Rusty Haggard Blog

Archive for March, 2012

2012 Houston Astros: The Eve of Destruction

Last year, the Astros took it on the chin – over and over and over again. This year? A left hook is going to kill them. KO. Down goes Houston. No matter how you look at it, for the Astros it’s over.

Literally over. Their farewell tour around the National League will be bittersweet. Forced (some say extorted) into moving to the American League West in 2013 by Commissioner Bud Selig is just another punch to the gut before they hit the canvas (read: last place in the AL West) for a long, long time. No way they’ll keep up with the Rangers, the Angels, or even the A’s and Mariners. And not just in 2013. Try the next seven to ten years.

So it’s good-bye rivals from over the years. Cubs – we were just about always better than they were. Braves – they brought a lot of misery over the years. Dodgers – think back to the rivalry we had with them in the early 80s. Gone. Mets? Anybody remember 1986? St. Louis – don’t get me started. Frustration everywhere you look.

The 2012 Astros? Maybe three proven major leaguers in the whole line-up. Lee ($100 million), Wandy (gone by August) and Brett Meyers (relegated to the bullpen – our ace?) – and then there’s the rest of the starters, all youngsters. Good luck. Play hard. And get ready for Late Night from the West Coast, it’s Houston vs zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Alcatraz: You’ll Want to Leave This Place

The only thing to do at Alcatraz: leave. Quick.

With the success of the Fox TV hit “Alcatraz,” I kept thinking of the tour I took to the real thing a few years back. The show has the authenticity: the set is eerily similar. The cell blocks and the small cramped cells, the prisoners wearing the denim shirts and pants and heavy blue jean jackets, the guards wearing those familiar dark uniforms with the old style cop hats.

On that chilly summer afternoon in San Francisco, I went for the headset and tape recorder “walking tour.” But once I hung out on the island for a while, I wanted to get out of there. Real bad. There’s a bad vibe there, believe me.

Sure, it’s interesting. I was stunned to learn of the massacre, the shoot-out and the escape attempt in the library back in the 1950s.I saw the cell for the Birdman of Alcatraz, made famous by Burt Lancaster in the film of the same name back in the 60s. I went into the kitchen—a small simple place.  In one cell, a dummy prisoner with a wig lies in bed as the tape describes the escape attempt that was the basis for the Clint Eastwood movie, “Escape from Alcatraz.”

 

 

At the end of a hallway is a window that perfectly frames the San Francisco skyline a short distance away. You can hear people on party boats having a good time. What torture for the prisoners who lived there. Freedom – so close, yet so far away.

The tape ended. I walked around outside (another tribute to the show’s set: they’ve even got the steps outdoors perfectly matched to the real thing). The warden’s house is nothing but walls now. The landing dock is graffiti-covered with slogans from the American Indian takeover of the island back in the 1970s. The water laps up against the rocks, icey cold.

 

 

 

For some strange reason, I want to go back and take the night tour. Alcatraz is the place to go. And leave.