2024 bucket list — French Open is in, and one Astro is out

Astros Framber Valdez, Jose Abreu, Yordan Alvarez
The Jose Abreu signing was a mistake. Composite Getty Image.

This Wednesday, April 24, is my favorite made-up “holiday” of the year - National Bucket List Day - because it reminds me that I have things I’d love to do, places to go, people to meet, and dreams to dream.

This surprised me: Casino.org, a site that surveys the online gaming and entertainment industry, asked 3,000 people, specifically Texans, "What’s on your bucket list?" The No. 1 answer was, “Take a road trip,” followed by “Go to the beach.”

Go to the beach is a bucket-list fantasy? Wait, let me close this laptop.

Okay, I’m back. Check off “go to the beach.” If you live in Houston, the beach on Galveston is one hour away and it’s free.

Did these people understand what bucket list means? It’s things you’d like to do before you die.

Before you kick the bucket.

I’m lucky, because of my profession, I’ve gotten to actually do some of things that might otherwise be on my bucket list:

I’ve met three U.S. Presidents and a Beatle. Guess who tops that list? It’s Paul McCartney. I covered the Berlin Wall coming down for Gannett Radio and George H.W. Bush’s funeral for the Washington Post. I played tennis with John McEnroe and Chris Evert. I was Texas All-Star Wrestling’s cruiserweight champion (you can look it up on Wikipedia) and I once ate one of Joey Chestnut’s leftover hot dogs at the Coney Island contest.

So I’m constantly coming up with new bucket list hopes. Here’s my 2024 Top 10 Bucket List of dreams to dream:

10. Watch the French Open tennis final live in Paris while eating a crunchy baguette sandwich. Just one slice of ham, one slice of Swiss cheese on a buttered baguette. Moins on en fait, mieux c’est. Less is more.

9. Convince Larry David to do another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm so I don’t sink into dark despair Sunday nights.

8. Let the Texas Legislature have the balls to put sports gambling on the ballot, which would win overwhelmingly, so we can have nice things like Oklahoma and Louisiana do.

7. See something done with the Astrodome. Either fix it up or tear it down. I don’t give a flying’ Philadelphia flip either way. But letting it sit there rotting away is unacceptable.

6. Watch the Astros tell Jose Abreu it’s been real, but it’s time for you to pack up your $58.5 million and go home. Bring up Joey Loperfido and see what the rookie can do. As John Lennon said, “it can't get no worse” than Abreu.

5. Have a mad scientist invent a way for dogs to live as long as people. That’s the only problem with dogs, you literally love them to death. It’s the saddest thing ever to say goodbye to your dog.

4. Have West U name a dead-end street after me.

3. Watch English muffins assume their rightful place as the bun of choice in Burger World. English muffins taste a thousand times better and absorb more grease than lame boring burger buns. Ever eat a burger bun by itself? Disgusting. A toasted, buttered English muffin? Delicious.

(By the way, Nancy’s Hustle in Houston serves their burgers on an English muffin and Justin Verlander gives it his thumbs up.)

2. Force candidates to pick up campaign signs the day after an election or get fined $1,000 per sign. It like I’m still seeing Whitmire for Mayor signs. I’m talking Kathy Whitmire.

1. Lastly, just once, I’d like to drive from Houston to San Antonio, or Houston to Dallas, without seeing one orange barrel. When is done ever done? I know, ain’t gonna happen.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.


Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.


RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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