Results tagged ‘ Pudge Rodriguez ’

Rock beats scissors, and Ausmus beats Kent. Seriously?

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.

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It’s Twitter-ific!
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.

What a difference 12 months makes. Now I can’t stop Twittering, and I’m not the only one. McTaggart is Twittering. Richard Justice is Twittering. Greg Lucas is Twittering.

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.”

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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.

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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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 Astros are on Facebook

Alyson Footer is on Twitter  

Questions? Send to askalyson@astros.com.  

Blogging from the FiveSeven Grille. Text messaging about Jio. Bob Booooone salutes Pudge (as do the Astros).

On Saturday, I decided to abandon my seat in the comfortable (but often boring) press box and venture into the masses at Minute Maid Park. My destination — the center field area; more specifically, the FiveSeven Patio bar and FiveSeven Grille.

Saturdays are targeted as “Bud Light Young Professionals Pack” night, where instead of having to reserve an entire table, fans can purchase individual tickets to be in the seating area that overlooks Tal’s Hill, right next to the bullpen. The cost is $48, and includes a ticket, eight wings or an order of nachos, a 16-ounce beer or soda and an Astros souvenir mug.

The bar area, as I expected, was packed. I also was struck by how close the fans are to the bullpen. I then remembered that back in 2001, Jose Lima used to have the people from the center field restaurant deliver food to him out there. I’m guessing that tradition probably left when Lima did later that season, but still, if you’re listening, Jose Valverde…

Best part of the experience: twittering from my seat in the Grille, watching the game on TV and eating a delicious chicken caesar salad (my server, noting my computer, IPhone and camera, said, “You’re not on of those secret shoppers, are you?”). Worst part: having to answer, “no thanks, I’m working,” every time someone offered me a cool beverage.

The view from the Patio Bar:

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A glimpse of the bullpen:

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Received a couple of text messages from Assistant GM Bobby Heck, who was passing along information he received from Director of Baseball Research and Analysis Charlie Norton:

“Jio in lineup — 1st at-bat — 1st pitch — 1st hit.”

And then, this:
“And his second ab too.”

Translated, this means that first-round Draft pick Jiovanni Mier, who signed his contract Friday and was in uniform as the starting shortstop for the Greenveville Astros less than 24 hours later, logged his first professional hit in his first professional at-bat, on the first pitch he saw in his professional career. Then he did it again in his next at-bat.

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Pudge Rodriguez received a great deal of fanfare after he broke Carlton Fisk’s all-time games caught record during the Astros recent trip to Arlington. He was saluted by Rangers fans and was even paid a visit by former president George W. Bush. The Astros, however, had to wait until the team returned home to properly recognize Pudge’s record-setting game.

They presented Pudge with a nice memento during a pregame ceremony attended by club owner Drayton McLane, GM Ed Wade, Pudge’s wife, Claudia, and former All-Star catcher Bob Booooone, who flew to Houston just for this occasion.

Pudge knocked Boone from second to third on the all-time games caught list, and Boone, remembering his own record-setting day more than two decades ago, wanted to be part of Pudge’s celebration.

Boone was once the record-holder for games caught, a mark he reached on Sept. 16, 1987, when he passed Hall of Famer Al Lopez with his 1,919th game behind the plate.

“Al Lopez came to the game when I broke his record,” said Boone, who pushed his record to 2,225 games before Fisk passed him in ’93. “My dad (Ray Boone) had played for him. I was honered. He didn’t travel, ever. But he went from Tampa all the way to Anaheim for it. I wouldn’t have missed this (ceremony for Pudge) for anything.”

Boone and Pudge:

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Pudge and Drayton

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Boone, Drayton, Pudge and his wife, Claudia.

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Pudge and Brad Horn from the Hall of Fame. Pudge’s jersey that he wore during the record-setting game will be on display in Cooperstown, as soon as Brad gets home, I’m guessing.

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Pudge is congratulated by his former manager, Tigers skipper Jim Leyland.

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Pudge tips his cap to the crowd.

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Th Astros gift to Pudge — a shadowbox with the lineup, home plate (signed by the entire team) and pictures from the record-setting game.

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Alyson Footer is on Facebook and Twitter

Congratulations, Pudge.

Congratulations to Pudge Rodriguez, the proud owner of the all-time games caught record, which he set when Wednesday’s game in Texas became official in the middle of the fifth inning.

A few of the Astros veterans bought Pudge a bottle of Cristal champagne on behalf of the entire team, and a subdued but appropriate celebration took place following the game. Even though the Astros lost — and it was one of those bad losses — the players had enough class to realize a momentous occasion should not be pushed aside because of one bad night.

All of the players autographed the bottle of Cristal, and in turn, each player received his own bottle of Korbel champagne. Pudge signed every bottle, “Ivan Rodriguez, No. 12, 2,227th game.” Very nice touch, and a big night for one very classy 19-year veteran.

The moment that the record was set kind of came and went without much hooplah. Let’s face it, when you’re setting a record that first requires 4 1/2 innings to be played, and you’re on the road, and you’re not Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995, it’s difficult to get hyped up about the exact moment it happens, because it comes and goes with the blink of an eye.

