Friday, November 27, 2020

Saturday Morning Hot Links

The biggest news of the day was that nobody announced that they had signed George Springer to a contract. 

*The 2nd biggest news of the day is that the Occult Yakult Swallows of the Japanese League are on the verge of acquiring Former Astros Great Cy Sneed. Sneed was the Brewers' 3rd Round pick in the 2014 Draft and was acquired by the Astros in November 2015 for Former Astros Great Jonathan Villar. Villar put up 4.5 bWAR for Milwaukee before they traded him and two other dudes for Jonathan Schoop. Sneed threw 38.2IP for the Astros across 2019-2020 with a 5.59 ERA (4.78 FIP) / 1.63 WHIP. 

Of Sneed's 26 games pitched for the Astros, he came into a game in which the Astros were leading when he entered in just nine times. 14 of his 26 appearances came in which the Astros were losing by fewer than four runs. 

That said, good for Sneed, who is likely going to get more opportunities, and a raise, and also gets to pitch closer to home. (Tokyo is 3,409 miles from Kenai, Alaska. Houston is 4,291 miles from Kenai, Alaska). 

The Astros' 40-Man Roster will be at 38 Men. 

*Check your podcast feed because I uploaded a new interview with WFAA producer (and all-around Houston Sports fan) Taylor Williamson. Got a real banger of an episode coming on Monday morning. 

*The Athletic: Bonds, Heaters, and Crying on Cue: The Lost F***ing Stories of Jim Leyland. You can get a 1yr subscription to The Athletic for $1/month. 

*Wired: The absolute best online Black Friday deals.

*Outside: Five highlights from the Banff Film Festival you can stream online.

*Vice: Everything you already forgot that happened in 2020.

*The Fall of Ahmad Ahmad: African Soccer's most powerful man.

*Leeds United plays Everton at 11:30am Central on Saturday morning.

*A Musical Selection from Elbow, whose album "The Seldom Seen Kid" is very easily in my Top Ten of All-Time. It's one of those albums you can hit Play on, and just sit there and listen to it start-to-finish. The following is part of a concert in which Elbow played the album in its entirety with the BBC Concert Orchestra live at Abbey Road, and it's phenomenal. Click the link to find the other videos.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thursday Morning Hot Links

There isn't much to report today, but it turns out that I somehow kind of miss doing this. So here we go! I do hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and if you're staying at home instead of meeting up with family, you're not alone. AC HQ is doing the same thing. If you're joining a massive family gathering, I do hope you take plenty of precautions. This pandemic isn't permanent, but we sure can extend the hell out of it. 

*Will Leitch runs down the most likely destinations for George Springer.

*Brian McTaggart has an inbox about possible Springer replacements (should it come to that), the possibility of a Robinson Chirinos reunion, Yordan, Verlander, Michael Brantley, and Sugar Land.

*Bob Klapisch: 2021 Spring Training could be delayed by 4-6 weeks with the possibility of another shortened season.

*"Where the hell did that come from?" Wrexham fans reflect on the purchase of their soccer team by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McIlhenny.

*Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60. I mean, screw that guy AND SCREW THE REFEREES who allowed his Hand of God goal to stand, but Maradona was a genius. A brilliant, self-destructive genius, but a genius nonetheless. If you have access to HBO, you should definitely check out the documentary about him.


*Texas Monthly: Hundreds of people are knitting sweaters for a hairless possum in Lubbock.

*NY Times: 100 Notable Books of 2020.

*Outside: In the Hill Country, these veterans find community through trail running. Last week I tripped on the dog and then tripped on something else, and fell backwards into the side of the couch. I have bruised ribs, possibly cracked, pulled - possibly torn - a muscle near my kidney. This happened right as I was recovering from a broken foot in July when I slipped on some water on the tile near my back door. 2020 can suck it. Running trails sounds awesome. And good for those Vets.

*A Musical Selection:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

I last posted on Astros County Dot Com on November 13. This may be the longest I've gone without posting on this blog and, to be honest, it's been quite nice. I needed a break from...everything. I haven't posted in a while because there's...been nothing to post about. It's extremely quiet across AstroWorld. Which, I guess, makes sense when you're trying to navigate a global pandemic. 

