The Shot Hardly Heard By Anybody

god damn right - Bob Levey

There exists to this day much debate regarding who, exactly, fired the first shot in what was to become the American Revolutionary War. The debate will presumably remain forever unsettled, since the shot took place in April 1775, and reliable witnesses are presently few and far between. One of the benefits and drawbacks of living today is that almost everything can be pinpointed, almost all responsibilities assigned. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt who fired the first shot in what will become a rivalry between the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners. And it was not the Seattle Mariners.

Ever since we heard the Astros would be moving to the AL West, we've thought of them as an adorable little thing. I felt the same way about my childhood parakeet when it was new. I thought it was the cutest little blue bird in the store, and I couldn't wait to play with it when I brought it home. Shortly after Chirpy learned to climb a finger ladder, Chirpy learned to bite a finger ladder. Then Chirpy learned to bite ears. A cute and supposedly harmless parakeet became instead a cute lil bitch, and thus a rivalry was born. Chirpy would bite me. I'd flick him in the beak. Chirpy would wake me up at five in the morning. I'd put a towel over his cage. Chirpy would continue to wake me up at five in the morning. I'd spray him with water. I think we always respected each other, but I know we always resented each other. I did manage to get the last laugh, on account of I'm not dead yet, unlike that little motherfucker. But then, the patch of lawn above his backyard burial plot still hasn't grown back. My childhood parakeet is posthumously toxic.

The concept of the Astros is cute. They're terrible! The reality of the Astros isn't quite so harmless. Even a terrible team can be annoying. By claiming certain players off waivers, by winning games they shouldn't win, by rapidly getting better. The Astros seem to be under creative, competent leadership, and as low as they have been of late, they're working on a big project. In time they're going to be a real opponent. They might play the Mariners like a real opponent even before then. We like the idea of the Astros, but we're not going to like the Astros.

They moved first. As of today, the Astros moved first by claiming Phil Humber. That's the first shot, the first insult, the first act of aggression. Phil Humber embarrassed the Mariners. In equal and opposite retaliation, the Mariners might claim almost literally any available player in baseball. That's a pathetic-Astros joke. Stupid Astros, just be pathetic and quiet instead of pathetic and irritating.

Incidentally, step back and think about this. Humber is 29 and he threw a perfect game. Have you looked at his numbers, or have you tried to block him out? After the final out of the perfect game was (controversially) recorded, Humber's ERA stood at 0.63. Granted, that was only his second start. Over all the games after the perfect game, Humber's ERA was 7.39. In the first game after the perfect game, Humber allowed nine runs and three dingers in five innings. There are a few lessons we could learn from this, but the lesson I most prefer is haha Phil Humber, you threw a perfect game but then you were terrible and now you're an Astro. Tomorrow Phil Humber wakes up in a gutter. The next day Phil Humber wakes up in a storm drain.

The Houston Astros, at least to the Seattle Mariners, have announced their arrival in the AL West. There's no going back now. There's no reflecting upon the mutually beneficial Randy Johnson trade. Those days were in the past, and now we're upon a new beginning. The Astros are here, they're feeling cocky, and they're the team signing Phil Humber's paychecks. You started it, Astros. Here's to a long and pugnacious relationship.

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