Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

In a stunning betrayal, I guess my body is back to waking up at 5:30am no matter what. The Astros rallied late to extend their winning streak to 11 games, matching their best streak from 2017 and is one short of the franchise record of 12, set in 2004.

*The Astros are 48-25, 1.5 up on Seattle. They went 10-0 on the road trip, outscoring their opponents 74-35, a +39 run differential (incidentally, the Astros' run differential in their last ten games is 17 runs better than the Mariners' run differential for the season). Houston's ten wins in their last ten road games is better than Baltimore's nine road wins all season. The Astros have scored 246 runs on the road this season; Baltimore has scored 248 runs total.

*ESPN notes that Houston's 10-0 road trip is the 6th such road trip in the last 65 seasons. The 11-game win streak is tied for the 5th-longest by a defending World Series champ in the last 80 years.

*Hunter Atkins: If only the Astros could hit at home like they do on the road. Atkins notes the lack of gaps in the outfield at Minute Maid, thanks to the Crawford Boxes. Springer:
The Crawford Boxes create a positioning where you don't have to play left field. You essentially have an extra defender - that's the wall.

*The Astros are 11-5 against the AL Central and have not yet played the Tigers.

*Houston is outscoring opponents 135-77 in the 7th inning and later. They have 19 comeback wins.

*Houston has hit a home run in eleven straight games, and 22 of their last 23, thanks to Carlos Correa's 8th inning home run.

*Evan Gattis was 3x4 with an RBI. 7-8-9 in the lineup (Gattis-Marwin-McCann) went a combined 6x11 with 3RBI.

*George Springer was 0x5 with two GIDPs. The Astros GIDPd four times yesterday, a season-high and their most since August 7, 2014. Houston had four GIDPs in a single game three times in 2014 and went 0-3.

*Tyler White hit a pinch-hit double for his first MLB hit of the season.

*Lance McCullers: 6IP, 6H/4R (2ER), 9K:2BB. The nine strikeouts are his most since April 17, and tie his total strikeouts in his last two starts combined.

*Tony Sipp, Ken Giles, and Hector Rondon threw 3IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:2BB.

Sipp has not allowed a run since May 7, a span of 13 appearances.
Giles enjoyed his first 3-out clean appearance (0H/0BB) since May 9.
Rondon has not allowed a run since May 13, a span of 13 appearances.

*Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy were ejected in the 3rd inning by umpire Mike Tumpane thanks to Marwin's throw to the plate that got Moustakas. Duffy:
We all thought (Moustakas) was safe. Maybe I'm seeing it with biased eyes and there wasn't enough to overturn it....We were pretty much all in shock. But we get punched by replay all the time. I'm personally tired of getting punched by Tumpane. I think we all are. And I think it needs to be looked at. I'm not saying there's bias there but I'm sure it will go back to whoever it needs to go back to.

Duffy set a record for the most times saying "punked" in a paragraph since 2005.

*A.J. Hinch doesn't mind some of the Astros' aggressive base-running mistakes.

*Bill Brown will fill in for Steve Sparks for this series against the Rays.

*New dads on the Astros and Royals reflected on their first Father's Day.

*The Rays are going to use Ryne Stanek as an opener for tonight's game against the Astros.

*Corpus beat San Antonio 8-6 yesterday, and whoever wins tonight will claim the first-half division crown and an automatic playoff spot.

*The Mariners start a 10-game road trip against Boston, New York, and Baltimore.

*Celebrating Mexico fans set off earthquake sensors after their deciding goal against Germany yesterday.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Happy Father's Day! On Mother's Day I wrote a little thing about how Mother's Day isn't the easiest of days for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons. I suppose Father's Day has a few of the same characteristics. There's an awful lot of people who, for whatever reason, didn't have a father growing up. Or maybe you had a father, but you wished he was literally anyone else. Maybe today is your first Father's Day without your father. Whatever the reason, if today brings you sadness instead of joy, I'm truly sorry. And then there's Antonio Cromartie...

*It was so hot in Kansas City yesterday that Max Stassi and Yuli Gurriel had to be treated for dehydration.

