Results tagged ‘ Craig Biggio ’
When the Astros were in Philadelphia on the last road trip, I learned from a local reporter that when the big trade went down — the one that sent Roy Oswalt to Philly in exchange for J.A. Happ and others — the Phillies players didn’t want to talk about it with the media.
The players were upset to lose Happ, and they were wary of sounding like it was a slam on Oswalt. It wasn’t. They were happy to have him on their team, but they were saddened to lose Happ, a pitcher whom most of his former teammates saw as a future top-of-the-rotation mainstay. They knew what they were losing. One month later, it’s becoming clear that Philly’s loss was Houston’s gain. In a big way.
Happ isn’t going to overpower hitters, but clearly, he knows how to confuse them. Other than one abysmal start in St. Louis — his second start as an Astro — Happ has been, for lack of a better term, nails. He tossed a two-hit shutout against the same St. Louis club on Monday, lowering his ERA at Minute Maid Park to 0.84. He’s the only pitcher in stadium history to make at least five starts without recording a loss, and his ERA this season is 2.89.
Happ is 27 and under club control through 2014. He’ll begin his arbitration years in 2012. In other words, the Astros have him for a long time, and when you’re in the process of revamping your organization, it’s essential to reload with young pitchers who will be around for a while. The starting rotation has posted a 2.27 ERA over the last 21 games, and Happ has been a big part of it.
A lot will have to go right in order for the Astros to a force in the NL Central next year, but when you have a strong starting staff, you have a chance. The Astros, at the very least, have that.
Other notes from the win:
Carlos Lee picked up an RBI Monday, giving him 29 RBI in his last 30 games since July 28. Since that date, Lee leads all Major Leaguers in RBIs immediately ahead of Carlos Gonzalez (28) and Casey McGehee (28).
Michael Bourn extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 1-for-4. The streak dates back to Aug. 22, during which he’s hit .368 with five stolen bases and three RBIs.
Calling all heroes
The Astros are honoring all local police forces, fire stations and EMS teams as well as those serving in the United States Armed Forces during 9/11 Heroes Night at Minute Maid Park prior to the Astros vs. Pirates game.
The Astros are also offering a special discount to all local heroes and their guests. Fans can visit www.astros.com/heroes to take advantage of this offer.
Join the Astros for 29-95.com Night at Minute Maid Park on Friday, September 17. For just $29.95, you can score a package that includes a seat on the FiveSeven Patio to watch the Astros take on the Reds, a slider trio (burger, chicken and pulled pork), french fries and your choice of beverage.
After the game, you can enjoy live music from Robert Ellis and The Boys in the FiveSeven Grille. Plus, each 29-95.com member will receive an Astros cap and $3.75 draft beer and margarita specials.
Tickets and food and beverage vouchers will be mailed upon receipt of purchase on or before Friday, Sept. 10. Packages purchased after Sept. 10 can be picked up at the Minute Maid Park Box Office, located along Texas Avenue, on Sept. 17. Box Office will open at 9:00 a.m.
Click here to order tickets: http://houston.astros.mlb.com/hou/ticketing/2995.jsp
It’s always nice when Craig Biggio drops by the ballpark, but it’s especially appreciated by your friendly neighborhood blogger, for photo opp purposes. Enjoy the sights:
Bagwell and Biggio together always creates a bit of a stir.
Jason Michaels, Geoff Blum
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The new FiveSeven Grille in center field at Minute Maid Park is eye-catching with its modern decor and splashy photographs of Jeff Bagwell (Five) and Craig Biggio (Seven), and apparently, these attributes didn’t go unnoticed by the experts.
Earlier this week, the Astros revealed that the Texas Gulf Coast chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) awarded Houston-based architecture firm Kirksey the First Place Interior Design Award in the hospitality category for the FiveSeven Grille.
The competition was open to licensed interior designers and architects in Houston and the Gulf Coast area, and projects could be located anywhere if they were completed within the last two years.
“The Astros are thrilled with the work that Kirksey did in bringing FiveSeven Grille to life,” said Astros President of Business Operations Pam Gardner. “The design work captures the feel and excitement of a fun, clubby destination, while showcasing Astros’ icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio in dynamic fashion. It has been a great gathering place on game days and provides a wonderful location for private parties on non-game days.”
