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Election day in Houston sports

Election day in Houston sports
It's J.J. Watt for America. J.J. Watt Twitter account

Today is Election Day for the mid-term elections. If you haven’t already voted, stop reading this right now and go vote dammit! But come back and finish this once you’ve exercised your right to vote.

That being said, I looked at the current landscape around Houston sports and determined there are some figures who could run for office. Some could get elected, some are going to create controversy, and some are dark horses that could rise to prominence. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates:

JJ Watt

Watt is seen as one of the favorites in any race. He has the all-American image and is generally viewed as a shoe-in. However, his spotty record as far as staying healthy enough to perform his duties once elected has the opposition ready to pounce. Ideally, he’d need to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, serve a complete two year term to prove he’s to prove he’s fit for the job and can perform at a high level like he did when he entered the political arena back in 2011.

Simone Biles

Here’s an underrated politician who’s done nothing but win and serve the public on a local, national, and international level in her years of service. She’s still considered a long shot due to the opposition refusing to recognize her accomplishments. The fact that her foreign relations record is impeccable shows that she’d make a great Secretary of State because she’s a beloved figure the world over. She’s also been seen as a dark horse for becoming the first female president. Great follow on social media.

James Harden

Harden is one of those public figures who has some bones in his closet. For some reason, people either tend to overlook his flaws, or excuse them. Either way, he’s the type that would win the election due to interference or some other dubious manor. There was a report of an incident in which someone spoke out about his community relations record that ended up being assaulted and robbed, but nothing was effectively traced back to Harden himself.

Jose Lima

Although Lima is no longer with us, his presence still looms large. He’s the J.F.K. type figure whose accomplishments and larger than life personality are still talked about years after his passing. Some try to live up to his carefree nature and endear themselves to fans, but few will ever some close to filling his shoes. That was until Alex Bregman came along.

D’Onta Foreman/Gerald Green

These guys are homegrown stars who are here to give back through their public service to their communities. Both are self-made and now want to use their platform to improve things on a grassroots level. Instead of searching out greener pastures, they chose to come back home in hopes of giving the kids who they identify with a better shot at making something of themselves through improving education. Solid guys who are the city council lifer types with a chance to run for mayor should the stars align in their favor.

Jose Altuve

Here’s the little guy that came to this country with nothing and made himself political giant. How? He busted his ass and worked harder than the next guy. He didn’t listen to people when they said “But Jose, they’ll never accept you!” Instead, he kept plugging away and grinding it out for the people. Now, he’s the overwhelming favorite to be governor of Texas and has people thinking of changing the laws to run for the presidency.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m willing to place my vote behind a few of these political figures. Are there any I missed? Please write-in their names on the ballot here and let me know.

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Jose Abreu looks lost at the plate. Composite Getty Image.

It’s a long baseball season, sure the Astros have started 4-8, and there are plenty of fingers to point around. But there’s no need to push the panic button.

Not yet.

Last year, the Astros didn’t start much better – they were 5-7 after a dozen games. It just seemed different, though. Nobody was wringing hands over the slow start. After all, the Astros were the defending World Series champions, coming off a 106-win season and figured to make mincemeat of the American League West again. Business as usual.

This year is different. The Astros are losing games in very un-Astros-like fashion. While the starting pitching has been surprisingly fine, at least the starters healthy enough to take the field, the bullpen has been a mess. The back end relievers, supposedly the strongest in all of baseball, have been disappointing. Bryan Abreu’s earned run average is 5.79. Ryan Pressly’s ERA is a sky-high 11.57 and closer Josh Hader, the best shutdown in the bigs, is at 6.00. The Astros are losing games late.

The Astros starting rotation is comprised mostly of seat-fillers. The Astros are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers to be declared fit for battle. McCullers’ contribution to the team in recent years has primarily been confined to H-E-B commercials.

Impatient fans and copy-hungry media need a target to blame for the Astros’ slow start and they’ve zero’d in on first baseman Jose Abreu.

For good reason. Abreu, 37, a former American League MVP, is being paid 19.5 million this year and next. He is having a miserable time at the plate. Originally slated for No. 5 in the batting order, now dropped to No. 7 and sinking in the west, Abreu is hitting a paltry .088. But that number actually is deceptively positive. He has three hits (all singles) in 34 at bats, with 12 strikeouts, no home runs and no RBI. Frankly one of Abreu's singles was a pity hit from a friendly scorekeeper who could have given Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. an error on Abreu’s weak grounder Tuesday night.

We can go all-analytics and brain-busting stats to explain Abreu’s troubles at the plate. But let’s use simple baseball language: Abreu is horrible. He’s done. Maybe it’s time for the Astros to cut bait. He is untradeable.

Abreu had a disastrous 2023 season, batting .237, the lowest average of his 11-year career. But after 12 games last year, he was hitting .271, not bad at all. Or as Larry David would say, pret-tay, pret-tay, pre-tay good.

This year he’s fallen off the end of the Earth. Fans groan as he swings meekly at breaking balls outside the zone. Or he fails to catch up to 95 mph-plus. Or he can’t connect on low inside pitches. Look, when you’re batting .088, it’s all bad.

Last year, the Astros actually had two, as Little Leaguers put it, automatic outs in the lineup. Abreu hit .237 and catcher Martin Maldonado blasted .191.

This year, it’s a tight battle between who’s the worst of the worst. Maldy is hitting .091 with two hits in 22 at bats and no RBI for Abreu’s old team, the Chicago White Sox. Abreu is hitting .088 for Maldonado’s old team, the Astros. This could go down to the last week of the season.

If Abreu is still with the Astros at season’s end. The Astros are no longer the high exalted dominant force in the American League West. They can’t afford an .088 hitter in the lineup. They can’t play eight against nine.

It didn’t help when manager Joe Espada recently said, “I got a ton of confidence in Abreu. I'm not going to talk about strategy. José Abreu has been a really good hitter for a very long time, and I have 100 percent confidence in José that, at some point, he's going to start hitting.”

How long is at some point? Didn’t Astros fans go through this last year with manager Dusty Baker refusing to sit Maldonado despite Maldy killing rallies in a tight pennant race?

The Astros don’t have a strong support system, especially backing Abreu at first base. But there are options. Mauricio Dubon is a jack of all trades. He could play first. Despite the funny line in Moneyball, first base statistically is the easiest position to play in baseball. Backup catcher Victor Caratini can fill the gap until the Astros sign a free agent first baseman.

Or the Astros could do something that would light a fire under fans: call up rookie Joey Loperfido, who’s belted five homers and driven in 13 RBI in 10 games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

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