Friday, August 15, 2014

A Curious George

Boy, George, I’m sorry about what the Houston Astros did to you on your first day as a Major League Baseball player. I doubt it was intentional, some sort of public rookie hazing. Give them time to realize their crime. I don’t think they really wanted to hurt you, really wanted to make you cry. After all, there’s no crying in baseball.

The Astros called up George Springer from the minor leagues on April 16. He started that evening against the Kansas City Royals, batting second and playing right field. Springer went 1 for 5 in his debut with a single and a walk in an extra-inning loss. His first big-league hit was a dribbler down the third-base line.

“I didn’t really hit it all that well, but I will take it,” he said. “Now I can relax, breathe a little and just have some fun.”

Some fans in attendance that mid-April day had some fun when they glanced up in the third inning, during Springer’s second at-bat, and found the Minute Maid Park scoreboard to be a laugh a minute.

In many ways, it reminded me of a laugh-a-minute sitcom, Seinfeld. Springer’s namesake, George Costanza, had a baseball connection. He worked for the New York Yankees, and once even met with Astros representatives who were in the Big Apple for discussions about interleague play. He also wanted to name his first child Seven, after Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle’s uniform number.

Costanza didn’t get Seven, which had “cachet up the yin-yang.” Springer did — in a way. Check out the number of letters in the Jumbotron version of the Houston rookie’s first name.


The Astros, a subpar team known for racking up L’s, managed to tack an extra R on the board. But not the R, in scoreboard parlance, familiar to baseball fans. They didn’t score another run. They parked an extra R in the Gerorge. Allow me to mimic an umpire: Strike one!

Perhaps Costanza could reconnect with those Astros reps and convince them to shift into R and spring a letter from Springer’s first name. If the former assistant to the traveling secretary for the Yankees taught us anything, it’s that a George divided against itself cannot stand.

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