That said, Ken Rosenthal dropped some notes on Tuesday morning (which he updated later in the morning). I know not everyone subscribes to The Athletic, but it's a pay site, and I respect that. The gist is:

-The Astros are open to the idea of acquiring DJ LeMahieu which, might I remind you, means "DJ The Mahieu" in French...but that would hinge on whether or not the Astros can trade [blinks into the camera for an uncomfortably long time] Carlos Correa. The Astros are apparently listening to offers because, after so long with the Rays, Click may not be aware that extending superstar franchise cornerstones is even an option. Rosenthal said the Astros are not actively shopping Correa but, "like most teams" are at least listening to whatever is happening. Also, don't expect the Astros to try to sign anyone who rejected a Qualifying Offer (Bauer, Realmuto, though LeMahieu fits this profile as well, sooooo).

I can understand listening to any offer. If the Astros tell the Angels, "We will give you our entire Triple-A roster for Mike Trout," I would expect the Angels to listen to that offer. That said, if the Astros trade Carlos Correa this off-season, less than a year after he had the balls to tell Cody Bellinger to shut the fk up on national tv, months removed from jerking a knot in Framber Valdez's chain in the middle of a playoff game, I will be forced to exhale very hard and go for a walk. I can't say that anything the Astros do will make me not watch them - I've had a blog about the Astros since 2008 - there's no debasement I would be unable to withstand. 

*Charlie F. Morton signed a 1yr/$15m deal with the Braves, dashing the hopes and dreams of Astros fans across the world. I think we need to sort of realize that most members of the 2017 Astros team who have had - however theoretical - a chance to return to the Astros, haven't. Altuve and Bregman signed their extensions prior to the Fiers article dropping. That's not to say they wouldn't have, but it's worth noting that maybe getting heckled mercilessly online may have an adverse effect on your mental state when playing a game. 

That's pretty much it as far as the Astros go. That said, you may or may not know that I have started a new podcast: The Michael Bourn Identity. If you subscribe to Lima Time Time on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, it should be in your feed. If you don't listen to podcasts, but still want to check out the episodes:

Ep. 1 w/Roosh Williams.

Ep. 2 w/Steph Stradley.

Ep. 3 w/AstrosFansUK.

Ep. 4 will drop Wednesday so you have something to listen to if you're executing your ill-advised travel plans for Thanksgiving and I'm recording at least two more episodes this week. I really like just talking to my online friends, but over Zoom.

A quick note on Lima Time Time. As far as I know, it's still an active podcast that is simply on hiatus.

*Randy Arozarena got Milkshake Duck'd as he has been detained in the Yucatan on allegations of domestic violence. 

*Other things (often my personal favorite part of the Hot Links):

-I've been enjoying "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes" by Maria Konnikova, and her book "Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win" is on deck.

-On Sunday the Fantastic Leeds United tied Arsenal 0-0 despite hitting the post/crossbar three times in the last 15 minutes of the game, and out-shooting Arsenal 25-9, and out-squandering chances Infinity-0. I hate Arsenal. I hate every other team in the Premier League, though, so it's nothing personal. Leeds are 14th in the Premier League, though it feels unlucky so far. Meanwhile, Leeds signed a partnership with Jay-Z's Roc Nation agency, and I love Jay-Z, so shove it. Leeds plays Everton on Saturday morning at 11:30am Central.

-Sergino Dest became the first American to score for Barcelona.

-On Sunday, the 57th anniversary of JFK's death, I wrote on my History Nerd Blog about Judge Sarah T. Hughes, the only woman to ever swear in a president. There's also a recent post about The Compromise of 1877, if that sort of thing catches your fancy.

-Business Insider: A Sommelier rated 11 low-cost wines.

-A Musical Selection:

Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Evening Mailbag

Everyone important seems to have a mailbag. I should have a mailbag. I solicited questions, I will provide answers. I will do this every Friday throughout the offseason, so email questions to astroscounty at gmail dot com. 

Pete Incaviglia, probably the real oneWhat is the Astros outfield going to look like in 2021?

I'm going to say it's Kyle Tucker, Jackie Bradley Jr., and...someone else. The Astros won't bring back Josh Reddick, everything I'm hearing says George Springer wants to play closer to his Connecticut home (read: Red Sox, Mets). I'm really intrigued by Chas McCormick, seeing as how he was added to the roster in the playoffs. The farm system isn't as bad as everyone ranking it says. 

