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We’d Watch the Astros on Valentine’s Day

by Andy

imageLately, I’ve been fighting these emotions… these overwhelming feelings, I blame it on my elevated levels of machismo, but I’ve got a lot on my mind. And, this being Valentines Day, I just wanted to say a few words to some of my followers… particularly, all the pretty ladies. I’m talking to you. This one goes out to all the girls out there. All the girls who root for the Astros and read my blog. I see you, baby. This blog entry goes out to you.

…and only you.

Girl, I’ve been thinking about you for a while. I see you over there… all sexy looking. Mmmm… I know the baseball season is about to start and you might not be hearin’ a lot from me… but, girl, mmmm, yeah…. I just want you to know, that, this year is the year, our year, if you will… mmm… me, you and the Houston Astros. Oh yeah. This is the year that the Astros will finally go to the World Series. We’ll be on top! So, while I am sitting in front of my television and I seem to be ignoring you while you’re talking about your feelings or what happened on Pretty Little Liars or that slut Becky you work with… mmm, girl…  I just want you to know, that Jose Altuve has a legitimate shot at leading the league in doubles this year. And, girl, that’s what really matters - Jose Altuve racking up doubles. Mmm… What’s that, baby? Yeah… well… you’re the finest Astros fan in the world and, girl, there is one thing I wanna do with you. And, I’ve been wanting to do it to you for a long, long time. You ready, girl?

This poem is called…

WE’D WATCH THE ASTROS ON VALENTINE’S DAY

I’ll be relaxed on my couch, my big screen on Comcast Sports,
Wearing nothing but my Astros jersey and a pair of high school gym shorts,
My left hand’s digging in some Doritos, the right is holdin’ onto a beer,
I’m drinkin’ ‘cause they’re losing, but, girl, you make me want stand up and cheer,
‘cause you’re prancing in our livingroom and I know it’s time to get it on,
We’re gonna watch replays of the playoff year - until the break of dawn,
I’ll be your Jeff Bagwell, girl, you wanna be my Biggio?
I take you ‘round the bases, run my hands all through your fro,
I’ve been wanting this for along time, there’s only one thing I wanna do,
This Valentine’s Day, baby, I wanna watch the Houston Astros with you.

It’ll be like oh oh ohhhh… it’s a replay, it’s not live,
And a oh oh ohhh… girl, it’s like 2005
And a oh oh ohhh… if I could have it my own way
Oh oh oh… girl, we’d watch the Astros on Valentine’s Day. 

I can see you really want this, girl, ya know I’ve been wanting this, too.
Dressed sexy in your Astros gear, the Altuve jersey I bought you,
You’re looking so hot right now, but I can’t take my eye off this game,
If you keep talking over Brownie and Ash, girl, I just might go insane.
My Doritos chips are getting smaller and my beer can is getting light,
If the Astros start winning, girl, and we’ll be watching this all night.
And when we wake up in the morning after our Astros Valentine’s Day,
I hope you make me some eggs and we can sit back and watch the replay. 

It’ll be like oh oh ohhhh… it’s a replay, it’s not live,
And a oh oh ohhh… girl, it’s like 2005
And a oh oh ohhh… if I could have it my own way
Oh oh oh… girl, we’d watch the Astros on Valentine’s Day.

Oh oh, girl, They’ll be rounding the bases
Oh oh, girl, we’ll be making Astro-oh oh ohhh faces.

But this was just a dream, the Astros season has yet to start,
These fantasies about winter baseball is playing extra inning games with my heart,
And, girl, if you love me, I think you should understand,
That while I’m your biggest cheerleader, baby, I’m way more of an Astros fan.
So, flip on the television and let’s not stop it until we’re through,
This Valentine’s Day, I wanna oh oh ohhhh… watch the Houston Astros with you. 

It’ll be like oh oh ohhhh… it’s a replay, it’s not live,
And a oh oh ohhh… girl, it’s like 2005
And a oh oh ohhh… if I could have it my own way
Oh oh oh… girl, we’d watch the Astros on Valentine’s Day.

The end.

Oh yeah… mmm… before there’s any discussion or debate amongst the sexy ladies out there about who this poem is really about, I gotta be honest, ladies… it’s about all of you. …each and every sexy lady out there.

imageThere’s Jayne… mmm… from What the Heck, Bobby. She writes about Astros prospects. Well, girl, I gotta special ‘prospect’ for you… how about you, me, a Jacuzzi and an updated version of the Astros top prospect list? We can talk dirty to each other by saying words like Foltynewicz and Wojciechowski. Yeah? That’s right, girl, I wanna Wojciechowski you.  Mmmm…

Then there is Terri. Terri writes about the Astros… but, she also writes about food. Tales from the Juice Box is the name of her blog… mmm. I gotta say, girl, you look more luscious than a plate of barbecue brisket with a side of potato salad. I like your blog’s dinner discussions, but, I say, let’s (you and me) have a few discussions over dinner… oh yeah. I’ll tell you about this new recipe that I got… it’s for an Astros All-Night Passion Cake. Interested? It includes a dash of me and a dollop of you and then a whole bunch of passion… and some cake… and the Astros.

There’s Camille, she doesn’t write for a blog, but she retweets me… over and over again. All night. I like it, girl. You can retweet me and I can retweet you. We can favorite each other’s tweets… and it’ll be magical, sexual and sensual. Let’s listen to a mix tape full of our favorite Lil Rhiner songs. You’re always lookin’ finer than frog hair. 

Oh, yeah, Alyson Footer… she is the sassiest and sauciest hot mama in baseball. Girl, when you left, you broke my heart. All I ever wanted to be was your Brad Ausmus boy toy. Sometimes, I wake up and I scream your name. But, girl, I know you left for greener grass… but I just want you to know, girl, my bed is cold at night and I miss you. P.S. Thanks for mentioning my #AstrosMovie tweets in your blog… that was pretty awesome, girl.

imageThere’s DeAnna, can’t forget about her… girl, you tweeted about the Westminster Dog Show and I don’t know what that was all about. Well, baby, I don’t know much about dog shows (or dogs for that matter), but I do know that you’re one smokin’ hot babe and you have my tail wagging at full speed. If you were locked in the pound, I’d come get you out ‘fore they euthanized you… and we could go to the dog park and I would let you sniff my butt.

There’s the Aldermans… there’s like 3 or 4 of you, I can’t keep up… I think y’all are sisters or maybe there’s a mom mixed in there or whatever… that’s way too much for one Astros fan to handle. But, I’ll be honest, like the 2013 Astros, I’m up for the challenge. Is Cheryl Faulkner a long lost Alderman sister, too? She’s been commenting on our tweets and that’s totally hot. I’m #BachShitCray over you ladies. 

Kelly George… Kelly George… you got me acting like Curious George. You’re the new Astros social media director. I think you were Miss Alabama or something at one point… but, as of now, you’re the smokin’ hot Miss Astros Lady. Miss Astros Lady? That sounds dumb, but I swear, girl, that was a compliment. And, you’re a total babe. And, as the social media director, I want to socially direct you straight to my heart. It is full of Lipitor and bacon grease, but under that slippery layer of fat is an Astros fan that really wants to answer all of your trivia questions.

And, mmm, then there is Orbit. Mmmm, I’m not sure if you’re a man or a woman or what… and, quite honestly, I really don’t care. You ooze sexuality that transcends gender or universally accepted ideas of attractiveness. The things I want to do to you are likely not legal on this planet… or most planets… except Uranus, it is definitely legal on Uranus. (And, yes, that was a double entendre.) Anyway, I just think you have a big ol’ fat butt, and, Orbit, I’m really, really into that… However, I’m not really into the extra-terrestrials, though.  …but then again, I’ve never really gotten it on with one. But, you know what they say, “Once you go green, it’ll be hard to ever get clean… ‘cause we’ll be dirty.” Mmmm…

And, lastly, there’s my girl… my real one. She’s on the top of my list… sure, she understands that I’m a stallion that cannot be wrangled. But, she was willing to try. …and that’s all I ask of her and the Houston Astros. She bought a Kevin Bass jersey and she is the arm candy at every single baseball game I go to. She’s my number one. The love of my life. She’s my Chris Burke homerun. She’s my manager, she’s my ace and she’s my all-star. She’s the Biggio to my Bagwell. I love you, girl. 

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1 note

Posted at 3:20am

 


For Our Team’s Good


by Andy

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When I was a school-aged chap, the worst and most agonizing days were the days leading up to Christmas vacation. These days were soaked with unbridled anticipation and excitement. The clock ticked slowly, the calendar wouldn’t budge and we were resigned to our perilous fate – we would be stuck in school forever. Like hostages, we were trapped in classroom torture-cells, duct taped to our chairs; we were slaves to barbaric whims and desires of our unrelenting violent schoolmarm dungeon-masters.

“Fun crushers! Joy robbers! Thieves of happiness!” we cried!

Yet like hardened soldiers, we bravely slogged forward. We grinded through tedious book reports, tedious mathematical equations (work shown, mind you) and tedious science projects… with brains melted, hands callused, our desire to survive… eh… about 50/50. 

“How many baking soda volcanoes must I build, you sadistic bastards?” we cried!

It was painful. It was painful because Christmas was right around the corner. It was so close that we could smell it! It smelled like cookies and Christmas trees.

If we could handle this week, next week would be so much better. The finish line! The light at the end of the tunnel!

This week was painful.

Next week was Christmas.

“You can never break me! We will march till Christmas! We will not be defeated!” we cried!

This is exactly where we are in relation to the baseball season. We’re on the homestretch, but it is still too far away from being anything other than painful.

But will the pain go away once the season starts?

After a tumultuous off-season that included realignment and across-the-board torrential mass defections, Astros fans are left to clean, bandage and tend to their own wounds with the hopeful acceptance (though with a hint of reluctance) that each mark, each permanent scar serves a higher purpose. These scars represent the conflict, the moral struggle to remain loyal to our Astros through the better, the worse, the richer, the poorer, and through sickness and in health. We hope that eventually the mountaintop will be worth the struggle, the heartache and the scars.

For our team’s good.

The baseball season is upon us, the winter is over, and a new chapter in our Astros history commences – now it is time for our team to pick itself up off the floor.

The pain will go away once the season starts.

Now is the time to heal.

But, truth be told, 2013 could be another long season for our Astros.

But exactly how bad are they?

Will the Astros be the worst team in Major League Baseball? …again?

This guy thinks so. So does Ken Rosenthal. And, so does this douche.

(By the way, Rosenthal, the only way the Astros “will not survive the AL West” is if they get lost somewhere in downtown Oakland between the stadium and their hotel. “Survive?” What the hell does that even mean?)

We know that with the baseball season comes a heaping helping of unrealistic hopes and unreasonable expectations. As we chug down that cold February homestretch and into the burning hot April baseball season, these hopes and expectations are being irresponsibly wielded about like the loose and floppy boobies of a redheaded Pasadena roadhouse bar wench.

“The worst team ever! 150 losses! I’m calling it!”

"Eh, maybe the make the playoffs."

It is really difficult to gauge how the Astros’ season will unfold, as there are a myriad of unknowns going into this season - more so than any other season that I can recall. They’re moving into a new league, and they have a new manager with new philosophies. They have a DH now and several new players. They have all new competition.

Regardless of how they finish, it is incredibly important for this organization to show the fans (not to mention themselves) that they’re legitimately serious about bringing respectability back to this franchise. This is the proving ground. The Astros need to make an honest effort from an organizational standpoint to show that they’re committed to winning. This means they’re going to need to be competitive throughout the season; they’re going to need to be better than they were last year – this isn’t asking much, this is a task they can (and should) accomplish. 

The Astros need to show improvement, progress and some recognizable signs of life. They should be desperate to show that their brand is worth salvaging and that, despite their long history of irresponsible transgressions, they’re worth Houston’s time and money. They need to build and they need to develop, they need pay into the equity the previous regime foolishly fumbled away.

imageFor our team’s good, it is crucial that the Astros change their culture and attitude - immediately. They must reverse their own fortune and refute the laughingstock label that the rest of the baseball community has bestowed upon them. The Astros are an organization of Screeches competing in a Zack Morris and A.C. Slater world. …and, if you’re unaware how Saved By The Bell turned out, Morris got a job on a hit TNT show, Slater is the host of Extra and Screech is doing low-budget porn and hiding crystal meth in the dashboard of his ’92 Ford Tempo. …this does not bode well for the Astros.

With the designation of being the worst team in baseball last year, the Astros have earned the first pick in the first year player draft for the second year in a row. Some would suggest that earning the first pick has its advantages. You know, losing for our team’s good. It means that your team gets the luxury of choosing the top draft eligible player in the country, but it also means that every single team in the league is better than yours.

…like the Cubs.

And, in Screech Powers terms, looking up at the Cubs is the equivalent to walking in on Violet Anne Bickerstaff performing a sex act on Mr. Belding after scorching your eyebrows off using a Bunsen burner.

There is a growing contingency of Astros fans that are actively rooting for the Astros to obtain the first pick in next year’s draft. In other words, they’re rooting for the Astros to have the worst record in baseball… for the third year in a row… for our team’s good. As someone who has devoutly followed the team for as long as I have, I cannot stomach another season of 100 losses.  There are few things I hate worse than losing. My God, I really hate losing.

And shame on those people for loving it.

My opinion is that the toxicity of a losing environment significantly outweighs and overwhelms the benefits of losing in order to acquire a higher draft pick. One of guys who follows me on Twitter, ZachMayer14, put it rather eloquently “The draft is a consolation prize for losing, it is not a reward.”

imageLosing hurts.

Losing should hurt.

Losing is a disease hard to cure… and it is contagious, it spreads like wildfire and gets in your blood. It is a stench you cannot wash off. And, worse, when you build a culture content with losing and when you accept that you’re going to lose, you’re going to act like a loser, you’re going to treat yourself like a loser and you’re going to do the things that losers do. Before you know it, you’ve bought into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you’ve dug yourself a hole that you may never get out of.

Ask the Royals or Pirates about how hard it is to shake a losing culture.

And some fans are willing to take the gamble? Some fans are hoping the Astros finish with the worst record in baseball for a better draft pick? This is for our team’s good?

Simply put: this organization cannot afford to tank baseball games – not from a marketing standpoint, not from a player development standpoint and not for the good of our franchise. 

What does losing mean from a marketing standpoint? It means 2013 will be another year where more fans defect to Dallas or decide not to give a damn about the Astros. James from Astros County put the collective fears of many Astros fans into a single tweet. “Houston’s front office is either going to look like revolutionary geniuses, or the reason my kid doesn’t like the Astros.”

Fans are tired of getting coal in their stockings. Fans are tired of losing and Jim Crane, checking the gate numbers, is already scrounging for spare change in his couch cushions. From the top down, this organization has to understand that they’re competing with every other form of entertainment for cold hard cash. The Astros aren’t just competing with the Rangers, they’re competing with prime-time television, movie theatres, the zoo, hanging out at the mall, anything with air conditioning – the Astros are competing with every single option someone can spend their dollar on and the Astros are quickly finding out that they’re going to need to work tirelessly for your interest… and your money. Last year, after another dismal campaign on the field and at the gate, fans proved to the Astros that they were not interested in spending money on a substandard entertainment product. Moving into the American League, where teams typically have significantly lower attendance numbers, the Astros are in real danger of not moving 1.5 million through their gates this year.

…and, if the Astros continue to lose, will it matter if they ever get good again? Once the dust settles and the Astros revive their franchise, will the fans that left come back? Where will Jim Crane’s money come from?

