4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

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.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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