Friday, May 22, 2020

'Rona/Politics-Free Hot Links, Vol. 31

Yes, The Last Dance was cool, and necessary in these Trying Times. But I'm super-pumped about the Lance Armstrong documentary, which starts this Sunday evening on ESPN. Also, and this is very unrelated: If you say the name "Pete Wentz" to me, I automatically assume it's Kyle from Party Down.

*Jeff Bagwell's June 24, 1994 game against the perennial silver medalist Los Angeles Dodgers is's best single-game offensive performance in franchise history.

*Alex Bregman was voted as the Astros' best glove.

*The Astros will be opening up Minute Maid for individual workouts soon.

*The Astros' 1988 Draft was the best in franchise history, according to The 1988 Draft gave the Astros Kenny Lofton, Luis Gonzalez, and the soon-to-be fired Scott Servais.

I know what you're thinking, because I was thinking it, too: What about 2012?

It's true that Carlos Correa has posted 24.5 bWAR since his debut. It's also true that eight of the Astros' first nine picks in 2012 have also made the Majors, even if for a handful of games. But those non-Correa picks have combined for 6.3 bWAR - and that includes Lance McCullers' 6.2 bWAR.

*Former Astros Great Doug Brocail was on Buster Olney's podcast, which was likely recorded from the bottom of a Vermont well.

*Greg Rajan: The two former Astros' minor-leaguers who went on to win four Stanley Cups.

*Richard Justice: Trei Cruz is looking to become a 3rd-generation Major Leaguer.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri talked to the two people who used to hand-make every team's MLB schedule to see how they would approach the 2020 season. If you haven't seen The Schedule Makers, you definitely should.

*The Athletic: Yoga, Plyometrics, & Vomit - Inside James Harden's boot camp.

*The icy village where you must remove your appendix.

*Vox: The Haunting of Girlstown.

*35 million people still play Microsoft Solitaire.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

'Rona/Politics-Free Hot Links, Vol. 30

A quick note: I deleted Twitter from my phone (Facebook, too, for largely the same reasons I'm about to explain). I found myself constantly scrolling to see what was happening RIGHT NOW. I had to know. Everything I saw that pissed me off (which doesn't take much, to be honest) could get me so incredibly angry that I would throw my phone. It was impacting how good of a husband and father I was. I know how silly it sounds, a grown-ass man who can't handle social media, knowing all the pitfalls (and straw-men, and bad-faith arguments, and willful ignorance) that come with it, but my wife and daughter have auto-immune issues so we have basically been at home for over two months, aside from a few trips to the grocery store and driving around a little bit. I am throwing in the towel on trying to be The Most Informed Man in the World. Over the past few days, I've checked Twitter maybe twice. It has been liberating and wonderful. I finished one book, and started another. I actually used a chainsaw to trim trees in our backyard (I forgot to take off my wedding ring, though, so my ring finger is one long blister) and built a fire last night. I'm Online way too much, and I'm trying to remedy that. Online is an exhausting place, and you don't have to be there. Too much of my identity is wrapped up in Astros Twitter, and as soon as I understood the ridiculousness of that statement, I knew it was time to go for a while. There's just more to this than [waves hands] this.

Some other stuff has probably happened in the previous five days, but I wouldn't really know. And I'm okay with that. Meanwhile:

*Check out my Legit Buddy AstrosFansUK's new podcast, featuring Todd Kalas.

*McTaggart has his Top 5 Astros DHs. I guess we now live in a world where Carlos Pena's .674 OPS in 2013 doesn't exist...

*Chandler Rome: How MLB's spitting ban could affect the Astros.

*Ken Rosenthal: How Lebron James' media empire spurred Alex Bregman to leave his agent. It has to do with the upcoming documentary on the 2017 sign-stealing.

*Chris Sale: The 2017 Astros cheated, but it got blown out of proportion.

*Tim Kurkjian: Roger Clemens was a power-pitcher through and through.

*Lookit Anaheim social distancing in 1997! Well done!
*Minor-League Baseball is in crisis.

*How an 8-year old inspired the Mets' coaching staff to train for a marathon.

*ESPN's Sam Miller: Hunches, home runs, and humiliations. Nine tales of unsung World Series heroes.

*FiveThirtyEight: Andruw Jones had a damn good glove.

*This is insane:

*A few towns in Michigan are screwed.

*The All-American Nightmares of Jordan Peele.

Friday, May 15, 2020

'Rona/Politics-Free Hot Links, Vol. 29

*RIP Bob Watson. In 14 seasons with the Astros, Watson hit .297/.364/.444, for an OPS+ of 130, and six seasons of over 3.0 fWAR. Watson is still 3rd on the Astros' franchise record list with a career .297 average (only Moises and Altuve have a higher BA with the Astros), 9th in OBP, 19th in SLG.

