Every-Thing Sports

Here's who really deserves the credit for O'Brien getting fired

Texans Bill O'Brien
Give credit where credit is due. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Did you hear those cheers all over the city around 3-4pm? They were loud, joyous, and audible from anywhere in the Houston metro area. Word on the street is they could be heard as far east as Beaumont and Lake Charles, as far north as Huntsville and Livingston. Hill Country and Galveston were able to hear them as well. Bill O'Brien is no longer employed by the Houston Texans!

This has been a long time coming and way overdue in most people's opinions. He's set this franchise up for failure. Now he's left a flaming hot dumpster fire of a mess behind for the next regime to come in and attempt to clean up. But why now? Why was he finally fired after an 0-4 start this season when there were so many other reasons and opportunities to get rid of him before? I'll tell you why. More importantly, I'll tell you who I believe is responsible! Me! That's who!

Recently, I started writing a series of articles titled Not my job. It was named after one O'Brien's infamous soundbites saying "it's not my job to do that." In games, and losses, against the Ravens, the Steelers, and the Vikings, O'Brien demonstrated his lack of coaching acumen. There were things that worked that he'd go away from inexplicably, strengths that he wouldn't or couldn't accentuate, and basic football 101 things he'd fumble at the most crucial times. I tried to be fair and honest without crushing the poor sap, but he was such an easy target, I couldn't help but take shots.

Then there was the time I compared him to that one uncle or friend we all have. You know who I'm talking about. The uncle who talks a lot of crap, but can't take it when he's the one getting roasted (Exhibit A: yelling back at a fan at halftime who tells him he sucks). Or that one friend who thinks they know everything and will stubbornly struggle instead of asking for help (Exhibit B: hiring an offensive coordinator, but foolishly choosing to call plays yourself). At the end of March, I appealed for my candidacy to replace O'Brien and the following week I laid out a plan for his exit.

I would like to take this time to tell the city of Houston and Texans fans thank you very much since I feel personally responsible for the removal of the cancerous tumor known as Bill O'Brien. I have it on good authority that team ownership, the McNair family, happen to be big fans of my work and hardcore fans of Gow Media in general. Sources have told me they pay close attention to this website, as well as ESPN 97.5, and more recently 92.5 when they're out at their ranch. These sources have also told me that there will be an exhaustive search for the new head coach and general manager.

My name was tossed into the ring, but because they appreciate my opinions in the realm I'm currently in, they'd hate to lose my valued contributions on this end of things. I'd like to thank the McNair family for alleviating this city and franchise of the infected boil on the butt cheek of this city/franchise. They managed to lance and drain it before it became too cancerous. Too bad that it spread, or else it would be easier to overcome. Now we'll have to wait until the new hires are made to see what's next. Fortunately, things can't get any worse right? Let's look forward to what is to come and not what was.

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Examining baseball's run scoring dilemma. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Baseball can’t run away from its lack of runs.

Batting averages are near half-century lows. Velocity is at an all-time high.

"Run scoring, it’s not easy to do. It’s hard and it’s getting harder,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Pitchers are getting better by the outing.”

The major league batting average was .240 through April and .239 in May, the lowest since the bottom of .237 in 1968’s Year of the Pitcher. It’s risen slightly along with the temperature as spring turned to summer: .246 in June and .250 in July, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Still, the season average of .243 heading into the All-Star break was just ahead of 2022 and 1968 as the lowest since the dead-ball era ended in 1920.

“Batting average was down a little bit. That’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re looking for action in the game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in late May.

And the drop isn’t just in the big leagues. This year’s minor league batting average is .243, down from .256 in 2019.

“I didn’t see 100 (mph) when I was playing. It’s commonplace now,” said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose last season was 2008.

Average four-seam fastball velocity is 94.2 mph this year, matching 2023 and up from 91.1 mph in 2008. There were 3,880 pitches of 100 mph or higher last year, up from 214 in 2008.

Just at Triple-A this year there have been 461.

“You can tell as a hitter. Guys are going to the top with the fastballs,” said Dylan Crews, the No. 2 draft pick last year and now at Washington's Triple-A Rochester farm team.

In an age of shortened attention spans, Major League Baseball has tried to increase action by instituting limits on defensive shifts in 2023 along with a pitch clock to cut dead time. The average time of a nine-inning game dropped from 3 hours, 4 minutes in 2022 to 2:40 last year and 2:36 thus far this season, but runs remain near post-Steroids Era lows: 4.39 per team each game, down from 4.62 last year and up from 4.28 in 2022.

Still, hitters have cut down slightly on strikeouts: the rate of 8.36 per team per game this season is the lowest since 2017, down from 8.61 last year and a record 8.81 in 2019.

“There’s more spin rate. There’s harder throwers,” San Diego star third baseman Manny Machado said. “There’s just so much information and I think that’s what creates the havoc and makes hitting a little bit harder.”

The percentage of fastballs — four-seamers, sinkers and cutters — is 55.5% this year, just above last season’s 55.4%. It was 62.5% in 2015.

Spin rates on sliders, sweepers and slurves have increased from 2,106 revolutions per minute in 2015 to 2,475 this year and their use has increased from 10.9% to 22.5%.

Team wonks view video and dissect data to provide pitchers pointers and batters blueprints. The Dodgers employ senior directors of baseball systems applications and baseball systems platforms along with directors of baseball strategy and information, quantitative analysis, baseball product development, integrative baseball performance, performance innovation lab and baseball innovation.

As a result of the perpetual perusal, pitchers are told what to throw, when to throw and how to throw.

Atlanta’s Max Fried mixes seven pitches: four-seamer, sinker, cutter, slider, sweeper, curveball and changeup.

“The information is so prevalent that there are no secrets,” Fried said. “Baseball is still a game of changing speeds and mixing up looks and if you can just kind of keep guys off balance as much as you possibly can there, you’re going to give yourself the best chance to be successful.”

The New York Yankees built a pitching laboratory known as the “Gas Station” at their minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, ahead of the 2020 season, a type of facility that is now becoming more commonplace. Pitchers from big leaguers down to high school have gone to Driveline in Kent, Washington, to develop their repertoires. “Pitch shape” has become a common term.

“You could go long periods, months maybe, where teams were not adding new pitches,” Baldelli said. “And now you see almost every series, you run in against a team and someone’s doing something completely different. I think the fear has kind of left the major league clubhouses when it comes to making adjustments.”

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