Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:26 am

Astros game + 10,000 harmonicas = genius!

Note to Astros fans: If you're planning to watch Friday's game against the Dodgers, have the mute button at the ready. If you have tickets, consider giving them to someone you dislike.

The team will host an attempt to set a world record for "largest harmonica ensemble" after the game, and if they make the mistake of passing out the 10,000 harmonicas before the game instead of after, they will also set the record for "most annoying baseball game of all time."

In attempting to break the record of 6,131 harmonicas playing in concert in Hong Kong last year, the Astros will show a series of video tutorials teaching the crowd to play a song. Fans will face the additional challenge of dodging the on-deadline baseball writers pitching themselves out of the pressbox when insanity overtakes them.

The stunt is being filmed for an independent film called "Pocket Full of Soul: The Harmonica Documentary." The Astros' news release says the film "takes viewers on a journey through the unique and entertaining world of the harmonica." It could also be described as "a movie you will never, ever find in my Netflix queue."

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Tags: Astros, Dodgers
Posted on: September 7, 2010 12:57 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 1:59 pm

Astros rookies get dressed up

If your team is out of the playoff hunt, September always seems to have one more treat for you -- the rookie road trip.

Every year in just about every clubhouse, rookies come into the clubhouse following the last game of a series to find their clothes replaced with some kind of embarrassing costume that they must wear until they get to the hotel in the next city.

Year after year it happens. A couple of years ago I was covering a team that had to scrap its plans at the last minute because the manager was mad and didn't want any merriment from a team following a loss, despite the fact the team was safely out of the running.

While some teams will have these kind of shenanigans earlier in the season, most wait until the end of the season because there are more rookies once call-ups are made. And then there's the whole question of who is a rookie, these pranks aren't like chicken pox -- you can get them more than once. Jeff Keppinger told me he had to do it three different times because of late call-ups and new teams.

Well, Keppinger didn't have to do it this season, but his teammates did. Astros.com's Alyson Footer got some great photos for her blog . Click to see Chris Johnson and Jason Castro as Saturday Night Live 's Ace and Gary, Henry Villar as Super Mario Brother Luigi and Fernando Abad as the ever-popular naughty nurse.

Footer also pulled up old pictures of Roy Oswalt in a Hooters get-up in 2001 and Morgan Ensberg in the same the year before.

It's great stuff from Footer and hopefully we'll see more of these from other teams in coming weeks.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 25, 2010 2:48 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2010 2:49 pm

Astros claim Giants' Downs on waivers

The Astros have become a beneficiary of the Giants' waiver claim on Cody Ross.

The Giants, who are collecting outfielders like bobblehead dolls, claimed Ross to block the first-place Padres, who need a center fielder. Their bluff got called by the Marlins, who decided to let the Giants pick up the rest of Ross' salary.

In order to make room on their 40-man roster for Ross, the Giants had to designate infielder Matt Downs for assignement, which meant he had to go through waivers. The Astros snatched him up Wednesday. Downs, 26, hasn't done much in limited big-league action, but he's batting .280 with some power at Triple-A. He's mostly a second baseman, but has played everywhere except catcher and center field, making him a solid utility possibility.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:48 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 1:49 pm

Oswalt plays in left

It was certainly an odd thing to hear -- "now batting, the left fielder, Roy Oswalt."

But it was said and it was correct.

Roy Oswalt Oswalt then grounded out to end the game, a 4-2 Astros victory in 16 innings at Citizen's Bank Park. The game started Tuesday and finished early Wednesday morning in five hours and 20 minutes. The Astros intentionally walked Chase Utley, putting the tying run on first, to get to Oswalt with two outs in the 16th.

Oswalt entered the game as the left fielder for the 15th inning after Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was ejected after he was called out on a check swing to end the 14th inning with two runners on.

After the checked swing, Howard flipped his bat and was tossed. Howard had already given third-base umpire Scott Barry a stare-down after a similar call. Once Howard was ejected, the first baseman stormed down the baseline toward Barry and had to be held back by his teammates.

Ross Gload, currently on the disabled list, was also ejected for his comments from the dugout.

With no position players available, Oswalt was put in left field and Raul Ibanez was moved from left to first.

"We felt like Oswalt's athletic, he catches fly balls and stuff so we put him in the outfield," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

To lead off the 15th, Houston's Jason Castro flied out to Oswalt in left. Ibanez, making his first appearance at first since 2005, then recorded two putouts, including a nice play on Michael Bourn's bunt attempt.

Oswalt became the second pitcher to record an out in the outfield this season. St. Louis' Kyle Lohse had a putout in the April 17 game between the Mets and Cardinals that went 20 innings.

Ibanez was unable to come up with a throw on a double play attempt in the 16th that led to a run.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 19, 2010 11:25 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 11:33 pm

Keppinger to DL after all

Jeff Keppinger
Today's word of the day: "sesamoiditis."

It looked like the Astros had gotten lucky on an injury to their top hitter, but they didn't dodge the DL bullet after all.

Second baseman Jeff Keppinger was put on the disabled list after Thursday's game, three days after coming out of a game with an injury to his left big toe. An MRI came back clean, showing no fractures or structural damage, and it was hoped he would be able to return soon.

But Thursday he was diagnosed with sesamoiditis, which is an infected hamburger bun. OK, not really. According to foot.com (do you get to visit foot.com in your job? I think not) sesamoiditis is "a common ailment that affects the forefoot, typically in young people who engage in physical activity." Well, there you go.

Basically, he has an inflammation in some tiny bones within the tendons that run to the big toe. And it's going to take long enough to come back from that the Astros decided it was prudent to DL him. Infielder Anderson Hernandez was called up to take his roster spot, and Geoff Blum has been starting at second in Keppinger's place.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2010 12:58 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2010 2:51 pm

D-Backs pick granted free agency

How about this for a rare instance of common sense? Major League Baseball has granted free agency to Arizona Diamondbacks first-round pick Barret Loux, while still giving Arizona its supplemental selection in the 2011 draft.

Loux, picked sixth overall, failed his physical. The Texas A&M right-hander showed a labrum tear and elbow issues and Arizona backed away from a $2 million agreement with Loux.

Here's the statement from MLB:
We have reached an agreement regarding Barret Loux’s status that is mutually beneficial to the parties. Today Commissioner Selig has announced that Loux will become a free agent on September 1. As such, he will be free to sign with any Major League Club at that time. In addition, the Arizona Diamondbacks will receive a Supplemental Selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The agreement also provides an opportunity for the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association globally to the address the issues that can arise from questions concerning a drafted player’s health. Given the private nature of the underlying disagreement here, neither party will be making any further public comments about this situation. UPDATE: MLB.com's Brian Taggert reports the Astros have some interest in Loux, a Houston native.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 16, 2010 10:28 pm

Panel clears voiding of Chacon contract

Ed Wade
Funny that this news should break on a day people are talking about what it takes to void a major-league contract.

An arbitration panel has denied a grievance by the players' union on behalf of pitcher Shawn Chacon, who was released and had his contract voided in 2008 after choking Astros general manager Ed Wade and throwing him to the ground.

Chacon had more than $980,000 left on his $2 million contract at the time of the clubhouse incident. The ruling received by the Astros on Monday denies Chacon any further compensation.

"We’re pleased with the [Chacon] ruling,” Wade told MLB.com. "It was an unfortunate incident, and we’re glad to put it behind us."

It's a reminder for the Mets, who are figuring out what to do with Francisco Rodriguez, that it's possible to void a contract and prevail. It's also a reminder that the union will do anything to get money for its members -- if they went to bat for $980,000, you can be sure that they'll fight for the millions owed to Rodriguez.

In the real world, if you choke your boss you end up not only unemployed but in jail. But if you're a member of the MLBPA, you get a defense team. What a world.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 14, 2010 9:26 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2010 2:04 pm

Pirates helpless against Astros' Norris

Bud Norris
Astros pitcher Bud Norris is a popular target for practical jokes, like parking his car in the outfield during batting practice. It's probably safe to say the only thing Norris was targeted for by teammates Saturday night was pats on the back.

Norris absolutely mowed down the Pirates, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work. If he had reached 15, he'd have been the first man to strike out that many Pirates since Randy Johnson in 2001. As it was, he recorded the most strikeouts by a pitcher at Minute Maid Park.

Norris, who features a 94-mph fastball and good slider, gave up a triple and a two-run homer to the first two batters of the game, then struck out the side. He struck out one in the second and two each in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He left with a 3-2 lead and won as that was the final. The Pirates struck out three more times against the bullpen to end the night with 17.

Norris, in his second major-league season, entered Saturday with a 4-7 record and 5.63 ERA in 17 starts. He has averaged 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and has a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com