*The Astros' win streak reached 10 games, their longest winning streak since winning 11 in a row from May 25 - June 5, 2017. Longest winning streaks, Astros history (Minute Maid Era):

12 games: 2004
11 games: 2017
10 games: 2018, 2015
9 games: 2006
8 games: 2008
7 games: 2016, 2014, 2010, 2005, 2003, 2002
6 games: 2013 (Ed. Note: I can't remember the 2013 Astros winning six games overall, much less in a row), 2000
5 games: 2012, 2007, 2001
4 games: 2011, 2009

They're 9-0 on this 10-game road trip, the best road trip in franchise history.

I'm really happy with how consistently the guys are showing up and expecting to win, and then going out and doing it. We're a hard team to beat right now.

What we do is we come here and show up and play hard every day, and that's it. We compete every at-bat, and winning streak, no winning streak, it doesn't matter to anybody in here besides the fact we compete every pitch, play our brand of baseball, and we know that if we do that, we'll have deja vu from what we did last year.

*Dallas Keuchel threw 6IP, 6H/2R (0ER), 5K:1BB. Keuchel's 60 Game Score is his best since May 13, when he threw a 78 against the Ramgers. Keuchel has allowed two extra-base hits to his last 66 batters dating back to the 3HR Seattle start on June 5. Keuchel:
I don't usually toot my own horn, but there was a few I could tell the shape out of my hand were back to normal movement. If we can keep that going, it's going to be a totally different ballgame.

*Brad Peacock, Will Harris, and Chris Devenski combined for 3IP, 0H/0ER, 7K:0BB.

*Marwin Gonzalez was 3x4 with two runs scored. After a 2x20 stretch, Marwin was hitting .164/.277/.273 on April 16. Since then he's hitting .288/.346/.448.
Marwin's multi-hit games, June: 6
Marwin's 0-1 hit games, June: 5

*Jose Altuve was 1x3 with 2BB and 2RBI.
Jose Altuve, home, 2018: .264/.317/.333 (.650 OPS)
Jose Altuve, road, 2018: .395/.447/.568 (1.015 OPS)

On this road trip, Altuve is hitting. .371/.463/.543 with 2K:6BB.

*Alex Bregman was 2x4 with 4RBI after hitting a 3-run home run in the 9th. Five of his 10 home runs in 2018 have come in June. He has a 27-game on-base streak.

*Max Stassi was 2x4 with a 3-run home run. It was the 10th home run of his career. Among 41 MLB catchers with a minimum of 100 PAs, Stassi's .512 SLG ranks 2nd behind J.T. Realmuto's .546 SLG.

Brian T. Smith: Max Stassi is finally making himself at home in the Houston lineup.

*Carlos Correa was 0x5 and committed his 2nd error of the season. It was Correa's 2nd 0x5 game of 2018.

*Did you see the latest Spot The Differences?

*Brian McTaggart writes that Yuli Gurriel has been playing Gold Glove-level defense at 1B, and is perfect in 21 chances of scooping the ball out of the dirt. Hinch:
He's the best in the league at picking balls, at least the most successful, I know that. His athleticism from being on the left side of the diamond his whole life has translated well to first base. 

*Interesting story from John Harper of the New York Daily News: Following the 2015 season the Astros made a strong push to sign Yoenis Cespedes, and offered a similar deal to the 4yr/$110m he ended up choosing with the Mets. The Astros wouldn't include a no-trade clause, the Mets did. The Astros won the World Series in 2017.

*Rob Manfred - an adult robot toddler who doesn't know when to get the hell out of the way and just tugs at your pants wanting more of something - acknowledged during the Owner's Meetings that the competition committee is in the discussion-analysis phase of looking at making some defensive shifts illegal. That doesn't sit well with Hinch:
I don't think the problem is the shift, I think the problem is the commitment to trying to beat it. You have guys that don't want to hit the ball the other way, then we're going to continue to shift. We've never had an offsides in baseball - that would be rare, that would be weird. 