Still, the Rangers and their fans were classy from beginning to end. Pudge received a standing ovation as he made his first plate appearance, and the Rangers ran a video tribute during the third inning to commemorate both his career and his record-setting day. They showed pictures of the catchers he has passed, including Hall of Famer Gary Carter (fourth place), Bob Boone (third) and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk (second).

I snuck down to the photo well by the Astros’ dugout to capture the very moment that Pudge became the record holder. Here are a few:

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To be honest, the pregame hooplah was much more fun to document than the record-setting moment. I asked Pudge ahead of time if he minded me following him around as he prepared for the game; fortunately, he had no issues with it, so here we go…

Pudge signed a couple dozen autographs for teammates and coaches who wanted to obtain their own piece of history. Here he is signing a lineup card for bench coach Ed Romero.

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You can see the “2,227 games” at the bottom, commemorating the occasion.

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This is the lineup card from the night before, when Pudge tied Carlton Fisk.

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Pudge has a quiet moment at his locker, prior to the clubhouse opening to the media at 3:35 p.m. The quiet moments soon would end.

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Another quiet moment (with the exception of me standing there pointing a camera at him every time he turned around. Fortunately he was a good sport about it).

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This would normally be just another ordinary picture of the media crush surrounding a player, if not for the big dude in the back taping the interview — that’s none other than closer Jose Valverde, complete with tape recorder and scowl a lot of reporters wear when interviewing players.

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Pudge hadn’t realized Valverde was part of the “media” until he finished the interviews.

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He was still laughing about it as he finished an interview with FS Houston’s Greg Lucas.

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Pudge came out to sign autographs for fans and discovered a line of a few hundred people waiting for him.

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Here’s Hunter Pence having some fun with the man of the hour.

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<p>And the non-Pudge version of Wednesday’s fun: </p>
<p>Lots of autograph signing…Jim Deshaies</p>
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Jason Michaels

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Kaz Matsui takes in the scene before BP.

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Keppinger and Pence chat at the cage.

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Wednesday’s starter, Russ Ortiz.

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Pence was saying something funny to me but I can’t remember what it was.

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Kids, signs and baseball…a terrific combination, every time.

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Puma looks very puma-like as he stretches before taking BP.

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Pudge leaves game with left knee irritation.

Head athletic trainer Nate Lucero and manager Cecil Cooper made their way to the mound in the bottom of the first inning on Monday, which usually indicates a possible injury to the pitcher.

But the two were clearly having a conversation with catcher Pudge Rodriguez, not Wandy Rodriguez, so it came as no surprise when Humberto Quintero took over behind the plate in the next frame.

Pudge Rodriguez left the game with a sprained left knee, and his status is currently day-to-day. Rodriguez insisted he would be back on the field Tuesday.

“I’ll be playing tomorrow, no matter what,” he said.

Rodriguez suffered the injury after his knee twisted awkwardly while he was attempting to tag Adam Rosales on a play at the plate in the first inning.

“It wasn’t [Rosales], I just got caught in the wrong place,” Rodriguez said. “I went down and my knee went the wrong way. I went to tag him and my left knee got stuck. I felt a little pop in my inside knee, in the back.”

When he resumed his crouch position behind the plate, Rodriguez felt pain in the knee area. He communicated that with Cooper while also insisting he could continue playing, but Cooper decided to take the safe route and remove the veteran catcher.

“Cooper told me, ‘Just go in and don’t take any chances,’” Rodriguez said. “I could have gone back and played but he told me to take it easy. He said he’s going to need me to help for the season. I’ll be OK tomorrow. For sure, tomorrow.”

Cooper indicated that infielder Edwin Maysonet could be used as a catcher in an emergency situation. Geoff Blum, another catching option, is sidelined with a strained hamstring.

Ed Wade does not owe me an apology.

Ed Wade does not owe me an apology.

I absolutely hate to have to go back to this, because it is my desire to move on from this subject, for good. But now that my name has been brought up specifically in an SI.com article, I need to again set the record straight.

Ed Wade does not owe me an apology, because Ed Wade never lied to me. Let me say it again — Ed Wade has never lied to me.

Ever.

I have been working with him for a year and a half. I have had many candid conversations with him over time and the one thing he guaranteed me is that if I ever approached him with something regarding rumors — as long as they weren’t trade rumors, because it’s against the rules for teams to comment on players under contract other teams — if I was headed in the right direction, he would never flat out tell me I was wrong.

That doesn’t mean he’d help me, or give me any details, but he would not lie to me. And he hasn’t.

I told you that eventually I would have more on the timeline detailing the events that occurred from the time that I last talked to Ed about Pudge Rodriguez to the day that the news broke that they signed him.

So here it is.

The Astros had a night game last Friday, March 13, and that afternoon, I dropped by Ed’s office and asked him if he had a few minutes to answer some questions for a couple of features I was working on. At the end of the meeting, I asked again about Pudge, because I kept hearing his name tied to the Astros.

Ed, as you all know by now, vehemently denied that he was talking to Pudge’s agent, Scott Boras, about the free agent catcher. He was telling the truth. He had not had a conversation with Boras regarding Pudge prior to my meeting with Ed, unless you count the preliminary exchange the two had the last week of January.

