Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be featuring in his final MLS match. Photo: LA Galaxy
TV listings (All Times CT):
Tuesday, October 22
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Atletico Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Galavision, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Manchester City vs. Atalanta (TNT, TUDNxtra)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Galatasaray vs. Real Madrid (UniMas, TUDN, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Olympiacos vs. Bayern Munich (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Club Brugge vs. Paris Saint-Germain (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Juventus vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottehnam Hotspur vs. Red Star Belgrade (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. River Plate (beIN SPORTS)
Wednesday, October 23
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Ajax vs. Chelsea (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg (Galavision, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Inter Milan vs. Dortmund (TNT, Galavision)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Slavia Prague vs. FC Barcelona (UniMas, TUDN, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Red Bull Salzburg vs. Napoli (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Genk vs. Liverpool (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Benfica vs. Lyon (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Lille vs. Valencia (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)
6:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] New York City FC vs. Toronto FC (FS1, FOX Deportes)
7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Flamengo vs. Gremio (beIN SPORTS)
9:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake (FS1, FOX Deportes)
Thursday, October 24
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Partizan vs. Manchester United (UniMas, B/R Live)
11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Bratislava vs. Wolves (Galavision)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Sevilla vs. Dudelange (UniMas, B/R Live)
2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Frankfurt vs. Standard Liege (Galavision, B/R Live)
7:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union (ESPN2)
9:30p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Los Angeles FC vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN)
Friday, October 25
2:00 p.m. - [NBC Sports] Southampton vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)
Saturday, October 26
6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Aston Villa (NBC Sports)
9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Everton (NBC Sports, Universo)
11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Burnley vs. Chelsea (NBC)
Sunday, October 27
9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Wolves (NBC Sports)
11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur (NBC Sports)
2:30 p.m. - [NWSL Championship] North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars (ESPN)
After Houston fell to the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS, the national media couldn't wait to pile on the Astros, their dynasty, and fanbase. A perfect example of this came from Dan Clark, who said the Astros choked or cheated in every season outside of 2022.
The Houston Astros have been great for nine years, but how will history look back at them, winning it all just once?
'15 - ALDS choke
'16 - Missed playoffs
'17 - Cheated
'18 - ALCS choke
'19 - World Series choke
'20 - ALCS choke
'21 - World Series choke
'22 - 💍
'23 - ALCS choke
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) October 24, 2023
Clearly, this take is totally ridiculous. Every time a team loses, it doesn't mean they choked. Sometimes the other team is better, and you just got beat. However, if you asked most fans, they would probably tell you the Astros had some great opportunities and weren't able to cash in.
So, just for fun, let's go through Dan's list and discuss if he has a point. And these are just my opinions below. I'm sure plenty of Astros fans will feel differently, and that's fine. John and I don't agree on all of these in the video above, so be sure to watch for the full discussion.
With that disclaimer out of the way, off we go.
2015: These were the baby Astros. Nobody expected them to get to the division series against the Royals. Houston went 70-92 the previous season, so this was a big jump in 2015. They lost to the Royals in 5 games in the ALDS and Kansas City went on to win the World Series over the Mets, taking the series 4 games to 1. The Astros did lead this series 2-1, but lost Games 4 and 5 pretty convincingly. Not a choke.
2016: Didn't even make the playoffs, further proving 2015 wasn't a choke. This team wasn't ready yet. They exceeded expectations in 2015 and took a step back in 2016. Not a choke.
2017: Won the World Series. While Dan will say it doesn't count because they cheated, I say, at least they won. Houston fans are well aware the Dodgers and Yankees had their own style of funny business going on in the video rooms, too. At least the Astros didn't cheat AND lose that year. They won the title so clearly, not a choke.
2018: Boston won the most games in baseball during the regular season (108). They won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over Houston and went on to win the World Series. The ALCS series wasn't close, and Jose Altuve had knee surgery immediately following the season. Boston was later punished by MLB for cheating in 2018. Not a choke.
2019: He might have a point here. This was the best roster the Astros ever had in my opinion. Houston never won a home game in this World Series. Heading home with a 3-2 lead in the series, the Astros were unable to close the deal against the Nationals (sounds familiar). The Astros won 107 games in the regular season, more than any other team. The top of their rotation was Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. They choked.
2020: This was the weird covid season. The Astros didn't have a winning record in the regular season and got down 3-0 to the Rays in the ALCS. Houston won three straight and lost in Game 7. Both Justin Verlander and Yordan Alvarez were injured and unavailable that year. Not a choke.
2021: The Braves were just better and won the World Series in 6 games. Atlanta hammered Houston 7-0 in Game 6, securing the series. Lance McCullers was the ace of this squad and hurt his arm in the ALDS. Verlander didn't pitch in 2021. Not a choke.
2022: Astros win the World Series in 6 games against Philly.
2023: This one I could be convinced either way. I lean to it not being a choke because this team barely made the playoffs, winning just 90 games. They finished with the same record as the Rangers, and won the division because of head-to-head record. The Astros were down 2-0 in the series to start.
However, they did return to Houston up 3-2 needing only 1 win in 2 games to advance. But once again, the Astros couldn't win a game at home, and lost the series in 7 games. They also went 2-14 with runners in scoring position in Game 7, so that looks pretty bad. Inconsistency plagued this team all season, and it showed up again in the ALCS.
I'm willing to say the 2019 World Series against the Nationals was a choke for the reasons I listed above. And I'm kinda on the fence about 2023. The Rangers were the better team for most of the regular season, but not winning 1 game at home in the ALCS is hard to ignore.
Maybe you can convince me one way or the other in the comments! Go 'Stros!