Related, from Deadspin: The Astros' four-man outfield is spreading.

Also related: Rob Manfred wants to fix attendance. Here's my four-step plan to improve MLB attendance:
1. Lift blackout rules so people can watch regional home games.
2. Start games earlier so highly-impressionable kids can see the end of the damn playoff games. I guarantee you every kid under the age of 14 who was allowed to stay up for the end of World Series Game 5 is now a lifelong baseball fan and has now watched 40 games this season trying to chase that dragon.
3. A 24-ounce Montejo doesn't cost $13 anymore. It's now $5.
4. Kill A.J. Pierzynski.

In all honesty, organizations need to realize that how they run their team will impact their attendance.  Houston has had 33 home games and drawn 1,165,990 fans - an average of 35,333 fans, and up from the 29,675 fans they average in 2017. They're about 500,000 fans (or 17-ish home games) away from matching their 2013 home attendance marks.

Through games of last night, the ten teams with the worst attendance are:
1. Miami: 10,268 fans/game
2. Tampa Bay: 13,414
3. Oakland: 15,354
4. Pittsburgh: 16,748
5. Chicago White Sox: 17,095
6. Cincinnati: 18,746
7. Cleveland: 19,829
8. Baltimore: 19,986
9. Kansas City: 20,440
10. Detroit: 21,165

Those teams are a combined 119 games under .500. I don't know what Cleveland's problem is other than that their home attendance was rough in April, when it was freezing across the northern part of the United States and Cleveland's river was still on fire but also covered in ice, somehow, yet has rebounded with the temperature. Miami is a disaster of a franchise, Tampa Bay and Oakland have terrible stadiums, Pittsburgh has a gorgeous stadium but is also rebuilding. Chicago does not have a gorgeous stadium but are rebuilding. Cincinnati is rebuilding. Baltimore is a train-wreck of a team this year, and Kansas City and Detroit are rebuilding, as well. It doesn't take a rocket mathematician to realize there's a correlation.

I'm not in favor of instituting a salary floor, but teams have to recognize that when they play a Quad-A roster, they're going to get minor-league attendance.

*Nick Cafardo says the Astros are still keeping tabs on Orioles closer Zach Britton, who is now recovered from an achilles injury.

*Fresno pitcher Trent Thornton threw 7.2 hitless innings and ended up with 8IP, 1H/0ER, 3K:2BB in a 6-1 Fresno win over Future Triple-A Affiliate Round Rock. Thornton:
That was a lot of fun. To get within four outs, it would have been nice to finish it. I hung a curve ball, and Noonan got it. Our defense was outstanding. The guys bailed me out of several tight spots.

Myles Straw was 3x5 with a single, double, and a triple in his Triple-A debut and stole his 36th base of the season. Kyle Tucker was 1x3 with a walk and 2RBI.

*The Corpus/Midland game got rained out with one out short of an official game, negating Yordan Alvarez's 2-run home run in his first game back since May 6.

*Here's a reminder that 2017 1st Round pick J.B. Bukauskas has only made two starts in 2018 and has not pitched since April 24.

*Quad Cities beat Burlington 2-1 to win the 1st Half division title and clinch a Midwest League post-season berth.

*The Ringer: An oral history of The Gaslight Anthem's "The '59 Sound."

*This dude's crazy-ass girlfriend wrecked his career and now owes him $375,000.

Friday, June 15, 2018

We Got Our #1s Back! - Spot the Differences Game and Answers

HAPPY FRIDAY!! You know what it means.

I am so sorry about the surprise hiatus. Work got a little crazy, but I am back and so are you 😍

Anyway! Slow down, relax, forget about your real world responsibilities for a minute or two and enjoy a round of "Spot the Differences"! 

I usually will post these on Fridays, so come back again next week!

PHOTO REQUEST: If you attend an Astros game or event and take a cool photo, send it to me at to be considered for a future differences game. Please keep in mind that, to me, all Astros photos are great, but in order for one to be selected for a game, it must be clear, have detail enough for me to alter ten things and please, no personal photos. Credit will of course be given to the photographer. Thanks!