Ask anyone who has ever competed at a high level about winning and losing. Ask Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio if they’d ever consider tanking a year, obstructing player development and alienating their fans for the first pick in the draft…

I met Jeff Luhnow. I sat with him during a baseball game. I watched him jump up and down like he had just won the Showcase Showdown when Chris Snyder hit a homerun against the Rockies in Colorado. He’s not the kind of guy who tanks games for draft picks.

After interviewing Bo Porter, Jayne from What The Heck Bobby?, said “I dare one of these guys to tell Bo Porter to his face that the Astros are going to lose over 100 games in 2013.” He would rip their hearts out of their chest. Porter is a competitor. Porter oozes intensity and spits fire. Porter is looking to start his Astros career out with a bang. He’s looking to bust heads open. He doesn’t give a damn about draft picks. He doesn’t give a damn about who the best prospect in 2014 is.

This team is loaded with unproven players who are trying to make a name for themselves. They play a sport that doesn’t have much patience for losing. The heat is on. These guys understand that if they can’t produce at this level, they’re going back to the minor leagues… so they’re hungry to stay in the big leagues. They’re not interested in riding busses and staying at Red Roof Inns for the rest of their lives. They don’t give a damn about the draft picks either.

Bud Norris wants to win.

Lucas Harrell wants to win.

Brandon Barnes wants to win.

Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi want to win.  

…and the Astros are acquiring players who are hungry and are committed to performing at a level that’ll keep them in big league uniforms for the long haul.  

They aren’t making trades to get worse. They’re making trades to get better. And, with the Lowrie deal, I believe they got better for the 2013 season!

This is for our team’s good.

From a player development standpoint, getting your players into the habit of losing is counterproductive. If the Astros were to get the worst record in baseball, how would they accomplish that task? Chances are, they’ll need another cataclysmic wire-to-wire performance, a run of poor luck and a handful of disappointing players regressing, fizzling out or just-can’t-play-at-this-level. Disappointing. If the Astros lose over 100 games, Jose Altuve likely takes a step back. Perhaps Lucas Harrell shows us that his 2012 performance was a fluke, and he’s unable to replicate any kind of success in 2013. Maybe Bud Norris is the same Bud Norris that he was last year, and maybe J.D. Martinez will prove to us that he will never be able to hit Major League pitching. For 100 losses, it’ll likely be revealed that Jeff Luhnow got toasted in the Wilton Lopez and Jed Lowrie trades and completely missed on Philip Humber, Erik Bedard, Jose Veras and Rick Ankiel.

If the goal is getting back to respectability, this would not be a step in the right direction.

imageA lot of things have to blow up in the face of the Houston Astros for them to be the worst team in baseball… for the third year in a row – and, for people who are rooting for the first pick in the draft, this is what they’re rooting for. Directly or indirectly, what it boils down to is that they’re rooting for our team to fail miserably and they’re rooting for our team to be embarrassed… in front of a national audience… for the third year in a row.

Where is the fight? Where is the drive to succeed?

They don’t mind being the league’s laughingstock? They are not embarrassed to lose? Where is the shame?

They might as well be wearing a Rangers hat on Opening Day.

Not one single player is going to change the Astros organization. There isn’t a guy who is going to shift the balance of power. One guy isn’t going to be the difference between 100 losses and 100 wins. There isn’t a single player who is going to take the Astros to the World Series by himself. Carlos Correa can’t do it, the guy they draft this year can’t do it and neither can Carlos Rodon. 

And who is to say that the first overall pick is going to be worth tanking for? The leader in the clubhouse is Carlos Rodon, but how can we be sure that he doesn’t turn out like Kris Benson or Bryan Bullington? The Twins were just a mere Altuve away from drafting Mark Prior. Prior was considered “the best college pitching prospect since Tom Seaver.” “We could have flipped a coin,” said Twins GM, Terry Ryan. Prior would have likely been the selection had his father not been so vocal about Mark not wanting to play for the Twins. So the Twins ended up selecting Joe Mauer, and the Cubs took Prior. Mauer ended up being a perennial All-Star and Prior’s shoulder looks like a plate of rotten spaghetti.

There are no sure bets in the draft.

The counterargument points to the Washington Nationals. There has been plenty of speculation that they tanked in order to draft Bryce Harper. While I haven’t heard any legitimate speculation that they tanked for Stephen Strasburg (who like Prior was highly regarded and like Prior has a history of arm trouble in his brief career), the speculation around Harper is being laid on pretty thick and has some real legs to it. However, I’ll point to two things out to those wanting the Astros to follow the Nationals strategy:

1.) The Nationals haven’t won jack. …ever.

2.) Teams picking at the top of the draft do not typically go on to win the World Series.

Since 1992, there are only three teams to win a World Series after having the first pick in the draft. And, only two of the first overall picks since 1992 have World Series rings.

The Marlins selected Adrian Gonzalez first overall fin 2000 and won the World Series in 2003. (Gonzalez’s contribution to the Marlins World Series victory was that he was traded for Ugueth Urbina in 2003. Gonzalez never suited up for the Fish.)

The Phillies selected Pat Burrell first overall in 1998 and won the World Series in 2008. (Pat Burrell hit .250 and had 33 homeruns for the 2008 Phillies, which turned out to be his last year in Philadelphia.)

The Angels selected Darin Erstad first overall in 1995 and won the World Series in 2002. (Erstad was a key contributor for the Angels when they won the World Series in 2002.)

It doesn’t take much time – go look at Baseball-Reference, check out the past first overall picks since the advent of the MLB draft, and you will notice that there is a direct correlation between who is picking first overall and how these teams typically perform year in and year out. Teams with winning traditions, with World Series rings, do not typically pick first overall… and, when they do pick first overall, it is once and then they’re making efforts to compete again.

…and they do compete again.

…meanwhile, many Astros fans are hoping that Luhnow Claus slides down the chimney and places “the worst record in baseball” designation under our Christmas trees… even though we got the same crap last year and the year before that.

For our team’s good?

It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Winning requires a team effort. The Astros standard of winning, their standard of success, requires a collaborative effort between every single aspect of the organization – from Jim Crane down to Jeff Luhnow to Jose Altuve to Mike Fast, to the announcers, accountants, the Director of Butterfingers and Kit Kat Sciences, tour guides, hobo saxophone players, Orbit, grounds crew and anyone else who sees an Astros logo on their paycheck. And, while there are many different ways to skin a cat, to build a winning baseball organization, the equation is not very complicated - the Astros are going to have to make smart, savvy business decisions, and they’re going to have to continue to put an emphasis on player development.

They must field a team worth watching.

The people rooting for the first pick need to decide how they feel about Jeff Luhnow and the direction of this organization. If you’re rooting for the Astros to get the first pick, that seems like a pretty serious indictment on how you feel about Luhnow’s abilities and qualifications. They need to determine whether or not Luhnow is competent, qualified and capable of constructing a winning organization without having to rely on the first pick in the draft. Does Luhnow need the first pick in the draft every year? For our team’s good? From what I’ve seen, Jeff Luhnow is a very intelligent baseball man and I am convinced that he can operate this franchise in a fashion to which they can win at the big league level while making draft selections in any slot, any position and any round that will greatly benefit the long term success of the Houston Astros. Teams can win and reload at the same time - the Astros shouldn’t have to choose one over the other.

The Astros are not the worst team in baseball. And they’re going to prove it.

Bo Porter will prove it. 

Jose Altuve will prove it.

Lucas Harrell will prove it.

Jeff Luhnow, Kevin Goldstein, Sig Mejdal, Mike Fast, Stephanie Wilka and Oz Ocampo will prove it.

For our team’s good. 

Our team is good.

The void is almost over and, like a bunch of school kids; we’re clinching the sides of our desks and waiting for the bell to ring. We’re ready for the season to start. We’re ready for the Astros to get back to their winning ways. We’re ready to run down those halls, bust out of those double doors and into our freedom.

Sweet.

Sweet. 

Green, sunny, sunflower-spittin’, Baseball Christmas.

Go Astros.

 
3 notes

Posted at 11:35am

 


Three Reasons Why I am Accepting Realignment to the American League

by Stephen

Promote the new idea of Astros-elitismTM
Think about it guys….aren’t we all tired of being “picked on” as Astros fans? What better way to shiny up the old Chevy than with a fresh new coat of AL-DH paint? We can be the Aggies of the MLB. I mean, truth be told, the AL is like the SEC of baseball, right? Talk to any East or West coast AL-only snob and you get some form of, “Oh how nice….you guys still let the pitcher hit? Bet you enjoy reading your newspaper every morning and finding this restaurant with a little help from your key maps… let me guess? You prefer your sitcoms the classy way… where the Mom and Dad sleep in two different bedrooms, right?” (It’s going to be so awesome to drop some AL-only, holier than thou, SEC-type vernacular on Cards and Cubs fan now!)

I mean…..the AL is the league of Hollywood guys. Do you see any awesome flicks based on the Brewers or the Braves? NO! Yet the vaunted Red Sox got a Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore rom-com and the Moneyball A’s got an Oscar contending Brad Pitt/Phillip Seymour Hoffman drama (Wait a minute… maybe being a mediocre AL West team IS actually “where it’s at”). I’m just saying guys, welcome to the era where hitting the town in your Astros gear means being treated to superior AL-only dinner parties, Hollywood mixers, and “Designated Hitter” swinger invites.

The NL gets Mr. 3000.

Late Games
Hold on Stephen… I thought you and other Astros fans have been complaining about the late West Coast start times for months now? 

True, but let’s just say this Astros fan is starting to rethink things a bit… see, I’m in the same boat maybe many of you are in right now - the S.S. Parenthood. This of course means fewer trips to live sporting events, less pressure from parents to procreate, and less ability to sit down quietly at 7:05 and enjoy the sweet intricacies of America’s pastime. I can’t lie….I’m starting to think it sounds pretty sweet to be able to sit down at 9:05 for my usual first minutes of living room silence (usually with a jar of peanut butter and some form of chocolate) and flipping on CSNHouston (yep - I’ll be one of the 3 people watching live games this year!) and finding out Lucas Harrell hasn’t even fired his first pitch on the way to another shutout! Sure, my kids will be missing out on a few years of AstrodoctrinationTM, BUT how cool of a Dad will I be in a few short years when I let them stay up with Dad on a school night (for a small peanut butter tax) as long as the Astros keep it within 10 runs (come on you NL’ers…..with the DH you’re never out of it. SUPERIOR GAME! Get with the times!)?????

Separate the REAL Fans
Oh you thought it used to be easy to identify the wayward souls during a Cubs or Cardinals series? PLEASE….I’ve been to MMP for Red Sox, Rangers, AND Yankees……just wait till you see the AL “die-hards” infiltrate the juice box. My personal favorite is “Guy who wears one team’s jersey but the other team’s hat”. You know what I mean, he’s got his brand new orange-billed Astros hat perfectly accentuated by a Derek Jeter pinstriped #2 (I’d like to personally take a “#2” on his wardrobe). Get on board now or get off, because we won’t be letting anyone who owns Red Sox, Yankees, or Rangers gear into the mob in 2025 after we beat Milwaukee in the WS and angrily head to Mordor to desecrate the grave of Bud Selig.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some NL friends to demean and laugh condescendingly at…

-Stephen

 
1 note

Posted at 10:03am

 


The Blinders of Fools: A Defense of Jeff Bagwell (as posted on Jeff Pearlman’s Blog)

We have about two days until we find out whether Jeff Bagwell will FINALLY punch his ticket to Cooperstown. Although, some are already preparing for the worst, I hold out a little hope that logic rules the day and Bagwell finds a way to sneak in. Meanwhile, baseless PED talks surrounding Bagwell are becoming more and more prevalent. A few weeks ago, Jeff Pearlman, who has been adamant about Bagwell’s guilt, asked me to write a piece for his blog defending Bagwell. 

I obliged. 

Here’s the link

I recommend visit the link and making a comment or two. Make a point about Jeff Bagwell. Argue. Fight.

Defend Jeff Bagwell. 

-Andy


THE BLINDERS OF FOOLS: A DEFENSE OF JEFF BAGWELL

Jeff Pearlman would have had an extremely difficult time finding a worse person to defend Jeff Bagwell. First off, I’m not a writer and I have a very difficult time putting my thoughts into words without employing a barrage of obscenities or insults. I lack a degree of eloquence and the ability to have a disagreement without shattering a vase or slamming a door shut. Secondly, I’m a diehard Astros fan. And, as a result, I’m a diehard Jeff Bagwell fan. Jeff Bagwell’s rookie season coincided with my “baseball awakening.” Bagwell played a huge role in my becoming a baseball fan—and, more important, an Astros fan. In Little League, much to my father’s chagrin, I (regrettably) imitated Bagwell’s awkward batting stance and tucked my pant legs into my high top Nike cleats.

Jeff Pearlman is aware that I am an Astros fan. He’s aware that I’m a Jeff Bagwell fan. He’s aware that I think Bagwell was clean. So, yeah, full disclosure: I have a dog in the fight.

But Jeff Pearlman still invited me to contribute without condition.

So, here I am (On a side note, I would like to express my gratitude to Jeff Pearlman for this forum to express my thoughts. Although I vehemently disagree with Pearlman on Bagwell, I appreciate the opportunity that he afforded me to allow me post my opinions here).

On statistics alone, we should all agree that there is absolutely no reasonable argument that can be made denying Bagwell’s entry into the Hall of Fame. That’s a given. Love him or hate him, his statistics prove that he was one of the premier first basemen during his era and one of the best first basemen of all time—but we’re not debating his eligibility based on his statistics. What has kept Jeff Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame is a growing suspicion that his herculean numbers are a direct result of steroid use.

Steroids? I’m not buying it.

To date, I cannot recall any evidence being presented suggesting Jeff Bagwell took steroids. I cannot recall a single person coming forward to out Jeff Bagwell. I haven’t heard of any dirty needles that were located. I haven’t seen any copies of checks or receipts of purchase. I didn’t even see Jeff Bagwell’s name on the Mitchell Report.

Despite two decades of opportunity, there has been no legitimate or credible substantiation of allegations of PED use by Jeff Bagwell.

Bagwell retired in 2006 and thus became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2011. The townspeople who are trying to burn Goody Bagwell at the stake have had ample time to present a case against Bagwell, and they’ve come up with nothing. No evidence.

How many more rocks need to be turned? How many more “look at how big he got over the years” conversations must we have? How many conversations have to start with, “I have no proof, but …”

I could understand the argument against Bagwell had someone—anyone—come forward and said they knew of Bagwell juicing. I could understand the argument if Bagwell was named in the Mitchell Report—but there’s nothing there. There isn’t any evidence.

But, there was a huge intricate cover-up involving every single person who ever came in contact with Jeff Bagwell while he was juicing.” Let’s be realistic—we’re giving baseball players entirely too much credit. These guys aren’t exactly the Gambino crime family. I have a Twitter account, and I can come up with hundreds of examples, almost daily, of athletes blabbing information that is against their own best interests. I have a hard time believing that Jeff Bagwell took steroids and no one said a single word. …not a single word.

Players talk. We’ve had a host of do-gooder whistleblowers and a parade of unenlightened bonehead scumbags point fingers at every Tom, Dick and Harry under the sun … except no one has pointed at Jeff Bagwell.

Pearlman called the Astros clubhouse “crawling with PED”—yet, for some inexplicable reason, no one could find any evidence to nail the franchise’s most popular player. They couldn’t find an ounce of evidence to make an example out of Bagwell as none of the supposed legitimate concrete evidence ever “crawled” its way out the door. There isn’t even enough credible evidence to warrant speculation.

Actually, a former athlete has spoken up in regards to Jeff Bagwell’s supposed steroid use. In Bagwell’s defense, former teammate Morgan Ensberg Tweeted, “I think he’s clean. No one has accused him, either.” Here’s another example of Ensberg defending Bagwell.