The FiveSeven Grille pays homage to Bagwell and Biggio with various photos taken during their tenure with the club that are displayed throughout the restaurant and bar. It is available year-round for private parties and events. For booking information, please call 713-259-8808.
Chris Sampson didn’t get the callup when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, but he had plenty of offseason projects to keep him busy when his season in Round Rock concluded a month ago.
Sampson and former Brewers farmhand Kade Johnson are building a baseball academy in Baytown, which, according to their new web site — http://www.lonestarbat.com — will be opening soon.
The academy offers private baseball and softball lessons, clinics and cage rentals for baseball and softball teams or individual players. It also includes five extra wide 70 foot batting tunnels, an Iron Mike pitching machine, baseball and softball pitching machines, indoor pitching mounds and video analysis.
A couple of the pictures we posted from Craig Biggio’s Sunshine Kids party sparked a bit of controversy after fans read the “Red Sox” on his t-shirt…
…so I asked team photographer Stephen O’Brien to check to see if he had a close-up shot. Biggio was wearing a Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox t-shirt, from the Cape Cod League. Biggio is a Y-D Red Sox alum, having played for that team in 1986. Mystery solved.
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Veteran Houston sportswriter Gene Duffey wrote a nice piece for Health and Fitness Sports Magazine that should pique the interest of Astros fans, as well as Houston sports fans in general.
The magazine’s 24th anniversary issue features Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, former Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon in a feature titled “Now…And Then.”
The article touches on Biggio’s post-playing career, which includes coaching the St. Thomas High School baseball team and catching up on things he missed during a 20-year career that ended with 3,060 hits, all with the Astros.
“Biggio, a Long Island, NY native, and wife, Patty, took their first summer vacation in 2008, visiting Italy and the Jersey Shore,’” Duffey writes.
‘Retired? I haven’t been there,’ he laughed. “It’s baseball seven days a week.’”
Bagwell talks about his active involvement in Houston charities, including his two years serving as the celebrity spokesperson for Prepared 4 Life’s Lemonade Day, a free community-wide event that offers young people the opportunity to savor the sweet taste of success that comes with owning and operating their own lemonade business.
Biggio appears on the cover of the issue, which is due to hit stands on Sept. 24.
“We were honored to have Craig appear on the cover of this special issue,” Editor-in-Chief Rod Evans said. “The profiles of Biggio and the other sports luminaries should be very enjoyable for any Houston sports fan. We always try to do something extraordinary for our anniversary issue, and I think we’ve hit a home run this year.”
Health and Fitness Sports Magazine is a free publication that can be found at fitness centers, spas, salons, supermarkets, hospitals, clinics and other facilities around Houston. Readers are also invited to view the publication online at Healthandfitnessmag.com. You’ll have to sign up in order to gain access to the article, but it takes only a few seconds (I signed up yesterday).
It could be said that baseball is Milo Hamilton’s first love, but fine dining has to be a close second. During his multiple decades as a baseball broadcaster, Milo has compiled an extensive and impressive list of restaurants he likes to frequent on the road, as well as his favorite eateries right here in Houston.
One of his favorite in-town stops is Truluck’s on Westheimer, near the Galleria. On Thursday, he reserved the party room at the upscale restaurant and invited 21 friends from the Astros family to join him in celebrating his 82nd birthday.
Happy birthday, Milo!
Milo and his son, Mark.
Jamie Hildreth, Astros Sr. Vice President of Sponsorships, gives a birthday toast to the man of the hour.
As of the wee hours on Friday, the Astros Facebook page reached the 100,000 member mark. I’d like to send a quick thank you to all of the fans who have joined and an extra shout out to those who have kept the page lively by engaging in enlightened conversations regarding the 2009 Astros. I know this has been a difficult and frustrating season, but we really are interested in hearing any and all comments regarding the team, good and bad. On Facebook, everyone has a voice.
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In 1990, two young wives of two budding superstar Astros players put together a modest fundraiser titled “An Evening of Stars” and hand-picked the organization to where the funds would be donated.