Lastly, I have included more differences for your finding pleasure. Can you find all 10? - Leigh







Friday Morning Hot Links

*The Astros don't bring bats they bring brooms. The Astros won their 8th straight game, doing with the schedule exactly what they're supposed to do. They're 45-25.

Let's let Jake Kaplan start us off:

*With the 2-1 Mariners loss to the Red Sox, the Astros are a half-game up on 44-25 Seattle, back in sole possession of 1st place for the first time since June 1. The Astros are 8-1 against Oakland in 2018, outscoring them 70-28. The Astros are 25-10 against AL West opponents. Hinch:
It happens fast when we're at our best. We can get after you and then we stay after you. We're not going to be perfect all the time, but when we are good like this and putting up runs, we're pretty tough.

*Hinch, on the Astros' road success:
Our success lately on the road is getting talked about, but we don't show up to a ballpark anywhere in the league we don't feel good about.

*The Astros have scored 5+ runs in seven of the eight games on this winning streak, and 7+ runs in five games.

*Brian McCann hit his 5th home run of the season, his first since May 20.

*Altuve, Correa, Reddick, Marwin, and Tony Kemp each had two hits.

*It was Josh Reddick's 9th 2+ hit game, and his second in the last three games. Since returning from the DL Reddick is hitting .269/.321/.269.

*Alex Bregman got the rare leadoff appearance, what with Springer getting the day off, and he went 0x4 with a walk. It was his first time hitting leadoff this season, and his third time in his career. He's 2x10 with a .200/.429/.400 line. He has a 25-game on-base streak, second-longest in the Majors (behind Shin-Soo Choo's 28 games)

*Justin Verlander threw 7IP, 5H/3ER, 7K:0BB. It was Verlander's second straight start with 3ER and his ERA is a miserable 1.61. All three runs came via the home run. He has allowed eight home runs in 2018, three of them in the last two games. Verlander's ERA by month:

March: 0.00
April: 1.60
May: 0.86
June: 3.79

It's nice to have your team hot, you just want to be the guy to keep it going. The run support is awesome. It's fun to be a part of keeping the rhythm and keeping the momentum on our side.

A's manager Bob Melvin:
For me, the psychology of a starting pitcher goes a long way. Granted, they have a great lineup, they do things across the board well. But their starting pitchers get your attention, and when they score runs early in the game, you tend to press a little bit and think you have to do too much right away. It does start with their starting pitchers, no doubt about it.

*Jake Kaplan: The resurgence of Evan Gattis gives the Astros one less thing to worry about at the deadline, which is now six weeks away. Also in The Athletic, Emily Waldon takes a look at four minor-league arms that are almost major-league ready.

*Brian T. Smith: The 2018 Astros are better than the 2017 Astros.

*Here's a three-minute video on whether the Astros are the team to beat in the AL. And here's one with Jonah Keri on the Astros' achilles heel.

*Apparently the Yankees hold the Vegas edge on winning the World Series.

*That's it. I gotta go.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Morning Hot Links

I do what I want.

*From the BBC: How the United States, Canada, and Mexico won the 2026 World Cup.

*Spain defender Gerard Pique is using 1989 University of Michigan Basketball as motivation for Spain's World Cup 2018 run.

*From Deadspin: Italy's favorite cyclist Marco Pantani rode hard, died young, and might have lost his career due to a rigged drug test.

*How to watch, and stream, all of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

True story: Kula Shaker lead singer Crispian Mills is the son of the Pollyanna / The Parent Trap's Hayley Mills.

*The Astros beat the piss out of Oakland. It was interesting if only for literally a couple of bad pitches, but the Astros cruised to a 13-5 win to extend a season-high seven-game win streak, six of those on the road. Houston's record is 44-25. They have a +138 run differential. They remain a half-game back of Seattle, who have a +27 run differential.