Jeff Bagwell played his last full season of baseball in 2004. Through severe shoulder pain, Bagwell mustered up 123 plate appearances in 2005, including taking a few agonizing cuts in his only World Series appearance. He was 36 in 2005—which, by today’s standards, means he would have likely had a few more years of sticking around and earning a Big League paycheck. Instead, he officially retired in 2006. It seems to me that a ‘roiding Bagwell would have gone the Andy Pettitte route and loaded himself full of juice in hopes of healing his shoulder, prolonging his career and not having to go Ol’ Yeller on his aspirations of hitting his 500thjack.

At 36, his declined productivity and eventual retirement, is on par with many pre-steroid era Hall of Famers. It isn’t as if Bagwell was in the prime of his career as he was pushing 40.

And I’m not sure why Jeff Bagwell is under suspicion while the public allows others to slide. What exactly dictates who is and who isn’t under investigation? We let guys like Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin in, and we’re not 100 percent sure what drugs they did or didn’t take while they played. I’ll be really interested to see how this affects Derek Jeter’s candidacy once he retires and becomes Hall of Fame eligible. Derek Jeter has played with admitted users like Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Jim Leyritz, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Jeter has played with several guys on the Mitchell Report. Jeter is 38 and coming off one of the best seasons of his career—how is he above suspicion if we’re using the same cockamamie line of reasoning to crucify Jeff Bagwell?

For the record, I don’t believe Derek Jeter, Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar or Barry Larkin used steroids—but, if we’re convicting Bagwell without evidence, we should at least entertain the possibility that Jeter used too, right?

And what about Albert Pujols? Or John Smoltz? Or Randy Johnson? Are they guilty, too?

Without any evidence, we have to either convict them all or not convict any of them.

We cannot go around convicting folks of something without a single morsel of evidence—there isn’t even any reasonable speculation. I would rather be proven wrong by voting for Jeff Bagwell and finding out he used than not to vote for Bagwell and find out that he didn’t. Essentially, we’re left looking for evidence that we’re not sure even exists to convict someone of something we’re not even sure they did.

… and nothing is uncovered.

… and time marches on.

From the sidelines, it is one cheap potshot after another. Everyone has an opinion but no one can or is willing to provide anything to back it up. It should make any reasonable person’s brain hurt.

Pearlman accused me of wearing “the blinders of fools” because I insist on Bagwell’s innocence. But if I go along with his line of reasoning, wouldn’t I be blindly following Pearlman because he hasn’t provided any legitimate evidence proving Bagwell’s guilt?

“The blinders of fools”? I’m not sure what that even means.

I will proudly wear “the blinders of fools” if that means that I don’t have to run someone’s name through the mud without having any evidence—but we have to assume that unless Pearlman is withholding “the dirty needle,” then, he too, is wearing “the blinders of fools.”

Houston is easy to pick on—I get it. We’re overlooked when it comes time for the Super Bowl, our basketball titles came in Jordan-less years and we even got passed over when the government doled out the space shuttles … even though we’re Space City. We’re used to it. As an Astros fan, my team has had two consecutive 100-loss seasons and is going through a very unpopular demotion into the junior circuit. Rival newspaper rags cleverly declare “Houston, You Have A Problem” as the losses mount. And things are looking worse for 2013. We’re used to it.

That being said, there is not a doubt in my mind that most of the suspicion surrounding Jeff Bagwell is a result of him being a member of the Houston Astros—a city and an organization that the rest of the country really doesn’t give a damn about. If Bagwell played for the Yankees, he would have already been enshrined. But Bagwell played for the Astros. Picking on Houston and picking on Jeff Bagwell is the easiest route and a lot of credible people with plenty of sway are using Bagwell and these unfounded/disrespectful steroid allegations as a platform to make themselves larger than the game they cover. They’re trying to make an example, and Jeff Bagwell is in the wrong place at the wrong time—and that is a damn shame. And, all the while, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is wrestling with its legitimacy—not because of steroids, but because of a collection of witch-hunting sportswriters who would rather see their own names in their own newspapers than perform a job they were entrusted to do.

This isn’t about selling books or keeping the newspaper industry alive—this is about writers irresponsibly wiping their holier-than-thou butts with another man’s legacy for the simple fact that they can, and no one is stopping them from doing it. They have the right and they have the platform—and our only defense is to choose not to read it.

If we find out that Bagwell is guilty and Pearlman is right, then let’s grill Bagwell’s ass. Let’s run him through town and tar and feather his ‘roiding ass. I will be the first person in line because I’ve come to his defense more times than I care to mention, and, God, I hate looking foolish.

I defend Bagwell because I believe him. And if it turns out that Bagwell is screwing me, then to hell with him.

I believe Jeff Bagwell.

I realize my arguments are stale. You can Google “Jeff Bagwell Steroids” and find 20 different articles written by twenty different authors who are making the same tired old argument that I’m making right now. This isn’t breaking news. I’m not saying anything new or enlightening—but neither is the counterargument. We’re playing tug-o-war with the truth and no one seems to want to budge. We’re at an impasse.

So it is time for those who are accusing Bagwell to step forward and reveal what they know. This has become an exercise in futility, and, as cliché as it sounds, it is time to put up or shut up. If you’re going to say that Bagwell used, you must provide evidence. M-U-S-T. Writers are making these types of accusations without stating any facts whatsoever or providing any evidence whatsoever and then rolling their eyes at the rest of us because some people choose not to take their word as gospel. These are serious allegations and no one cares to elaborate any further on “trust me, he did it.”  … and I am the one wearing “the blinders of fools” because I require a little more than that? If writers are going to say something that trashes someone’s legacy, they should say what they know and stick their name to it—there isn’t any other acceptable way to do it. Period. They should attach their legacy to it. There has been plenty of time, more than enough, to develop any sort of case against Jeff Bagwell, and no one has come forward with any reasonable evidence.

None. Zero.

And, until someone does, we have to assume that Jeff Bagwell was clean.

 
1 note

Posted at 10:38am

 


Tomorrow’s Headlines: A Space City Celebration

Editor’s note: I’ve read a few 2013 previews, but I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to write a newspaper article for a date that is less than five years away. After the last few months, I just wanted to write something positive. I really feel like good news is on the horizon. The Astros are getting better. The rain is over. 

The Astros are turning this around.

I hope you guys enjoy this. 

-Andy

Dedicated to Mike Fast

31 Oct 2017

A Space City Celebration: The Crawford Street Kids Clinch Series in Six!

Cascades of orange and navy blue confetti fell from the Minute Maid Park rafters, deafening music blared from the public address system and all of downtown Houston collectively and gleefully roared as closer, Joe Musgrove, struck out Jeff Kobernus to put the finishing touches on a game six shutout win. A colossal “Houston: You Have A Championship” banged, blinked and bounced in shades of Astros orange and blue on the video board. Jason Castro darted to the mound to collect his pitcher as the rest of the team crashed into them from the field, dugout and bullpen in a celebratory assemblage of youthful jubilation.

image2017 was a year of triumph for the Houston Astros as they claimed their first World Series Championship in franchise history. In only their second playoff appearance as a member of the American League, Houston defeated the Washington Nationals in six games on Monday to clinch the series.

At 101 wins in 2017, this is the second time in franchise history that the Houston Astros have won over 100 games, and this was their first World Series appearance since being the National League representative 12 years ago.

After dethroning Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels for the American League pennant, the Astros and Nationals split the first four games of the 2017 Fall Classic. However, after the Astros decisive 11-3 game five victory in our nation’s capital, momentum swung in the good guys’ favor as they travelled home for game six. 

Jordan Lyles and a few timely hits brought the series to a close and sent the Astros into the history books.

“This is probably the greatest day of my life. Seriously. All of the hard work and preparation finally paid off. I know realignment was unpopular and I took some heat. But National League or American League? It doesn’t matter. We had to beat everyone, and we did!” stated Jim Crane at the postgame press conference. Crane purchased the team in 2011 and, along with general manager, Jeff Luhnow, ushered in a new philosophy in regards to building a baseball team.

A champagne-soaked Luhnow was seen in the locker room celebrating with his team, “People say it has to do with sabermetrics, but, I gotta say, it is simple math. You add 25  hard-working guys, add them all in one uniform and multiply by one goal and that equals a World Series win for Houston!”

Jonathan Singleton, who was given a long-term contract in April and has become “Homerton” to the Houston faithful, was awarded the World Series MVP after pulverizing Nationals pitching to the tune of three homeruns and eleven RBI in what many are calling “one of the best postseasons of all time.” Singleton hopped over the railing along the first base line and celebrated the victory with the fans. Soaked with soda and covered in popcorn, Singleton yelled, “Thank you! Thank you for sticking with us! I love you all!” 

“I feel like I’m 6 feet tall,” joked Jose Altuve, who won a batting title in the last game of the regular season. “Okay, maybe five nine.”

“I was on the team when they lost 106 games, and I was on the team that lost 107 games, I was just a kid. But, now, I am on the team that won the World Series! Thank God I’m an Astro!” said a visibly emotional Jordan Lyles.

Lyles, who went 8 innings while giving up 5 hits and striking out 4, came out hot as he struck out the first batter of the game and gave up two weak groundballs to the left side to retire the side. “I was nervous. There’s no hiding that. But that first guy really set the tone for me. I felt like this was destiny.” The only real trouble Lyles got into was a double from NL MVP shoe-in Bryce Harper to lead off the 6th inning. Roger Clemens came out to talk to him, and Lyles proceeded to retire the next two batters and then was the beneficiary of a highlight reel Matt Dominguez snag and throw that closed out the inning.

“No, I wasn’t concerned Bo was gonna pull him. Lyles is a tough guy, a veteran and he knows how to get himself out of trouble. He did it again tonight. How about that pick by Matt D?” said Clemens.

“Roger has been a blessing to this organization ever since he retired from playing in 2013,” Luhnow chimed in, “not too many guys have his knowledge or expertise when it comes to pitching.”

The Astros got on the board quick in the first inning when leftfielder, DeLino DeSheilds Jr., beat out an infield single and stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout by Jose Altuve and was knocked in on a George Springer double.

“I just closed my eyes and swung the bat. Things happen, I guess. Baseballs end up in the gap, and folks end up getting World Series rings,” laughed Springer.

Singleton contributed in a big way in the fourth inning when he hit a no doubter 430 feet solo shot over the centerfield fence. Clang! The ball scuffed the flagpole, which stands about 30 feet beyond the centerfield fence. The crowd roared as Singleton rounded the bases and the giant Minute Maid space shuttle soared its way along the stadium wall. “The grand slam in game five felt great, but this one is indescribable.”

“The way Lyles was pitching, I knew that Jon’s homerun was enough to win the game,” said team captain, Jason Castro.

The bottom of the 6th inning started with a little controversy as Domingo Santana smoked a fastball into left field. The replay clearly showed that the leftfielder, Brian Goodwin, had trapped the ball on one hop, but the outfield umpire, Allen Selig III, declared it a clean catch and Santana was retired. From the dugout, a fiery Porter shot out like a cannon to argue the call and was in danger to get ejected, but cooler heads prevailed, and Porter made it back to safety of his perch without having to hand the reins to bench coach, Lance Berkman.

The Astros got on the board again when Carlos Correa started out the 8th inning with a single and Nolan Fontana moved Correa into scoring position when he took his base after Lucas Giolito couldn’t convert on a full count. Brett Wallace came in to pinch hit for Jason Castro and took a Giolito curveball down the rightfield line and scored Correa and Fontana.

“That Giolito kid is good. He cleaned our clocks in game two. He just didn’t have his stuff tonight,” Porter said of the Nationals rookie. “But this night is about the Houston Astros.”

Lyles came out in the top of the 9th, but quickly gave up a single to Anthony Rendon and was pulled by Porter. “He had triple digits, and he looked tired. His arm must have felt like one of Wally’s legs. I wanted to let him finish it, and I know the kid wanted to stay out there. But I knew Joe could end this. Jordan’s a competitor. Jordan Lyles is a fighter.”

Joe Musgrove, who was just recently converted into the Astros closer, quickly dispatched the next three batters and pandemonium ensued. “I was a starter in San Antonio last year, wondering if I’d ever make it out of AAA. I never imagined that’d I’d be shutting the door and wrapping up a World Series for the Astros. This is awesome!”

“Musgrove has been outstanding. We knew we were getting something when we traded for him in 2012. We just had to be patient. And we were. It has paid off,” Luhnow said after the game.

Hall of Famers, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who threw out ceremonial first pitches in game one, were in attendance. “You know, at times, I wondered if I would ever live to see the day. Things were bad,” Biggio clichéd, “This team has come a long way – it – it’s just amazing. This was a complete team effort. They played hard, and they just did the best they could. They left it all out on the field. They let the chips fall where they may. They didn’t take any wooden nickels. They took it one day at a time.”

“I’m so happy for Jimmy and Jeffy,” Bagwell said, “the guys who have been here, Jordy, Matty, Bretty, Rhinery and Jose-y, these guys went through hell. Bidgey, Brad-y, Lance-y and me, we’re all proud.”

Earlier last week, Major League Baseball announced that Oklahoma City and Anaheim were being awarded expansion franchises, when asked about it at the press conference, Jim Crane got a few chuckles and groans from the media when he said, “Who knows, maybe in a few years, we’ll win the World Series as the National League representatives. Let’s just celebrate as the American League representatives tonight!”

Houston Mayor Andre Johnson declared November 2nd as Houston Astros Day and a downtown parade is scheduled at noon on Wednesday.

 
1 note

Posted at 10:15am

 


The Houston Astros: A Year in Pictures

by Andy 

2012 was a long year, but we made a whole bunch of memories. Let’s take a look back at some of the pictures that made 2012 so memorable. 

We constructed the All Give a Sh** Team. Brandon Backe got a spot in the starting rotation. Randy Johnson, Mike Hampton, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Bill Spiers got spots, too.

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The year started out with a lot of speculation on where Wandy Rodriguez would be traded. Months later, he ended up being dealt to Pittsburgh for Colton Cain, Robbie Grossman and Rudy Owens. 

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We hooked the Dallas Rangers up with a brand new logo. Maybe in 2013, Nolan Ryan will shed that selfish “Texas” from the front of his team. 

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There was a lot of talk about Roy Oswalt possibly signing with the Astros. They were bad for one another but I speculated that these two could have a mutually beneficial relationship.

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The Astros were going to wear their old Colt .45 jerseys without the Colt .45 - pretty ridiculous, huh? Cooler heads prevailed. 

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Here’s a picture of Ed Wade’s great great grandpappy. 

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Jeff Luhnow looks a little weird in this picture. Before he was hired by the Astros, he ran a casino… the Algiers, I think. Anyway, what’s up with his extra long neck?

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Ronald Reagan wearing a Rangers hat. He might as well be wearing a hammer and sickle logo. But, there are a lot of defections these days… Bush next?

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I found this x-rated picture of Carlos Lee on a Carlos Lee themed pornographic website. Don’t ask me why I Googled “Carlose Lee Themed Pornographic Websites,” just enjoy the picture and try not to think about it.  

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If you can train a cat to poop in a toilet, you can train Matt Downs to block a throw to first.

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Fans in Houston were “Gaga” over Jeff Luhnow. We speculated about trades, but ultimately couldn’t read his poker face. His p-p-p-poker face. I had a whole Lady Gaga themed Astros post, you’re not getting that anywhere else. …thankfully. 

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This next picture is scary. 

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I met Jeff Luhnow in Denver. He let me sit with him for a little while. We talked about our lives, our dreams, where we thought we’d be in five years, girls we liked at school. When I left, we gave me his M&Ms. It was kind of like Astros communion. What a nice guy!

