Every-Thing Sports

A chat with Astros' fans

Jermaine Every

Spring has sprung, and you know what that means. Spring Training is in full bloom. The Grapefruit and Cactus leagues are underway. The Astros have gotten their statements, apologies, pressers, and rebuttals out of the way. So have many other major leaguers, as well as some outside the scope of MLB. I first wrote about them embracing the bad guy role the day they made their apology, then how I felt about their haters a few days later after listening to the fallout. Now, it's time to speak directly to the Astros' fans to clear the air, set a decorum, and a few other items:

They cheated. Time to move on.

I know this may be hard to come to grips with, but they cheated, got caught, and were punished. So what if other teams were doing it too! They were the ones who got made an example of by the commissioner because someone with intimate knowledge of their ways decided to go public (Mike "The Rat" Fiers). Commissioner Rob Manfred had no other option but to punish the organization. While he's undoubtedly trying to minimize any collateral damage this may have caused the sport, you have to understand that he's protecting what little integrity baseball has left. We all know the well-documented history of baseball as a sport overrun with cheating. From steroids, to sign stealing to greenies to scuffing to pine tar to corked bats; it's all been done. They did what they did. Face it. Acknowledge it. Move on.

Dealing with backlash

There have been tons of media members, other MLB players, as well as others outside of the sport with plenty to say. Most of it has not been favorable. Some of it has been downright distasteful if you ask me. But that's what comes with the territory. I have a good friend who's a Patriots' fan. We give him grief all the time. However, he could care less. His attitude is one Astros' fans should adopt: "So what that we cheated! And?!? We still have rings!" People will exercise their free speech and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it. Let them talk, but don't get baited into an unnecessary back and forth. Don't let the trolls pull out the worst in you. That's what they want and that's how they feel like they've won. Instead, give them what they're not expecting and lean into the roll of most hated.

Continue your support

This team will face an extraordinary amount of scrutiny, hate, and ugliness. It is now the time to support them even more than before. Don't abandon them now. If you don't like what they did and want to stand on some sort of moral high ground, you should quit watching baseball, maybe sports in general. No one can say they did everything on the up and up every single time in baseball. They may not have done things to the extent the Astros did, but they all used something to gain an advantage. Twitter user @Joshstros has some really cool tee shirts at his teespring store for sale. I opted for the aWo shirt as a nod to my love of pro wrestling will be ordering more. This is like that one relative or friend you have that's going through a tough time that was self-inflicted. Do you abandon them and cut them off? Or do you go all in with your love and support to help them get through that rough patch? If you're a real family member or friend, you show them more love during that time to help them come out a better person.

That pic at the top of this article was a selfie I took in New Orleans. I walked to a parade while visiting family wearing my Astros gear. I got nothing but love from those that approached me. Some were native New Orleanians that have dealt with Bountygate as Saints fans, others were fans of other teams that felt like things were overblown, some weren't fans of any MLB team and thought the Astros were doing what every other team had already been doing but are being made an example of. Either way, I found over 95% of the people I interacted with were very cool about the whole thing. I've got friends who are fans of other MLB teams. They too don't get why this is as big a deal as people are making it out to be. People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. MLB should live by that considering they're all guilty of something. Bottom line Astros' fans: stand by your team through thick and thin. You rode the wave in 2017. Continue to ride with them in 2020 and beyond.

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What happened with Earl Thomas? Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of a ride for the Houston Texans. They went from a team on the verge of upgrading their secondary with one of the best defensive backs of the past decade in Earl Thomas, to conflicting reports to why the workout had stalled.

After hearing from head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien Wednesday morning via Zoom, here is a complete timeline of the events that took place between the Texans and their debacle with Thomas' workout, featuring the one and only — coronavirus.

A.J. Moore's injury opens the door for the Texans to sign Earl Thomas

When the Texans dropped their third consecutive game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston also lost safety A.J. Moore in the process. The 24-year-old defensive back from Mississippi left Sunday's game with a severe hamstring injury and did not return. Monday morning, the Texans announced that Moore could miss up to three weeks.

With Moore placed on injured reserve, O'Brien and his staff felt it was time to search the free agency pool in hopes of finding a player who can help fill in the empty void at safety. Although several players on the market could have stepped in for the injured Moore (i.e. Eric Reid and HaHa Clinton Dix), the Texans arranged a workout for free-agent Earl Thomas set for Tuesday, September 29. Thomas — along with several other players — made their way to Houston late Monday afternoon for their respective workouts.

Thomas' fit with the Texans & "signing this week is more likely than not"

Albeit Thomas' potential signing would have been a replacement for the injured Moore, the seven-time Pro-Bowler would have made an immediate impact on the Texans' secondary.
During his lone season with the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas, 31, proved he can still be a productive player on the field — despite being a year removed from a broken leg he sustained during his final season in Seattle.
In 2019, he re-established himself as a Pro-Bowl safety with 72 tackles (32 solo hits), six QB hit, and two sacks on the season. However, Thomas' best attribute to a team remains his pass coverage abilities, as he registered four pass deflections, four interceptions and only allowed 44% of passes (25 targets) to be completed in pass coverage.
In comparison to the Texans, Justin Reid has been Houston's most reliable DB through the first three games of the season, as he has only allowed 50% of passes to be completed in pass coverage. The second-best for Houston has been Vernon Hargreaves — who is allowing close to 70% of completions in pass coverage (66.7%) thus far.
The arrival of Thomas would have been a steal for Houston. However, with the narrative of being a locker room cancer, it appeared that the Texans were willing to look beyond Thomas' flaws in character. Late-Monday evening, all signs pointed toward a potential signing that was "more likely than not, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Virus outbreak alters Thomas' workout with the Texans

Early Tuesday morning, O'Brien and his staff received a call from the league office stating that eight members of the Tennessee Titans (now nine) tested positive for the Coronavirus. The NFL's first outbreak of COVID-19 led to several teams around the league to alter their plans for the week — including the Texans.

O'Brien said instead of having Thomas — along with several other players — held up in a hotel due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID; they felt it was in everyone's best interest to cancel all workouts scheduled for Tuesday. But instead of rescheduling, the Texans ceased Thomas' workout.

Speculations to why Houston canceled Thomas' workout altogether spread like wildfire. The most discussed reason, "the Texans decided Earl Thomas was not a good fit for their locker room." Both parties credited the latter. And late-Tuesday night, the outspoken future Hall-Of-Famer confirmed via Instagram that COVID was the reason behind his nixed workout with the Texans.

Ahead of practice Wednesday morning, O'Brien reaffirmed that Thomas' canceled workout was nothing more than concerns surrounding COVID. He has not ruled out the possibility of revisiting Thomas in the near future, so a potential signing could be put on hold for the time being.

"Earl Thomas is a hell of a player, he's had a great career," O'Brien said. "We had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. We'll see how it goes moving forward. That's really what it was. It's not anything other than that. We've got a lot of respect for Earl."

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