*Last night was the Astros' first 10+ run game since an 11-2 win at Cleveland on May 25. I think we can all agree that the low-point of the Astros season, offensively anyway, came after the game of May 2, when the Astros were shutout for the second straight time at home against the Yankees. After that game they were hitting .250/.330/.396. They had hit 32 home runs through 32 games (20-12). From May 3-this morning the Astros are hitting .272/.337/.432 with 53 home runs in 37 games (24-13).

The first two innings were incredible, to get 10 runs and to really control the game from the very beginning of it is awesome. It's what we want to do every night. It's hard to put of those kinds of runs in bulk, but when you have great at-bats the first time through, we can do a lot of damage, obviously. 

*Evan Gattis did it again. He hit a sac fly, a three-run home run, and a solo home run. Evan Gattis is playing in a video game right now. Since May 7, Gattis is hitting .297/.345/.693, a 1.038 OPS and 12 home runs. In this span he's hitting a home run every 8.42 ABs. To find his last 5RBI game, you have to go all the way back to June 12, 2018. Gattis had never had a 5RBI game before Tuesday, now he has back-to-back 5RBI games. Nobody in Astros history has ever had back-to-back 5RBI games. Hinch:
It was fun to watch our guys respond to his continued damage at-bats. They're taking his helmet off and rubbing it all over themselves and they're trying to get as close to him as they can. They want whatever he's eating, whatever he's doing during the games. 

Gattis, on the franchise record:
I found out I was the first Astro, which is incredible, with all the incredible players that have played here - Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman. There's a lot of good players, so it's an honor.

*Yuli Gurriel was 3x5 with 3RBI. On April 28 Gurriel was hitting .220/.276/.360. Since then he's hitting .329/.341/.419. He has 6RBI in his last four games, with four straight multi-hit games.

*Carlos Correa hit his 6th career triple, and his first since June 8, 2017, against Kansas City.

*Holy crap for the 8th time this season Jake Marisnick had more hits (2) than strikeouts (1), getting a double and a 9th inning home run. It's his first multi-XBH game of the season.

*The Astros have outscored Oakland 62-17 in seven straight wins.

*Gerrit Cole threw 6IP, 6H/4ER, 6K:2BB and made two bad pitches and they cost him four runs. It's Cole's first non-Quality Start of the season. His propensity for giving up earned runs via the long ball continues to be a thing. Cole has given up 26 runs this season (in 93.2IP, which is just silly). Sixteen of them (61.5%) have come off a home run. Let's take a look at this:

% of runs allowed via home run (regular season):
2018: 61.5% (16 of 26)
2017: 50.0% (48 of 96)
2016: 14.0% (8 of 57)
2015: 18.3% (13 of 71)
2014: 27.6% (16 of 58)
2013: 20.9% (9 of 43)

Last night the 12th time in his career, and the 4th time this season, he's given up two home runs in a start. Gerrit Cole has now given up 78 career home runs - 39 in his home park, and 39 in the road park.

That said, the Astros are 12-2 in his starts and the two losses came on April 23 when the Astros got shutout and the freaking stupid Tyler Bauer game when the Giles and Harris blew an 8-3 lead in the 9th.

*Shoutout to Will Harris, though, who struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect 7th inning.

*Alex Bregman had the night off, and A.J. Hinch is going to start resting everyday players. And on Marisnick? Hinch:
I know he's had a tough time with the bat...He's a Major League player, he's on our team, he can run the bases. We've got to find a way to get his bat going...He's not going to get better by sitting on the bench for a week at a time until people are not mad at him or want him to play.

Why do I get the feeling that A.J. Hinch was looking directly into my soul when he said that?


*Mike Petriello notes that Statcast says Justin Verlander is MLB's Most Improved Pitcher.

*The Astros agreed to terms with 1-28 Seth Beer, who signed for $2.25m, just under $150,000 under slot. Updated draft financials can be found here.

*Here's Christian Boutwell with a 2-66 Jayson Schroeder update. TL;DR: He's committed to the University of Washington, and Mike Elias acknowledges that "it's going to be difficult to sign him away." Slot for the 2-66 pick is $965,300 and the Astros have about $150,000 to work with.