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The Astros had the first pick in the draft. They took Carlos Correa. Bud Selig was drunk unimpressed. Carlton Korea, Bud? Really?

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As the trade deadline approached, half of the team was thought to be on the move. I sometimes think of the Astros as a really awesome 90’s boy band. Carlos Lee was Joey Fatone. …get it? Fatone? Fat one. Carlos Lee was the fat one? No? 

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I listened to a lot of Boyz II Men in 2012 - more specifically, this one. Here’s my Astros Mount Rushmore. Unfortunately, Footer and Deshaies moved on from the organization. Come back, Jimmy. Come back, Alyson.

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Carlos Lee was traded to the Marlins on Independence Day. He was dealt for Rob Rasmussen and Matt Dominguez. Rasmussen was then traded to the Dodgers for John Ely. Carlos Lee is currently a free agent. I thought I read a headline that said he signed an 8 year deal with the Japanese League’s Nippon Ham Fighters on Christmas. But, I read the headline wrong, it said “Carlos Lee signed for and ate a Ham on Christmas.”

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We compared Jose Altuve to Josh Hamilton. Jose Altuve won in just about every comparison. Maybe I should find a picture of Hamilton in an Angels uniform?

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The force is strong in this one. 

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So, the Astros traded a lot of guys… it was hard figuring out who was who.

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Rusty Hardin got Roger Clemens off the hook. Clemens eventually wrote a book and Andy Pettitte wrote the foreword.

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I really don’t know what was going on when I took this picture. It really didn’t turn out so hot, but I tried - I really really tried… notice the beauty mark?

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"Kissing their sisters and going to monster truck rallies." *opens up the envelope* "What are Rangers fans doing this off season?"

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Roger Clemens making a return to Houston? Well, he made it as far as Sugar Land. It’ll be interesting to see if he attempts a comeback in 2013. 

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What a terrible show Sullivan & Son is. 

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Jeff Luhnow hasn’t gotten scammed in free agency. This is obviously another picture that was just mailed in. Jeff Luhnow looks more like a little boy than an old lady. 

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The Astros new logo was released… slowly over a period of about a month. Prince purchased a hat… from Academy… about a month before the logo was released.

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Stepbrothers. 

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An old friend sent me a Thanksgiving card. I gotta admit, Brett Wallace looks delicious in this picture. 

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The Astros look for a little role reversal in 2013.

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I saw a video of a baby being stolen by an eagle. Immediately, I panicked. The Astros need to consider a plan to make Minute Maid Park into an “Eagle Free” environment. Let’s keep Altuve safe. 

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Luhnow Claus? 

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2012 was fun. But, I hope we have the time of our lives in 2013… maybe with a big Houston Hall of Fame party!

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Happy New Years, folks! Thanks for reading.

- Andy

 
1 note

Posted at 11:26am

 


Not Without a Fight

(I sat on this particular post a lot longer than I usually do. I read it over and over again. (And, no, I still didn’t catch the grammar mistakes.) I wanted to make sure that this was what I really wanted to say. I edited it. I rewrote it. I took a few things out and added a few things in. I might have been a bit insulting and I might have been a tad bit accusatory. I am passionate about the subject and I wanted this to be a powerful piece. Above all, I wanted to be fair. I hope I’m being fair. – A)

Not Without a Fight

by Andy

It may have been Shaft, my old boss or an angry ex-girlfriend, but somewhere someone once told me, “I might have to break you down, but I’ll never let you down.”

And, after the last twelve months of being an Astros fan – I’m officially broken down.

…and officially let down.

Beaten.

Yet, through it all, I’m still passionate about the Astros. I enjoy watching them play. I enjoy going to the games. I enjoy wearing their logo. I enjoy talking about them to friends. I enjoy speculating about their plans. I enjoy writing about them on my blog.

I enjoy the Astros.

I mean that.

If I didn’t like the Astros, I wouldn’t waste my time on this blog.

However, I still reserve the right to be critical. I am critical when they lose. I am critical when they’re unprepared. I am critical when they make poor decisions. Being a fan doesn’t mean that you have to whistle and clap when your team is losing.

My criticism comes from a place of love - Astros, losing bothers me.

I hate losing.

However, the Astros aren’t just losing in the field. They’re losing in the stands too.  And, at this time, it doesn’t appear that they have an effective plan to resolve this issue.

Over the last year, I have been more critical of the Astros than ever. I’ve gotten mad. I’ve gotten angry. I’ve gotten livid. And just when I think I can’t possibly take anymore – I get even angrier. 

Clearly, this is not a healthy relationship.

But now that the dust has settled and I look back over the last year of Astros baseball, anger has given way to worry. And worry has given way to fear.

Yet, gratefully, fear has not quite given way to resentment or, even worse, indifference. I will always be an Astros fan. But I am no longer critical. I am scared. I’m genuinely scared of what’s happening to my team - our team.

I’m worried about the direction of this franchise. I’m worried about what they’ll be like down the road – in two years or five years or ten years. Are the Astros setting themselves up for “sustained success?”

Who are these guys? What have they done with our Astros? Why aren’t they putting up a fight?

Since Drayton McLane sold the team to Jim Crane, things have gone from very bad to a lot worse. While I feel the organization is making significant headway in acquiring young talent, I have grave concerns about whether the Astros have the ability to create a culture of “sustained success.” That seems to be the common motif spoken amidst the midnight afterglow of their business-de-jour defections.

“Sustained Success?”

Honestly, I’m not sure what Jim Crane means by “sustained success.”

And that has me worried.

Instead of being angry over the Astros latest blunder – Astros fans are left to wonder what could possibly be next? What will the new regime do next to alienate themselves from their fan base? Whether it is the series of suspect realignment stories, the obscene Community “Partners” signage or jettisoning any remnants from the McLane era, Crane’s regime seems much more interested in creating their own standard of irresponsibility than surpassing the standard set forth by the previous regime. How will the Astros widen the gap between fan expectations and competent ownership?

And, sadly, it doesn’t seem like the organization gives a damn. Because when you send them questions or comments, they, in turn, give you this: “Thank you for write, we will take you comment into consideration.” (By the way, it was pretty disheartening to see Brian McTaggart call out Brian Stevenson for “botching” Deshaies’ name. It is as if he completely missed the point.)

I am worried that the Astros are sliding down the slippery slope out of significance and into deep dark hollows of irrelevance. They’re focus-grouping their way into the Land of Lost Toys. I’m worried that the Astros are becoming the Indians, Orioles or A’s. Jeff Luhnow is building an exciting team, but will anyone care when the Astros finally make it back to prominence?

Who will be left to cheer for the hometown team?

It seems Jim Crane has a plan. He is gambling on your fickleness. He is gambling that he’ll be able to make poor and unpopular decisions, but if the team starts winning – you’ll come back. And, in my opinion, that is a bet he is going to lose – big time.

Jim Crane has hired an outstanding staff of brilliant baseball people. Jeff Luhnow, David Stearns, Kevin Goldstein, Mike Fast, Oz Ocampo and the rest of the crew will build a respectable on-field product – players that we can be proud of! I firmly believe a winner is being constructed in Houston. And, when that day comes, Crane will ask you all to bury the hatchet and come back to witness the excitement of Astros baseball. But in light of how he’s currently doing business, his invitation might just fall on deaf ears. Perhaps someone will say, “Thank you for ask, we will take you comment into consideration.”

After the ink dried, after the money exchanged hands and Crane took the keys, almost immediately the Astros were unceremoniously (and suspiciously) demoted into the American League. We were told that Major League Baseball wanted to “even out the leagues” and “cultivate an interstate rivalry with the Texas Rangers.” And, now, while dejected Astros fans are currently attempting to muster up manufactured hatred for the Rangers, Jim Crane has, directly or indirectly, cast himself as the willing accomplice to Nolan’s Nine rather than the heated rival.

Crane appears to be comfortable as Robin to Ryan’s Batman.

imageSince purchasing the Rangers, Nolan Ryan has been decidedly deliberate with his plans to snuff out our Astros. Ryan came out guns blazin’, looking for a fight. Over the last few years, Ryan has changed Round Rock’s affiliation from the Astros to the Rangers. He played a role in realigning the Astros into his American League West. Ryan is committed to broadening his market. His team is playing exhibition games against Mexican League teams. His team is playing an exhibition game against the San Diego Padres in San Antonio’s Alamodome. And, Ryan’s team was named Topps 2012 “Baseball Organization of the Year.”

Meanwhile in Houston, the Astros are coming off their second “worst season in franchise history.” They’re embarking on a widely unpopular move into the American League. They’re putting up ridiculous signage. They’re running off anyone from the last regime regardless of whether they’re worth a damn or not. They cannot guarantee that their games will be televised on many cable providers, and they let their popular broadcaster walk away without putting up much of a fight.

The Rangers sold exactly 3,460,280 tickets in 2012, which averages out to 42,719 fans per game last year.

Meanwhile in Houston, the Astros averaged exactly 19,848 fans per game in 2012 and sold 1,607,733 tickets. The Rangers had over twice as many fans attend their games in 2012 as the Astros did – that should be an alarming statistic for the Houston Astros. 

Don’t be surprised if the Rangers outsell the Astros in 2013 by over 2 million tickets.

Out of 30 teams, the Astros were 28th in attendance in 2012. Only Cleveland and Tampa Bay fared worse. Division rivals Seattle and Oakland were 26th and 27th. As a matter of fact, the American League brought up the rear in 2012 as they took all 8 of the last 8 spots in average home attendance.

The American League consists of a few teams feasting while the rest famine. There is hardly any middle ground. The Rangers are feasting, and the Astros - grab a bowl and get in line.

Don’t feel bad for those eight teams, those bottom-feeders; the owners are still making money hand over fist.

The American League is a far weaker league. However, many erroneously believe that the Astros will benefit from having “meaningful” games against the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox – but what they’re failing to recognize is that for every single “meaningful” game they play against those teams, they’ll play four times as many “meaningful” games against teams that no one cares about. Baseball teams cannot attain “sustained success” by nestling the teat of better-run organizations. In no way can Jim Crane create an environment of “sustained success” by acting like a cuckold holding a video camera, while Nolan Ryan wines and dines the people Crane calls “Astros fans.” 

All the while, shirts and hats with Rangers’ logos are moving out the door in local sporting goods stores.

The Astros have been getting their butts kicked by the Texas Rangers since day one. And, these two haven’t even taken the field for a single divisional game. Jim Crane is the “I’m just lucky to be here” wrestling jobber. He’s in the ring, but he’s serving the sole purpose of getting beaten to a pulp and then subsequently pinned by Macho Man Nolan Ryan.

There is nothing in the world that I want more than to see Jim Crane put up a fight. Scratch and claw, it doesn’t matter – Crane needs to show the fans that he recognizes there is a problem and fight.

Just fight.

Crane needs to understand that there will be a tipping point when fans will refuse to come back. Astros fans will feel so burnt by the Astros that they will become resentful towards the club. Those feelings aren’t easily healed. This situation gets even direr for the Astros when you consider how well their new interstate rivals are doing business. The Rangers are World Series contenders. They have a very competent ownership situation and are actively recruiting disenfranchised Astros fans.

Crane doesn’t have to worry about losing me. I’m not leaving the Astros. I’m vocal and I’m worried – but I still care. Even fans that are resentful towards the Astros still care. The people who “just don’t care anymore” are the people who will serve as the Astros coup de grace as a prominent fixture in the baseball landscape. As far as a baseball team goes, “indifference” is the scariest word in the world because indifferent fans are, in fact, no longer fans. When fans quit caring about the Astros, they’ll turn to other teams or they’ll turn to other forms of entertainment. They’ll spend their money elsewhere. How in the world will the Astros convince those people to come back?

And when Jim Crane finds that he’s burnt every bridge and has a stadium that is only full when the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox are in town… how does he plan on creating an environment of “sustained success?” How does he plan on making money when the other twelve teams in the league are in town? How does he plan on keeping Luhnow’s prized prospects from leaving when they become too good to afford? Is Jim Crane’s idea of “sustained success” that of the Kansas City Royals?

Does “sustained success” mean that Jim Crane will make money on this organization regardless of whether fans show up or not?

I don’t write my blog for the purpose of indiscriminately eviscerating Jim Crane at each and every opportunity. I believe that I am fair – I even lean on the side of being an “Astros apologist” because I am constantly defending the organization. Truth is, I am rooting for Jim Crane to right the ship. I want Jim Crane to succeed. I want Jim Crane to make a bunch of money and bring Houston a boatload of World Series championships. I had high hopes for Crane, and I believed he was going to fix all of the issues held over from the McLane regime. However, as Lee Street pointed out, “A baseball franchise is a public trust, and to the people who love the Astros, Jim Crane is miserably failing that trust.” Jim Crane has, to this point, not met Astros fans expectations – as a matter of fact, he’s fallen way short.

An email from a friend ended like this: The Astros were (at best) Jim Crane’s third choice in baseball teams, but he should be commended for the skill in which he has made Astros fans feel secure in the knowledge that they are ‘#2’ to him.

I’ve run out of ideas. I didn’t purchase the Houston Astros – Jim Crane did. The onus is on him. Crane needs to come up with the ideas. Crane needs to be creative. Crane needs to find a way to keep Astros fans from buying Rangers merchandise at Houston area sporting goods retailers. Crane needs to fight. Crane needs to find a way to save our franchise.

And, after one year, Jim Crane has shown us that he’s unprepared and not ready for the challenge of owning a Major League Baseball franchise.

I am begging, please put up a fight. In the scheme of things, I don’t care if the Astros lose all nineteen games against the Rangers in 2013 – but, for God’s sake, fight!

Who knows? Maybe Crane can fix this. I’m hoping that Crane will prove me wrong. I hope he’s willing to fight for this organization and make Houston proud of the work he’s put in. I still have a little bit of faith left in the Houston Astros. It isn’t much – but it is all I have.

As corny as it sounds, I see a star in the distance, a single burning ember in the Houston sky, behind the Community Partners Billboard; a tiny glimmer of hope for this imperfect, dysfunctional franchise. But, for the life of me, I cannot tell whether this tiny glimmer is floating away or burning out.

No, I’m not worried about leaving the Astros – I’m worried about the Astros leaving me.

 

Posted at 9:18am

 


The Astros Were Out of Their League

by Andy

When the news broke that Jim Deshaies accepted the broadcast position with the Chicago Cubs, I went through Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief in a matter of a few hours.

…well, sort of.

At first, I denied it. “Footer is clearly yanking my chain. Clearly, Jim Deshaies is coming back. …right?”

“…right?”

Then I got angry.

Then I bargained.

Then I got very depressed.

…and, now, as I write this, I’m trying to accept the fact that Jim Deshaies will not be a member of the Houston Astros broadcast team in 2013. That’s an incredibly hard pill to swallow.

It shouldn’t have ended like this.

I felt resigned to the fact that Deshaies was as good as gone when the news broke that he interviewed for the Cubs’ position. After discussing the matter with a friend who is reasonably privy to the situation, I felt the Astros could not compete.

The Astros were out of their league.

We could have had something special in Houston. We could have had something that was distinctly us. As noted before, Jim Deshaies could have been synonymous with Houston baseball. We could have erected statues one day and celebrated a Ford Frick honor with him – really. But in the matter of a few weeks, the notion that Jim Deshaies could become a Houston baseball icon went up in smoke faster than Community Partner billboards going up inside Minute Maid Park.

The Astros is an organization without a single World Series win or a single player donning an Astros hat in Cooperstown. The Astros is an organization that is fresh off a widely unpopular transition into the junior circuit and an organization that is fresh off consecutive “worst season in franchise history” designations. In a year where we’ve been kicked around over and over and over again, we would have liked to have Jim Deshaies around next year. Jim Crane could have thrown us a bone.

