Sustained success by the Astros has put Houston fans in an unfamiliar position

Dear Astro Fan: Quit whining and embrace your inner villain

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." – A quote by Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.

Since the playoffs began there has been a constant rumble among Astros fans about the perceived bias by the national media against the team. This includes more than one "accusation" that pitch tipping by opposing pitchers has artificially augmented the Astros' success. I duck as I say this, but Houston fans have a proclivity to whine - often - about the coverage their teams receive by national outlets; and when it comes to criticisms by those outsiders, well, Houston fans aren't necessarily the toughest bunch. Whether the "hate" in these playoffs is real or just simply perceived it is something Houston fan needs to come to grips with. So with a best in the majors 107 win team still alive and kicking in the playoffs I ask of Houston fans: Why So Serious?

The time has come for Houston fan to embrace the role of the villain

Having a team occupy the villain role in the national discourse is uncharted territory for Houston sports fans, because honestly none of the Houston teams have had serious shots at a championship for multiple years in a row before. Sure you can argue the Rockets have had good stretches but they have never been the odds on favorite to win the title for 3, 4, 5, or more years in a row. Even in the years they did win back-to-back championships they are more or less remembered nationally as the placeholder champions for the years Michael Jordan decided to be a baseball player.

Now with a World Series title, multiple consecutive 100 win seasons, three consecutive ALCS appearances, and a championship potential window that looks to be open for at least a few more years the Astros aren't so beloved outside of Houston anymore. Sure in 2017 they were national darlings as they were a young likable team who were the end result of a long painful losing process. But now people outside of Houston are tiring of their domination. If the Astros are able to move on to the World Series this year I can promise you very few people outside of Houston will want to see them win. The Nationals will be the scrappy team of Avengers and the Astros will be Thanos. But hey, don't worry – Thanos wouldn't be Thanos if he didn't do a whole lot of winning.

The great thing about having your team be the villain though (not including vilification for off the field issues) is that unlike movie villains, sports villains win, and win a bunch. A team only comes to occupy that "bad guy" role among those outside of its fan base by consistent winning. Think of how hated the Yankees, Patriots, Warriors, and Crimson Tide are. Well guess what, their fans are slurping it up and it's time for Astro fan to do the same.

Going back to the Harvey Dent quote at the beginning of this article - the Astros didn't die as heroes in 2017, they have lived long enough with sustained success to become the villain. So next time the Astros get disrespected, whether its from A-Rod, Joe Buck, or an anonymous twitter egg, relish in it, channel your inner villain and think of this:



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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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