Astros have to wonder if history will repeat itself with Yankees in town

Could the Astros lose another star player to the Yankees in free agency? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Astros failing to cap a three game sweep of the A's was a missed opportunity, but credit to Oakland for a day. Winning another series has the Astros four and a half games out front in the American League West. There's a lot of baseball left but if you are offered the Astros today at 1:3 odds to win the division (making them 75% likely to win it), taking them is the right play. Oakland is usually outstanding at getting more out of less, and one never knows how the injury bug is to bite, and lastly sports happens. Still, it's crystal clear that the Astros have the better team.

Now the Yankees are in for the weekend, presenting an excellent opportunity for Astros' fans to take the high road and greatly outclass the Yankees' fans who had nothing more creative up their sleeves and in their vocal cords than to chant vulgarities over nine innings for three games in a row when the Astros were in the Bronx back in May. There no doubt will be some Yankee fans inside Minute Maid Park, and it seems likely more vulgarities will ensue. Neither the language I use in everyday life off the radio nor my sense of humor are G-rated pure as the driven snow stuff. But there is time and place. A Major League ballpark is not such a time or place. It would be tremendous if Astro fan retorts were along the lines of "Kiss Our Rings, Kiss Our Rings..." or "En-joy Fourth Place, (bum, bum, BUM, BUM, BUM), Enjoy Fourth Place…"

I'm cautiously pessimistic.

The highlight pitching matchup of the series is Saturday night with Zack Greinke opposite Gerrit Cole. The Yankees last losing season was 1992. That's 28 consecutive winning seasons! They hit town this weekend at 44-42. Their supposed to be vaunted offense has been feeble much of 2021. The Astros have scored a whopping 130 more runs than have the Yankees. The Astros have played two more games. I'm pretty sure the Yankees wouldn't make up 130 runs in two games.

Could the Yankees target Carlos Correa in free agency?

Astros' MVP to this point? Carlos Correa. Carrying an 0 for 13 streak into the weekend, Correa has cooled off from the MVP level ball he'd played for over a month, but he has an outstanding season going starting with the critical ability that is availability. Correa has played in 82 of the Astros 88 games to date. He only missed two games in the short 2020 60 game regular season, but wasn't a good player. In 2017, 2018, and 2019 Correa missed 53, 52, and 87 games respectively. Only in 2016 has Correa stayed healthy and played well over a full length campaign. He was very good in '16, but not what 2021 Correa has been thus far. So…

Yankee shortstop Gleyber Torres has been awful this year. Even when hitting to potential he's not a good defender at short. The Yankees could miss the postseason for the first time since 2016. They haven't played in the World Series since 2009. Unless the Dodgers opt to move on from Corey Seager, the Yanks loom as the biggest spending team that could be in the market for Correa.

Are you ready for some football?

The Texans open training camp three weeks from today. Are you giddy with excitement? Didn't think so. What happens if Deshaun Watson shows up? I'm not sure he actually shows, but he has incentive to at least claim he's going to do so. If Watson holds out he incurs automatic fines of 50-thousand dollars per day. If Watson sends word that he plans to show, that creates multiple possibilities. The big one is making NFL commissioner Roger Goodell act, specifically by placing Watson on the Commissioner's Exempt List if the league wants no part of a Watson/Texans circus while the league investigation of all the sordid accusations against Watson continues. If Goodell places Watson on the list, Watson can't be a holdout and hence could not be fined. If on the list all season Watson would be paid in full. If Goodell chooses to not sideline Watson, do the Texans say "stay away," in which case they'd have to pay Watson, or welcome him in? In which case would Watson actually show or having had his bluff called hold out and forfeit 50K per day? As The Texans Turn. Right now, a pretty pathetic soap opera.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. So James Harden is in France for Paris Fashion Week. Taking advantage of again not being part of NBA Finals weeks. If not so focused on his task at hand one presumes Chris Paul would find this quite funny.

2. Here's hoping Dustin Poirier again dominates Conor McGregor, the way he did in January.

3. Best soap operas: Bronze-Days of Our Lives Silver-Melrose Place Gold-Dallas

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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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