The Pallilog

Astros still clicking along at a strong pace plus news on Keuchel, NBA Finals and Carson Wentz

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Just what the Astros wanted before a long flight home: a 14 inning five hour six minute game Thursday in Seattle. They won it, though If Justin Verlander finishes this season as a 19 game winner, Thursday's no-decision will be one to really rue. A.J. Hinch lifted Verlander after six and a third innings and just 94 pitches with the Astros leading 5-1. Will Harris, Ryan Pressly, and Roberto Osuna have all been excellent overall this season but they all failed and gave up runs as the Astros blew the lead. The first of the three earned runs charged to Verlander was tainted. In the bottom of the first with two out and nobody on Jake Marisnick and Michael Brantley combined to botch a routine fly ball which they let drop for a bogus double. A looping single by the next batter delivered the run.

No doubt Verlander would have preferred to stay in the game when hooked, but it wasn't an awful Hinch move. With the Astros a virtual postseason lock Hinch is rightfully mindful of the long game. In his prior start Verlander threw a season high 114 pitches. Conserving some pitches in Verlander's 36 year old arm from time to time is sensible. Under the same game circumstances in October, there is basically no chance Hinch takes out Verlander when he did Thursday.

The Astros certainly are not a flawless team and when the playoffs get here any opponent they face will be capable of beating them, but it seems as though the Astros are basically toying with the American League. Altuve out, Springer out, Correa out, and the Astros complete a 6-1 road trip to Oakland and Seattle. The A's are decent, the Mariners are horrible.

Just about 40 percent through the regular season the Astros are 43-21. En route to winning a franchise record 103 games last season, the Astros were 39-25 after 64 games.

Magic number

40 years ago (41 actually) Meat Loaf released "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad." In Major League Baseball, winning two out of three on a regular basis is fantastic. Do it over a full season and a team wins 108 games. That's how many the Astros are on pace to win this year. For American League teams the regular season schedule expanded to 162 games in 1961, when expansion grew the AL to 10 teams. The National League went to 162 the next year, when the Colt 45s and New York Mets started play. So that's nearly 60 years of the 162 game schedule. Only eight teams have won as many as 108 games. For what it's worth, six of the eight won the World Series.

The Baltimore Orioles own two of those 108 win seasons, posting them back-to-back. The 1969 Orioles won 109 games but lost the World Series to the Miracle Mets. In 1970 the O's won 108 and did win the Series. These days the Orioles are a joke. Last season they finished 47-115. They're not pacing much better this season at 19-43. The Astros should whip up on them this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel finds a home

Dallas Keuchel to the Atlanta Braves. He should be a good fit. Not knowing the market for his services would crash, Keuchel passed on a 17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros, then on a reported 15 mil offer from them this spring. Keuchel will make 13 mil from the Braves (pro rata from a 20 million dollar annualized salary) then be a free agent again. No pity party is necessary but Keuchel and agent Scott Boras began free agency seeking 150 mil. They overshot the runaway a bit.

On the NBA

With the champions injury-addled, the NBA title is there for the Toronto Raptors' taking. Up two wins to one the Raptors face a still Kevin Durant-less Golden State squad in game four Friday night. Klay Thompson gives it a go after missing game three with a hamstring strain. If Thompson can't make a meaningful contribution the Raptors should win again and then have a chance to win the championship in Toronto Monday night.

The one year attendance ban imposed on the rich turd Warriors' minority owner who pushed Raptor guard Kyle Lowry along the sideline Wednesday night seems fair. It wasn't assault but it was a way beyond unacceptable jackass move.

Big deal for Wentz

Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz is three seasons into his NFL career, the last two of which included season ending injuries. The Eagles have agreed with Wentz on a four year $128 million dollar contract extension, $107 million guaranteed. 107! The clock ticks on the Texans as Deshaun Watson enters the third season of his career on a bargain contract.

Buzzer beaters

1. The Rockets have refreshed their secondary logo and are tweaking their uniforms. That's some nice sizzle. We'll see about the steak after the offseason. 2. Five games played in this year's Stanley Cup Final, four have been phenomenal. 3. Best Robert Redford movies: Bronze-All The President's Men Silver-The Natural Gold-The Sting

Photo via Kansas City Chiefs/Facebook

History repeats itself, unless it doesn't.

