The Astros just celebrated a World Series win. Harry How/Getty Images
When did the final whistle of the NFL season start the clock on the baseball season? The moment Tom Brady’s final pass hit the turf and the Eagles won their first Super Bowl twitter took a dark turn. I don’t follow many people to avoid clutter but my picky twitter habits didn’t stop the onslaught of baseball tweets and retweets. It came from team-run accounts, media members and fans. Everyone was celebrating the start of the baseball season. On Feb. 5. The same Sunday night as the Super Bowl. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Baseball is fine if you like that sort of thing. That “sort of thing” is a sport that has traditionally frowned on players showing emotion that falls outside of what is deemed acceptable. A sport that features an archaic set of unwritten rules that you have no idea exist until one is broken. Do you think you might enjoy a sport that polices itself by hurling a hard fist-size projectile at a person’s ribs? Then I’ve got 162 games for you. That’s right, 162 games. Games that can range in length from two-plus hours to double the length of a feature film. The following will be a common scenario at the beginning of April:
“Meet me at Cinemark at 9:30 for Black Panther? I’m watching the Astros right now.” - Baseball Fan
“But it’s only 4. I was thinking 7:30. How long can a game take?“ - someone smarter than Baseball Fan
“We never really know.” - Baseball Fan says wistfully
There is more than enough baseball to go around. The games that count begin in early April and end in October, if we’re lucky. In the case of the 2017 season we were “treated” to November baseball. A logical person might say that is way too much baseball for anyone reasonable. I’m resigned to the fact that the season won’t be shortened to 100 games or to my preferred 80. But baseball fans will not convince me that the third most popular sport in America actually begins in February. Don’t get too comfortable with that distant bronze medal either. Soccer is gaining and if the US Soccer Federation could put together a decent product baseball would get knocked off the medal stand.
There are multiple major sporting events on the calendar before baseball actually begins to matter. NBA All-Star weekend begins on the 16th of this month. The NFL Draft starts April 26th. The NBA Finals begin May 31st. The World Cup begins June 14th. These are all things that will take over the national conversation while baseball twitter is telling us “it’s too early to make draw conclusions” or “there is still so much baseball left.” Your favorite baseball team could put together a ten-game winning streak and it wouldn’t cause a blip. No one will care but the seven percent of the American population that still considers the sport America’s Pastime. By the way, a 10-game winning streak in baseball happens to equate to just under 6.2 percent of total games in a season. Yeah, the season is way too long.
I’m getting distracted. This isn’t so much about baseball as it is about baseball twitter. Twitter accounts operated by the Astros, MLB and something called Cut4 immediately announced the start of baseball season after the Super Bowl ended. They weren’t the only ones. Of all teams, the Marlins decided to tell us it is “their turn.” The Marlins? How many people in south Florida could name four Marlins? Just stop it. You have your place, baseball twitter. There is that little sweet spot after the Final Four and before the conference finals in the NBA. A little over a month to try to not overwhelm us with early season stats that you readily admit don’t mean much. Until then keep quiet. The rest of us just tolerate you.
The World Series lasted into November and the Astros defeated the Dodgers in Game 7 to win their first World Series. Baseball season was taken to the very limit and I guess it was so great people can’t wait to start it all over again.
Well I can wait.
The season really begins July 4. You know this baseball twitter. Don’t try to change the rules now.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.