4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

Dusty, Bill, Andy and Kobe

Dusty, Bill, Andy and Kobe
Kobe Bryant transcended sports.

It's been a weird week for everyone, I think. Let's just hop into it.

Dusty Baker, eh?

Wednesday afternoon it became official that Dusty Baker would be the Astros next manager.

That was actually the first name I suggested on that darkest of Mondays. He's handled big names and big expectations before, and aside from Joe Espada or Bruce Bochy being coaxed out of retirement, he seemed like the best fit.

Some wanted an authoritarian, no nonsense manager like a Buck Showalter. It just never seemed to make sense in my mind how that kind of personality would jell with the players. This Astros team is still very very good, and bringing in anything other than a player's coach would poison the water.

It will be interesting to see how willing a 70 year old Baker is to adopt that Astros noted affinity towards analytics, but I don't think he would've been offered the job otherwise.

Pitchers and catchers report in 13 days, FYI.

Texans balk at fans, make Bill O'Brien supreme ruler

Seriously. Well, they promoted him to general manager at least. It's so hard to watch the McNairs double down on this guy. Whatever. Go Roughnecks.

Super bowl stuff

I'm actually legitimately excited for this Super Bowl. The teams are both stacked and they both steamrolled their way in. The Chiefs have an unreal offense, while the 49ers have a staggering defense. You've got the young upstart coach looking to legitimize his place in the ring against one of the game's legends seeking the one accolade that has eluded him thus far. Patrick Mahomes is goofy, Jimmy Garappolo is gorgeous. There are reasons to root for both sides if you don't necessarily care one way or the other about either team, and that just adds to it.

Personally, I'm rooting for Andy Reid. If Andy Reid were my neighbor, he seems like the type of guy that would bring mis-delivered mail over, put a fallen bicycle back up on its kickstand, and also water your yard on the way out. Here's hoping Mahomes takes some Dramamine before the big game and helps the big guy cement his place in Canton. If you have something bad to say about Andy Reid, take it somewhere else. This is a pro-Andy column.

And yeah, Kobe

I really wanted to write something poignant about the whole Kobe Bryant thing. I tried about three different angles, but none of it rang true. It sounded hollow. So I'm just going to shoot from the hip and see what falls.

I wasn't always a fan of Kobe. Hell, I'd say I've spent most of my life booing him to be honest. People change though, especially once the sport part is over.

I grew up watching Kobe play. I watched him grow old. I watched him fail. I watched him succeed. I watched him succeed a lot. Kobe Bryant, as far as I've known my entire life, has always been intertwined within the fabric of the NBA.

I've never known basketball that doesn't include Kobe Bryant.

It's just the suddenness I suppose. The only other time I've felt this sort of grief toward celebrity was the day that Robin Williams died. It was sudden, too. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

It's not grief over a ball player either. Kobe Bryant, through all of his faults, didn't just become a legend. He became a philosophy. He was a brutal pursuit, personified. You don't teach legends. You teach philosophies.

In college we had a copy of NBA 2K9. I once played a guy with the Lakers and told him I could beat him scoring only with Kobe, and he could pick whatever team he wanted. He picked the Jordan All-Star team and scored 100 points.

I beat him by 20. Kobe beat him by 20.

I'll end with this fun stat. Kobe Bryant played the Rockets 61 times in his career. Out of 61 contests, do you know how many times the Mamba was held to single digits scoring?

FOUR.

I'm still processing this whole thing. Everyone take care.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Will Blanco stay in the starting rotation moving forward? Composite Getty Image.

Coming off two tough losses against the Texas Rangers, the Astros were able to respond with a win on Sunday as Ronel Blanco was flirting with a second consecutive no-hitter.

Editor's note: This article and video were published before the Astros announced Framber Valdez's elbow injury.

Blanco has clearly been a bright spot in Houston's rotation, but overall the starting pitching has been good. One big concern in the rotation though has to be Hunter Brown. And while JP France hasn't been great, he's at least pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. Unlike Brown, who gave up an early five spot on Friday night that led to a blowout win for Texas.

With Justin Verlander hopefully ready to return in the coming weeks, who will be the odd man out in the rotation? If we had to decide today, the answer appears to be Hunter Brown.

Speaking of pitching issues, Josh Hader, Ryan Pressly, and Bryan Abreu have all struggled this season. But we're not too concerned with only ten games in the books. These guys are proven high-leverage pitchers. And Hader did record his first save of the season on Sunday, but even that didn't come easy. Hader gave up a run in the ninth inning before securing the win for Houston.

Rafael Montero and Seth Martinez are both pitching better than expected, so the bullpen could be a real force to be reckoned with once they're firing on all cylinders.

What about the offense?

We're still waiting for Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu to get things going, but the Astros offense is hitting better than they're getting credit for. They currently have the 7th-best OPS in MLB, they just need to be a little more consistent.

Don't miss the video above to watch the full conversation!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan. We'll drop a new video every Sunday and Tuesday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Go 'Stros!

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome