Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Astros Legend Geoff Blum

Oct 11, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; General view of batting practice before game three of the ALDS between the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; General view of batting practice before game three of the ALDS between the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Geoff Blum Interview

Talking Stros: To start off the interview, not sure if you caught it, but we were playing P.O.D., Youth of the Nation. That was your walk up song right?

Blum: Yes, early on during the first half of my career, just because I liked that opening drum beat. I think during my second go around with the Astros, I was using The Red by Chevelle.

Talking Stros: But let’s go ahead and get to the World Series in between. You happened to go to the White Sox and had a pretty good got a pretty big hit against us and in 2005 What do you specifically remember about that hit?

Blum: To be honest it was a bittersweet moment, as you guys were talking about, I played 1999-2001 with the Montreal Expos, and then I played 2002 with Houston after being traded from the Expos for what player?

Talking Stros: Chris Truby.

Blum: Yes, then right after my daughter was born in 2013, I was traded for Brandon Backe straight up. I mean I don’t think that there was any animosity to be traded from Houston to Tampa Bay at the time, but I was up for my second year of arbitration. Then I had my worst year of my professional career. But it allowed me to sign with the Padres in 2005, and I was eventually traded at the trade deadline to Chicago. I found myself in the World Series against a group of guys that I fought so hard with the Astros. When I say bittersweet, it was in the sense that there were guys I enjoyed playing with on both clubs, and we were at the pinnacle of our careers being in the World Series.

The sweet part was that I hit the game-winning home run, but the bitter part was beating a group of guys I played with for a few years. That’s the nature of the beast sometimes, but it made my relationship with the Houston Astros even stronger during my second stint and when I eventually started calling the game. It’s hard for some people, but Houston was a fantastic city. I’m thankful that the Astros have to let me broadcast for them, and I spent five of my 14 years as a player in Houston.

Talking Stros: I will always thank of you as an Astro. You wrote on you blog about switch hitting, did you want to take a second and talk about that?

Blum: Sure, I appreciate you still thinking of me as an Astro after that one swing of the bat, that really means a lot to me, and I hope there are people out there that feel the same way. I was a big tall, lanky kid in high school, the blog you are talking about is on my website blummer27.com, talking about switch hitting. In high school, I was tall and lanky, and I didn’t think that I was emotionally ready to play professional baseball out of high school in the minors. I opted to go The University of California Berkley, and it was the six-pack then, there were only six teams in the Pac-10 at the time.

I got to play shortstop as an 18-year-old freshman, but they wanted me to try switch hitting. In my youthful arrogance, I said yes, I got this, I can do it. I attempted to do it and struggled for a good two to three weeks, and I wanted to take batting practice behind closed doors with no one watching. The ball was not coming off my bat like I wanted, a couple of duck farts into left field, nothing really firm. I was getting destroyed during fall ball against 87 mph fastballs, and I was barely making contact. Two-thirds of the season into fall ball, I was going to tell the coach that I couldn’t switch hit. The coach saw right through what I said and saw a kid who was trying to make an impression on the team and not what would further my career after college. Watching college baseball today, I don’t think some schools are getting kids ready for the big leagues.

The coach said you have two options, stop switch hitting and I’ll pull your scholarship, and you go home, or you can continue to switch hit and play baseball with us. I obviously made the right decision, but it helped to know that he had faith in me to push me that way.

Talking Stros: Had you given up on switch hitting, you would not have it that game winning home run hitting left-handed.

Blum: That’s precisely the truth, there is never a trip to the Bay Area where I don’t make time to visit with Bob Milano. I gratefully pay for his breakfast because I am so thankful for him pushing me.

Talking Stros: This is Eric, this is a decade brewing frustration, I have waited that long to be able to tell you exactly what I said when you hit that home run. “This ______ hit one home run all year long, now he hits one in the World Series.”

Blum: Timing is everything (As he is laughing.)

Talking Stros: I was glad when you said that a part of you felt bad for hitting that home run, but it had to feel good to get the World Series winning hit. Tell us about that.

Blum: Up until that point, I understood what a big league season was. Everything we did to get us to this game was to be ready for this moment. Every season, every team calls it a championship season, because that’s the reason that you play for. There were certain people around the league that I didn’t like so much who I didn’t want them to play in the playoffs. However, after my experience in 2005, I hope that every player gets to play in the playoffs and get all the way to the World Series. There is nothing like going into a seven-game series and you are the only two teams playing, and the entire world is watching. It’s a magical feeling to know that our 25 guys are going against their best 25 guys; it’s the ultimate competition in our sport.

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Talking Stros: With that being said, what do you think about the current Astros team?

Blum: I absolutely love them, my first year was 2013, and I’m not going to harp on that, it was part of the process. I am such a huge Astros fan right now, and I am a fan of what Jeff Luhnow has done and how he has taken Moneyball to the next level and created its own entity. They have done such a good job of breaking down the talent with analytics and incorporating character into it. I don’t think enough gets talked about how they drafted these guys or traded for them, and the word development means something a little different.