*Randy Cesar was 1x3 with a double and a walk to extend his hitting streak to 35 games. Forrest Whitley threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:2BB on 72 pitches in a 4-3 Corpus win.

*Minor League Ball did a write-up on 2014 34th Round pick Josh James, whose sleep apnea Jake Kaplan wrote up a little while back. John Sickels:
I think James has been seen mainly as a relief prospect but he's done so well as a starter, it would be a shame not to give him a chance in that role. Overall I think he's a completely legitimate prospect.

*There are seven Corpus players on the 2018 Texas League All-Star Game roster: Taylor Jones, Randy Cesar, Myles Straw, Josh Rojas, Cionel Perez, Corbin Martin, and Ryan Hartman.

*Cristian Javier made his High-A debut last night for Buies Creek and threw 6IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:3BB

*Ben Lindbergh in The Ringer: The Mariners are first-place flukes - and they deserve it.

*I wrote about a problematic article in The Atlantic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

We need to talk about this Atlantic piece

No, not The Athletic. The Atlantic. Specifically Olga Khazan's "What To Eat in the Texas Suburbs" article. A lot of great work was done in a thread by Andrea Grimes, but I feel like this is worth dissecting.

We'll start at the beginning:

In my daily life as an East Coast journalist, pretty much all I eat is lentils, salad, and lentil salads.

Self-deprecating! East Coast Bias! I'm on board so far.

The thing is, I recently returned to my homeland, Texas, for a reporting trip. Before you ask, hipster, I'm not from Austin, or even Houston.

I was not aware that asking where someone was from was hipster-y, but what do I know?

I'm from the gosh-dang suburbs of Dallas, where lentils and salads are less plentiful, and beef and cheese are...more so.

Dallas has a GrubHub section specifically for Lentil Soup delivery in Dallas. But the point is taken, it's easier to eat beef and cheese in Texas than on the East Coast...I guess?

Midway through it, I traveled to the small town of Wichita Falls...

Stop right there. There are 104,000+ people in Wichita Falls. While that's not Dallas' population, it's the 37th largest city in Texas, the 2nd-most populated state. It's not...small. I hear "small town" and I think - perhaps you'd agree - Winnie, Gun Barrel City, Baird. A city of 100,000 people is not a "small town." Central Texas,

Hold the phone. In what geographic system is Wichita Falls in "Central Texas?"

If you're doing that snarky "North Texas is South Oklahoma" thing, then maybe I can see it. But it's 23 miles from Wichita Falls to Randlett - the first town you would hit in Oklahoma if you took I-44 North and exited at Highway 277. That's not "Central Texas," by hundreds of miles.

...where my stomach microbes were further exposed to things they've never witnessed in their precious, coddled, organic Washington, D.C., lives. I'm talking ice cream that isn't Halo Top and tap water from a La Quinta bathroom.

We're dancing between "aware of your own privilege" and "disdainful" here, and I don't like it. I can get Halo Top at my local HEB. It's okay. Tap water is fine.

I have returned with, for now, a brief travelogue of things I ate...Here is what you should eat if you ever find yourself in North-Central Texas.

By "for now," do you mean that there could be more? I'll pass. I trust her judgment on "what I should eat" as much as I trust her geographic ability.

Square Burger - My hometown of McKinney...

McKinney is 78.5% white with a median home value of $228,500 and a median household income of $83,257. Collin County, in which McKinney is located, is the 2nd-richest county in the state, only behind Loving County...which has 134 people, in the whole county. And McKinney's median household income is higher than the rest of Collin County, and is just under double the median household income in the county in which I live. So this "look at what these people eat" gambit is actually starting to make sense now.

...has not many outstanding non-chain restaurants, but this is one of them.

The ten highest-rated restaurants in McKinney on Yelp are not chains. And no, I don't consider a restaurant that has a location in McKinney and one in Frisco to be a chain. What I think Ms. Khazan was trying to do was...well...I don't know, really. I'm starting to think the premise of this entire article is suspect.

Very good hamburgers, and even - in a surprise move for Texas - a salmon one.

Oh for sure. It's so surprising that you can get a salmon patty on a bun in the richest county in Texas, located in North Dallas.