(And they say a University of Maryland education is worthless.)

So here's some history worth repeating: In February 1999, President Clinton, after being impeached by the House of Representatives, was acquitted by the Senate; Super Bowl 33 that year was played in Miami. In February 2020, President Trump, after being impeached by the House, likely will be acquitted by the Senate; Super Bowl 54 this year will be played in Miami.

In Super Bowl 33, the AFC champion Denver Broncos beat the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, 34-19. In Super Bowl 54, it is almost fated that the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs will beat the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers by the EXACT SAME SCORE, 34-19.

Wow.

And now, as a public service, I am here to provide my 54th annual Super Bowl Viewing Guide (for Super Bowl Parties of Six or More):

This is the Chiefs' first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. A lot is being made of this. You know who is tired of hearing it? Fans of the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, the four NFL teams yet to play in a Super Bowl.

Here is a fun Patrick Mahomes factoid. In the 2014 MLB draft, he was selected in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers. This means that the Tigers have drafted one more Super Bowl quarterback than the Lions have.

Here is a fun Patrick Mahomes observation. He is Stephen Curry in cleats.

I'm not a big nepotism fan – what did my dad ever do for me? – but it sure pays the bills. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan are the first father-son Super Bowl head-coaching duo; the elder Shanahan won back-to-back titles with the Denver Broncos and son Kyle is the 49ers' honcho. Meanwhile, Joe Buck is calling his sixth Super Bowl for Fox; his dad Jack Buck broadcast Super Bowl 4 on CBS with Pat Summerall.

Family ties are big in sports AND politics. John Adams was the second president (1797-1801) and son John Quincy Adams was the sixth (1825-29). It happened again with George H.W. Bush (1989-93) and George W. Bush (2001-2009). And Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. could very well become the first father-son presidential combo to be impeached.

Jimmy Garoppolo apparently completes more passes off the field than on the field. The 49ers quarterback reportedly has dated adult film star Kiara Mia, model Alexandra King and, recently, a VIP bottle-service gal from Sacramento. With the ladies, he makes Tom Brady look like Trent Dilfer.

Here is a controversial take I do not apologize for – on Super Bowl Sunday, dogs are okay and spouses are optional. Toni, a k a She Is The One (And Then Some), will attest to this: I have thrown her out of the house so I can watch in peace, but our beloved pit mix Daisy is allowed to sit by my side, licking herself through endless replay reviews ITAL and END ITAL critical third downs.

There are other, more sobering viewing options on Sunday. For those of you who miss the presence of the New England Patriots, I suggest the three-part Netflix docuseries, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.

Your guests deserve wise choices on food and beverage. No to kale, no to quinoa, no to chard, no to coconut water, no to all Budweiser products. Yes to Yuengling, Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda, San Pellegrino sparkling water, Fritos, olives, capocollo, pigs in a blanket and cacio e pepe.

Super Bowl prop bets are bigger than ever. They're usually bad bets. My favorite? William Hill sports book is offering 9,999-1 odds on the Chiefs scoring exactly four points. Four points? When's the last time an NFL team scored four points? Like, maybe, NEVER. So why waste a dollar? Plus, this should pay 999,999-1, not 9,999-1. Geez.

Only one prop bet is an (almost) sure winner. Heads or tails on the coin flip: It's tails. Trust me. No one has flipped more coins than Couch Slouch. I flip a coin every morning – heads I get dressed, tails I go back to sleep – and I'm in bed almost the entire week.

Ask The Slouch

Special Houston Astros Edition

Q. Will MLB be investigating whether the infamous Cleveland Indians drum-playing fan is actually relaying signs to Indians hitters, or does the team's lack of success make it a moot point? (Dan Cantwell; Albany, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will the Astros be able to hit major league pitching if they don't know what pitch is coming? (Michael Seltz; Alexandria, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will any win over the Astros in the future be described as a buzzer beater? (John Haluska; Guilderland, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. How might the Astros have fared if Mitch McConnell were commissioner instead of Rob Manfred? (Joe Salo; Latham, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Does MLB' s one-year suspension of A.J. Hinch prevent him from getting a job with the New England Patriots? (Bruce Ellisen; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome