Here's an outside the box look at the Astros latest stretch

Fear not, Astros fans! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Here in the city of Houston, we have a very culturally and socially diverse city. If you visit our sister site CultureMap, you'll know everything you need to know about the social scene around our fair city. When it comes to the food, Houston has very few rivals. CultureMap Food Editor Eric Sandler is the man when you're looking for guidance in that department. He's a tremendous follow on Instagram and Twitter.

If you're into food as much as most of us are, you undoubtedly have your pick of favorite places you want to eat. Whether it's a high class place, hole in the wall, chain restaurant, or a mom-and-pop shop, there's a variety of places to choose from. The variety of different types of food is vast as well. Because the city is so culturally and socially diverse, one can feed any type of craving on any given day. But there's always your favorite places that you end up eating at multiple times a month in some cases. You tend to enjoy the food, atmosphere, and the service.

Service may be the most important of all because we all want to be treated fairly. Food and atmosphere mean a lot too. The Astros remind me lately of your favorite restaurant shocking you with bad service, food, and atmosphere. They're 4-6 in their last 10 games and have had a penchant for playing down to the level of their competition this season. It's like asking for a steak to be cooked medium, and it comes out well done. Or asking for a sweet tea, but you get unsweet tea instead. What happens if you get there and the air conditioning isn't working? Talk about a disappointment!

The good thing is, we know we can't expect for our favorite restaurant to get everything right every time. That's why we'll go back time after time (watching game after game). We know what they're capable of because we frequent the establishment often (World Series champs in 2017, another appearance in 2019, four straight ALCS trips). So do you bail on your favorite eatery if they fall short once or twice (having a 5-10 combined record against the Tigers, Orioles, and Rockies)? No! You will still go back and order something, possibly the same thing you ordered last time when they messed it up, and give them another shot!

There's almost a third of the season left. The Astros are up in the AL West by two games, and behind the White Sox for best record in the AL by two games. The bullpen was shored up and some guys in the lineup are dealing with injuries. The starting pitching hasn't been consistent either, but we know the potential they have. Once healthy and roles are clearly defined, this team will hit its collective stride just in time for the playoffs. When that time comes, they'll be playing the league's best teams, and that's when they typically perform their best. Fear not, Astros fans! The restaurant is only having some staff issues, but will be back up and running like a well oiled machine in no time, serving up your favorite dishes!

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Start your engines! Photo by Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads for Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers 400. MIS is one of the fastest racetracks in the country, as cars are capable of reaching speeds of 201-205 miles per hour. Hopefully, we will see a safe race considering the speeds we see here. We will more than likely see a race that is vastly different from what we saw last here when the drivers utilized the draft to pass around this track. This year, the cars are less aero-dependent and will be much more spread out. The drivers will need to continue to manage their tires as they have been doing all year.

Last weekend at Indy, Tyler Reddick captured his second victory of 2022 in dramatic fashion. The race came down to numerous restarts where drivers would drive way too deep into the first corner and run into each other each time. This was the central theme of the race, as restarts pretty much decided everything. We saw drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney get swept up in wrecks in turn one. On the final restart, Ross Chastain decided he didn’t want to be a part of these shenanigans and took the access road that skipped turn one. This moved catapulted him to the lead with Tyler Reddick as the two battled for the lead in a two-lap shootout. When the dust settled, Reddick came away victorious and Ross Chastain was black flagged for shortcutting.

The finish of this race sparked a serious debate among drivers and fans alike about ditching the Indianapolis road course and returning to the oval in 2023. Personally, this doesn’t make any sense to me. While yes, turn one is difficult to maneuver, it’s mainly because drivers all decide to send it as deep as they can, not because of the racetrack configuration. It’s also a bit disingenuous as for years, drivers and fans have been saying they don’t want to see the oval and that the track is designed for IndyCar. If I had to choose, I would say NASCAR just stop going to Indy and go to the short track down the road at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. We have seen so many great races there, and I think the Cup Series would be perfect for that track. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR responds to this and what they decide to do for next season.

Kurt Busch will be out for the third consecutive week as he continues to recover from a concussion. This has been tough to hear about, and now there are legitimate concerns that he will not return to racing. There is a good chance however that 23XII could be saving him for the playoffs which are coming up.

For now, Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for Busch. In his two starts the young phenom has performed extremely well, finishing 16th at Pocono and 17th at Indy. It’s clear that this young man can drive these cars, the only problem is finding a place for him to run next season.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. By any other standard, the season that Truex is having has been great. Constantly up front, leading laps and just overall contending. Unfortunately for him, 2022 hasn’t been just any average season. With 14 winners and Truex not being one of them, he is on the playoff bubble even though he is fourth in points. While his playoff future maybe uncertain right now, there are some good racetracks he is going to where can easily get that first win, and Michigan is one of them. Over the last four races here, he currently has the highest average finish, the highest percentage of laps led, but no victories. I see that changing this week. Toyota and Gibbs have been fast this season as Truex’s teammates have all punched their tickets to the playoffs. Look for Truex to be next in line.

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