Charlie Pallilo: It's All-Star time and some thoughts on the Hall of Fame

Chris Paul is having a big year for the Rockets. Houston Rockets/Facebook

It just won’t be as interesting watching the Pro Bowl Sunday with the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney both missing the game because of injuries. Hahahahahahaha! I made a funny! As if watching the Pro Bowl could be interesting under any circumstances. I know a few million watch, but other than serious degenerate gamblers, why?

The last couple of years the NBA All-Star game has approached Pro Bowl levels of unwatchability. Last year’s 192-182 defensive masterpiece moved the NBA to try something different. The idea is fun, having leading vote-getters LeBron James and Stephen Curry choose up sides as if on the playground. However, it was lame of the NBA and players to not agree to televise the picks, concerned that delicate egos would crumble if players were selected lower than they believed they should go. As if any of this will get guys to play defense during an exhibition.

While the Rockets keep rolling through this season, it’s still silly homerism to argue that Chris Paul got shafted out of an All-Star spot. Paul has been stellar but he has missed more than 35 percent of the season to date. Attendance is part of the grade. Given good health the rest of the way and the Rockets making a run at the first 60 win season in franchise history, Paul would be a strong candidate for third or maybe even second team All-NBA.

Hall thoughts

Chipper Jones was the top name on the marquis this week heralding the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Jones is arguably the third greatest third baseman of all time. Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews rate ahead of him though Chipper scored more runs and drove in more runs than both of them. George Brett was awesome, but Jones beats him on multiple criteria (and not on some others). Brooks Robinson and Wade Boggs definitely were not as good as Jones. Among switch-hitters in baseball history only Mickey Mantle was a better player. I imagine Pete Rose would explode over that assertion, but Chipper had the same career batting average as The Hit King (.303) while Jones had a 26 point edge in on-base percentage and an overwhelming advantage in power.

Among those going on the ballot for the first time for the Class of 2019: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte. I don’t think of any of them as Hall of Famers, but all had fantastic careers. Berkman is a top 10 switch-hitter ever, but it’s fair to wonder whether his career would have been better had he tried batting lefty full-time. Maybe southpaw curveballs and sliders would have wiped him out, but maybe not. Lance swinging right-handed was just another guy: a .260 hitter with a mediocre .417 slugging percentage. Lefty-swinging Lance was a better hitter than Jeff Bagwell with a .304 batting average, .420 on-base percentage, and monster .575 slugging percentage. That’s a .995 OPS.  Bagwell’s career OPS was .948.

Oswalt merely had the best Astros’ pitching career in franchise history but 163 career wins for a starting pitcher just doesn’t cut it for the Hall unless your last name is Koufax. Oswalt was fantastic to watch. He was a rapid worker with a speedy delivery, explosive fastball, drop-dead curveball, and nasty demeanor. Oswalt finished top five in National League Cy Young Award voting five of his first six seasons in the Majors. If not traded while the Astros were in their descent down the baseball toilet Roy-O would be the winningest pitcher in Astros’ history. Instead, his 143 victories sit one behind the late Joe Niekro.

While 219 of Pettitte’s 256 wins came as a Yankee, his single greatest season was in 2005 as an Astro. That year the Oswalt, Pettitte, Roger Clemens trio was beyond tremendous, and carried an Astros’ team that didn’t even have a league average offense into the franchise’s first World Series. Pettitte posted 17 straight winning seasons before settling for 11-11 in his final season. He was really good and certainly did his part for the Yankees’ four World Series winners in five years from 1996-2000, but Pettitte was never one of the best couple of pitchers in his league, and just didn’t have the greatness that should be associated with Hall of Famers--like his closer for the bulk of his career, the awesome Mariano Rivera. He’s the lead pipe cinch for election in the Class of ’19.

Clemens and Barry Bonds each gained votes this year but not enough for either to total 60% thumbs-up. It takes 75% for election. Misters B12 and Flaxseed Oil have four years of eligibility remaining on the main ballot.

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The Texans are moving in the wrong direction. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

1. This team started incredibly slow and outside of a couple of drives in the second half disappointed. The defense got worked by the Chargers' star players, and the offense sputtered too often. It was really a summary of the season up to this point which is to say inconsistency.

2. Davis Mills was shaky early. The first drive interception was tough to stomach. The pocket got messy as he tried to drive the ball and he floated one up there. It gave the Chargers an easy drive for seven points.

3. One of the early offensive mistakes erased a scoring opportunity. Kenyon Green got nailed for a holding call that erased one of the best passes and catches between Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills all season. The rookie’s mistake was compounded the very next play when the offense allowed Mills to be sacked. It was a 40-yard swing that led to a punt.

4. Another third down penalty led to a mishap for the Texans. Laremy Tunsil gets a false start on third down to make it third and 10. The shovel pass to Rex Burkhead goes for six yards and then the Texans botch the field goal. Back-to-back drives and third-down penalties affected the offense and ended with no points. That was all just in the first quarter!

5. The Texans were abysmal with short yardage in key spots yet again. In the second quarter, Pep Hamilton opted for a pass on fourth and one. Davis Mills never got the play off and was sacked. After the game, Mills said the team wanted to catch the Chargers off guard running when most expected a pass, but Rex Burkhead was the running back. It was again a situation, a key and critical moment, that the team trusted Burkhead over the more dynamic Dameon Pierce.

6. The Chargers were very chunky on offense against the Texans. There were 16 plays that went for at least ten yards for the Chargers of their 67 plays. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler were fantastic for Los Angeles.

7. The pass rush was non-existent for the Texans. This was one of the more disappointing aspects of the day to consider the Chargers were playing a rookie right guard, their center is injured but playing, and the left tackle was a backup left tackle. Nothing seemed to get home on an injured Justin Herbert. The Texans recorded just two quarterback hits in the game.

8. The linebackers got worked again. This is the absolute weakest unit on the team right now. They look like they’re easily exploited by most opposing offenses.

9. It was a rough day for the rookie class of the Texans. Derek Stingley was handled by Mike Williams on multiple occasions in key spots. Kenyon Green allowed a big sack and had a holding penalty erase a huge play. Jalen Pitre was the target of some offensive success in the Chargers' passing game.

10. Not all the rookies had a bad day. Dameon Pierce is so much fun to watch. He has the chance to be a truly impactful player for this team. His 75-yard touchdown scamper gave the team some juice, and he constantly fights and gets extra yards when the ball is headed his way. He finished with 14 carries and six catches for 20 total touches.

11. The Texans need teams to help them stay in games, and even then, it is a challenge. The tough part about where the Texans are through four games is there are some positives to look at and point to, but not enough to say the team is surely headed in the right direction. There surely has to be some adjustment by the team when the season is where it is after nearly a quarter of the year. The current direction isn’t going to lead anywhere positive soon.

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