FALCON POINTS

Admit it, Astros haters: You need these villains in your life

Admit it, Astros haters: You need these villains in your life
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The Houston sports scene in general remains a disappointment. The Rockets are playing golf and looking for a new coach. The Texans? Pretty much a national joke. But there is good news. The XFL will be back in 2020, and the team everyone outside of Houston hates is still alive in the playoffs.

After slogging along in the shortened season with a losing record, the Astros swept the Twins and will play either Oakland or the White Sox, teams they are certainly capable of beating to reach the ALCS for a fourth straight year.

The best part? The whiny national media, MLB and fans of other teams get to vent about 2017 all over again.

If MLB were smart (I know, that phrase is ridiculous) they would embrace the hatred. Make it a redemption tour. Don't we all love a redemption story? Become more like the WWE. The Astros went from the lovable good guys to heels. Now they try to turn back and win it "the right way."

No one will admit it, but the Astros being alive is the best thing that could happen to baseball. The sport is struggling, and now going up against football, it needs all the attention it can get.

Enter the Astros, who will enable the keyboard warriors and talking heads of the world to spew hyperbole and keep the cheating story alive. The faux outrage will get clicks and ratings. Imagine if the Astros were to make it all the way to the Series again - against the Dodgers, no less. It would dominate the sports headlines, even in an NFL world.

If they lose, the angry mob will have nothing to complain about. They will get a day of "ha ha, the cheaters lost," then will have to retreat back to their basements. Baseball will once again take a back seat to the NFL.

So if you are one of those "I hate the cheaters" people, you should join Astros fan and root for them to keep winning. It will give your meaningless life some purpose. You can extend your pointless outrage for a couple weeks.

From a baseball perspective, the Astros aren't last year's group. The pitching is piecemeal, they have no real ace, and the hitting has not been what it should be. They beat a team that has lost 18 straight playoff games. But they have enough to beat Chicago or Oakland in a five game series. Tampa or New York would be a stretch, but they do have playoff pedigree, and if they can get enough pitching, anything is possible.

Admit it, haters: You need the Astros, Would there be a Star Wars without the empire? Did you not celebrate when Darth Vader turned from the dark side? Rejoice. You have a villain.

The villain baseball needs.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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