The gala was the first of its kind in the Astros organization, and it’s unlikely Patty Biggio and Nancy Caminiti could have imagined that a night of dinner and dancing for approximately 400 guests would snowball into the most lucrative single fundraising event the Astros host in every calendar year.
At some point in the early to mid-1990s, “An Evening of Stars” turned into “Black Ties and Baseball Caps.” Although the title changed, the recipient of the proceeds has remained the same. The Houston Area Women’s Center — a safe haven for women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence — started as a modest eight-bed facility in 1977 and has grown to a 125-bed shelter, the largest in the country for woman and child survivors of domestic and sexual assault. The Astros Wives have played a part in that; two decades worth of galas have raised over $3 million for the HAWC.
This year’s soiree will be held on Aug. 6 on the field at Minute Maid Park and will be co-chaired by Pamela Michaels and Michelle Quintero. Tickets to the gala begin at $400, and as an added benefit, All-Star, Diamond, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger tables have the opportunity to select a player and his wife or guest to be seated at their table. Player requests are granted first by level of sponsorship and in the order received.
For more information or to purchase tickets call 713-781-0053.
As I was looking through pictures from past events in preparation to blog about this year’s milestone gala — the big 2-0 — I couldn’t help but notice the ones in the early years involved not only dinner and schmoozing with baseball players, but also dancing, and, during the Casey Candaele years, break dancing. These days, the gala is a bit more subdued, but still a lot of fun. And the silent and live auction items have undoubtedly improved.
Judging from the picture at the top of this blog, it’s clear Craig and Patty Biggio felt comfortable on the dance floor. They’re not the only ones…
This is the most normal pose I found of Candaele, circa 1990.
Those who know Casey, however, would probably say this one is the more normal of the two.
Many people danced that night, but from what I can tell from the pictures, Casey was the only one who took it to the floor, literally.
Hey, look, it’s Jim Deshaies…with hair!
Fast foward 10 years…the team in 2000 wasn’t very good, but there were a lot of fan favorites on the club. Left to right: Jose Lima Time, Scott Elarton, Jeff Bagwell, Billy Wagner, Jay Powell and Lance Berkman (pre-Puma.)
2003: Bagwell, Milo Hamilton, Berkman.
While perusing the 1990 scrap book I found this letter written by Ellen Cohen, who had just taken over as President and CEO of the HAWC. I was struck by Cohen’s description of exactly how the funds from the gala were spent, and how much Cohen was hoping the wives would again pick the HAWC as their charity of choice (obviously, they did).
(Point of interest: Cohen left the HAWC in 2006 when she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Houston District 134.)
Friendly reminder that the Kids Free All Summer will continue through Aug. 23. A friend of mine tried it out couple of weeks ago — he and his wife each bought a $20 ticket and their four kids got in for free. That six people for 40 bucks. Check it out…
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The final results of the season-long Top Moment Bracket Challenge were revealed Monday, and it’s not at all surprising that Craig Biggio’s 3,000th career hit was named the very best moment in Minute Maid Park history. But I have to take issue with how the rest of the top 10 shook out, especially Jeff Kent’s game-winning home run that won Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS. Seventh? Seventh? That’s it?
I have no problem with Chris Burke’s 18th inning home run in ’05 ranking second, but I can’t understand how Biggio’s final game in ’07 ranked higher than Kent’s homer. And I am completely flabbergasted that Brad Ausmus’ home run during his final game as an Astro last year even made the cut. Mike Hampton throws him a cookie in a game between two non-playoff teams and that’s one of the top moments in the history of this ballpark? Really?
Here’s the top 10…agree? Disagree? (My top three, in order: Biggio’s 3,000th hit; Burke’s HR, Kent’s HR. And one more that’s not listed — the 4-6-3 DP turned by Eric Bruntlett and Adam Everett to end Game 4 of the NLCS in ’05.).
1. Craig Biggio’s 3000th career hit.
2. Chris Burke’s 18th-inning HR in the NLDS.
3. Craig Biggio’s final game.
4. Jeff Bagwell’s game-winning single in memory of Darryl Kile.
5. Brad Ausmus’ final game home run.
6. Brad Ausmus’ HR in the NLDS.
7. Jeff Kent’s HR in the NLCS.
8. Lance Berkman’s Grand Slam in the NLDS.
9. 2004 All-Star Home Run Derby.
