TIME FOR PAYBACK?

How Astros & Rockets fans could find themselves with more money in their pockets

Photo by Bob Levey /Stringer/Getty Images.

If you signed up for home delivery of bottled water, agreed to pay $20 a month for the service, but two months go by and no water … wouldn't you want your money back?

Well, I signed up for AT&T SportsNet because they said I'd get Houston Astros and Houston Rockets games, and two months have gone by and no games … so I want my money back. Or at least credit on future cable bills.

I sure didn't subscribe to AT&T SportsNet for taped replays of old footvolley (volleyball played with your feet) tournaments or IFA Redfish kayak races or the dreaded "paid programming." I watch AT&T SportsNet for one reason, two reasons really, and those are Astros and Rockets games.

So far, not a peep from the cable or satellite TV providers. I called Comcast, the biggest cable provider in Houston and asked, will you offer refunds or credit to AT&T SportsNet subscribers for no games, but lots of pain and suffering and fishing shows?

Comcast hasn't made an announcement yet, but here's the plan: "Any rebates will be determined once the NBA, NHL and MLB announce the course of action for their seasons, including the number of games that will be played, and of course we will pass those rebates or other adjustments along to our customers," said Michael Bybee, Comcast's director of external communications.

Plus I'm sure programming providers don't want to wait for the Texas attorney general to force them to refund money, like what's being threatened in New York.

Right now, and everything is totally tentative, baseball is hoping to re-start (it's still) spring training in June with Opening Day slotted for July 1. That would allow big league teams to play about 100 regular season games in this highly irregular season.

Baseball has a few scenarios up its sleeve. Teams may play home games in their usual home ballparks. Or teams could be grouped by geography and play in certain designated stadiums. Or they could play only in cities with smaller numbers of coronavirus infections.

NBA is trickier business because its season was almost completed when play was halted in March. There are several scenarios being discussed, including resuming the season in June or July, heading straight to the playoffs, or canceling the 2019-20 season altogether. As you'll recall, the Rockets had a 40-24 record, with 18 regular season games remaining. If the NBA moves directly to the post-season, the Rockets, sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference, would make the cut.

In all scenarios discussed, games will be played without fans in attendance. While I don't doubt that the Astros, like all MLB teams, are disappointed that the season is on hold, I'm thinking maybe the Astros are a little less disappointed. At least they have the most to gain if the season is played with reduced travel and no fans. It wouldn't be the worst thing for the Astros to play in empty stadiums.

Consider what's happened the past six weeks of no games. Star pitcher Justin Verlander was able to rehab his lat strain injury. How long was he supposed to be out of action? Six weeks. Meanwhile, Alex Bregman has been able to rehab his image by forming Alex's Army to raise $2 million to feed families facing financial problems due to COVID-19.

When games resume, oh no, you mean the Astros won't have to travel to New York, America's city hardest hit by coronavirus, to play the Yankees in front of 50,000 maniac Yankee fans who absolutely hate the Astros for cheating during their 2017 World Series season? Yankees fans are crazy enough without having an ax to grind. And the Astros won't have to play road games in front of Dodgers, A's and Red Sox fans who hate their guts, too? Such a pity. Thank you, coronavirus' silver lining.

If the Astros have to wait a whole year to play in front of fans, that's OK. America is a forgiving nation. Shoeless Joe Jackson got a lifetime ban for allegedly helping his White Sox team throw the 1919 World Series. I say allegedly because he went on trial with seven of his teammates in 1921 and a jury found them innocent. Two days later, the Commissioner of Baseball took it upon himself to ban the now-Black Sox forever. You didn't know that the Black Sox played the 1920 season, did you? Shoeless Joe played 146 games and batted .382 the year after he allegedly helped throw the World Series.

Now Shoeless Joe is some kind of folk hero. According to a poll, most Americans would like to see him in baseball's Hall of Fame. It was a lifetime ban, right? Well, the guy's been dead more than 70 years. His lifetime is over.

Pete Rose also was banned for life in 1989 for betting on baseball. Now most Americans think 31 years is enough and it's time to let the Hit King back in the game.

Yes, we may not forget but we forgive. In 1966 John Lennon proclaimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Some Americans, particularly in the Bible Belt, were so outraged that radio stations refused to play Beatles music and there were public bonfires to burn Beatles records. Lennon has since become a cherished (I almost said worshipped) icon of popular culture and his song Imagine is performed during the Olympic closing ceremonies.

Jane Fonda was the most hated woman in America in 1972 after she was photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese cannon presumably aimed at U.S. planes. She was "Hanoi Jane." Within 10 years, she won her second Academy Award for Best Actress and starred in the first of 14 workout videos.

Mike Tyson went from convicted rapist to a lovable crazy person on Comedy Central roasts and star of a one-man show on Broadway. Alex Rodriguez, suspended from baseball for steroids, is now the voice of baseball on ESPN and Fox, and he's a panelist on Shark Tank and engaged to Jenny on the Block.

So the Astros may not be the cheating bad boys of baseball for long. Time heals all wounds. In a year or two, Jose Altuve will be cuddly again.

One note: this forgiveness thing? O.J. Simpson need not apply.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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