(On Jan. 29, I asked Ed if he had interest in Pudge. Here is his quote, taken right from the story I posted that day: “At this point, nothing is going to fit for us. I got a sense they’ve plotted a certain floor with regard with what they want contractually. We’re not going to be able to meet those demands.” This is an important piece of the puzzle, because as you can see, I asked Ed about Pudge and Ed was honest, telling me that he had indeed talked to Team Pudge.)

Back to last Friday.

At some point, before the game, Wade met with his staff and became increasingly more worried about the catching situation. I honestly don’t know what freaked him out more, the quality of the catching throughout the spring or the team’s horrendous record. Heck, maybe after he heard himself railing about Pudge during his conversation with me he wondered if he really felt that way. I don’t know. All I do know is he changed his mind. He called Boras that night and left him a message. Then he called Drayton.

Boras, apparently unbeknownst to Wade, had actually already reached out to Drayton a day earlier and given him the “you really need Pudge, he really wants to be in Houston” speech to the Astros owner.

Meanwhile, Pudge was sending text messages to one Astros player, expressing his desire to be with the Astros. He talked publicly about being willing to change positions. He did not want to be a backup. Playing time was a priority. It smacked of desperation.

Time to pounce.

Ed talked to Boras after Friday night’s game. Ed made an offer. Boras didn’t think it was enough, but he said he’d get back to him.

The next day, Lou Palmisano, the Astros’ Rule 5 catching candidate, made two throws to second base on steal attempts that were anything but strong, putting it mildly. I thought, “Uh oh.”

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

Ed and Boras didn’t talk again until Monday. They went back and forth, and a deal was reached.

That’s it.

This story is pretty simple. Wade and Boras talked in late January, and they talked again last Friday. There were no conversations in between. Ed changed his mind about Pudge, Drayton changed his mind about the unmovable payroll structure and Pudge signed a contract.

This is the business of baseball. Things change every single day.

When I heard the news that the Astros signed Pudge, I never thought to myself, “I can’t believe Ed lied to me.” My initial reaction was, they waited him out and they got him on the cheap, because he wants to be an every day player.

Then I thought, this is going to look really, really bad to the public. I was right on both fronts.

One more thing. Several web sites are quoting my blog entry regarding Ed’s reaction to my question about Pudge during my meeting with him last Friday. But they only included part of the paragraph. Here is the whole thing:

“After checking with Ed Wade yet again today, I can assure you the Astros are not pursuing him. And judging from the irritated look on his face, I can also assure you I won’t be asking him about Pudge again anytime soon. At least not for two weeks. Or maybe 10 days. At the very least, I’ll wait a week.”

That was a tongue-in-cheek, humorous way of poking fun at myself for getting on Ed’s nerves with my incessant questions about Pudge. The last part was my way of saying this may be over, but it’s probably not really over.

The dig at myself was taken the wrong way, and I apologize to you and to Ed.

That’s my story. I stand by everything I have written and said over the last month and I have no regrets expect for one. I wish I had asked Ed about Pudge on Saturday at noon instead of Friday at 3.

In this game, it’s all about timing.

What a strange day.

Usually it’s a very good thing that you never really know what’s going to happen on any given day of Spring Training. That’s one of the interesting parts of this job — you think it’s going to be a normal, ho-hum day, and something strange and unusual happens and all of a sudden, there’s plenty to write about.

But this Mike Hampton thing came out of left field, so to speak. I know it’s probably nothing. But anytime you hear “irregular” in the same sentence as “heart,” it’s scary. Especially when you’re talking about a seemingly healthy 36-year-old man.

So, we’ll hope for the best. Supposedly we’ll hear the results of his appointment with Dr. Muntz on Tuesday, and like the Astros are telling us, it’s probably nothing. But I’ll feel better when I actually see Hampton back in camp this week.

Tuesday is going to be a busy day at Osceola County Stadium. Not only is it the first day the full squad works out together, but Miguel Tejada is due to arrive sometime in the morning. With his sentencing date pending (March 26), it’s highly unlikely he’s going to say much about his involvement in the PED mess that has taken over this sport in the last year. The only saving grace for Tejada is Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to face the media at the very same time Tejada is due to report to Astos camp, so it’s more likely Tejada will have only a handful of reporters waiting for him, as opposed to the circus that awaits A-Rod.

I don’t know what to do with this Pudge Rodriguez thing anymore. This is the most bizarre non-story I’ve covered in a while. We keep reading stories about Pudge considering signing with the Astros, but the interest appears to be one-sided. Ed Wade last talked to Rodriguez’s representatives 23 days ago and he has never made a formal offer to Pudge. But this story won’t go away. I wonder what would happen if Pudge’s asking price dropped to, say, $1 million.

If you’re ever in Kissimmee, you must stop for dinner at La Forchetta, the best Italian restaurant this side of the Mississippi, as they say. Had the veal marsala tonight. If you’re planning a trip to spring training, let me know and I’ll tell you how to get there. You won’t regret it. It’s the Astros home away from home, for good reason.

Alyson 

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