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The Astros got an assist from the broadcast booth yesterday

Apr 11, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 6.59.07 AM AP

The Astros have a secret weapon. But he’s only really needed once a year.

Former big league pitcher Steve Sparks is a radio broadcaster for the Astros. Sparks also happens to have been a knuckleballer. The Astros faced current knuckleballer R.A. Dickey last night so yesterday Sparks tossed knuckleballs in BP to Astros hitters to prepare them. It worked too: the Astros got five runs on six hits in seven innings off Dickey and won the game.

This is the second time Sparks has provided this service for Houston hitters, doing so before they faced Dickey last season. They roughed Dickey up then too — five runs on seven hits that time — even though they ended up losing the game thanks to their own pitching staff’s follies.

Would that everyone in the broadcast booth could be so helpful. Last night Chipper Jones showed up as a guest during the broadcast of the Braves-Mets game. During his visit he broke down B.J. Upton‘s hitting problems in highly technical terms. Which was great, actually. Far more detail than one normally hears from any analyst. He also helped Upton during batting practice. I’d like to say it helped — Upton did go 1 for 4 which, as of late, is an improvement — but I think I’ll reserve judgment.

  1. fbwangus8736 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Good He could help the club on the field. Because He sure can’t announce from the booth!

    • nymets4ever - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Do you believe Steve Sparks is God or something, because you keep capitalizing “he”

      • moogro - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        Bible extended-keyboard.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Perhaps some team in the AL east will offer Wakefield an analyst gig.

    • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      Well, the way things are going, Biggeth Dicketh is “on” during even numbered games and “orf” during odd numbered games. You just have to hope that Wakefield is there at the appropriate time.

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Why wouldn’t Wakefield be there at the appropriate time, in this proposed scenario where he joins the Red Sox broadcast booth?

      • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Because he is someplace else.

        This is not rocket science. Any idiot would have figured that one out. But then, you’re not just any idiot.

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        So he wouldn’t be there when the Sox, or other AL East team, plays the Blue Jays? Weird, you would think being part of the broadcast team – he would be at most, if not all games.

      • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Weirder still, you would think someone who comically prides hisself on close textual criticism (guffaw) would have noticed that @sabbathiaetc. never said the Red Sox booth in the first place – he said some AL Team – as opposed to coming back two posts later and trying to cover up for your mistake. Tsk, tsk.

        But that’s okay – we understand that your impulse to be noxious isn’t something you can control, and that the urge to hector rose in your gorge before you had a chance to finish reading @sabbathia’s post. In any case, congratulations on better controlling your gutter slang this afternoon. New meds?

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        So you’re saying you like being called Old Felcher? Ok, guess I have no problem addressing you as such. Either way; the most likely AL East team would be the Sox. You know, considering Wake spent nearly his entire career there. Any idiot should be able to figure that out, Old Felcher.

      • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        Ah well, I guess whatever you were taking this morning isn’t working either. Back to your lowborn self. Where Wakefield pitched during his career was irrelevant to @Sabbathia’s comment, as you know, since among many other things blinkered by your irremediable stupidity ex-ballplayers just as often wind up working as broadcasters for teams they never played for at all – or, wait – maybe, being an imbecile, you don’t know that.

        But in this case, you attempted a logically inconsistent rhetorical ploy, backtracked when you realized you’d made a mistake. Now, in your own fashion – sanctified by tradition and hallowed by time – you’re discharging a squid ink cloud of obfuscation – including, but not limited to, your regression to gutter type – to distract attention from it while you try moving the goal posts again to see if that will work. Unfortunately, not everyone is as clueless as you are and likely see all the way through it, and you.

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Another steady stream of diarrhea flows from the Old Felcher’s keyboard onto the HBT comments section. You accuse me of moving goal posts, I guess you’re the expert in that. You constantly try to confuse every last subject with your inane babblilngs. Now you’ve moved on to more well-know sea life with your squid ink reference.

        You constantly chide others for “taking medication, working at fast food restaurants, and living in trailer houses.” You are such a bigot – none of these things can really say anything about anyone.

      • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        Twist, turn, squirm, dodge, duck, deny, retch vulgarity. Doesn’t matter. You are what little you are and are apparently determined to remain little. That’s fine. There’s a niche for that.

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        I imagine you are the expert on being little, Old Felcher.

      • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        You don’t have an imagination, sewerbear. Only a set of gutter bred tape loops.

  3. raysfan1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Re: Upton–remember, Braves fans, we Rays fans did warn you that his reputation exceeded his performance level.

    • renaado - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Let’s wait for the complete results at the latter part of the season then we can judge him base on that.. But as for now let’s just wait and hope for the best.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      He’s played 134 games with the Braves now, over 400 ABs with a BA below the Mendoza line. The difference between that and his career averages is that, when with the Rays, he’d get on torrid streaks at time and he never got hot for the Braves last year. Right now the Braves would celebrate him returning to being a .240 hitter with 20-ish homers a year, but that is his ceiling.

      • renaado - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Forget the past season it’s the 2014 season now and if he doesn’t contribute well this year then that’s that..

      • vivabear - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

        Exactly, the article was talking about Chipper helping BJ during BP – which has nothing to do with last year.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        …and my point is to not expect much, the basis of which necessarily requires looking at past performance. I’ll be happy for him if some mentoring by Chipper Jones returns him to the form he showed with the Rays–but I recommend Braves fans not hold their breath.

  4. gbrim - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    The DBacks tried doing the same thing a few years ago with their radio analyst, and former knuckleball pitcher, Tom Candiotti. Dickey dominated them that day. Maybe Sparks has more left in the tank than ‘Candyman’……

  5. sdelmonte - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Sadly, I am not sure you need extra help with RA now. Though he did well in his previous start.

    • Old Gator - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      He seems pretty erratic this season. Last season, we knew he was pitching with a lot of nagging injuries. Not sure what the problem is this season, though. He throws a harder knuckler than most knuckleballers, so perhaps it really is just age catching up with him.

  6. stex52 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Maybe Sparks needs to come in as a fifth starter. Couldn’t hurt much.

    • kevinbnyc - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      My thoughts exactly. It would be an almost-Dorn!

  7. cincinata - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Yes, sign him up.

  8. dowhatifeellike - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    They need all the help they can get anyway.

  9. rickwenthe - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    They Cardinals have been cheated out of 2 WS! Mark McGwire was allowed to do so not illegal yet. Baseball needed to bring the fans back and what is the best way the long ball. When they told McGwire it was illegal he retired, just because after he was retired he didn’t want to answer congress I get it! The difference between him and the rest is Bonds was allowed to break the career record when they knew he was doing PED’s was won of the worst thing baseball has ever done! A-Rod speaks for it self! If you don’t think McGwire and Sosa’s hr battle didn’t bring fans back you are an idiot! They had to find a way to bring people back I get it but they ought have put an end to it Brady Clark hitting 50 hr’s come on how many fifty hr hitters were there! They should have tested every one! I don’t think The Cards did it after they were told players were going to be suspended! Those that believe Albert did them they never saw his workout routine, the help Albert gave to Yadi was being a leader. That foot injury Albert kept playing with it , His stats declined But for the 12 yrs Albert played for us now one will match that, I saw play every day and he was playing hurt! Greatest right -handed hitter I have ever saw! He could hit any pitchers best pitch the homerun against the Tigers in the 1st inning of game one he stuck his bat so far outside and hit it out. I don’t think anyone could have done that, and the difference between Albert hitting 40 or 50 hr’s was he was a line drive hitter who hit ropes always. If it wasn’t up high enough it would bang off the wall! They homerun he hit against the Astros in the NLCS besides McGwire Hardest hit I ever saw. When the other teams dugout was saying oh my God is the answer. McGwire’s blast off of Rand Johnson in the all star game in KC when he hit it into the fountain in CF Johnson tip his cap no better complement!

  10. zdravit - Apr 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Doesn’t hurt that Dickey is one of the worst pitchers in baseball when he’s not feeling lucky and crafty.

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