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Here are two distinctly different looks at J.J. Watt's epic rant

Texans JJ Watt
JJ's had enough. Composite photo by Jack Brame
Two looks at J.J. Watt's rant

After losing to the hapless Bengals, the Texans managed to reach a new low. This was their only loss to a team deemed to be subpar. All other losses were to teams either in the playoffs or in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. Needless to say, the losing has caught up to J.J. Watt and he couldn't hold back any longer:

I've never seen J.J. act like this before. He seems frustrated and pissed off for lack of a better term. All the losing, all the doubters, all the turmoil, it's finally gotten to him. I've heard and seen two different schools of thought on this rant. One side has people skeptical of Watt and wondering where was all this fire previously. The other side has people fired up and ready to run through a brick wall. I can see and explain both sides.

The ones who are questioning Watt's intentions and timing have every right to do so. Why is he just now getting so fired up? Where was this when Bill O'Brien was ruining the franchise? Why now? Fans who feel this way are the same ones who've always felt skeptical of Watt's persona. He probably comes off as doing way too much to them and someone who's willing to do what he has to do in order to get the spotlight on him. More than likely, these fans are solidly behind trading Watt to get a draft pick, or cutting him altogether to clear the cap space.

Then there are the fans who are ready to suit up and run through a wall. They love the rah rah stuff Watt does and this is right up their alley. Any time Watt has one of these moments, these are the fans that fall more in love with him. They're the ones he was talking about that still tweet and comment online that they love the team. They're the ones he referenced when he talked about spending their hard-earned money to continue to support this team. This segment of fans want Watt to stay with the team no matter what until he retires.

In my own humble opinion, I like the passion J.J. showed. Fans get too caught up in the timing or assumed meaning behind certain actions. They also tend to wear team colored glasses and feel as if their team/players can do no wrong. Let the players and their emotions play out without riding too high or too low. Easy for me to say when I only write my opinion about the tea. I'm not deeply invested on a more personal level. But I get both sides. I just so happen to side with the fans who enjoyed Watt's rant more than the detractors. I like when players show this level of care and passion. We will never know if this was his true feelings, or a front. I will speculate this was a spur of the moment thing because it didn't seem rehearsed, and he stumbled a few times. Maybe we'll get to see more of this in the future, maybe not. But I love it. Tip of the cap to J.J. for calling it like he sees it and not being afraid of the fallout.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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