REMEMBER WHEN...

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl Chairman Faust still haunted by awful Little League call years ago

Don Faust is still bitter over a Little League call. Courtesy photo

Don Faust is Chairman of the Board of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, which will pit Texas vs. Missouri on Dec. 27 in NRG Stadium. It's annually one of the most successful post-season football games, with sold-out crowds and $3 million payout to each team.

As boss of the bowl, Faust will present the trophy to the winning team. That's guaranteed face time on ESPN. Faust is also CEO of Faust Distributing, one of the biggest family-owned beer distributors in Texas.

Don Faust is a big deal. Yet he is haunted by a sports memory that keeps him tossing and turning at night and remains a baseball controversy that may never be solved.

Let's jump in Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine. The year was 2007. I was the manager of the Biscuits in West University Little League's "Minor A" Division for players age 9 and 10. The league assigned the Biscuits team to me because I may not have the healthiest eating habits. Everybody's a comedian around here, even Little League officials.

The mascot of the Montgomery Biscuits - yes, it's a real team, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays - is a hot buttered biscuit named Big Mo. Between innings, the mascot throws buttermilk biscuits into the stands. 

Don Faust, sports kingpin and beer giant, was first base coach for the West U. Little League Biscuits that year. His son Jake was my first-round draft pick, starting pitcher and slick-fielding shortstop. 

It was an early-season matchup between the Biscuits and the Ironbirds. Catcher Nicolas Baizan was batting with two runners on, and two outs. Nicolas's father Jordi was our third-base coach. Jordi is a singer and songwriter. His latest CD is titled Like the First Time. 

Nicolas checked his swing and hit a squibber, a foul ball slowly dribbling toward our first-base dugout. Faust reached down and picked up the ball.

The home plate umpire yelled "coach's interference" and called Nicolas out, killing the Biscuits rally. Needless to say, Faust protested and I erupted from the dugout, questioning the umpire's understanding of baseball rules and principles of science.

I explained to him, a checked swing from a righty hitter imparts spin that propels the ball to the right. Nicolas' foul ball couldn't possibly have bounced back into fair territory. The Earth would have to fall off its axis for that to happen. Haven't you been to Astros games? The first base coach always picks up foul balls and throws them into the crowd. The fans love it. 

The umpire wouldn't budge, and insisted that Faust interfered with a live ball - a ball that would have defied science and challenged the Bernoulli Principle - which explains why flushed toilet water spins counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in Australia. Nicolas was out. I could have shown him a frame-by-frame Zapruder film of the play and it wouldn't have mattered. 

Faust was besides himself. He still insists the ball was headed to our dugout and the umpire made a historic bad call. .  

You'd think that Faust would have more on his mind these days, what with the Texas Bowl only weeks away. .  

"Of course I remember that! Stupid call," Faust said this week. 

"I was in the first base coaching box and the foul ball rolled between me and the dugout. I stopped it with my outstretched left hand. It would have been geometrically impossible for that ball to magically become fair. It happens in Major League Baseball every game. The umpire was a dummy."

Then ... "I miss those days." Welcome to the world of Little League dads. 

Meanwhile his son Jake is now a student at the University of Texas and Nicolas is a pro soccer player, a bit of a teen sensation, in Spain. They've clearly moved on. 

Don Faust and I ... still tormented by an umpire's call 10 years ago in Little League. There's an excellent chance that we need professional help. 

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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