Be Afraid: Alien Pod People Have Landed In Houston

by KC Baker | Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015
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Collin McHugh

All right, I’m settling into my well-worn couch with a beer and a couple of slices of pizza to watch Collin McHugh own some Mariner ass. I am fully invested now (See Pulled into the Astros Vortex . . . Again). Bought and paid for, all in, and willing to put up my car as collateral. Yet I remain realistic; I know that this could be a game that my Stros lose. McHugh could stink up the place. It happens; I observed Astros great Nolan Ryan mercilessly shelled on occasion and McHugh, while skilled is not exactly Nolan Ryan. Some days, pitchers just don’t have the stuff or the bad guys just bring the lumber or both. Losses and disappointing outings are just part of the long run to the playoffs. There are a lot of games to play and you just have to keep grinding it out. It’s baseball, man.

I love my Houston Astros and have stayed with them through thick and thin. But even during the thick, the Stros’ strength was never consistent offense and run production. Their bread and butter, especially in the cavernous Dome, has historically been pitching. Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, Roy Oswalt to name a few, would keep the runs down as the offense put up a just enough runs for a “W.” Even when Houston packed a little more punch at the plate in the Bagwell-Biggio-Berkman era, the home team still wasn’t known around the league as an offensive powerhouse.

Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman were the only consistent home run threats that ever wore a modern Houston uni, at least in my opinion (acknowledgement to past great Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn). Craig Biggio put some up but he was never thought of as a long baller. There were also memorable dingers by Billy Hatcher (14th inning off the pole in 1986 Playoffs), Brad Ausmus (game tying rip in 2005 Playoffs) and Chris Burke (walk off in the 18th inning in 2005 Playoffs). I even once saw Nolan Ryan go yard in the Dome. He was visibly chuckling as he rounded second on his home run trot as if to say, “really, I mean, really?” But nicknames like “Murderers Row” were never floated around for the Houston squad. Yeah, yeah, I remember the “Killer B’s,” but much of that had to do with club marketing. Not to take anything way from the “B’s;” they helped the cause for sure. I honestly just don’t recall Houston ringing up a lot of runs, much less having pitching and hitting being anything but sporadically synched.

The excitement generated by the 2015 Astros has finally taken hold for this fan. I recently used a bleak metaphor of a hopeless astronaut helplessly drifting through space to describe the dynamic (See Pulled into the Astros Vortex . . . Again). Tonight, that “space” theme took on a chilling new context.

By the time the old Panasonic plasma in my room hummed to life, it was already 3 – 0 Mariners. I shrugged, accepting the fact it could be one of those bumps in the baseball road. I mean the boys had put up eight straight W’s. We can live without nine because as I said, there’s lots of baseball left to play. Plus, it gave me time to check emails, chat with the wife, and prepare to take a loss like a man. Then the weird stuff started happening.

The Astros immediately answered with two runs in the second inning, putting us just one run down. Three decades as an Astros fan instruct that Houston rarely closes run gaps with such efficiency. But with the club this hot, I can believe it can happen now.

The slumping Evan Gattis walks up to bat, glove-less and hunched over the plate like Korg the hirsute caveman from that awful 1970’s television show, bracing to swat the velociraptor charging at him. My fellow Stros fan from the FloraBama beaches and I have decided that Gattis looks like some former college baseball star that wandered into the Juice Box after a few pounders of Coors Light at the bar across the street to take some cuts until security arrives. And then he goes yard for two runs. No surprise; take a look at my earlier post where I insisted he would catch fire. Then Colby Rasmus follows with a solo shot. Okay . . . okay that can happen, I cautiously thought to myself; we don’t do it often in AstroLand but still, it is in the realm of the possible for a very hot, young Astros squad.

With the fourth inning in play, Jose “Gigante” Altuve steps in with two on. Then this man who is the same height as my young daughter drives one 410 feet for a three run homer. I’m an Astros fan down to my DNA, but now suspicion has evolved into full-blown mistrust. My discomfort continues simmering as Valbuena goes yard again in the same inning. This is not Astros baseball, man.

In the 5th, the Mariners intentionally walk the 5’ 5” Jose Altuve. They must know what I know, I thought with a cold shudder. It was a good move and the Mariners retired the side without a run. I try to rest easy and enjoy the remainder of the game but the Astros surreal level of play is disturbing. Then came the 6th inning and Logan Morrison launches an uncatchable 428 foot shot out to that circus prop in center field known as Tal’s Hill. Jake Marisnick gives chase glancing at his path and the ball over his shoulder as he hit the gas. No way he could catch this ball. Only Lance Berkman before him had pulled off a similar stunt and this one was a much harder play to make. Marisnick runs up the hill, dives with a belly flop slinging divots in the air, and hauls it in for an out. The camera cut to McHugh, staring in disbelief from the mound. He appeared almost frightened and maybe for good reason.

If that wasn’t enough, Hank Conger homered again in the next inning. Nervously mulling over the mental picture of my helpless fictional astronaut, it suddenly hit me.   My worst fears are reality: alien Pod People from Planet Baseball have replaced the Houston Astros. You know what I’m talking about, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It was Spring Training. A flying orange disc ringed in blue pulsating lights landed in Kissimmee behind the old HoJo late one March evening. A loud mechanical clank was followed by a whirring sound as a ramp lowered allowing a custom orange Denali SUV to roll out with four tiny, hairless beings with oversized craniums and big buggy eyes carrying a cargo of two dozen alien pods. They made their way to the Astros hotel and quietly placed the pods next to each player to be consumed and replicated in alien form.

The transformation was complete by morning and no one was the wiser. Pod Person Altuve looked at Pod Person Springer who looked at Pod Person Marisnick who looked at Pod Person Gattis and they nodded simultaneously without facial expressions. They disposed of the debris from the cloned players in the dumpster at Osceola County Stadium and then silently went to take BP. Based on his stunned reaction to the Marisnick catch, McHugh may have woken up before his pod could make the switch. No matter; one of the Pod People will remedy that in short order.

The Astros have never played like this. They are not human. They are not the Houston Astros. They are Pod People. There can be no other explanation. I refuse to be a part of it. I will not support this alien invasion.

Now. When’s the next game, you filthy earthlings?

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KC Baker
About the Author

K.C. Baker is an old school Astros fan, spending many a hot summer day in the cool confines of the Dome. He just finished his 28th year as a practicing attorney and likes to spend all of his spare time in New Braunfels, Texas with his wife of 29 years and their three children. Follow him on Twitter @KenCBake

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