Friday, April 25, 2014

On retribution and the Astros

...If you prick us, do we not bleed? 
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison
us, do we not die, and if you wrong us, shall we not
-Shylock, The Merchant of Venice

Those wars are unjust which are undertaken without provocation. For only a war waged for revenge or defense can be just.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Revenge is not always sweet, once it is consummated we feel inferior to our victim.
-Emil Cioran 

I have been wrestling with the actions of the Bo Porter, Jed Lowrie, and Paul Clemens over the past seven days and I do not know what to think. A week ago today (Friday), Jarred Cosart managed to get one out before being pulled with the Astros already down 7-0. As you are already well aware, Jed Lowrie tried to lay down a drag bunt in an effort to beat the shift. It didn't work, he was thrown out. Two innings later, Paul Clemens threw a wicked googly between Lowrie's legs before Lowrie flied out. As he was on his way back to the dugout, Lowrie and Altuve started talking. Lowrie swears he was asking why Clemens threw the ball between his legs. But still tempers flared. Bo Porter came out of the dugout to yell at Lowrie who, innocent as a cherub, had no idea what in the world was the matter.

Lowrie, after the game:
I just don't understand why he came out in such a rage. ... I just don't get it. I don't know what it shows, but not a lot of confidence in his own team. Point blank.

Lowrie said, basically, if the Astros can shift down 7-0, he can bunt to beat the shift. This is a decent point.

Remember the week Porter had. Dominguez running into an out by 30 feet at 2nd base. The 17-second stare. Cosart's disaster start which led to the Goatpen getting to pitch 8.2IP, and BuntGate (as no one calls it). Then Qualls gave up the walk-off homer on Saturday, the Astros had nothing on Sunday. And those four games take place in the space of four days.

Fast forward six days. The Astros won a series in Seattle, but missed a sweep because Josh Fields allowed a walk-off homer to Kyle Seager. That afternoon/evening the team flies to Houston for a four-game series with the A's, who have owned the Astros since the beginning of last season. And then the A's do what the A's do to the Astros: beat the hell out of them.

Down 8-1 in the 7th, Paul Clemens has thrown 2.2IP, replacing Brett Oberholtzer, who was down 2-0 by the 3rd batter of the game. Jed Lowrie, who is already 3x4 with two doubles, gets plunked. The details are sketchy. Porter and Clemens have spent the day getting slammed. Lowrie has presumably spent the day at a Starbucks talking to anybody and everybody who will listen about how he has been wronged and he does not understand.

Porter won't discuss specifics. While Chris Singleton has apparently confirmed through a source that Clemens was acting on his own, Bo Porter won't confirm or deny it.

If Clemens acted on his own, Porter isn't going to be the guy that throws him under the bus. I'm not saying that Porter threw Dominguez under the bus in the 17-second stare, but he didn't shy away from his disappointment/anger/murderous rage. Was Porter trying to avoid the same thing with Clemens?

I'm not saying it's right. I'm not saying I agree with Porter's actions this week. While I agree with everyone who happens to be an Astros fan that maybe Lowrie should just shut up and wear it and realize that he's helping his team while perhaps causing his opponent to completely lose the plot and unravel, I can sympathize with Porter's position.

Do you watch the Barclay's Premier League? I do. My grandfather played soccer professionally in England, so I have an affinity. I also have an affinity a team who has suffered one of the greatest collapses of the last 15 years - Leeds United (sound familiar?). Because of my affinity for the BPL, I see a lot of Chelsea, because they're basically the Yankees of the Premier League. Their manager, Jose Mourinho, has a wonderful knack for making such a scene of himself that it takes the attention off of how Fernando Torres has been a complete disaster and can't score a goal to save his life. Does that sound familiar?

The Astros have had one day off so far this season. Tonight's game against the A's is the 24th Astros game in 25 days. Hell, I'm mad, and I don't have anything beyond a rooting interest. My job isn't on the line. I don't have to go into the clubhouse and keep myself from physically assaulting (insert Astro here). What I'm saying is that I can understand that maybe Porter is a little on edge, maybe he feels bad for destroying Matt Dominguez in a press conference and has decided to get out in front of Clemens here.

There are so many variables here that it's hard to figure out a middle position where I don't sell out a manager whom I respect on a personal and professional level or sound like a complete homer. Because our options for Bo Porter's actions are that the losing of the past 187 games have sharpened his intensity to where he's at his breaking point, or he is a calculated genius deflecting attention to himself for just how bad the current team is performing.

Everybody in this situation is a human being. Jed Lowrie, while I've spent most of my free time today casting him as a titty-baby, has suffered through some pretty serious fluke injuries who finds himself getting plunked at an alarming rate over the last week. Paul Clemens is a fringe pitcher at best who perhaps is searching for a role as an enforcer on a team that has no identity. Bo Porter is trying to be the rare manager who doesn't lose a clubhouse that loses approximately 65% of its games and still manages to keep his job into the Good Times.

Ultimately Jed Lowrie needs to shut up. Paul Clemens needs to stop. Bo Porter needs to distance himself from whatever beef there is between the two.