There was a change in the countenance of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve even as the ground ball was yet to have reached his glove. It was over, done and forevermore a memory to be replayed at moments of his choosing. As his throw to first for the final out and the first of World Series Championship for Houston-based Major League Baseball, a small and relaxed grin stretched his lips more and more, until stars shot from his eyes, his teeth and his 5-foot-6 frame. It was done.

Congratulations, World Series Champion Houston Astros! Congratulation Astros fans —those who have waited since 1962 and those who are new supporters since they read the paper the morning after Game 7.

I remember Joey Amalfitano and Bob Aspromonte and Bob Bruce. I saw Turk Farrell and Bob Lillis and Roman Mejias. I learned to spell Hal (easy) Woodeshick (not so easy), and that sometimes our heroes like Jim Umbricht leave us too soon.

For just a moment, I was sitting at Colt Stadium and maybe swatting at mosquitos or fanning away the thick summer heat. Some guy about eight beers into his two-beer limit was mocking relief pitching pioneer Elroy Face — misspelling his name “FASE, Face!” for all of us in the cheap seats to hear. The Pittsburgh Pirates won as, I recall, but I had no idea that “Little Elroy Face — FASE” was one of the first pitchers to be known as a “closer”.

Yes, and I remember in slow motion the guy who for reasons unknown was wearing a straw hat that was like a skimmer. I can see in my mind’s eye his extended arms holding that hat to catch the foul ball … and that ball smashing right through the hat and bouncing away. I can see his anguish and still feel his pain. And I laugh out loud each time I think about it!

START, RELIEF, CLOSE

The occasional Major League game might last five hours, but they generally go 3 to 3-and-a-half, including the seventh inning stretch. A round of golf lasts about four hours, unless intervening variables (slow players) take it to “extra innings.”

Long ago, some now argue, pitchers were expected to go a full game unless they were just hit silly; moreover, they knew nothing of five days rest between outings. One might reasonably conclude that they also walked 5 miles, uphill in the snow to school, and another uphill five home in a blizzard. Barefoot. Today golf, like a well told story, has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Golfers generally are starter, relief (pitcher) and closer, all rolled into one.

I believe the recreational golfer can benefit by examining how he or she scores during the course of a round using the MLB model. Are you a “starter” who scores well in the opening third of the round, only to struggle to the middle third or “innings?” Do you seem to warm up slowly, hitting your stride for “relief” in the middle of the round? Or, do you note at the 18th that the “golf gods” helped you “close” because they could see they were losing you and your interest in ever playing again?

If you have already used this model to in part analyze your game, and you want to talk about it, let me hear from you. If you soon give it a try and want to talk about, let me hear from you. I’ll buy the first round. If you have tried or soon try, and you don’t want to talk about it, let me hear from you as well. I’ll buy the first two rounds; by the time the third is ordered, we’ll be talking about it.

ONLY THE BEGINNING

Ball High hosted a Fall Classic for beginners only last week at Moody Gardens. Julia Salsbury (Clear Springs), Elizabeth Donlon (Ball High), Alexis Webb (Clear Springs), Brooke Hopkins (Ball High) Abby O’Neal (Clear Springs) and Emma Sybesma (Clear Springs) all finished in the top 10 among the 39 girls in the tournament.

Friendswood dominated the boys competition with Jake Burke, Matthew Smith and Dylan Hancock all placing in the top four. Rishi Bengani of Clear Brook was the low scorer on the day; Daniel Golan and Garrett Peters (Ball High) and Braven Hargrove (Dickinson) rounded out the top 10.

Meanwhile, the number of empty seats at NRG Stadium last Sunday suggests that many Texans fans who were ecstatic about the start of the season are not feeling relief in the middle and are not sticking around for the close.

Be safe, on and off the course.

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