Let’s face it: this was Jim Deshaies’ decision. I concede that. However, I will not concede that Jim Deshaies didn’t get nudged out the door.

The Chicago Cubs broadcasting position is an undeniably dreamy job. Chicago is a great city and, love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Cubs are a legendary franchise with a rich history. Wrigley Field is a beautiful field. Chicago is a great baseball environment. In my opinion, and likely Jim Deshaies’ too, Bob Brenly was crazy for leaving his job as the Cubs broadcaster for the same position with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But Jim Deshaies could have had a long-term commitment with the Houston Astros well before Brenly left the Windy City.

So, what exactly happened?

I have no clue.

However, not for a second, do I believe that Jim Crane has earned enough equity as the Astros owner to warrant the benefit of the doubt. Nor do I think Crane is guilty of a temporary lapse in judgment. This was not an accident but rather a conscious decision made by Crane.

Make no mistake about it: this was a decision.

Time and time again, Jim Crane has shown us that he’s unprepared to own a major league franchise. And, to me, that statement is dripping with irony. He continues to play fast and loose with our franchise and it seems, at least in this case, it has come back to bite him in a severe way.

Jim Crane has a significant degree of responsibility in this matter, and he deserves to be held accountable. In my opinion, two things happened:

1.) Jim Crane opted not to offer Jim Deshaies an extension.

2.) Jim Crane created an environment that Jim Deshaies wanted no part of.

I cannot think of a single person that has been offered a long-term extension since Jim Crane took over. This is not entirely surprising. Generally, when someone acquires a business, they evaluate their current employees and make determinations on whether or not to retain their services. This happens in most businesses – everyone is evaluated, up from the senior vice-presidents all the way down to the assistant burger flippers.

Perhaps it is an ego thing, but the new guy always seems to believe he can run the business better than the old guy. The first thing a new ownership team does is look for avenues to streamline productivity and increase the bottom line. They want to cut fat and maximize profits. And, in order to do that effectively, they have to have a strong working knowledge of the resources they currently oversee. This means waves and waves of evaluations. Owners and managers want their own guys in key positions, and they want to operate under their own designed plans because they want to live or die with their own decisions rather than the decisions made by the previous regime.

Jim Crane was right to install his own people.

And, from everything we know about Crane’s business acumen, his staff had a very thorough evaluation process that was standard among each and every Astros employee – from the senior vice-presidents to the assistant burger flippers.

Crane was pretty straightforward when he announced that “everything is on the table.” I took this as meaning that everything was subject to evaluation and nothing was concrete for 2013.

In an unsavory under-the-radar manner, Jim Crane fired everyone – from the senior vice-presidents to the assistant burger flippers.

And,those who were left likely felt unsafe.

Obviously, Jim Deshaies was above this. As far as the Astros organization goes, he was likely the only person from the McLane regime who did his job significantly better than the competition. Deshaies likely felt that he was above Crane’s petty evaluation process because he was aware that he was significantly better than his competition. Deshaies had been in Houston for 16 years and is regarded as one of the best in the business.

Deshaies put in the time. He knew he was good at his job. Astros fans knew he was good at his job. The Cubs organization knew he was good at his job. Jayson Stark and other national reporters knew he was good at his job.

But Jim Crane needed an evaluation process to determine what everyone else already knew.

Jim Crane didn’t just forget to offer Jim Deshaies an extension. Crane put Deshaies through a process that must have made Deshaies feel uncomfortable and disrespected. Deshaies felt like he earned an extension and Jim Crane still needed convincing.

…and, once Crane figured it all out, Jim Deshaies was already leading the lovable losers in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Realignment reared its ugly head, familiar faces retired, resigned or were fired, and Jim Deshaies was sitting in the booth wondering where everyone had gone. All the while, still wondering whether or not he’d be retained at the end of the year.

Jim Crane was so obsessed with his evaluation process and constructing his organization to his liking, that he dropped the ball in an area that should have been a very bright spot in his very dull franchise. The Astros said they offered “fair market value” and “made every attempt to retain him”; they were a day late and dollar short. Had Crane created an environment of goodwill, he wouldn’t have had to rely on offering Deshaies “fair market value” as a last ditch effort. 

When Bob Brenly left the Windy City, the door flew open, and Jim Deshaies saw an opportunity. There was nothing holding him back – it was the perfect storm for the Houston Astros. But make no mistake about it: Jim Crane had every opportunity to ensure Jim Deshaies’ spot in Houston well before Chicago even became an option.

Jim Crane chose not to pursue a long-term contract for Jim Deshaies. Whether you believe my theory or not, Crane’s decision to remain inactive led to Deshaies’ departure. 

Crane foolishly chose to play his own version of “businessman chicken” with one of his prized assets. And now that Deshaies has flown the coop for the Cubs, all that’s left for Crane is crow. 

 

Posted at 12:27am
Tagged Astros Cubs Deshaies MLB

 


Stephen’s Thanksgiving Day Special! The Houston Sports Counterplot’s Ten Fan Commandments


by Stephen N

This post was inspired as I watched the amazing Texans’ comeback Sunday and couldn’t help but think about the many that had obviously left the game early. So here’s some commandments to memorize and follow that I think if universally accepted could move us from “greatest city in America” to “greatest city in the history of the World”…..

I. THOU SHALT NOT BOO THINE OWN TEAM

I hate when this happens. Now hear me out here…..part of being good fans is being able to criticize your team. That IS allowed. Blind allegiance without questioning is false. I have been oft criticized on the Twittersphere for occasionally criticizing one Matt Schaub, however I ALWAYS root for #8 to succeed and give credit when due (see Sunday tweets). You should be allowed and encouraged to criticize, question, and sometimes dislike certain players, coaches, and owners, however I think it is in extremely poor taste to boo your team. It looks classless and portrays your fan base as fair weather no matter what your motivation for booing is. I might be partial, but I think organizations such as The Houston Sports Counterplot set a great example of die-hard fan allegiance mixed with the occasional honest questioning and criticizing of those organizations we know and love.

II. THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY ON THINE TEAM

We all have that one friend who is a Laker, Yankee, Cowboy fan (that’s right bro…..I just called you out in a blog read by millions! You know who you are). Can that type of person really exist? I say vehemently NO! You can’t be a fan of both the Cowboys and Texans, or the Spurs and Rockets, or gasp the ultimate blasphemy…… Rangers and Astros. You can only truly love one team in each sport. Try telling your wife: “Look honey I love you, but I also think Jessica is pretty hot and especially during certain times of the year I’m going be with her.” (Spoiler: YOU WILL DIE AND/OR HAVE CERTAIN BODY PARTS REMOVED FROM YOUR BODY) If you’re going to do this fan thing it is a monogamous relationship. Can you have a favorite in a game where your team is not favored? SURE, but when the game is over the outcome shouldn’t affect you very much like it does when your true love plays.

III. KNOW THINE TEAM

This is the shortest yet possibly most important commandment. Don’t show up at a Rockets game wondering why Luis Scola’s not playing tonight. Be able to name at least two offensive linemen for the Texans. Don’t show up to the Astros’ opening game wondering what the DH on the lineup means. Learn your teams and be knowledgeable.

IV. THOU SHALT TREAT OPPOSING TEAM’S FANS RESPECTFULLY

We live in Texas. Greatest. State. Ever. Make sure any unfortunate souls who do not currently call the Promised Land home are able to leave knowing that they have entered a far superior state to their own. Now you can ride opposing fans a little (there may have possibly been a certain blogger who was discount double checking Packers fans when JJ Watt sacked Aaron Rodgers a few weeks ago), but it should be in good fun and you should keep it civil, and make sure those fans feel welcomed while still aware that they are in enemy territory. EXCEPTION: When opposing fans (like a few Cubs beauties 4 years ago) are so obnoxious at said event that you feel no other option other than standing up for your town, repping the H, and laying the smack down on some disrespectful punks. But remember, in my experience a friendly host can often find out that opposing team’s fans can be a lot cooler than you thought (with the possible exception of Cubs fans…..what a group of incompetent, losing inspired, drunk morons)……Sorry…..even some Cubs fans can be cool.

V. THOU SHALT ARRIVE ON TIME FOR THINE TEAM’S CONTESTS

We don’t live in LA folks. Unless you had to work late you should make plans to be at the game prior to its start! Nothing looks worse on television than a half empty facility. Get it together Rockets fans!

VI. THOU SHALT NOT LEAVE THINE TEAM’S GAMES EARLY

See Sunday’s Texans game. How many people are now going to have to lie and say they were at the game when in reality their faith was too small and they bailed when their team was down 14 in the 4th? We’ve seen way too many comebacks in this town to leave early. Andre Sunday, Chris Burke, Rockets 95 playoff runs, Oilers/Bills (wait…..forget that last one), look H town just do me a favor and stay till the end of the game. I stayed till the end of the Green Bay game a few weeks ago and was one of the few fans who got the chance to give Andre Johnson a standing ovation for reaching 10,000 yards.

VII. THOU SHALT OFFER THINE YEARLY SACRIFICES TO SAINT HAKEEM

No matter what your favorite sport is….Houston sports begins and ends with Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon. I was at my most impressionable during the early 90’s when Hakeem staked his claim as one of the best centers to EVER play basketball, and led the Rockets to back to back championships (still the only major sports championships the greatest city in America has). Nobody in the H has ever done it at a higher level and represented the city so well. Not to mention Hakeem’s years at UH and the fact that he played his entire career in Houston (you shut your dirty, filthy mouth Toronto….that NEVER happened!)

VIII. THOU SHALT RESPECT THINE SAINTS OF THE PAST

Earl Campbell, Jimmy Wynn, Warren Moon, Guy V, J.R. Richard, Moses Malone, Biggio and Bagwell, Bum Phillips etc…..these are the guys who paved the way for Houston sports. Whether you’re 7 or 70, you should do a little research and know the history of your teams. Houston may not have the most championships, but we have a tremendous history of sports. Know it. Respect it. Teach it to the next generation.

IX. THOU SHALT DO THINE RESEARCH PRIOR TO CALLING THINE SPORTS TALK SHOWS

Nothing is worse than flipping on your favorite sports talk show and having to listen to, “if only the Texans woulda drafted VY” guy after a huge win. Don’t call in proposing that the Astros trade Lucas Harrell for Buster Posey and then hang up and listen. Some people should just listen and never be heard. No shame in that. Better to have listened and learned than called and subjected us all to your asinine opinion. Now, if you’ve bounced your topic off at least three sports savvy buddies and not one of them asked if you were drunk or recently in a car accident……then by all means call in and contribute. I’m just saying do some research before you clog up the airwaves……Houston will sound more knowledgeable if you do.

X. THOU SHALT NEVER PLACE MORE IMPORTANCE ON THINE FANTASY TEAM THAN THINE REAL TEAM

This is the newest of all the commandments. Nothing is more annoying than “man too bad we just lost, but ————-  ————— really tore it up for me in my fantasy league today” guy. You know what you can do with your fantasy league? Some believers take this commandment to the max, swearing off fantasy sports altogether so as not to break the fan law. This approach is admirable, and I have to admit that if you feel weakness in this area it may be best to take a conservative approach when it comes to the fantasy realm. However as the good book says…..everything in moderation. I partake in a little fantasy myself, and would not tell you to avoid it as long as you always keep your first love your first love.

So there you go Houston sports fans. The Ten Commandments. Memorize them. Practice them. Hand the down from generation to generation. And please……don’t ever leave your team hanging down 14 in the 4th again. 

And, without further ado…

 

 

Posted at 10:35am

 


Now The Tuxedos Seem Kinda F—ked Up.

by Andy

Our beloved hometown team was held hostage for several years before a tuxedoed Jim Crane crashed through the glass window, rescued the fan base from the evil Dr. McLane and declared that he liked his martinis “shaken, not stirred.”

…and after a boatload of money was exchanged and ink dried, Astros fans felt a sense of relief.

Whew! The worst is over!

Better days are ahead.

Of course, then there was the widely unpopular announcement that the Astros were “being forced” to the American League. Then there was the overnight erection (that’s right, I said “overnight erection”) of the Community Partners billboard that blocked the gorgeous view of downtown. Then we all took front row seats to “Reign of Terror” type covert firings and mass defections of anyone and everyone from the radio guys to the bullpen catcher.

And, now, Jim Deshaies has interviewed with the Cubs to join their broadcast team.

I’m not entirely shocked. Sadly, it just seems like business as usual for the Houston Astros.

I can sum up Jim Crane’s Astros in one minute. The scene in Step Brothers where Brennan and Dale are looking for jobs and they interview with Seth Rogen for a janitorial position while wearing tuxedos. Rogen’s character says that the brothers “seem like cool guys.” He notes the irony of the tuxedos, finds the brothers endearing and prepares to offer them a job. “You guys are hired unless you’re the weirdest guys ever, and I don’t see it.” Then Dale cuts a long, drawn-out fart. Rogen’s character then realizes that Dale and Brennan aren’t who they seem. He tastes the fart. “Now the tuxedos seem kinda f—ked up.”

This is your Houston Astros.

They are the weirdest guys ever, and we just don’t see it.

Root. Root. Root.

Let’s be clear, Jim Deshaies wanted to interview with the Cubs. He made the choice. No one held a gun to his head. As a matter of fact, there are several Astros fans willing to point out that perhaps Jim Deshaies is just not that into you. And they might be right… but it seems like Jim Crane’s Astros have pretty much botched each and every opportunity they’ve had since taking over the organization that I’m not so sure I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt anymore.

And, if this is an organization that Jim Deshaies no longer wants to be a part of, shouldn’t the Astros have some level of culpability in creating that environment?

I have never believed Jim Crane when he said he was forced to realign the organization to the American League – not once, and I still don’t. I never believed Crane when he tried to convince fans that the Community Partners billboard was some kind of happy accident.

Until convinced otherwise, I will continue to believe that Jim Crane has been peddling bullshit since he took over.

And I won’t believe Jim Crane or the Astros when they eventually say that their hands were tied where Deshaies was concerned.

The benefit of the doubt ship has sailed – it is time for accountability. Jim Crane needs to understand that the Astros are rooted in Houston and these fly-by-night business operations will eventually expose him as a fraud and criminalize himself in the eyes of the people who want him to succeed the most.

Time and time again, the only thing Jim Crane has shown Houston is that he is committed to consistently shooting himself in the foot.

Make no mistake about it - if Jim Deshaies leaves for Chicago, the Astros have no one to blame but themselves.

The Astros should have never let it get this far. They should have locked Jim Deshaies up a long time ago. They should have made Jim Deshaies so comfortable in Houston that he would have never considered another job. It has been up to the Astros to ensure that Jim Deshaies continues to be a part of the Astros family – thus far, the Astros have failed to do their job. This was an obligation, and they’ve failed miserably.

Period.

Perhaps the broadcasts have little effect on ratings, however, Deshaies is regarded as one of the best in the business and the Astros have very little “best in the business” in their organization. I have often questioned whether Jim Deshaies would ever consider a national TV job with Fox or ESPN… I never imagined the Astros would let Deshaies slip away to WGN.

The Astros have the opportunity to do something special. They can make Jim Deshaies synonymous with Astros baseball. He can be the organizational stalwart that transcends and endures multiple generations of fans, but the Astros have been too blind or ignorant to make the necessary gestures to ensure a long-term commitment.