They are developing winning attitudes, and we are just seeing the infancy of how good these guys could be. I hope these guys don’t get caught up in the individual accolades, but that they understand that it takes a team to win a championship. Dallas Keuchel‘s work ethic earned him, and he doesn’t have the most electric stuff, the Cy Young award. I’m anxious to see what a guy like A.J. Reed could do as well. I am lucky to get to watch this ballclub transform into contenders.

Talking Stros: You played with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. One is in the Hall of Fame, and the other may or may not make it, what was it like to play with them?

Blum: Biggio deserves to be in there, and I think that it is ridiculous that it took him a couple of years to get in. For me as a player and talking to other players, the Biggio situation may have exposed some of the inadequacies of the voting system, because as a player you look milestones, and 3,000 hits is a ridiculous number to get to as a player. Number one to play long enough and be able to obtain those 3,000 hits is another thing. Jeff Bagwell for me, dude, if you want to sit there and crunch numbers, his numbers in those categories are in the top 50 players of All-Time, let alone first base. Bagwell will be in the Hall of Fame, and it’s just a matter of time.

Talking Stros: The teams of the 2000’s and earlier had excellent clubhouse chemistry, do you see these guys with Club Astros building a similar team chemistry?

Blum: I think you hit the nail on the head with Club Astros, how many teams do you see in the major leagues having this much fun? Granted they were winning, but how many teams having as much fun after every win? We had the advantage of being around them, for a long stretch during the season, you will see some ups and downs. But to a man, these guys are getting along extremely well. There are not many teams that will take up the back half of the airplane to play music and play card games, without listening to headphones or getting on their iPads or phones. The Astros really enjoy being together as a team. The outsiders will say they are having too much fun, and they aren’t taking the game seriously, but why not let them have a good time when you are playing well.

Talking Stros: Going back to the World Series, is it true that you got a bronze statue of you at US Cuellar Field, was there some type of unveiling?

Blum: That’s another good story, the World Series was in 2005, the statue went up in 2008. Astros fans probably remember a guy named Scott Linebrink, I played with Linebrink in San Diego and Houston, so he was with the White Sox when it happened in 2008. . He heard about the statue and told his wife, and his wife (Kelly) and my wife were friends, so she asked if we had heard anything about the statue. Kelly sent my wife a link to an article that had pictures and described what it would look like.

My wife did a real great job of keeping it a secret from me, we were in Chicago to play the Cubs, my wife started asking if all of our family members could come with them. I was thinking, dude, I’m trying to win a ballgame, this is a tough road trip, how can you put this on me. One morning we wake up to grab a cup of coffee, and there is a limo waiting for us, she puts us all in the limo, family, and kids, and we roll out. I was trying to figure out why we were taking a limo to the south side of Chicago, and this isn’t going to end well. We pull up to the stadium, and I can see the monument and statue.

At first, I recognized A.J. Pierzynski holding up his mask, they had a picture of Joe Crede‘s home run. We walked to the other side and holy crap, there is a 12-foot bronze image of that home run, you have to be kidding me. So I’m floored, my mom is in tears, the girls were trying to figure out what was going on, it was a pretty humbling experience. That one swing had a big impact in White Sox and World Series history, but I don’t go around announcing that I have it. It’s weird to think that you have a statue, but if a discussion gets weird enough, I’ll break it out as my silver bullet.

If you want to take a look at Blum’s statue, you can do it here.

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Talking Stros: You had nine stolen bases in 2001, where were those the rest of your career?

Blum: It was meal money, and I got out of Canada, and they stopped taking half of my paycheck. When I got traded to Houston, I finally got half my paycheck back instead of giving it to the Prime Minister up there.

Talking Stros: I also noticed that you hit 46 of your 99 homers as an Astro.

Blum: You better believe it.

Talking Stros: But you couldn’t hang around and hit one more home run?

Blum: Ok, if you want to take it there, I had 99 regular season homers and one playoff homer. Can you name the only other guy to do that, to have 99 homers and one in the postseason?

Talking Stros: No

Blum: Garrett Atkins

Talking Stros: What’s you best story that you have as an Astro?

Blum: I have a lot of stories, but when I knew that I was a big leaguer is when Jeff Bagwell asked me to have a drink after a game. I know it’s not funny, but I spent three years in Montreal, we were all kids. When I got traded over to Houston, that was an entirely different situation being in a locker next to Biggio and Bagwell. I sat there quietly for the first two-three months, then when Bagwell asked me to hang around afterward and have a beer with us. That’s when I knew that I arrived.

Talking Stros: Who is your breakout player for the 2016 Astros?

If you want to know Blum’s answer, you will have to listen below.

Next: Houston Astros Sleeper: LHP Micheal Freeman

Thanks for taking the time to interview with us Blummer, we look forward to seeing you on Roots Sports this year. It’s nice to know that you can probably walk into any bar in the Southside of Chicago and get a few free drinks. Maybe some old guy will say, “ain’t you that fella from that monument?” As fun as it was to watch you play and the first fan club that I know of with the Blum’s Blondes. You can follow Blum at @blummer27.