10. Craig Biggio’s Jersey Retirement.
Brian McTaggart talked to Biggio about his moment being picked No. 1: “Playing 20 years with one organization in a great city, I have had a lot of good things happen to me, but the 3,000th hit was the best night of my professional life,” Biggio said. “To have the fans vote it as the top moment, I am honored. It was a night that I will never forget, because I got to enjoy it with my family and the fans and teammates. And to be able to enjoy the moment with Jeff like it happened on the field was truly special. I liked that the fans acknowledged this moment.”
The Astros will celebrate that top moment before the Aug. 3 game with the Giants. The first 10,000 fans will receive a DVD with the televised broadcast of the Biggio 3000th hit game from June 28, 2007, compliments of the Astros and FS Houston. The night will also include a pregame celebration that will include a special presentation to Biggio.
I remember just about a year ago sitting in the press box chatting with Astros broadcaster Dave Raymond, who was attempting to explain this new craze called “Twitter.” He must have spent 15 minutes trying to make me understand what it was and why all the kids these days are using it. I checked out the site and, quite frankly, I lost interest pretty quickly.
You should see us in the clubhouse before batting practice, furiously typing on our iPhones as soon as information oozes from Cecil Cooper/Puma/Ed Wade. Often, it’s the same information, only different. Like today:
4 p.m. CT:
@brianmctaggart: Pudge has changed his jersey number to 77. He wore No. 7 for most career but it is retired here. He had worn 12 before deciding he misses 7.
4:10 p.m. CT:
@alysonfooter: Pudge changes number from 12 to 77. He wore 7 his whole career but obviously can’t have that. So 77 it is.
30 minutes later:
@richardjustice: I’ve learned exclusively that Pudge has changed his jersey to 77.
Pictures from Monday’s action:
Pudge dons his new No. 77. “I have to go back to my seven again,” he said. “I can’t use one seven, so I’ll use two. You’ll see one from the camera on the third base line and you’ll see the other on the first base side.”
Puma tests his hammy during batting practice and has a quick meeting with Cooper, Wade and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero. The group decides Puma will play that night, but later, it’s revealed he’ll have an MRI.
The Astros celebrated the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Lunar landing…seven members from the NASA team that were a critical part of the success of the Apollo program simultaneously threw out the first pitch prior to the game. Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger sang the national anthem. Read about it here.
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Hunter Pence’s cell phone is, as they say, blowing up. He’s received about as many calls and text messages regarding his first All-Star selection as when he was first called up in 2007.
I asked him if any congratulatory messages stood out more than the others. He pinpointed two, the first of which occurred in the batting cages at AT&T Park in San Francisco early Sunday morning. Teammate Darin Estad pretty much pummelled Pence with a big bear hug when he found out the news. That meant a lot to Hunter, as did the message he received from former teammate Ty Wigginton, offering his congrats.
Erstad and “Wiggy” are two players Pence respects tremendously and looks up to, and Pence went as far to say Wigginton is probably the smartest baseball player he’s ever been around. “He doesn’t miss anything, and he remembers every detail from every game,” Pence said, adding that Wigginton is “all heart.”
The Astros and Nationals will complete the May 5 game that was suspended due to rain this Thursday, beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT. We’ve gone over a lot of the ground rules already, but it can’t hurt to revisit. Plus, we have some more tidbits regarding the rules and regulations for that game.
First, the bare basics: Fans with tickets to the regularly-scheduled 7:05 p.m. game Thursday will also be admitted to the suspended game continuation. No separate tickets will be sold. Gates will open at 5 p.m.
The regularly scheduled game will start at 7:05 p.m., unless the suspended game ends after 6:45 p.m. In that case, there will be a 20-minute break between games.
The game will resume just as it was when originally suspended on May 5 in a 10-10 tie. It will resume in the bottom of the 11th inning, with the Nationals at-bat with one out and a runner on first base (Elijah Dukes). LaTroy Hawkins was the pitcher on the mound, and he is allowed to continue his outing if the Astros see fit.