They were out of the pea soup when I went, but the waitress assured me that "people like the cauliflower soup just as well," so I ordered it, and, sure enough, it was just as good as the pea soup of my imagination.

The imagination in question sucks. And, hey, isn't the split pea a legume? Isn't a lentil another variety of a legume? Yep! So in her opening paragraph, she's lamenting the lack of availability of lentil soup and IN HER OWN HOME TOWN they had sold out of a similar variety of soup?

In-and-Out - North Texas got this cultish burger joint in 2011, and now every time I'm back, I drive through, roll up my windows, and pretend I'm in California, where I first enjoyed In-and-Out on one of my brief rumspringas from veganism. Except in Texas the servers are less stoned.

Wait wait wait wait wait. In an effort to inform the readers of The Atlantic what they should eat in the Texas suburbs, they should eat at...not a Texas restaurant? By God, go to Whataburger and describe the joys of the Jalapeno & Cheese, the Patty Melt, or the Monterey Melt. This article is telling readers what to eat in the suburbs if they want to pretend they're in California. Invalid.

Chick-Fil-A - The company's purpose is to "glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us."

I bet you can see a religion joke coming a mile away.

I entrust them to make chicken, and God, do they steward it successfully. I had the chicken minis, which are essentially chicken nuggets laid respectfully on butter-sodden biscuits. Nearby, two children whined and their mothers threatened to take them home, and I learned the meaning of the phrase Kids these days don't appreciate what they have.

There are seven got dang Chick-Fil-As in Washington, D.C. I bet if the precious, coddled, organic Washington, D.C. resident clicked their heels and hopped on the Metro, they could appreciate what we rubes have down here within about 20 minutes.

Taco Bell - Because Wichita Falls doesn't have many other good lunch spots...

Literally the first 20 restaurants listen on Yelp in Wichita Falls are rated 4.5 stars or higher. The 21st is Texas Roadhouse which, obviously, is a chain.

...and because Doritos Locos Tacos are a miracle of modern engineering. I got the "fiery" flavored shells, which are as red as a patriot's heart. The cashier seemed to know everyone in the place, which just goes to show you that fast food is soulless only if you already don't have a soul.

Ahhh the down-home folksiness of the Texan. Crazy to think that a restaurant - even a fast food one! -  wouldn't have regulars.

DQ - When I was a kid, this place was called "Dairy Queen,"

Yeah...there's four of those in the DC area. And guess what else? THEY'RE ALL CALLED "DAIRY QUEEN."

but some locations have since rebranded to "DQ Grill and Chill." 

Cool. Anything that ends with "...and Chill" tends to be pretty sexy.

...I paid homage to the original name and ordered a blizzard: soft-serve ice cream embedded with various types of candy.

Wow I bet no one has heard of that backwards practice back east!

Texan cashiers tend to ask "What else?" at the end of your orders...

Wait for it...

which, as I wrote on Twitter,


must be good for sales


but helps explain a lot about the obesity epidemic.

There it is.

In any case, after the blizzard, I wanted nothing else.

Put some got dang respect on it and capitalize 'Blizzard" or get its name out your keyboard.

Flying out of Dallas Love Field, the world's best airport

There may be some truth to that. It's better than DFW, for sure.

Stop by Dickey's Barbecue

And the credibility is once again gone. You wrote a travelogue about what to eat in Texas suburbs and included an airport Dickey's? GTFO.

for some beef brisket (not pork, this isn't North Carolina).

I actually would like to read about a travelogue from the writer about what to eat in the North Carolina suburbs, provided that it gave equal treatment and told me about the Charleston Wendy's.

They will give you a beer, but you have to drink it right there in front of them. (Not walk all around the airport with it, this isn't Europe.)

I'm willing to bet $5 that the [snicker] Love Field Dickey's will let you take your beer to your table, and not require you to slam it at the register like you're in front of some fictional Old West handlebar-mustachioed employee while maintaining eye contact with them.

Return to the East Coast and do a cleanse.