Sam in Sharpstown: How much money does Luhnow walk away with after his lawsuit?

As much as we would like to see this play out with John Grisham writing the script, it's not going to happen. They'll do it in private, the same way that plenty of teams cheat. He sued for something like $22m, he might get half of that just to go away.

Tyler in The Woodlands: Where do I.....I mean.....Trevor Bauer end up?

You, Trevler, will end up...I don't know. A ton of teams need a good starting pitcher. And, regrettably, Trevor Bauer is a good pitcher. He's a jackass, a troll, a no-good-nik, a ne'er-do-well. But he pitches well, and that's valuable. The most troll thing ever would be to go to Houston, but we don't know how Click operates, and we don't know how much money is available. 

Nolan in Alvin: What does the future hold for Forrest Whitley?

Whitley needs to prove that he can keep his head on straight and his arm healthy for more than two months at a time. We need to remember that Forrest Whitley just turned 23 years old. He's less than a year older than Justin Verlander was when he made his MLB debut. We've just been hearing about Whitley for a long time that it feels like a Mark Appel situation - and Whitley is the same age Appel was when the Astros drafted him. I haven't given up on Forrest Whitley, because 2021 might just be the year the Astros need him more than ever, and I hope that his "career" so far has proven that he needs the Astros just as much. 

Bobby in Katy: Will fans be in the stands on opening day?

If you wear your damn mask now, and social distance, and limit your close contact with other people for the next six weeks, yes. Flu season is going to be a bitch combined with the eye-popping-yet-totally-unsurprising-rise of COVID cases in Texas and the rest of the United States over the last two weeks. If Halloween is the jumping-off point for this current wave, just imaging Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wearing a mask is not a violation of your civil rights, it's concern for your neighbor. Quit being A Dick, and things will be okay.

Jared C: Does US history offer any examples of how our current two-party system could evolve in the next 20 years? 

I love this question because it means I get to talk about third-party candidates. There have been a few "successful" third-party candidates in US history. Notably: Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Ross Perot in 2000. They're considered "successful" because they drew enough votes to seriously screw things up for one of the major candidates. But the Republicans and Democrats run the show. Why? Because it's extremely difficult for anyone else to make it to a debate. In 1985 the RNC and DNC agreed to run the Commission on Presidential Debates together - ensuring that they would be the only ones to make the stage for a presidential debate. When every election is cast as a choice between life-and-death, there will be a diminishing interest in welcoming a third option. 

Craig in Spring: What music should I be listening to?

My favorite bands of all-time: U2, Pernice Brothers, Spoon, Centro-Matic, Old 97s, Wilco (such a DadList). But I've really enjoyed new stuff from Tame Impala (whose music I would appreciate much more if I took Substances), Ritt Momney, The Whigs, Deer Tick, Alfie Templeman, Sports Team. 

Check out my new Lima Time Time-adjacent podcast The Michael Bourn Identity featuring Houston Legend Roosh Williams.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Ya Mans is quarantined due to a possible exposure to COVID. Been playing a lot of chess online and hooboy am I bad at thinking more than one step ahead. Shame, really.

*George Springer - who would have made $21m in a normal 2020 season - officially turned down the Astros' $18.9m qualifying offer. This is not a surprise and you should not treat it as such. It's Springer's only/last big contract of his career and he's going to get it from Houston or Boston, or someplace else that gives him the bag. Keep an eye on the Mets.

*Shane Bieber unanimously won the AL Cy Young. Framber got a lone 5th-place vote to finish 11th from Toronto beat writer Arden Zwelling. Former Astros Greats Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel finished 4th and 5th, respectively. Tyler Bauer is somehow the first Reds pitcher - like, literally the oldest team in all of organized baseball - to win a Cy Young. How do you screw around for 151 years and not accidentally luck into one?

*McTaggart has the Rule 5-eligible prospects the Astros need to protect.

*Cool news: Baltimore's Trey Mancini is cancer-free and ready for 2021 Spring Training.

*Wired: The Strange and Twisted Tale of Hydroxychloroquine.

*A Musical Selection: