Let me be upfront about this: I have no idea. But in a fit of desperation after last night's game, I actually Googled those words, hoping that someone might. Alas, it does not seem to be a phrase that anyone has had cause to utter, until now, anyway.
I woke up this morning more eager than usual to read the Houston Chronicle sports pages after last night's frustrating 7-4 loss to Milwaukee, though I cannot tell you now whether I was more hoping to see the headline OSWALT SENT TO DL or OSWALT PERFECTLY FINE; NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT HERE, FOLKS. Instead I got some unsatisfying combination that was neither. Oswalt's former minor-league roommate Keith Ginter, who got a two-out double off him in yesterday's excruciating fifth inning, comments: "I don't know what was bothering him, but something was." Jimy Williams says: "I didn't like the way the ball was coming out of his hand."
The man himself reports: "I've felt better this year, but I've been going through this for a while, so it's nothing different."
The local reporters have been so frustratingly coy about Oswalt's real condition that I don't know whether to believe he is hiding a serious injury or not. About two weeks ago, writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz let slip a few weeks ago that Oswalt had been struggling with a strained intercostal muscle since the beginning of the season. Lately, whenever Oswalt gets quoted, he's talking about injuries. "In spring training, Wade, Andy, Roger and I were in the clubhouse when we all sat down and Roger said, 'It's hard for five guys to stay healthy all year,'" he offered a few days ago.
It's hard to know what to make of last night's performance. Oswalt was pretty sharp for three innings (if you don't count drilling Junior Spivey in the side -- and given the way that Spivey backed off from the plate in every following at-bat, I don't think you can); then he walked Geoff Jenkins on four straight not-terrible pitches, bringing Jimy Williams and the Astros' trainer to the mound. By the fifth inning, he was definitely not himself, giving up four straight hits, plunking another batter, then losing the strike zone completely after Ginter's double. Was it frustration or was it pain? It is hard to tell.
On the other hand, I did enjoy the subheads. BERKMAN, LAMB GRIEVING. HIDALGO STILL HURTING. Me too, fellows. I thought. Me too.
It's been said before, and more authoritatively, but San Francisco's SBC/Pac Bell/Telecommunications Giant Park is where baseball has died and gone to heaven. I visited when the Giants were out of town, so I did not witness an actual game (instead, they were setting up for some sort of non-baseball event on the field when I showed up, full of banquet tables and tarps, and I didn't see much of the playing field at all). But I took a long walk around the perimeter, noting fondly the way that right field is visible through a series of archways through which passersby can have a look at the action on the field without actually buying a ticket. (Signs in the area note that every third inning, spectators will be herded away; I like to think this is so that another crowd of onlookers can move closer in their stead.) The statue of Willie Mays out front is majestic and awe-inspiring (as opposed to similar statues of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell in Houston's recently constructed Halliburton Plaza, nicknamed Scary Biggio and The Statue of Dorian Bagwell by my officemates in honor of the Killer Bs' rigor-mortisy bronze faces -- I will try to take pictures during my next ballpark trip). And there is just something about the way the ballpark sits in its corner of downtown, set off by water on two sides and broad avenues on the other, that gives you the feeling that baseball is taken seriously here.
It's a shame, really, that I can't stand the Giants. The cousin whose wedding I was in California to attend suggested that one could get season tickets and cheer for a variety of San Francisco opponents, including my secret heartthrob Los Angeles Dodgers nine times a year, but that seems a little like going to, say, Washington National Cathedral to worship the devil.