As of right now, you could make an argument that Jim Deshaies is the most beloved of all current Astros’ employees. The Astros might even agree as they gave away Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies bobbleheads less than 18 months ago. Consequently, fans have taken to Twitter and blogs to voice their outrage over the prospect that Deshaies will not be in the booth for 2013. The folks at the Crawfish Boxes, Climbing Tal’s Hill and What The Heck, Bobby have already chimed in. Jayne from WTHB also posts where you can send fan mail. Sensible Lee Street has threatened to become not so sensible. Anna-Megan Raley is not impressed.

There are a lot of Astros fans who have changed their profile pictures to pictures of Jim Deshaies. I did. I recommend you do the same. 

There is a recognizable and substantial base that still supports Jim Crane and the Astros despite their unpopular moves. I’m in that group… still. There is still a chance to win over fans that haven’t defected to Ryan’s Rangers just yet. …it’s not too late. While there is an argument to be made about winning curing all ailments, if Jim Crane continues to encourage and nurture a culture of indifference and isolation – he’ll find himself without fans when the gates are supposed to pick up. If he doesn’t believe this will happen, look no further than the 2013 Baltimore Orioles.

I’m very passionate, and I’m very critical of the Houston Astros because I care. I still care. Despite everything – I still care. Once guys like me quit caring, the Astros are going to be in a world of trouble because I’ve been accused of exercising blind loyalty and unconditional love – but I’m not so sure I’m so blind and I’m not so sure my love is unconditional. I’m not too invested in the Houston Astros that I’d stand by quietly and spend my hard-earned money while some two-bit drugstore cowboy takes advantage of me. I’m strongly opposed to being taken for granted; I hold grudges, and I spend my money wisely.

I’ll spend money on a loser, but I will not spend money on someone who treats me like I am ignorant.

Jim Crane is poking at the beehive that belongs to his most loyal bees – and, if he keeps poking, he’s shouldn’t be surprised when his ass gets stung.

Will Jim Crane invite me to one of his focus groups? I’d like to tell him that I think his “aw, screw ‘em, they’ll keep buying tickets” marketing strategy will eventually come back to hurt him in the end. Houstonians are loyal – but we’re also smart, and we can tell when we’re getting the run around.

We’re getting the run around. 

Jim Crane looks great in a tuxedo, he seems like a cool guy and he might be fun to work with. But I’m starting to smell a pretty rancid fart… now the tuxedo seems kinda f—ked up. 

 

Posted at 11:41pm

 


Jeff Luhnow Buys a Car… Well, Maybe.

by Andy

I purchased my truck a few years ago. It was my first big purchase. I remember standing outside of the car lot while reciting my haggling techniques. “Aw, c’mon, bro, is that the best you can do?” (I was saying “bro” before it was cool.) I stood stoically and scanned over the cars and immediately started having serious concerns whether or not I could afford anything new and nice. Then I started having serious concerns whether I’d have to choose between new or nice. This situation became complicated, and I hadn’t even talked to a salesman yet. I had some money in the bank, and I knew that there was something for me somewhere… but here? But now? I started to wonder whether or not my current truck would last another six months or a year. I left and went to another dealership… that night I bought my truck.

This is free agency.

The market is full of great bargains, but it’s also full of lemons. The Astros are either going to get their money’s worth or they’re going to count down the days until the bad contract they gave away expires.

The Astros have to spend their money wisely. Scratch that! The Astros MUST spend their money wisely! They cannot afford to be saddled with bad contracts, and they cannot afford to compromise their bright future for a glimmer of hope in the present.

Talking free agency is fun. Talking trades is fun.

But, if big name free agents and blockbuster deals are your thing… this off-season won’t be fun.

But it’ll be productive.

Of course, many Astros fans are not totally grasping the concept of rebuilding. It wasn’t but a few years ago, the Astros farm system was barren and devoid of any star potential. Astros fans begged and complained, “Woe is me! The farm system is barren and devoid of any star potential!” (I paraphrased.) However, with recent trades and quality drafts, the Astros have built one of the stronger minor league systems in major league baseball. …and, now, after all the time and effort, many Astros fans are interested in trading away prospects or signing multi-year big money contracts because they want to “win right away.” How Drayton McLane-y of them.

The last regime cut corners by taking on irresponsible contracts and trying to add pieces instead of developing ones. Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow have been reasonably straightforward in regards to their plans on building a successful organization in Houston. Signing Mike Napoli or trading for Justin Upton just doesn’t fit into what they said they are trying to do here. And, quite frankly, if their plan is to sign Napoli or trade for Upton, they might as well sell the team back to Drayton McLane while they’re at it. …because that’s how the last regime operated.

You don’t put $1500 rims on a 1992 Ford Taurus.

I’ve also heard that people want the Astros to trade for Jeremy Hellickson or Trevor Bauer. While Hellickson and Bauer would be under club control for awhile, what would the Astros have to give up to get them? The Astros aren’t, or rather shouldn’t, be in the market for one marquee player at the expense of multiple quality prospects. The Astros are building a well-rounded team and giving equal value in multiple prospects for one good player doesn’t seem very productive or consistent with the Astros plans… the organization’s words, not mine.

It’s fun to talk about potential free agent signings or potential trades. However, at the moment, “big splash” transactions don’t seem like an effective strategy for our team’s current situation. I wouldn’t forecast any big name free agents or Luhnow conducting any blockbuster swaps.

As if you need to be reminded, the Astros lost a franchise record 107 games in 2012, which clipped the previous year’s loss total by one. So, it’s probably safe to say that one single player isn’t going to transform the Astros into a playoff contender or even a .500 team – two players won’t change that, either. But, the Astros can use free agency to their advantage by signing players here and there and passing on irresponsible franchise crippling expenditures.

It is important that the Astros put a competitive team on the field. It is important that this team scratch and claw their way out of the triple-digit loss neighborhood and, at least, represent to the fans that, “hey, this team is going somewhere.” Player development has to be the key ingredient to the Astros revival. As of now, the Astros biggest goal is to develop a franchise capable of competing year after year while keeping fans interested, invested and buying tickets.

This is a massive, long-term undertaking. But one that is worthwhile.

So what are we working with?

As of now, the Astros line-up has some potential to it. It has a little pop and a little speed, there are a few guys who can hit for average, get on base and, for the most part, they’re decent defensively. Granted, this line-up doesn’t have any marquee appeal, but it will be able to hold its own and keep the Astros in games. We’re not exactly looking to win the World Series in 2013, but if the goal is to get better and be competitive – the line-up isn’t exactly an urgent crisis.

I suppose if Jose Altuve starts striking out again, Brett Wallace can’t get any lift on the ball or Justin Maxwell hits .190, all of this can change for 2013.

But, when 2014 arrives, things will get a bit crowded and complicated. With the emergence of Jonathan Singleton, George Springer and Robbie Grossman – some of the guys on the 2013 roster will find themselves on the bench or looking at other teams for employment.

Of course, with the DH, Jeff Luhnow will have a lot more flexibility when constructing the team because he’ll now view each position player as being capable of also being a DH. This is how I imagine Brett Wallace or JD Martinez will manage to remain on the roster.

I’m really not seeing any glaring spots on offense where the Astros need to add anyone long term. However, Luhnow should strike up dialogue with players who’d be interested in short-term contracts. Lance Berkman and Melky Cabrera fit this description. Berkman is familiar with Houston and could be plugged into the DH role while spelling Wallace at first base. Cabrera is out to prove that his talent isn’t contingent on how much buffalo urine he injects directly into his butt cheeks. Both could sign one-year deals and stave off the necessity of having to call up Singleton, Grossman or Springer too soon.

Above and beyond the need for a DH or any other bat, the Astros need to address their starting rotation and bullpen. They’re going to need to do this in free agency – I can’t see them getting a quality durable big league pitcher in the rule 5 draft… maybe someone who can compete for a spot, though.

Jarred Cosart aside, there isn’t much immediate help on the way from the farm, and the Astros are going to need a guy that they can plug into the starting rotation for the next couple of years. As of now, Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles seem to be locks. I expect the Astros to sign a free agent pitcher for one of the first four spots and have an open competition for the final spot in the rotation. The final spot could come down to a rule 5 guy, a non-roster invitee or Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Dallas Keuchel, Rudy Owens or possibly Paul Clemens.

Or maybe even Roger Clemens. (LOL!) No… seriously. (Oh.)

Having a bona-fide MLB starting pitcher in the first four spots of the rotation would be an outstanding situation for the Astros. The Astros need someone to eat up innings, take pressure off the bullpen and sign just a two or three year deal.

I’m going to bypass talking about Zack Grienke, Dan Haren or any of the other big money contract free agents and talk about some guys who I think the Astros will show real interest in.

I would like to see the Astros make a run at someone like Brandon McCarthy or Shaun Marcum. Either of these guys could be placed after Harrell in the rotation and provide solid productivity for the next few years. However, I think the Astros are more likely to be interested in someone like Carlos Villanueva or Kevin Correia. (Sigh.) Neither Villanueva nor Corriea have a history of eating innings, although Correia has gotten up to 198 before. I would assume that both of these pitchers would be interested in signing short-term, franchise friendly contracts… possibly, in Correia’s case, as a non-roster invitee. Carlos Villanueva has also had success as a reliever. So, if Cosart, Oberholtzer or any of the other minor leaguers go nuts in Oklahoma City, it’d be a smooth transition for Villanueva to move into the pen.

Which brings me to my next issue: the Astros need at least one more decent relief pitcher. With a young team, it is going to be important to preserve leads because, as we’ve been taught over the last two years, leads are hard to come by. Having one of our young pitchers pitch a gem only to have it blown to pieces by Chuckie Fick might do some serious damage to their psyche. If the Astros solidify the bullpen, it’ll go a long way in developing a culture of confidence within the starting rotation. And, winning is important to player development. I look at someone like Jonathan Broxton, Kyuji Fujikawa, Joakim Soria or Ryan Madson. Soria and Madson, both coming off injury, might be good options for short-term deals that could be parlayed into premium choice trade bait if they revert to form. Broxton and Fujikawa seem to be guys who might consider opting for teams that’ll utilize them as closers.

Needless to say, I’m not predicting any big splashes in the off-season. The Astros might find a suitor for Jed Lowrie or Bud Norris and, as the organization continues to turnover, begin to consider alternate options in free agency and render this whole article null and void. I feel like Jim Crane and Luhnow may have learned a lesson from the previous regime regarding irresponsible contracts, and I don’t think Crane and Luhnow would want to get into another Carlos Lee, Kaz Matsui or Brandon Lyon type situation.

So, shop wisely, Jeff. Don’t grab the first shiny car off the lot. Make sure you check under the hood. And, always remember, there are new models coming out for next year. 

 

Posted at 11:49am

 


Ernest Goes To Academy (Astros Logo Leak)

by Andy

At 10:36 this morning, Eagle Eye Ernest Moreno tweeted a picture to Sports Logo Net, “I saw this at a local Academy not too long ago.” A minute later, he tweeted me.

I’m generally pretty good about reading everything that is directed at me. So, when I saw this, I knew that I had to get it confirmed.

Immediately, I saved the picture to my phone and sent a text message to a friend who I thought would know.

“Hey, is this the new logo or what?”

And no less than a minute later, I got a response.

“Where was that picture taken?”

That was pretty much all the confirmation I needed.

The picture was taken at an Academy on the Gulf Freeway and Edgebrook. According to Ernest, they only had medium available, and this was the only new look merchandise on the shelf. After a few angry calls from the Houston Astros to Academy’s corporate office, that particular location has since pulled all the new look merchandise off the shelf.

Sports Logo Net ran with it. The Houston Chronicle got involved and now, Ernest is a bit of a celebrity. Good for him! And, I have to admit, had I been strutting around that particular Academy, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the new gear… so, you gotta give it up to Ernest for noticing in the first place.

Academy’s CEO Ronald Faldyn sent out a press release stating that they “apologize to the Houston Astros for the inadvertent leak of small quantities of the new Astros product.” They go on to say that what was put on the floor “represented a small portion of the Astros new identity” and the product has been “removed from the sales floor and is no longer available for sale.”

Other than that, there has been no legitimate confirmation regarding the new logo. There was speculation among bloggers like myself and uniform aficionados like Sports Logo Net. As a matter of fact, there seemed to have been coherent points made in Sports Logo Net’s thread as one commenter stated “this item has been on the floor for a year.” Maybe everyone should have kept their mouths shut and left a little bit of doubt amongst Astros fans? But, nay, Academy acknowledged that the picture is legit and the Astros acknowledge that Academy screwed up – so there you have it: this is the Astros’ new logo. 

Personally, I like it. It is a very timeless look. They took the old logo and modernized it. I kept hearing scuttlebutt about “updated and classic” and this pretty much fits into that mold. I’m thrilled that the Astros selected to go back to orange and navy blue. However, the picture has two shades of orange and it’ll be interesting to see if the new uniforms incorporate both shades or just the lighter or the darker of the two.

Who knows? We’ll find out on November 2nd when the Astros present their new look to the public… unless Academy puts more new look product out on their floor and starts selling it between now and then. 

 

Posted at 8:38pm

 


The Wonder Years: My Journey Home

by Andy 

(Editor’s note: When it was announced that the Astros were moving to the American League, I was asked whether or not I was reassessing my commitment to the organization. Immediately, I thought about this story and I wanted to share it with you.)

I haven’t always been an Astros fan.

For two years of my life, I was obsessed with the Oakland Athletics.

Yes, our soon-to-be division rivals. Those Oakland Athletics.

Benedict Arnold? Hardly.

It was 1989 and 1990, and I was in elementary school. And, my friend, times were wild. It was an age of irresponsibility and the age of writing sentences on the blackboard. It was the age of Ninja Turtles. It was the age of wisdom, and it was an age of discovery.

And when I discovered the Oakland A’s, I realized that they had it all! An embarrassment of riches! They had power, speed, outstanding pitching and the sweetest uniforms in baseball. Who in the world didn’t love the Bash Brothers? They had Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco launching homeruns by the truckload – bumping forearms after each blast. They had Dave Stewart and Bob Welch to start and Dennis Eckersley to close. Ricky Henderson would find a way to get on base and, before you knew it, he’d steal second… and then third. I also liked Rick Honeycutt, Dave Parker, Mike Gallego and Dave Henderson.

I liked them all! Yeah, the Oakland Athletics.

The 1989 All Star Game in Anaheim was the first All Star Game I remember and likely the first one I watched. The Oakland uniforms drew me in. But how on Earth did I not fall in love with the Kansas City Royals? Because the only thing I can vividly remember from that game was Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs hitting back-to-back homeruns off of Rick Reuschel. C’est la vie, Kansas City!

During that game, my whole life changed forever: I became an Oakland A’s fan and, more importantly, a baseball fan.

To my dismay, as a tee-baller, I was on the crummy Tigers. We had crummy yellow T’s on our crummy little hats… we didn’t even look like the real Tigers – who, in 1989, were reasonably crummy themselves. The tee-ball Athletics, on the other hand, were dressed to the nines – yellow writing on a field of green, true to their professional counterparts. And, just like in the big leagues, the tee-ball A’s were the best team in my league too. The toast of the town! It was as if they were the tee-ball league affiliate of the big league Oakland A’s! They could hit, throw and catch. They were light-years ahead of the other teams in our league.  And, to their credit, almost no one on their team would ever be caught picking grass out in rightfield… unlike the crummy Tigers. Unfortunately, this was before tee-ball’s governing body kept official records, so I cannot confirm it, but I think the tee-ball A’s went undefeated – a perfect 16-0 and a city championship to boot!

“Oh, if only my coach would trade me to the A’s,” I thought. “I’d definitely eat all of my cauliflower.”

