The time the 1980s Astros used the occult to stop a losing streak

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Jim Deshaies explains that once, back in the late 80s, his Astros dropped a bunch of games in a row against the Padres in Jack Murphy Stadium despite being the better overall team. Frustrated, he and some of his teammates resorted to the dark arts:

Clearly it was time to change the karma. Some unknown force led me to a local book store where I happened upon a book on the occult, full of spells,incantations and the like.

Flipping through the pages I came upon a spell that would put a curse on one’s enemies house. Seemed like a fit. It called for twigs from 3 different types of trees. I gathered twigs from the first three trees I came upon brought them to the ballpark and gathered a pair of co-warlocks .(Larry Andersen and Dave Smith) The spell mandated we spit on the twigs then light them on fire and while smoldering recite the incantation:

Burner be burned,
Turner be turned
Let nothing but good
come from this wood.

Go read how it turned out. And whether the lesson is that the occult works or, rather, that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

Note: Chris Truby did not play for the Astros for over a decade after this, so his well-known participation in the dark arts is totally unrelated.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.