Mike Hampton never planned on being on the disabled list 1,386 times while he was with the Braves. It just happened that way. So the inevitable chorus of boos he receives as he makes his return to Atlanta tonight, while understandable, will probably be a bit unfair. To his credit, Hampton seems to be pretty zen about it all:
"I'm sure there will be some boos -- just like there was in Colorado, New York and other places I've pitched," Hampton said. "That's fine. I accept that. If they don't boo you, it means they don't care that you left."
While he has tried to downplay it, Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson believes Hampton will be especially fired up for the game.
"It's human nature. You want to do good,'' said Robinson. "But he's a pro's pro, and he knows how to approach the game just like any other game. He's focused in on making quality pitches and getting people out and let the results take care of themselves. If he makes his pitches, he will get outs and good things will happen."
And if his Atlanta form holds, he'll throw 17 pitches, after which his arm will fall off and squirt blood Monty Python and the Holy Grail-style, his other arm will develop necrotizing fasciitis, and his spleen will explode.
In all seriousness, however, the linked piece -- an extended look at Mike Hampton's recovery and adjustment to his new life in Houston, both on and off the field -- is a good read. As a Braves fan, I wish he would have been able to keep healthy and productive while with Atlanta. Stuff happens, though, and the fact that Hampton is still doing his best to take the hill every fifth day when he so easily could have retired in wealth and luxury is a testament to his competitiveness and fortitude.