It's not exactly how I envisioned the first Thursday afternoon after the 2017 Texas League regular season, but certainly not implausible two weeks ago. Michael has called Astros spring training and regular-season games on several occasions. It only makes sense that Sam now broadcasts Corpus Christi Independent School District football games, as MC and Matt Hicks before him.
But this day, like the 12 before and an undetermined number to come, have a different feel.
Fourteen days ago, we were buttoning up Whataburger Field before driving home to board up our houses. Storm preparation kicked into high gear in the last 48 hours before landfall at Rockport.
Devastating winds. Incessant rainfall in such great amounts that copious doesn't adequately describe it. Maybe deluge? Deluges overwhelm, right?
It was that way throughout much of the Coastal Bend and on up to and through the Houston metro area to the Golden Triangle. And then well beyond the Sabine.
Hurricanes don't respect boundaries, natural or otherwise.
Lost loved ones. Homes in splinters and rubble.
Downed power lines. Compromised water supplies. Translation: utility services interrupted for days, if not weeks or months. For many, a move to temporary shelter.
It's no way to live… but at least you have your life.
And the psychology of it all, folks in affected areas bearing the worst of a horrific (is that word adequate?) natural disaster not unlike unarmed soldiers defending their ground against a vastly superior force of enemy invaders with the most advanced weaponry.
Unlike an occupying army, though, the storm moves on, right?
When we move on.
That's an easier proposition for some than for others. Many of us who didn't remain on our property during the storm's incursion subjected ourselves to hours of television and online news coverage.
That, of course, doesn't remotely compare to being at the point of attack, or the boots on the ground - military and civilian - who quickly respond to lend support and kick-start the recovery process.
And a process it is.
There's another deluge out there, a deluge of goodness. You can make a difference in regional Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by visiting YouCaring.com/CoastalBendStrong
We all know someone whose life has been disrupted. One of our staff members is a Rockport resident; another had family members pulled out of their residence during a southeast Texas high-water rescue.
Pitch in to help out!
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Back to the Hooks…
What will I remember?
I'll remember a furious charge down the stretch as our boys won nine of 10 games to finish the season, including doubleheader sweeps of San Antonio at home and on the road. That effort enabled them to close a six-game Midland lead for the South Division wild-card playoff berth to a half-game over a seven-day span going into Labor Day weekend.
How the bullpen allowed a single run during the last six games and 24 2/3 innings
A stark reminder that every game counts, as the Hooks missed their fifth Texas League playoff berth in six seasons, tying Midland for the second-best overall record in the South but losing the tiebreaker (13-17 head-to-head)
How Riley Ferrell bounced back from a right shoulder aneurysm to go 2-2 with a 3.81 earned run average over a team-high 36 appearances, striking out 19 over his last nine games and 14 scoreless innings while going four-for-four in save opportunities
How J.D. Davis patiently and graciously answered incessant questions about his readiness and preparedness for Triple-A
And his two bombs, including a grand slam, in the 11-6 win over Frisco on June 8
Jon Singleton's missile over the CITGO sign during the final home series vs. San Antonio, his MiLB-leading 107 walks… and "Brinks Truck" walk-up music by Rick Ross
Not to mention his over-the-pool 429-foot grand slam in a five-RBI performance as the Hooks snapped a 10-game May losing streak by defeating Midland 7-1
Ramon Laureano's cannon from right field and his club record-tying and Texas League-leading 16 assists
And his sac fly to score Ryne Birk, who'd doubled, as the Hooks knocked off San Antonio, 4-3, sweeping a doubleheader on the season's penultimate day. They "walked" their way to a 4-0 win in the opener, augmented by Kyle Tucker's two-run double.
And Tucker, Preston's kid brother and top Astros position player prospect, capping the year with his 16th home run as a Hook and 25th overall on the final day
Akeem Bostick, once a Georgia Southern football and baseball commit, who captured league Pitcher of the Week honors after vexing both Frisco and San Antonio the final week
Forrest Whitley, Houston's top pitching prospect and only 19 years old, dealing with attention from media and fans like a 23-year-old who played three years of college baseball and experienced multiple rounds of NCAA postseason competition
Fifteen Missions hits - all singles - in a 6-3 home loss on September 2
Rodney Linares passing Keith Bodie (2012-14) as the winningest manager in Hooks history. Rodney completed the season with 242 victories.
Houston catcher Max Stassi and shortstop Carlos Correa with big-time contributions on the final road trip as they rehabbed in Double-A
Four Astros rehabbers at one time: catcher Evan Gattis and pitchers Tony Sipp, Will Harris, and Michael Feliz appeared at Whataburger Field on August 22; each of the hurlers worked a scoreless frame in consecutive order.
Carlos Canelon and his game-winning splash of a Karch Kowalczyk eighth-inning change-up into the swimming pool for a 1-0 triumph over Tulsa on August 10; it was Canelon's Double-A debut.
Jason Martin's two-out walk-off grand slam the night before topping a six-run, six-hit ninth as the Hooks rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Drillers and Shea Spitzbarth, 10-7. Martin was down 0-2 in the count.
Jamie Ritchie's cycle at Frisco - the first in Hooks history - on August 6
Alex Winkelman flirting with a no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings of a 6-0 decision over Frisco on July 19
Dallas Keuchel's Whataburger Field rehab start on July 17, three shutout frames in a 7-2 win over Frisco (Martin singled, homered, and doubled twice that night)
Antonio Nunez scoring on a one-out passed ball in the 10th as the Hooks edged Frisco 2-1 here on July 16
Laureano's five-hit game in a 6-5 victory over the Travelers July 9
Davis, Singleton, Rogelio Armenteros, Drew Ferguson, Josh James, Jack Mayfield, and Garrett Stubbs representing the Hooks at the 81st Texas League All-Star Game in Frisco on June 27
Mayfield having monster games against Midland and Stubbs throwing out enemy baserunners at a 39 percent clip
And Ferguson's 23-game hitting streak
Yoanys Quiala's Double-A debut, when he beat San Antonio 3-2 on June 19. The Cuban right-hander struck out the side in the first en route to eight strikeouts against a walk.
Those effective sidewinding bullpen guys, Jacob Dorris and Ryan Thompson
Cy Sneed, Michael Freeman, and Dorris blanking the RockHounds on eight hits, 4-0 May 14
Kristian Trompiz 's full-count, two-out single off Kevin Herget pushing Nunez home for the winner as Corpus Christi edged Springfield 4-3 in 10 innings on May 25
Five bombs - two from Stubbs - and 6 1/3 scoreless from Kent Emanuel as the Hooks took Frisco 7-1 on the last day of April
Mott Hyde, Nunez, and Ferguson going back-to-back-to-back off Shane McCain in Bostick's Corpus Christi debut, an 8-2 win over the RoughRiders the previous night
Laureano's walk-off yard shot in the 12th for a 4-3 victory over Midland April 25
Armenteros and James combining on a three-hit shutout as the Hooks dropped the Travelers 5-0 on Tax Day
Alejandro Garcia's game-winning hit-by-pitch in a 5-4 outcome over Arkansas 24 hours earlier
And the CITGO Jersey Series featuring color schemes of the six CCISD high schools
And Dia de los Hooks
Here's a listing of all the 2017 Hooks. A total of 70 players appeared in at least one game. Rehab assignments are noted by an asterisk.
Position Players (32)
Bryan De La Cruz
Lance McCullers, Jr.*
What do you remember?
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.