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.
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.
1. Anybody have Winter Olympic fever yet? 2. Remember Terrence Jones? Playing in the G-league. 3. Best walkaround U.S. cities: Bronze-Seattle Silver-San Francisco Gold-New York
Per The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Framber Valdez plans on both he and the catcher calling pitches this year. He said he “wants to feel more comfortable,” adding “not that I don't feel comfortable with the catchers, but I want to feel comfortable and throw the pitches with more conviction…to feel like I have the game in my hands.”
Framber Valdez has the PitchCom device on his glove as he warms up before the first inning in West Palm Beach. Yainer Diaz is catching him today. https://t.co/tqgmzwfN7r
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 1, 2024
Is that a good thing? Either way, it seems like a return to form for Framber Valdez is the biggest “what if” for the 2024 Houston Astros.
Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant & Joe George discuss.