And here’s some more fun stuff…
* All position players and pitchers who were used and removed from the game on May 5 will not be eligible to return to the contest. For the Astros, those players include Carlos Lee and Jason Michaels, as well as pitchers Roy Oswalt, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak and Geoff Geary.
* Players who are currently on the roster, but were not when the game was originally suspended, are eligible to play in the suspended game. Players who were in the lineup when play suspended, but are not currently on the active roster, must be subbed for in the same position and batting order.
Interestingly, this will be the first time the Astros host a suspended game since July 23, 1999. The Astros and Padres finished their June 13 game, which was suspended when Larry Dierker suffered a grand mal seizure in the home dugout at the Astrodome. That game was halted in the middle of the eighth inning with the Astros leading, 4-1, and they eventually won it.
As we continue the final homestand leading up to the All-Star break, here’s a quick rundown of the ticket specials the Astros are offering this week:
Kids Free All Summer (purchase one full-price adult ticket in the View Deck I, View Deck II or Mezzanine and receive two free tickets in the same price level for kids 14 and under)
Tuesday, July 7: Double Play Tuesdays (Two Outfield Deck Tickets for only $2 — bring in two labels from any 2 – 32 oz. POWERade bottles to the Minute Maid Park Box Office)
Wednesday, July 8: Price Matters (View Deck II ticket, Hot dog, Soda, Chips — all for $10.)
Hunter’s Lodge (Field Box seat and Pence t-shirt for $30)
Bayou Bash Sunday
From the photo vault:
Astronaut Mike Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s game, and here he is outside of Dennis’s office, receiving a personalized Astros jersey while chatting it up with Craig Biggio (remember what I said about Dennis’s office being the epicenter of the Astros’ universe?).
Massimino is a veteran of two space flights, most recently the Shuttle Mission STS-125, a 12-day mission to the Hubble telescope. In total, Massimino has logged almost 600 hours of space flight time and has performed over 30 hours of spacewalks.
The Astros presented Massimino with a banner signed by the entire front office and all of the players, the same banner that went up with Massimino on the last space mission.
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You never know who you’re going to bump into when you stop by clubhouse manager Dennis Liborio’s office, the unofficial center of the Houston baseball universe. Not only do players go there for bats, balls, haircuts (yes, haircuts. Every couple of weeks, I believe on Sundays, a hairdresser comes in, sets up shop in the back room and trims a little off the sides for whoever needs it) and other equipment needs, it’s simply a place where people stop by to chat with Dennis, who has been with the Astros for about 30 years and pretty much knows everyone in baseball.
When the Phillies are in town, you’ll find Larry Andersen in Dennis’s office before batting practice. When it’s an ESPN game, Joe Morgan usually pops in. Both President Bushes have spent time in Dennis’s office, as have a slew of former Astros who have stayed in the biz, either as broadcasters, or coaches, or front office staffers — such as Charley Kerfeld of the reigning World Champ Phillies.
Most park it in the big blue comfy seat located in the center of the room, but on Wednesday, an old friend made a beeline for Dennis’s chair, as he did for the majority of his 20-year career. Craig Biggio isn’t a frequent guest in the Astros’ clubhouse these days, but when he does stop by — as he did this time, with his 16-year-old son, Conor — he knows how to make himself right at home.
Soon after Biggio arrived, Astros owner Drayton McLane strolled in and the two chatted for a while, talking mostly about the draft and the sky-high signing bonuses that are awarded to the top-shelf picks. Both men, as you can imagine, think that part of the game is getting a tad out of hand.
“What did you sign for?” McLane asked Biggio, the Astros first-rounder in 1987.
“One-hundred thousand,” Biggio said proudly.
“Too much!” McLane responded with a laugh.
In baseball circles these days, much of the conversation is focused on the upcoming draft, which begins next Tuesday [June 9] at 5 p.m. CT. Biggio will represent the Astros, who have the 21st pick overall. All 30 teams are sending a notable representative to make their first selections, which will be broadcast live from the MLB Network Studio in Secaucus, N.J.
