By Marc Campos
The Astros in 2004. By early August, we were already looking forward to next season, then they started winning and winning and winning. The newest addition, Carlos Beltran, lived up to all expectations. Beltran's playoff performance will be talked about for years. Berkman, Biggio, Bagwell, Vizcaino, Ensberg, Lamb, and Lane all contributed. Clemens was Cy-spectacular and Oswalt was the steady real deal. Lidge proved virtually unhittable. A guy named Backe pitched some key outings and helped himself out by going yard in a game. Scrap Iron was the right remedy. Jeff Kent's walkoff homer in the NLCS Game 5 is arguably the all time Astros highlight.
In the end, the 'Stros came up short. Baseball 2004 turned out to be the year the curse was reversed. In Houston, August, September and October were truly incredible for even the most casual of Astros fans.
Then there was the presidential campaign. In early January, many of us actually thought that Howard Dean was going to be the Dems' nominee. Then he flamed out. John Kerry emerged as the party's candidate.
Kerry and his campaign never managed to put together a string of successes. There was the mystery of why there wasn't a bump in the polls after the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The campaign erred when it took forever to respond to the swift boat vet ads. Kerry looked indecisive on the war in Iraq. The Kerry campaign did not know how to capitalize on the fact that they won the first two debates.
In the end, the guy that took us to a war that a majority of Americans think is screwed up, presided over the loss of a million private sector jobs, and now leads a nation that has lost respect in the world, was reelected.
As we approach 2005, Commentary learned a new word - tsunami. This past weekend, I had to look up the word in the dictionary. The images on TV the past few days have been mind boggling. A 9.0 earthquake? Over 100,000 dead. It took W three days to comment on this horrific tragedy. Maybe he was reading "The Return of My Pet Goat" or was it "My Pet Goat: Episode II". Now a lot of folks in Southeast Asia are upset that it has taken the USA this long to respond. They see us as being the most powerful country on the planet that on a whim will go to war, but slow to lead on worldwide relief efforts.
They have some reason to believe this, however, in the end, the USA will provide strong leadership on the tsunami relief program. The fact is, the magnitude of the devastation was so overwhelming, that the whole world - including the USA - was momentarily staggered. This contributed to initial relief efforts being slow out of the starting gate.
Tsunami is not a good way to end 2004. Tsunami is how we will begin the new year. Wow!
Have another memorable year in 2005!
December 30, 2004, 9:00AM