Ringing in 2011 with caravans, Astroline and a Seinfeldian airing of the grievances.

Happy New Year, Astros fans…now that we’ve all flipped the calendar to 2011, the offseason is, for all intents and purposes. over. We’re back in baseball mode, where caravans, awards banquets and…oh yea…that little pending Hall of Fame announcement kick off what should be a busy month of Astros activity.

A few changes have been made to the initial caravan schedule we posted before the holiday break. A lot of you have asked who will replace Matt Lindstrom during the Houston-area visits Thursday, Jan. 13 through Saturday, Jan. 15. Rather than replacements, it looks like there will instead be a slight shuffling of players. Bill Hall has been added to the visit to the Academy Sports + Outdoors in Katy on Jan. 14, while Chris Johnson has been scratched from that visit and added to the Central Texas trip (Austin and San Antonio) Jan. 18-20.

(Additional note: Hall is now confirmed for Jan. 15 in College Station/Cypress.) 

Additionally, Nelson Figueroa will accompany the Astros to Temple and will appear at two public autograph signings on Jan. 25.

An updated schedule can be found here, but please keep in mind this is still TENTATIVE and more changes could be made. The venues for the visits, however, will remain unchanged.

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Astroline

After a two-week holiday hiatus, Astroline, the Astros’ weekly offseason radio show, will resume on Wednesday (Jan. 5) — same time (7 p.m. CT), same place (Buffalo Wild Wings on Gray St. in Midtown). Aired on KTRH and Astros.com, this week’s Astroline show will feature host Milo Hamilton and outfielder Brian Bogusevic.

We’ll be there tweeting, of course, so send me your questions for Bogusevic and we’ll read/answer them on the air.

Future Astroline guests have yet to be booked but we will convey the information as soon as we know.

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Applause, applause

0103_wilton.jpgCongratulations to relief pitcher Wilton Lopez, who was selected by the Nicaraguan Sports Writers Association as the Professional Athlete of 2010. He was chosen ahead of athletes such as world boxing champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and pitcher Vicente Padilla.

Lopez (shown above, receiving his Pitcher of the Year plaque from the Corpus Christi Hooks during Spring Training last year) will be honored at an awards dinner on Feb. 5 at the Holiday Inn hotel in Managua.

The banquet will be attended by the President of the Republic. Also expected to attend is the most successful Nicaraguan-born player in big league history, former pitcher Dennis Martinez, who played 23 years in the Majors.

Incidentally, Lopez is only one of eight players from Nicaragua to ever have appeared in a Major League game. Padilla and shortstop Everth Cabrera are the only other active Nicaraguans in the Majors.

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A Festivus for the rest of us

In addition to many traditional holiday parties I enjoyed over our eight-day break, I attended an annual Festivus celebration, which included (but wasn’t limited to) re-gifting, a Festivus pole and a scrumptious array of black and white cookies.

Festivus, as most of you over the age of 27-ish probably remember, is a fictional holiday made up by George Costanza’s cranky and socially inept dad on the hit 1990s show “Seinfeld.” The holiday offers the practice of “Airing of Grievances,” which occurs during the Festivus meal and allows each person to tell everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. It’s perfect for the typical American dysfunctional family, which is why it worked so well for the Costanzas.

It works well in baseball circles, too, come to think of it. And all of this Hall of Fame chatter in the last week has my head spinning. So, to steal a very famous line from the cantankerous Frank Costanza, I say to select media outlets, “I’VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!”

No, not for the reasons you might think. Yes, I’ve read the same stuff you’ve read. I’ve pored over columns and blogs and tweets of dozens of writers splattered all over the country and clearly, there are a lot of voters who are not voting for Jeff Bagwell. They have their reasons, ranging from their suspicion of PED use to simply not being overly impressed with the man’s 15-year career.

Whatever. They vote, I don’t, and they’re entitled to their opinions (although I strongly disagree with the majority of the dissenters). Free speech is alive and well in this country, thankfully, so have at it.

But for crying out loud, can they not find better pictures to illustrate their pointed opinions about our lovable former first baseman?

I mean, really. Are the columns more complete if Bagwell is shown looking sad? Forlorn? Confused? Irritated? Defeated? Tired? Every time I open a story on the ‘net, there he is, looking, well, not so great.

So in honor of our pal Bags, here’s my contribution to the voting process (since I’m not involved in any way, shape or form with the voting process): a nice, happy shot of him.

Enjoy…and here’s to a great 2011…

0103_bags.jpg 

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5 Comments

Thanks for the update! However, Linstrom is still listed on the Cypress Academy stop … the one I’m going to. Will he be replaced or just one less player there?? This was so great last year … looking forward to it again. Always and forever an Astro fan!!!
P.S. The Bagwell picture made my day!! =>

They’re fixing that…no Lindstrom replacement that day right now. There’s still a full slate of players though so I think we’re OK there. Thanks!

Still looking forward to the OKC appearance even if it was shortened by a day! ;)
Even more happy that Bagwell will be there. Still wish Pence or Johnson might decided to make it.

So will Hall be attending the Cypress/College Station stops? Website removed Lindstrom without adding Hall despite the confirmation above…

I consider our family to be very fortunate to see Wilton Lopez during the 2009 with the Corpus Christi Hooks and watch him turn into a very effective pitcher. His first couple of outings as a starter were pretty ugly but as the season rolled on he definitely displayed why the Houston Astros called him up to ‘The Show’.

http://thehooks.mlblogs.com/

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