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!
Bill Hall, during an introductory tour with Ed Wade
Mills’ office, when the skipper wasn’t looking
Breakfast at the Buffalo Grille with Hunter Pence, Brian Bogusevic, Bud Norris
Being interrogated by beat writers Brian McTaggart and Zachary Levine
Hanging in Brad Arnsberg’s locker (not everyone’s in town)
Working out with Brian Bogusevic…
…and Humberto Quintero…
…and Wandy Rodriguez
…and taped up by assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones
At Astroline with Milo Hamilton…
…eavesdropping on Bill Brown…
…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)
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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