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Soup of This Day #26: You Poked Fun At My Cowboy Boots

July 3, 2011

Houston, Texas
A panoramic view of the skyline in downtown Houston, Texas – Photo: Hequals2henry, 2011. Hequals2henry is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Texans and the Lone Star State have been much of mind of late. The Dallas Mavericks won their 1st NBA Championship, just a few weeks past. Texan Lance Armstrong, although no longer competing as a rider, casts his considerable shadow across the Tour de France, which is kicking off as I write this post. He is a co-owner and the leader of the Team RadioShack outfit, 1 of 22 that have started the grueling 3 week trek around France. Principal sponsor RadioShack is headquartered in the Fort Worth area and the team itself is managed out of Austin so there might yet be some Texan flags waved at the peloton in honour of the 7 times champion. In MLB, the Red Sox too have gone for where the stars at night are big and bright and taken their wagon train to Houston for the latest installment of inter-league play. However, before checking in on whether the dirt doggies bawled out the Astros, deep in the heart of Texas, we need to do a little recap of Sox action over the past 3 days in Philly.

The Red Sox went into the series in the City of Brotherly Love with an air of decline tailing after them. They’d avoided the broom in Pittsburgh despite trying very hard to get the Pirates one and Philly looked like just the team to help lift their spirits.

Or not.

Philly, with a leagues best record weren’t charitable in Game 1, shutting down the Sox offence whilst knocking in a lazy 5 runs themselves. Josh Beckett absorbed all 5 of ’em and the loss with Cliff Lee giving up just the 2 hits in a stellar outing for the Phillies.

Game 2 and the Red Sox looked to get the offence going. The problem being that they looked the wrong way while a pantomime crowd yelled ‘Behind you’. Boston managing 5 hits this time and even 1 run. The Phillies managed 8 hits and 2 runs. I think that means they won. Also I don’t want this to be a sign of the End of Days or something but that solo Red Sox run came from a Lackey RBI double.

Don’t go checking the roster for other guys called Lackey. There isn’t any.

John Lackey, the pitcher, the guy the Nation all loves to hate, drove in the only run. In a game where Gonzalez (again) moved to RF to accommodate the vacationing DH Big Papi. That’s right, in a game of interleague where we made room for the DH, our only run came from the pitcher.

Alanis Morissette, I think we found your irony honey.

For the record Lackey pitched ok through to partway into the 8th but still copped the loss to go with the run.

Game 3 and Jon Lester up against Cole Hamels and both with a 9 and 4 record going in. Hamels the better ERA at 2.49 to 3.66. The 2 kept the respective offences quiet through 4 innings each and it looked like a pitcher’s shoot-out until Gonzakez (again) smacked a line drive that scorched a path for Hamels’ head in the 4th. Hamels got his right hand to it but the lefty suffered some damage and was pulled for the top of the 5th. The Sox took advantage of his absence. Sutton with a RBI single to bring in Reddick who had reached 3rd off a triple. Ellsbury added another RBI single and it was 2-0 to Boston in the 5th. In the 6th it became 3-0, Varitek knocking a solo shot to the bleachers. In the 8th Boston got some insurance, with first Pedroia and then Varitek going long to make it 5-0. The Phillies pulled back 2 off Papelbon in the 9th but the Red Sox clung on for a much needed win.

And so we get to where the rabbits rush, around the brush, deep in the heart of Texas. I know that Houston isn’t geographically the heart of Texas. I just said it was because I have the song stuck in my head. Maybe it’s the metaphorical heart of Texas. Maybe all of Texas is the heart of Texas. Or something.

The 46 and 34 Boston against the 29 and 53 Astros. The Red Sox 2.5 games behind the Yankees and the wild dreams of a 100+ season wafting away across the prairie. Tim Wakefield, a real chance to add to his win tally, had the start in Game 1 of a series that Boston needs to win. Unfortunately God’s favourite knuckleballer was erratic early and gave up 5 runs heading into the 6th, including an RBI single to opposite number Bud Norris. Thereafter he was taken out (The Norris run seemed to be the clincher) and Dan Wheeler limited the damage. For the top of the 7th someone took the Sox bats aside and reminded them that the NL does not have a rule against them hitting more than 1 run in an inning (Scutaro with a lead-off solo shot in the 1st the only scoring example to that point). Reddick took that seriously and doubled in a run, followed by a Sutton RBI single. Pedroia then singled in 2 runs to tie things up before Gonzalez (again) doubled in another couple. All in all a 6 run 7th from the Sox and a 1-5 deficit became a 7-5 lead.

Which is the way it finished, Wheeler and then Papelbon holding the Astros scoreless over the last 3. Is the corner turned? Maybe.

A final Texan connection for tonight. Houston has a sister city in Australia. It’s my hometown of Perth and there are some definite parallels between the 2 cities. Both are the largest cities in impossibly big and wide States, with the Lone Star State a shade under 700 thousand square kilometres of glorious diversity. Western Australia’s numbers top that, with a tick under 2.5 million square kilometres and a landscape that runs nearly 3000km from giant trees in lush forests at the southern tip, through harsh deserts and mad landforms to monsoonal mangroves on the northern coast. The 2 States are rich in natural resources too and this has driven their big metropolises with skyscrapers shimmering in wide open skies. Houston and Perth are of comparable size and in fact were founded just 7 years apart.

This isn’t the heart of the link that I want to get to though. For that I need to take you to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, located in the centre of Perth. For a handful of dates each year the Gallery creates the Artbar, with a small stage nestled in and around the base of the sweeping central staircase. On Thursday night, just passed, the stage was inhabited by Lucky Oceans, Van Dyke Parks and Kinky Friedman. You can look up Lucky and Van Dyke yourself and I hope you do – They’re both worth it. Kinky Friedman is worth it also but for him I’m gonna digress a little and I hope you’ll understand, even though it’s not about sport.

Kinky Friedman is reason enough alone to like Texas: The Lone Star State has him (ab)normally residing there and in the 2006 Texas Gubernatorial race he polled just shy of 13% of the vote. The Kinkster is: An author of crime noir novels, a singer of country ballads, a songwriter of irony and satire, a cigar-maker of, well, cigars (and coffee and salsa), a sometimes political raconteur and an always interesting and funny guy. Kinky’s home is the family run summer camp, Echo Hill Ranch near Kerrville in the Texas Hills. Nearby is the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, founded by Friedman to save animals from euthanasia.

The gig was great, Lucky was bluesy, Van Dyke was a little strange but interesting and Kinky was by turns funny and poignant. I know all of this because I was there and this I can now prove with the assistance of a graphic I’ve compiled:

Longworth72 plus Kinky Friedman
Longworth72 is the guy who didn’t have the cojones to wear his cowboy hat.

As you can see, the Kinkster and I are now like… well… a genuinely nice guy and a fan who had a chance to get an autograph, a photo and a moment with a hero.

The link to round this out is a little tenuous but it’s my blog and if you can’t show a photo of yourself with Kinky Friedman in your own blog then the world truly has gone mad. To maybe give it a sporting flavour I’d like to steal a riff off the Kinkster. He talked about how his mate Willie Nelson loves golf and explained that he didn’t get the game himself.

‘The only 2 good balls I ever hit,’ he told us, ‘were when I trod on a rake.’

Thanks mate and have a safe trip home to Texas.

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