The group includes several Hall of Famers, including Al Kaline (Detroit), Bill Mazeroski (Pittsburgh) and Billy Williams (Cubs). Many former superstars will be there as well, including Seattle’s Jay Buhner, Cleveland’s Ellis Burks, Cincinnati’s Eric Davis and the Yankees’ Tino Martinez.
“That’s a pretty impressive group,” Biggio said. “This is great for the game.”
The Astros, like all teams, are currently knee-deep in pre-draft meetings to prepare for the big day — or should I say, three days — next week. I’m going to sit in on some of these meetings to get a taste of everything that goes into getting ready for Draft day, and I’ll also be blogging and Twittering from inside the draft room next Tuesday and probably Wednesday. I’ve never been on the inside before and I’m looking forward to watching the process unfold. And, of
course, I’m looking forward to sharing that insider view with you.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the video chat session Brian McTaggart and I conducted Wednesday afternoon, you can find it on the third panel on the Astros web site. It will also be posted in the video section of my “Footnotes” blog, which you can find here.
Right now, we’re running the Spring Training reports in that section but our goal is to replace
those with more current videos in the near future. First up will be today’s chat session.
McTaggart and I answered approximately 25 questions during the 45-minute chat. A wide variety of topics were addressed, including rumors surrounding a couple of the more popular players. The recent Roy-Oswalt-to-White-Sox speculation was front and center, and Brian and I did our best to address, and squelch, any notion that the two teams were in talks regarding the star right-hander.
General manager Ed Wade has a policy to never discuss trade rumors with media, either to conform or deny. It’s a sound practice, considering discussing players under contract with other teams is against Major League Baseball rules. But Wade, as well as White Sox GM Kenny Williams, set aside this policy because they felt this was a special case. Both sides confirmed there have been no talks at all, about any players, including Oswalt.
The reports began to surface after a high-level White Sox executive was spotted at several Astros games during Houston’s recent road swing through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and the assumption, seemingly unconfirmed, was that the executive was scouting Oswalt.
Perhaps the White Sox/Jake Peavy trade that was apparently completed and then called off fueled the rumors that they were now targeting another front-line starter. That part I don’t know. I do know that every team has advance scouts in every ballpark this time of year. It’s standard practice.
The story gained more steam when Oswalt was quoted as saying he would invoke his no-trade rights if the Astros and White Sox did complete a deal.
The Astros made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that they are not talking to the White Sox and they’re not shopping Oswalt. Confirmation from the White Sox side should be enough to put this one to bed.
I’m fairly certain Mark Teixeira’s Yankees aren’t going to be pursuing Lance Berkman anytime soon, either.
Trade rumors are part of baseball, and in general, they’re a part of why this game is fun for the fans. In today’s 24-7 news cycle fueled by the Internet, there is never a shortage of rumors, innuendos and speculation. Most of it is harmless. Every once in a while, however, it can be flat incorrect, and sometimes, cruel.
I read a recent report on SI.com that stated quite bluntly that the problem in Houston was not manager Cecil Cooper, but rather GM Ed Wade, who, according to the report, is meddling and negative and “puts everyone in a defensive mode,” including Cooper.
It goes on to say that Shawn Chacon’s actions last year involving “pushing Wade down last year” were “cheered” by other players. I read that and thought, if this is true, and I missed it, then I really had no business covering the Astros for as long as I did. So I made my way around the clubhouse to poll the players who were on the team last year. I told them about the report and the reaction was unanimously one of surprise.
“If anything, we understand (Wade is) somewhat hamstrung by the payroll,” one player said. “But we’ve always been impressed with the job he’s done, especially after he went out and got Randy Wolf last year when everyone else had counted us out of the race.”
And I can assure you, no one was cheering Chacon when he “pushed Wade down,” wh
ich is sort of like saying Yao Ming is “slightly” taller than Tiny Tim. The act was violent, it was beyond inappropriate, and not a single player was anything but disgusted that it happened.
From the homepage:
Miguel Tejada wants to remain an Astro
Jose Valverde continues to make progress
Surprising news out of Atlanta: Braves release Tom Glavine
And Wade says he’s not interested: