Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thanks, Mr. Biggio.

Craig Biggio, one of my childhood heroes, and a figure that will be celebrated in Houston for as long as baseball is relevant in the annals of history, reached 3,000 hits tonight. I couldn't be more proud of him, either.

During an ESPN highlight, Karl Ravech said that what Derek Jeter is to the Yankees, Craig Biggio is to the Astros. This is not true. The Yankees have a litany of baseball legends, world championships, and folklore. The Astros have none of this.

We have a small handful of division titles, a few playoff series wins, and one pennant. We have part of Nolan Ryan's career, the Astrodome, and those rainbow jerseys. We narrowly missed getting the chance to make that Bill Buckner game never exist in 1986. Our biggest moment in the sun lasted a whole four games, as we were quickly swept by the White Sox in 2005. The memory that resonates most nationally of that season was actually one of incredible deflation: the Pujols blast off Lidge.

But most of all, we have our Killer B's. We have two quiet, dignified, professional all-time greats who never got the affection of the national media, but always had our admiration and affection.

Craig Biggio has never hit a ground ball not worthy of being legged out, and one base has always been a chance to get two (see: tonight's 3,000th hit). (Additional note: Biggio is the all-time leader in doubles by a right-handed hitter. That's of anyone, ever, in the history of baseball.) He has been the consummate team player, moving from catcher, to second base, to center field, to left field, back to second base, and never once complaining about it. He doesn't show up umpires, plays with relentless desire, and the biggest qualm the commissioner's office has had with him is some extra pine tar on his bat, or the Sunshine Kids pin he wore on his hat during batting practice.

I wish I could live my life like Craig Biggio played the prime of his baseball career: selfless, tireless, passionate, dignified, and consistently excellent.

It seems fitting that our legend won't even be the lead story on SportsCenter on this night. Hell, it wasn't even the only milestone passed in baseball ON THIS DAY - Frank Thomas clocked his 500th home run this afternoon. He has a split screen corner graphic on moments after the moment happens. It seems fitting for a player who has been underappreciated his whole career.

My city may briefly begrudge this, but we're used to it. Our two NBA titles are largely forgotten because they came during the Jordan off-years. We were led by a quiet, dignified star then, too. I digress.

In an abysmal season, we can celebrate the career we were blessed to be a part of as Astro fans. Thanks, Bidge. I'll be there in Cooperstown when you don the first Astro hat in the Hall of Fame.

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