Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baseball, Steroids, Ken Caminiti and Joe Moreno

I know what you are thinking, what does the late St. Rep. Joe E. Moreno have to do with the other three subjects of this headline, but bear with me.

Like a lot of political folks here in Houston, Joe was a good friend of mine. Before he got elected to the legislature, we ran together, whether it was going out to eat, or work out, or a drink and a cigar. After he became an elected official, we were still buddies, but we didn't spend as much time hanging out together.

I remember the session in 2005 more for who wasn't there than for who was. First, we had a baby the previous August, so I decided for the first time in 3 sessions not to work in Austin, get an apartment, and be gone from my wife and newborn daughter for 6 months. I wasn't in Austin for session, and I missed it.

Also gone was my friend Rick Noriega, who had been deployed (as many of you know) to Afghanistan. Then in early May, Joe was also gone.

I think of him every so often, and I and many folks miss him terribly. When I think of him, it usually doesn't have to do with politics exactly, and this is one of those times. Today's report on steroid use in Major League Baseball reminded me of hanging out with Joe.

Also gone from our lives is Ken Caminiti, as famous for his drug use and overdose as much as his MVP-caliber career with the Astros and Padres. It was during Caminiti's second stint with the 'Stros that Joe had a suggestion that makes me laugh every time I think about it.

You see, one day at Joe's campaign headquarters, Joe decided that I looked just like Ken Caminiti. Well, maybe not just like him, but more like a shorter, less fit brother. Then he suggested that we could pick up dates if we went out together and he introduced me as Ken Caminiti's younger brother, Matt Caminiti.

He was serious. He wanted to try it out, but as a happily married man I was not really interested in picking up girls under an assumed name, especially one of a local celebrity.

Now that Joe's gone, I wonder if it would have worked.

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