Ah! We've come full circle! Well done. Wrap up with a reference to how you opened. Classic J-School prowess right there.

But wait! There's an update:
The tab for the article literally reads "The Best Fast Food Near Dallas, Texas - The Atlantic." The headline is literally "What to Eat in the Texas Suburbs." And before you give me the ol' "Read the Article!" crap, I know she said that it's a travelogue of what she ate. She ate fast food, and then went East Coast Elite on people...who eat fast food. But enjoy that cleanse!

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Lance McCullers pitched well and Evan Gattis acted like the baseball declined his debit card in a 6-3 win over Oakland. It's the Astros 6th straight win and 5th straight win on the road. They're 43-25, a half-game behind Seattle.

*Houston's 24-11 road record is a half-game better than Boston's for best in MLB. They're 6-1 against Oakland this season, 4-0 in Oakland.

*Evan Gattis was 2x4 with his 11th home run - a three-run shot - and a two-run double for 5RBI. Hinch:
He's obviously seeing the ball and he's putting the barrel on it and coming up with huge hits, a lot of them doing damage.

It's like, let 'em know we're here, you know?

Evan Gattis was 0x3 in across three straight pinch-hitting performances from May 3-6. Since then he has ten home runs and 29 RBI. Only J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Mike Trout, and Max Munch have more home runs in that period. Aaron Judge also has ten home runs since May 7, but check their respective lines:
Judge: 25x104, .240/.365/.567, 39K:20BB
Gattis: 28x98, .286/.333/.633, 16K:6BB

It's nice to watch him go from the beginning of the season and be so frustrated and get into June and he's locked in.

*Carlos Correa smacked a home run - his 11th - in his first game back since missing the entire Rangers series with a sore side. Correa also committed his first error in 70 games, and that's where the franchise record for a shortstop will set, at least until Game 139.

*Every Astro got a hit except for Jose Altuve (0x5) and Brian McCann (0x3, BB). It's Altuve's 5th 0x5 game of the year.

*Alex Bregman was 1x4 with 0K:1BB. This season he has 38 strikeouts and 40 walks. The walks are 5th in the AL. He's the 11th MLB player with 40 walks this season. Only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Justin Smoak, and Shin-Soo Choo have more walks in the American League.

*A's starting pitcher and Former Astros Great Daniel Mengden:
2018 vs the Astros: 13.2IP, 20H/12ER, 6K:5BB.
2018 vs Everyone Else: 69.1IP, 57H/24ER, 46K:10BB.

*Lance McCullers threw 7IP, 5H/2ER, 5K:3BB to improve to 8-3. Since getting rocked against Cleveland on May 26, McCullers: 20IP, 16H/7ER, 13K:7BB. His 32 walks this season are 8th-highest in the AL.

*AL West teams vs. AL West Teams, 2018:
Houston: 23-10
Anaheim: 15-9
Seattle: 16-13
Arlington: 14-24
Oakland: 10-22

Oakland is 10-22 vs the AL West, and 24-11 against everyone else.

*Doctors have determined there's no structural damage to Joe Smith's elbow.

*If All-Star voting ended today (and it would be weird if it did), Jose Altuve would be the Astros' lone starting position player.

*A.J. Hinch added Rich Dauer to his AL All-Star coaching staff.

*In The Athletic, I wrote about the resurgence of Hector Rondon.

*Hunter Atkins writes that Will Harris is struggling to find his former self.

*Framber Valdez threw 5IP, 3H/1ER, 10K:1BB in relief during a Corpus loss last night. Randy Cesar was 1x4 to extend his hitting streak to 34 games. Forrest Whitley pitches tonight.

*Jake Rogers went 3x4 with 4RBI last night for Double-A Erie. Justin Verlander didn't even pitch last night so who won the trade?

*Miguel Cabrera is out for the season after rupturing a biceps tendon. He is owed the rest of his $30m salary for this year plus $154m guaranteed through 2023.

*The US, Mexico, and Canada will host the 2026 NAFTA World Cup.

*Probably not ideal to fire your head coach the day before the World Cup starts.