy next to them.

But most importantly (at least for your friendly neighborhood blogger), they follow directions well, without requiring much explanation. Enter Little Miss Astros Sunshine, our unofficial holiday/offseason mascot, decked out in Santa’s gear with two cheerful messages protruding from her big yellow head.

She’s had quite the tour of Houston this offseason. Think of it as our special version of Where’s Waldo, with a little Flat Stanley mixed in. We carried her around with us and did what we do best — interrupted the daily lives of your Astros, all in the name of gratuitous photography. Some are posed, some are random. Hopefully, you’ll find all amusing.

For the most part, our subjects responded well to “Here. Hold this and act natural please.” For those needing a more detailed explanation: “Just do it. Bagwell did.”

From our Astros family to yours, we say, heartily, happy, happy holidays. Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it, we hope you enjoy this time with friends and family and good food and laughter. Enjoy!

Jeff Bagwell

Craig Biggio

Bill Hall, during an introductory tour with Ed Wade


Drayton McLane


Jose Cruuuuuuuuuuz


Larry Dierker


Brad Mills


Mills’ office, when the skipper wasn’t looking


Breakfast at the Buffalo Grille with Hunter Pence, Brian Bogusevic, Bud Norris

Jimmy Wynn

holiday_wynn.JPGMichael Bourn

Being interrogated by beat writers Brian McTaggart and Zachary Levine

Shane Reynolds

holiday_reynolds.JPGPhil Garner

Hanging in Brad Arnsberg’s locker (not everyone’s in town)

Working out with Brian Bogusevic…


…and Humberto Quintero…

…and Wandy Rodriguez

holiday_wandy.JPGBeing treated by head athletic trainer Nate Lucero…


…and taped up by assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones

At Astroline with Milo Hamilton…

…eavesdropping on Bill Brown…

holiday_brownie.JPG…getting golf tips from Jim Deshaies and Dave Raymond…

…and enjoying a cool refreshing beverage with Brett Dolan.


Sitting in on a high-level meeting with Ed Wade and his staff…


…and having some laughs with more front officers.

Equipment manager emeritus Dennis Liborio

Equipment manager Carl Schneider


Visiting clubhouse manager Steve Perry (and his famous bobblehead collection)


Junction Jack

All smiles with Bobby Meacham…

…and finally, delivering gifts at Texas Children’s Hospital with Doug Brocail.

See you in 2011!


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Check out Astros witticisms at PumaOneLiners 

Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com   



Thanks for the comments, both of you…Becky, every time I see an email from “b2too” in my inbox I smile, because I know you’re going to have something nice and incredibly supportive to say. Thanks so much for your optimism over the years, and happy, happy holidays! Alyson

Thanks for the great pictures!

Alyson…..Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You work
SOOOOO hard, and most of us don’t know it. We read your
blog, and NEVER even *THINK* about the work you put in it.
So from myself and ALL the folks that drop by to comment,
or just read your entries, we say Merry Christmas!!!
I know your parents and siblings will be glad to spoil you
over the holidays! You’re the BEST!! Becky:)🙂

THANK YOU, Alyson, for keeping us informed and helping the fans understand the day to day stuff and for all the pictures throughout the year. I totally agree with Becky, you are the absolute BEST!! I have been a Stros fan forever (at least before Biggio and Bagwell), and have never felt more connected to the team. I do a fantastic job and we as fans cannot thank you enough. Have a wonderful holiday! Enjoy your time away from baseball, you deserve it. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family. Earline

Alyson, I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again – we’re damn lucky to have you. Hats off for all your hard work in 2010, looking forward to 2011. Hope your holidays are great.

Thanks for the great year, Alyson. And I want to especially thank all the staff at Minute Maid Park for making my trip down from Boston for Mike Scott Bobblehead Night really special & awesome. That was probably the most fun baseball experience I’ve had since biking to Spring Training as a kid, and I’ll definitely make the trip down again.

It’s 5 a.m. here, and the photobomb of Mr. McLane made me laugh out loud! Hopefully I didn’t wake the neighbors. Thanks for all your hard work! Merry Christmas!

Thanks for the photos! I’ve really enjoyed your posts, tweets, as well as hanging out in the Budweiser Patio for Social Media night. Thanks for all your hard work! You make reading about my Astros much more entertaining. Looking forward to 2011! ?Donna

Ciao Alyson!

Hope you have a blessed holiday with your family. Thanks again for all your hard work off and on during the season and off-season. I know for you it’s almost a year round job, keeping us Stros fans starving for more, more, more!

As I’ve said before, I wasn’t into all the ‘blog’ things, but I ended up eating my words when the three websites I check the most now are blogs! This blog (and your previous blog) filled a need I didn’t realize I had….contact with the organization on an almost daily basis! Thanks for being so good at it!

Buon Natale, Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 to you Alyson! From your # 1 fan in Little Rock, AR!🙂

Forgot to post that pix were too funny! Love the line about ‘Bagwell did it’. Yes, I see, so nice of him to take time out of his ‘ahem’…busy schedule.🙂

Wonderful pictures – McLane and Mills office are too cute. You left out one with you and the little mascot!

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