In 1982 Watson was traded by the Yankees to Atlanta for Scott Patterson, aka Luke from Gilmore Girls. A little over four years ago I wrote about Watson scoring MLB's One Millionth Run. Watson also was the first player to hit for the cycle in both the NL and AL, and the first African-American GM to win the World Series.

Jake Kaplan: Enos Cabell, on Bob Watson. Cabell:
He was always the stable one. Me, J.R (Richard), and a few other people, we'd want to jump up and own and Bull would say sit down. He hardly ever cussed. You know me, I'll say it. But Bull would not say it. He would just grab you and tell to sit down. What are you going to do? You're going to sit down.

Dusty, on Bob Watson.

*Obviously Myles Straw is the fastest player on the Astros. Having seen both, Straw makes J.B. Shuck look like Carlos Lee.

*Check out Dream Bracket 2.

*Minute Maid made an appearance on SI's best ballparks in baseball list.

*Nolan Ryan's legend transcend his numbers.

*The Navy released more UFO incident reports. 2020 is so insane the government basically said "Ye, we don't know," and everyone collectively shrugged their shoulders.

*OU (BOOMER!) landed the #1 WR.

Reminder that UT football is like Tiger: Three solid days in July and THEY'RE BACK.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

'Rona/Politics-Free Hot Links, Vol. 28

*Art Howe is in the ICU with COVID-19.

*Chandler Rome has five prospects who could be impacted by the potential expanded roster rule.

*Brian McTaggart caught up with Former Astros Great Bill Doran.

*2004 Roger Clemens gets the nod for the best debut season in franchise history. Clemens went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA / 1.16 WHIP, 218K:79BB, and won his 7th Cy Young. He got 18 outs in 28 of his 33 starts. There were six other starts in which he threw 7+ IP, allowed 0 or 1 earned runs, and got a No Decision.

*How the A's got Former Astros Great Ramon Laureano.

*If there's an 82-game season in 2020, it's worth remembering that the...

2013 Astros went 21-61 from June 28 through the end of the season.
2019 Astros went 57-25 from June 25 through the end of the season.

*FanGraphs: Snowstorms, Lies, and the Greatest Baseball Game Ever Played.

*Got dang it the Simulated 2020 Astros are 23-21 and in 4th Place.

*Yadier Molina says his "numbers are there" to be a Hall of Famer.

Let's look, because I hate Yadier Molina. In parentheses are his ranks as compared to every other catcher in MLB history.

1983 games (16th), 7655 PAs (17th), .738 OPS, 1963 hits (17th), 379 doubles, 156 HR (39th), 54.0 fWAR (12th), 99 wRC+ (134th), 98 OPS+, 366.7 defensive rating (1st).

Let's do this again, but from when Molina debuted in 2004:

1983 games (1st), 7655 PAs (3rd), .738 OPS, 1963 hits (3rd), 379 doubles, 156 HR (6th), 54.0 fWAR (3rd), 99 wRC+ (27th), 98 OPS+, 366.7 defensive rating (1st).

We're also not counting the four pennants, two World Series rings, nine Gold Gloves, nine All-Star nods. Among catchers already in the HOF, Molina is generally in the Top 10. Dammit yeah he's a Hall of Famer.

*Blake Snell says he won't play this season for reduced pay.

*Scott Boras on MLB owners:

Which brings to mind this headline.

*Jayson Stark: The day Jean Segura stole 1st base.

*Doc Gooden appeared on Old Baseball Cards.

It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

'Rona/Politics-Free Hot Links, Vol. 27

*There was a thought experiment floating around today about an expansion draft: What would happen if there was one, and who would the Astros protect? The rules are quirky, and the ones from the last expansion draft - in 1997 - (in which the Astros lost Bobby Abreu to Tampa, who turned around and traded him to Philly) would seemingly still apply. That said, here's my list of 15 protected players, were I the Astros' GM...and I think I should be:

Bryan Abreu, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke, Josh James, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers, Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, George Springer, Kyle Tucker, Jose Urquidy, Justin Verlander,

Here's the 40-Man Roster. It's hard!

*Jake Kaplan: The time an Astros GM ripped the umpires on the scoreboard.

*Any version of a 2020 MLB season would feature a universal DH.

*Chandler Rome notes that a shortened draft is still alright with Rice's Trei Cruz.

*ESPN: Meet Dan Kurtz, the stay-at-home dad who has become an international expert on the KBO.

*SI: Before ruling baseball's economics, Scott Boras sucked at baseball.

*Tim Kurkjian: Stan Musial and a called shot to end an All-Star Game.

*I'm not a huge board game guy, but Keith Law's review of The Sherlock Files has me interested. Also, make your plans to buy Godspeed, which my actual cousin designed and wrote.

*Rolling Stone: An oral history of The Dinner Party episode from The Office.

*Vice: This guy got hit by lightning and became a concert pianist.

*Spencer Hall & Jason Kirk: What were sports?

Here's an entire performance by the Thievery Corporation:

Watch this whole documentary soon:

It's going to get worse before it gets better.