Luckily for me, my childhood wasn’t as tortured or hardshipped as other great writers. As a matter of fact, I had a pretty awesome childhood and my parents were very loving and supportive. They facilitated my love for baseball. My Dad jumped through all of the hoops to sign me up for the city league, and my mom would buy me baseball cards each time she went to the grocery store… provided I was well behaved (and ate all of my cauliflower).

I hope that you can find as much joy in something as I found in opening a pack of baseball cards. Topps, Donruss, Upper Deck… I collected them all. As an adult, I wish I could replicate the feeling of opening a pack of baseball cards – but, sadly, it’s impossible. There’s no comparison. I honestly got more excited opening a pack of baseball cards back then as I get now by opening my paycheck – after all, I know what’s in my paycheck …and I got to keep all of my baseball cards. I would sit Indian-style on the brown shag carpet in my bedroom listening to my brother’s Fat Boys tape; meticulously, I’d lay my baseball cards out by position in the form of a baseball diamond. I would stack cards on top of each other, ranking each player on how good I thought they were. As a diehard A’s fan, I had Mike Gallego over Cal Ripken Jr.

Besides, the back of Cal’s baseball card said he only hit .264 in 1988.

Oakland had swept the Giants in the 1989 World Series – I remember watching the pre-game broadcast when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck before game three. I had never been a part of a natural disaster, and here I was watching Al Michaels’ narrate one before a national audience. I wonder if that event played a role in how I remember certain facts from that period of my life. I remember I didn’t sleep well because I was scared that an earthquake would level Houston to a pile of rubble as soon as I shut my tired eyes.

I watched the next two games. I paid a lot of attention, too… after all, there could be a few homeruns off of Mark McGwire’s bat or there could be another devastating earthquake. Who knows? Not knowing much, I felt both would surely happen before the series concluded – so I kept my eyes glued to our television set.

In the end, Mark McGwire went 1-9 with an RBI and the earthquake finished out the series without an official at-bat. I was happy that my team, the A’s, won the World Series.

Obviously, coming into the 1990 season, the Oakland A’s were regarded as the best team in baseball. And, I couldn’t have been more ready for that season. I was a child. Life was good. They were winners and, because they were winners, I was a winner, too.

There’s no indifference in the life of a child sports fan. There is no middle ground. You’re either a winner or a loser. Kids won’t stand behind a loser, and they certainly have no reservations about jumping from bandwagon to bandwagon until they find a winner. I was no different. That’s why I liked the A’s.

I’m sure my parents just thought it was a phase… like when I slept with a Cabbage Patch Kid when I was 5. 

Did I mention that my family didn’t have cable back then?

…because that’s important.

It’s important because the only time I got to watch Oakland was during an occasional national broadcast or over at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was top notch! She had cable.

In addition to them being a good baseball team, I liked the Oakland A’s because they were mysterious. I never really saw them play much. I analyzed the sports page every morning… but I couldn’t pick Mike Gallego or Carney Lansford out of a line-up had it not been for my vast collection of baseball cards. …okay, maybe Carney Lansford but only because he was a creepy looking dude.

In 1990, in my elementary school’s library, they had an Oakland A’s book. It was about 25 or 30 pages – three or four sentences per page. It had pictures of Oakland players, clean white uniforms with yellow socks and white shoes. All and all, it was just a short summary over the previous year’s team. I checked that book out over and over again. I’m not sure whether they had every team, but I know they had the Astros… I glanced at it, but I never took it home. 

Okay, I’m rambling.

I’m going to take a quick little tangent and start on a different story and we’ll come back to the A’s at the end.

So, let me explain my “the world is flat” baseball understanding that I had as a child: As a rule, pitchers batted ninth in the National League and not at all in the American League – it was that simple. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts. I wasn’t sure why, but rules were rules and that’s all I needed to know at the time. I didn’t need an explanation and I didn’t really care to be bothered for one. Every Astros game that my parents watched, the line-up would be announced and there was the pitcher buried at the bottom… ninth. Always. No exceptions.

(This was another reason I liked the Oakland A’s. They were not subjected to the embarrassment of having their pitcher try to hit.)

In May of 1990, my father took my brother and me to an Astros game – and, this is the second moment in this piece that my life changed forever. This was a traumatic event on several fronts! The Astros were playing the Phillies. I can’t recall what my father fed us, but I do remember that I got incredibly sick in the middle of the game and threw up - which, to my knowledge, was the first and only time I’ve ever exited a game early.

It was May 9th to be exact. I had to check with baseball-reference to see the exact date because though the memory is vivid, the details get a bit fuzzy. Mike Scott made the start but was pulled in the fifth after giving up four runs on nine hits. Art Howe, upon pulling Scott, made a quick detour towards the home plate umpire. The umpire took out a notepad and jotted something down, Howe slyly walked to the mound, motioned for a lefty and Mike Scott, along with Ken Caminiti, walked into the Astros dugout. Eric Yelding jogged in from center to play third. The public address announcer chimed in, “Now pitching, Dan Schatzeder eder eder. And playing centerfield ield ield, Gerald Young Young Young”

Harmless, right?

I held my aching stomach and looked up at the scoreboard. As Ken Caminiti left the game, he took with him his name that graced the fifth spot of the Houston batting order. We were left to deal with the large cavernous nothing between the fourth and sixth spots.

Silence.

Waiting.

Waiting.

And, then all hell broke loose.

In large bright letters on a field of black, the cavernous nothing in the fifth spot in the batting order was replaced with “20 SCHATZEDER P.”

Are you kidding me, Art Howe? I couldn’t believe that a pitcher was batting in the fifth spot of the batting order! This was baseball blasphemy! Art Howe was spitting in the face of millions of years worth of conventional baseball strategy. That spot is reserved for the Dave Parkers and Jose Cansecos of the world! Not the Dan Schatzeders of the world! How in the world can a team expect to win when they’re batting their pitcher in the heart of the line-up?

Art Howe was a buffoon. I was beside myself. I was speechless. My stomach churned.

…and shortly thereafter, before Dan Schatzeder, a career .240 hitter with a measly 5 homeruns to his name, ever picked up a bat to publicly humiliate himself in front 11,000 laughing Astros fans… I threw up on the family sitting in front of us.

I can still hear them scream.

The umpires didn’t even acknowledge the commotion going on in our section – I’m not even sure that stopping the game ever crossed their minds. Alas, we left the Astrodome and the game played on without us. Before long, I was asleep in the backseat of my mother’s 1982 Monte Carlo as my dad and brother listened to the game in the front seat…

I never got to see the circus that was Dan Schatzeder attempting to swing a bat.

I was so sick. I had food poisoning. My old man carried my small body into the house and tucked me into a small sleeping bag next to my parent’s bed. I woke up several times during the night to throw up. Each time I got up, I thought, “why would the Astros bat Dan Schatzeder fifth?” It was a long night of vomiting and thinking about Dan Schatzeder.

Each time I got up, my Dad, in his “tighty-whiteys,” wiped sleep from his eyes and staggered out of the bed to make sure I was okay. (Thanks, Dad!)

When I woke up in the morning, I found that the Astros had lost 10-1.

“That’s what happens when you bat Dan Schatzeder fifth,” I thought.

Later that year, the Oakland A’s got swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990 World Series and I really didn’t care. I was growing disinterested in the A’s. Our fling had run its course. Not because they were slowing down or because they were no good but because they weren’t on TV.

And the Astros were.

The Oakland A’s weren’t in Houston.

And the Astros were.

1991 - that was the year that I started to fall for the Astros. And I owe it to my mom. She was the one who had the remote control. My dad, who worked late, was more interested in the news or Murphy Brown or Unsolved Mysteries… I wanna say he also liked Rescue 911, but I’m not certain when that aired.

My mom knew that I was an A’s fan… but she knew I was a baseball fan, too. So she made sure the Astros were on every once in awhile, and she made sure I was watching.

“Look, Andy, they’re about to score!”

(Mom, you have impacted my life in so many positive ways - I love you for that.)

In 1991, I found myself checking the Astros boxscores and cuddling up with my mom to watch the games on channel 20.

I started replacing Oakland A’s baseball cards with Astros baseball cards. Mike Gallego lost his starting position on my brown shag carpet to Rafael Ramirez. I replaced my Fat Boys tape with an MC Hammer tape. Glenn Davis replaced Mark McGwire and Ken Caminiti, who didn’t creep me out like Carney Lansford did, was my new favorite player.

It wasn’t until I was older that I learned the concept of “the double switch” and I learned that Dan Schatzeder more than likely didn’t bat in that game. After checking baseball-reference.com, my suspicions were confirmed.

A double switch. Pfft! 

So, as it turned out, Art Howe was, in fact, not a buffoon. He knew what he was doing. He was a very capable manager. And I was angry with Art for no good reason.

But, the Astros fired Art Howe anyway in 1993 and hired Terry Collins to replace him. Howe landed on his feet, though. And after a brief stint as a bench coach for the Colorado Rockies, Howe got another opportunity to manage in 1996 – this time, with the Oakland A’s.

I’ve been an Astros fan since. And, regardless of their league or uniforms, I’ll remain an Astros fan until I die.

The Astros are my team.

The Oakland Athletics are just an old flame from my younger days.

After all, it was an age of irresponsibility and the age of writing sentences on the blackboard. It was the age of Ninja Turtles. It was the age of wisdom, and it was an age of discovery.

It was wild times, and I have no regrets.

Although I probably owe an apology to Art Howe and Dan Schatzeder… and the family I vomited on in 1990.

 

Posted at 10:53am

 


Sure, Rocket Science

by Andy

Have I spent this entire baseball season watching the Astros or has this been one long episode of TBS’s new hit comedy Sullivan & Son? I’m not quite sure. I know the laughs at Minute Maid Park are few and far between. There’s not a lot of clapping or cheering, either. There’s not a lot of intrigue or “what’ll happen next?” talk amongst the fans. And, yes, apathy is quietly overcoming the fan base as our hopeless hometown Houston Astros again dig themselves deeper into the cold dark depths of the National League cellar. Again. September has brought us football, though and now we can tuck the Astros in and put them to bed.

…And, then the clever fellow, who I assume is the “Son” in Sullivan & Son said, “I’m half white and half Asian. That makes me Caucasian.” LOL! Brilliant!

Has Jim Crane thought of hiring a guy to hold an “applause” sign?

Enter our unlikely hero: Roger Clemens. Our once prodigal son, now prodigal grandfather, has coasted into Astros discussions on the wings of sports pages everywhere and has huffed and puffed a new refreshing life into our beloved hometown team. He suspiciously made a start for the local independent team? Cue speculation! Headlines read: Roger Takes a Shower, Uses Dandruff Shampoo! Stop the presses! This is edge-of-your-seat excitement! Anticipation is running high! “We’ll see where it goes,” has been Google translated from English to Rocketese as “Hell yeah! Dust off my old Astros uniform, Jimmy! Let’s do this!” And now the whole town is abuzz at the notion of a 50-year-old prospect toeing the rubber before season’s end.

Not everyone is happy about it.

But, then again, I’m not too happy about accidently watching Sullivan & Son.

People suggest that signing Roger Clemens is counterproductive to the “youth movement.” The Astros spent plenty of time, energy and took plenty of beatings by jettisoning pricey veterans in lieu of wet-behind-the-ears baseball greenhorns. Signing Roger Clemens will turn our team into a sideshow! A farce! A joke! It’ll negate all the hard work that has been done! Blood! Sweat! Tears! This would be a more embarrassing sign than the big fat community partners’ billboards that are ocular-blocking our once beautiful view of our bustling city!

Before I go on, let me just fess up: I agree.

But is Roger worth the trouble? Can crusty old Clemens be good for the aimless Astros?

You bet your sweet behind!

As interest in our Astros wanes, Roger Clemens could bring people out to an otherwise empty and abandoned ballpark. And that would be huge! In fact, it would be huger than the laughs I got from watching Sullivan & Son. It would be huge because when fans lose interest, they do two things: they begin rooting for other teams or they become apathetic and disinterested in baseball. People aren’t as fickle as you’d like to believe. They’re difficult people to get back, too!

“An Asian girl holding a gun. Is anyone else turned on by this?” said the creepy old common character actor from Sullivan & Son. LMAO! Hilarious!

Do you want to know what Jim Crane should be afraid of? Look no further than the 2012 Orioles and Pirates – both teams are having very good seasons standings-wise but are still struggling severely attendance-wise. They’re both in the bottom third in ‘home attendance’ and are practically begging folks to support their product.

Why is this? Simple: these cities’ are hopelessly apathetic towards their baseball teams and/or the fans there have moved onto other, more successful teams, in the same region. The teams in Baltimore and Pittsburgh have great stadiums, rich traditions and, yet, people refuse to go to baseball games because these teams have developed a culture of losing and have expedited fans disinterest by…well… not doing anything remotely interesting. Unless, of course, you consider the Orioles and Pirates’ two decade quest to find new and inventive ways to lose baseball games “remotely interesting.”

In the last 15 years, who ever really cared about the Orioles or Pirates? Nobody, baby.

The Orioles and Pirates have had too many losing seasons and have burned way too many bridges! Their fans have been disinterested for far too long. These teams looked the other way while their fans jumped off the bandwagon in droves and did nothing about it. Nothing! They didn’t put up a fight. They didn’t bat an eye! So now the Orioles and Pirates are experiencing success and experts are surprised because no one really cares. “The Orioles are in second place and are likely headed for the playoffs! The Pirates are in line for their first winning season in 20 years! My goodness! Where are all the people?” Well, Sportscenter, you can find them at home watching Sullivan & Son or they’re watching Phillies or Nationals’ games on ESPN.

…and, if the Astros are, indeed, “years away” from competing, these examples should keep Jim Crane awake at night. The businessman in Nolan Ryan (who shall remain nameless) wants to dominate the market, collect all the fans, all of the bacon, all of the eggs and all of the money! He wants every baseball fan in Texas wearing a Rangers hat. And Astros fans are in denial if they believe that he doesn’t have his sites set on crushing the Houston Astros. Nolan Ryan wants the Astros to be his Orioles and Pirates. …and, if Crane isn’t smart and doesn’t act fast, Nolan’s dream could become a reality.

Jim Crane has no choice but to do whatever it takes to keep fans interested. His only mission during this “lull in success” is keeping fans coming to the game and keeping fans talking about the Houston Astros while preparing his organization for future success. Crane has to find the perfect balance between keeping fans interested and rebuilding a poorly run baseball franchise from the ground up. This is a delicate situation! This is brain surgery!As much as I hate it, he has to turn the Astros into more of a show and draw focus away from the Bad News Houston Astros. This means he has to continue to implement popular promotions like bobbleheads, retro nights and, yes, The Roger Clemens Show.

Come to think of it, this isn’t brain surgery – this is Rocket science.  

Yes, boys and girls, Roger Clemens is nothing more than glorified come-to-life bobblehead.

Roger Clemens will not be signed because he’ll keep the Astros from losing 100 games. He’ll be signed because he’ll bring 40,000 people into the stadium on nights that he pitches. Furthermore, I would be shocked if, in the event Clemens becomes an Astro, he makes a single start away from Minute Maid Park. He’s a promotion in the flesh.

Roger Clemens is desperate for the Astros to massage his bruised ego, and the Astros are desperate for Roger Clemens to protect their floundering investment. The Astros must hang on to any shred of relevancy they can – and the same goes for Roger. Dignity be damned! This is a mutually beneficial and unapologetically dysfunctional case of legend/organization codependency.

If you’re reading this blog, this should probably upset you. However, this is the cold harsh reality of the current Houston baseball climate. My suggestion: not just accept it, but embrace it and learn to love it. Because until our beleaguered ball club can pick themselves up off the mat, they’re going to need to keep themselves somewhat relevant.

Think back to January when Jim Crane said, “Everything is on the table” and hinted at a possible name change. That wasn’t a joke or some wacky marketing ploy as some people thought or would have you believe. Crane wasn’t kidding or kicking tires or trying to deceive anyone. Crane is a smart businessman and knew exactly what he was up against when he purchased the Houston Astros. Everything is on the table because, as it stands now, everything has to be on the table.

Drayton McLane and Pam Gardener knew what they were up against, too. That’s why they had absolutely no problem coddling Red Sox fans when they invaded Minute Maid Park in 2011. Of course, with the sale of the team imminent, McLane was likely squeezing as much blood from the Astros as he could without taking into account the long-term ramifications of devolving his fan-base into a bunch of wicked awesome Good Will Hunting watching, fist-bumping Chowderheads with southern drawls. But it’s the same principle.

If Crane ever goes as low as McLane, then the Astros will have way bigger issues than an elderly Roger Clemens slowly scooting his way towards the bump mumbling incoherently about “Teddy Ballgame” while his home healthcare nurse follows behind lugging a giant oxygen tank. “No, Mr. Clemens, those aren’t special commemorative baseballs, they’re tennis balls that’ll make your walker glide easier. Now finish your creamed-carrots so I can give you your medicine.”

Astronerds, we need to face some facts, and we need to accept some truth. The organization isn’t marketing to you and me. The Astros are marketing specifically to people who are jacked up about Roger Clemens possibly joining the Astros. They’re marketing to people who are downright giddy about realignment because of “all of the awesome Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers games.” They’re marketing to people who are thrilled the hitting coach and first base coach were canned despite not having the foggiest as to their names. They’re marketing to people who comment on every Astros story posted to The Houston Chronicle’s website!

The Astros are fully aware that you and I will go to Astros games regardless of how crummy they’re playing because they know we have a different understanding of how the Astros actually are and the direction they’re going. They know we’ll go anyway. They are taking us for granted - and rightfully so, they should take us for granted because we’re too invested in our Astros fandom. We might get angry or whiney, but we’re not going anywhere.

Instead of marketing to us, the Astros are marketing to people who see a bunch of nameless guys on a team careening down the path towards 100 losses that say to themselves, “I’m not going to the Astros game tonight, I’ll stay home and watch Sullivan & Son… unless, of course, the Rangers are on.” 

“You’re half Korean and half white! Half of you SHOULD be angry! Wait, why am I explaining this to you? Half of you should understand!” said Kevin Arnold’s father who now inexplicably stars in Sullivan & Son. ROTFLMAO! Comedy gold!

In a way, Roger possibly suiting up for the Astros is a good thing for the long-term success of the Houston Astros. If fans are coming to the ballpark and Jim Crane is cashing some checks, he’ll be in better position to spend some more money on the team down the line. It is super important that the Astros remain relevant and continue to find creative ways to convince Houstonians to spend their money on this substandard baseball product.

This isn’t about Roger Clemens or the 2012 Houston Astros. This is about building a baseball culture. This is about reintroducing fans to the Houston Astros – even if that means bringing Roger Clemens along to move it forward. This is about making money and setting our team up for long-term success. Roger Clemens, although a small part, could play a vital role in the Houston Astros’ future. Clemens can be a crucial piece of the puzzle in reigniting some of the passion that has been sucked out of the organization over the last few years.

…and don’t be shocked if there is some heavy over-the-top flirting between the Astros and Lance Berkman. Rumor has it, there is a DH position available and having Berkman back would certainly put some butts in some empty seats.

So, yes, I hope the Astros commence with the dog and pony show. I hope they never run out of creative ideas and wacky promotions to get people to see their historically bad product. I hope they sign Roger Clemens, and I hope the Astros sell out every start he makes. And I hope like hell that some kid walks out of the stadium that night and says, “Dad, I had a lot of fun! Let’s go again tomorrow!”

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Posted at 9:42am
Tagged Astros MLB Houston RogerClemens

 


THE HOUSTON SPORTS COUNTERPLOT COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 10 + 15!

by Andy 

For those of you who have followed my blog for over a year, you guys know that I’m a huge college football fan. I mean, if I were to rank the important things in my life (and why shouldn’t I?), I’d go:

1.) Astros
2.) College Football
3.) Family
4.) Peanut Butter Cookies
5.) More Peanut Butter Cookies

…in that order.

Seeing that the Astros are on pace to lose 375 games this year, I thought I would take an Astros breather and focus on a little college football – just for today. …maybe. 

Like last year, I’ve made a top 25 list and I am also throwing in some Heisman predictions. I’ll likely piss some of you off – but I don’t care. You don’t like it? Do what I did and become an expert by getting a free blog on tumblr.

For those of you wondering how I did this, I picked the 25 teams, in order, that I thought would finish in the AP Top 25 BEFORE the bowl season. Next to their name, I predict what their record would be at that point… I’m not going to predict the bowl games (maybe sometimes in the future.) Lastly, I posted what I think will be their most intriguing (or just an intriguing) game complete with a final.

…and, yes, I have Houston ranked in the top 25 – just like I did last year.

So, without further ado


THE HOUSTON SPORTS COUNTERPLOT TOP 10 + 15! 


1.) USC (13-0)
The University of Spoiled Children is back! While still having 10 scholarships withheld, USC has, top to bottom, the most talented team in the country. Highlighted by their soon-to-be first overall section quarterback, Matt Barkley and their Penn State refugee Silas Redd, the Trojans look like the team to beat for the 2012 football season. I’m expecting a few close calls, but I expect the Trojans will waltz on in to the National Title Game.

Game to watch: 11/9 Oregon at USC – I’m predicting that both of these teams will be in the top 5. I think USC’s defense is going to be too quick and too physical to be exposed by Oregon’s track-star offense. USC will be prepared for Oregon and Oregon has shown time and time again that they underperform when their opponent’s defense has adequate time to prepare. Wait, USC won’t be coming off of a bye week but instead games against Colorado at home and Arizona in Tucson? Oh, well, still. USC wins 35-24

2.) Oklahoma (12-0)
Landry Jones leads a high-powered well-oiled-machine offense that, I predict, will buzzsaw through young Big XII defenses at will. While I don’t think the Big XII will be as strong as it was in 2011, I expect teams to be a little more competitive top to bottom. Texas will be better – admittedly they have serious problems in the passing game, but will be okay provided they run the ball. I expect Baylor will rebound from the loss of RG3 – have you ever known Art Briles to be without a good quarterback? Charlie Weis will improve the game in Lawrence. K-State will flirt with the top 25. The Pokes might be there and so will TCU …the only teams that I think will be bad are Texas Tech and Iowa State. Breaking down the Big 12: 1 great team, 1 really good team, a bunch of good teams, 1 okay team (Kansas) and 2 bad teams.

But we’re talking about OU, right? History tells us that they’ll run through their conference undefeated, look like complete studs and then lay down in their bowl game. Not so fast, my friend!

Game to watch: 11/17 Oklahoma at West Virginia – here’s another match-up that I believe will pit two top 5 teams in a late-season do-or-die with National Championship aspirations on the line. Overall, I think West Virginia’s offense will be able to go dollar for dollar with the Sooners, but ultimately, I think defense is going to win this one. Oklahoma wins 38-35

3.) Michigan (12-1)
Denard Robinson is going to put up some video game type numbers in 2012 and come in a VERY CLOSE 2nd in Heisman voting. Brady Hoke’s defense is strong enough to run the table. I bet they’re going to start off quickly, too, as I’m picking them to win against Alabama in The Big House. Yes, you heard that, “a win against Alabama.” Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they’ll trip up in a game that they’re supposed to win… maybe Notre Dame on 9/22. Even though I’m pegging them for one loss, there’ll be a lot of talk that they should get a crack at USC because they played in a conference championship game, but ultimately the computers get it right and select the Sooners.

Game to watch: 9/1 Alabama at Michigan – Nick Saban has had all off-season to prepare for Denard Robinson, but as Mike Tyson would say “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.” Although I think Bama’s LBs and DEs will have enough speed to contain Robinson for MOST of the game, I believe Robinson will break one (or two) and Bama’s offense will look sluggish and incompetent and be unable to retaliate. Michigan wins 13-10

4.) Alabama (11-2)
It seems like every year Alabama graduates (err… sends guys to the pros) and we all sit around and wonder how on Earth they’ll replace the people they lost. After losing Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower to the FIRST ROUND of the NFL Draft, the Crimson Tide has simply reloaded with a fresh set of NFL first rounders. I’m not a huge fan of AJ McCarron, but I think the run game with Eddie Lacy and the best offensive line in the country will take a lot of pressure off of him. As always, the SEC schedule is a killer – with games in Fayetteville, Knoxville and Baton Rouge, not to mention opening with a top 10 Michigan team, I’m expecting the Tide to lose two games but still jump plenty of 1 loss teams as the repeat SEC champion.

Game to watch: I’m not going to pick the Michigan game because I already did, so I’m picking the 11/9 game at LSU. This could be a replay of the National Title game and I’m not 100% convinced anyone will score. These teams are loaded up on defense, both teams are going to try (and fail) to establish run games and we could realistically see another game where both teams fail to score double digits. EPSN won’t be happy, but it’ll be a great game! Alabama wins 9-3.

5.) Florida State (12-1)
Jimbo Fisher has this defense jacked up and I’m pumped to see how they perform. I see FSU cruising through their schedule. They have a few tough games, namely Clemson and Florida at home and VaTech in Blacksburg. EJ Manuel is going to put up big numbers and Devonta Freeman will be a very nice back for the Seminoles, but, as is with most of my top ten, Florida State’s defense will be their strength.

Game to watch: 11/8 Florida State at Virginia Tech – This might be the best Thursday night game of the season. Two top 10 teams battling it out in one of the toughest stadiums to play in, it doesn’t get much better than this… except it’s the ACC. This has the potential to be another low scoring game, but I’m picking a blowout. I think Florida State is going to man-handle the Hokies at every aspect of the game. I could be wrong! Florida State wins 34-13

6.) Arkansas (11-2)
I love Arkansas. And, this year, I’m picking them to be the second best team in the SEC – which is a huge honor! Again, I think the SEC is going to be the toughest conference in football and, unfortunately for them, I think the best teams in the conference will have two or three losses. I think Alabama loses twice and I think Arkansas loses twice. If Bama or Arkansas played in any other conference, they’d be playing in the National Title game. Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis will lead the best offense in the SEC and the Razorback defense will be adequate enough to keep teams from outscoring them.

Game to watch:  9/15 Alabama at Arkansas – Alabama will come into Fayetteville, still seething from a week one loss to Michigan and looking to take some stress out on the Razorbacks. However, Arkansas, coming off of two cupcakes, has been preparing for this game all off-season and will be ready for whatever the Crimson Tide throws at them. Folks are going to wonder how I have a two loss Alabama team in the top 5… it’s because I have them starting out 1-2, running the table, climbing back up the rankings and then winning the conference title game. Arkansas wins 17-13  

7.) Louisiana State (10-2)
When I started with my top 25, I had LSU at 14. Crazy, huh? Then I looked at their schedule and moved them to 16. Then I moved them to 11. Then 9. Then I couldn’t stomach having them ranked lower than Wisconsin or West Virginia, so I moved them up to 7. This is such a loaded football team. I hope no one thinks I have an SEC bias – because I don’t. Teams in the SEC are just so much better than teams in other conferences. Zach Mettenberger should be a huge upgrade over Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. And, I don’t think their defense will miss Tyrann Mathieu as much as others would lead you to believe. They’re defense is just so physical and so quick - this is going to be fun to watch. I’m certain that they’re going to battle Alabama and Florida State for having the best defense in the country. However, I have serious concerns, even with the QB upgrade, that they’ll put enough points on the board to stave off any less than 2 losses.

Game to watch: 11/23 LSU at Arkansas – this is going to be a great game! In my opinion, both teams are going to come into the final game of the regular season with one loss and a chance to represent the SEC-West in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama. I would assume that both teams are close to, if not already in, the top 5. LSU is going to contain the Arkansas offense, but not enough to win. Arkansas wins 17-10.

8.) West Virginia (10-2)
West Virginia fits in perfectly in the Big XII. Geographically? - not so much. But, their football team does. With stints in Lubbock and Stillwater, Dana Holgorsen has been around the block in the Big XII, so he’s not walking into the Big XII unprepared. He’s going to throw the ball – a lot. Geno Smith has a big arm and enough mobility to take some pressure off of his offensive line and provide his receivers enough time to get open. I have a feeling Smith is going to put up monster numbers but probably won’t get the same hype as Barkley or Jones because Geno Smith is now a “system quarterback.”

Game to watch: 10/6 West Virginia at Texas – This is the day West Virginia is welcomed into the Big XII. Sure, the Mountaineers have a game the previous week against Baylor, but that’s at home – this game is in Austin and there will be close to 100,000 people wearing burnt orange. Remember what I said about Holgorsen being prepared for the Big XII? Okay, maybe not so much because Texas is going to spell trouble for the Mountaineers. The Longhorns are going to have a very strong defense and a very good running game. Texas is going to control the ball and if they don’t turn the ball over, they’re going to win this football game. As a matter of fact, I’m calling it right now. Texas wins 24-23

9.) Wisconsin (11-2)
Is there a more boring team than Wisconsin? They win 10 games every year by doing the same thing over and over again. They control the line of scrimmage, they run the ball and they play good defense. …and nothing has changed. Montee Ball is going to get a lot of publicity, but the offensive and defensive lines will be what puts Wisconsin in the top 10.

Game to watch: 12/1 Wisconsin at Michigan – wait, this match-up is not on the schedule. True – for now! I threw a curveball because I think these two teams will reprensent (sigh) the Legends and Leaders divisions (I really hate those names) in the Big 10 Championship Game in Indianapolis. It’s going to be billed as Robinson vs Ball, but this games going to come down to whether or not Wisconsin will be able to handle the world-class speed of Robinson. I don’t think they’re up for it. Michigan wins 24-13.

10.) Tennessee (9-3)
For the second straight season, Tennessee is my pick to break through in 2012. Tyler Bray, though immature, has serious talent and can lead this team to surprising victories against Florida and Georgia. Plus, it helps that they’ll miss LSU.

Look, I get it. It’s unpopular to predict Tennessee to finish the year in the top 10, much less, the top 25. But, I like Derek Dooley and I like Tyler Bray. I think Bray can be a first round pick in the NFL draft - I think he chooses to stay in school, but he’s a legitimate NFL caliber QB. 

Game to watch: 9/29 Tennessee at Georgia – Tennessee looks to avenge the 20-12 loss at Neyland Stadium in 2011. Tyler Bray carves up the Bulldogs and the Volunteers keep themselves from making the same mistakes that made them losers the year before. Tennessee wins, 23-20

Bonus: Rounding out the TOP 25

11.) Oregon (9-3)

12.) Michigan State (10-2)

13.) BYU (10-2)

14.) Boise State (11-1)

15.) Ohio State (9-3)

16.) Louisville (10-2)

17.) Virginia Tech (9-3)

18.) Florida (8-4)

19.) Houston (11-2)

20.) Iowa (9-3)

21.) Baylor (8-4)

22.) Southern Methodist (10-2)

23.) Stanford (8-4)

24.) Cincinnati (9-3)

25.) Texas (7-5)
 

Heisman Candidates (Invited to the show)
Matt Barkley * winner
Knile Davis
Landry Jones
Denard Robinson
De’Anthony Thomas


(Not invited)
Montee Ball
Tyler Bray
Charles Sims
Geno Smith
Tyler Smith
Robert Woods

So, did I make any mistakes? Leave a comment and tell me how ridiculous I am!

 

Posted at 9:41pm

 




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