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Let's discuss how the 2022 Houston Astros are giving off familiar vibes

Justin Verlander is a sight for sore eyes. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2005 was almost a lifetime ago. Things were very different back then. Minute Maid had been "The Juice Box" for almost six years. The iPhone hadn't been invented/debuted yet. My son was a toddler, my daughter hadn't been born yet, and I was about 20 to 30lbs lighter. The Astros were thought to be a contender with the team they had assembled. That team had what should be four Hall of Famers on it, but that's another story for another article.

The strong point on that '05 team was the pitching staff. They had starters that could go five to seven or more innings, then a bullpen that could come in and close it out. The lineup couldn't hit its way out of a wet paper bag. Sure, they had a few guys with 20-plus homers, but batting .256 as a team didn't scare anyone. They started 15-30, the Chronicle published the tombstone, and they went on a run to a World Series appearance. They were swept by the White Sox, but only outscored by six runs total. I always wonder what would've happened had they been able to score a few more runs?

The 2022 Astros are giving me similar vibes. The biggest difference is this team is much more balanced than the '05 team. This team has a little bit of everything: pitching (starters and bullpen) and hitting (power and average). With Justin Verlander coming off Tommy John surgery, Carlos Correa gone, and a universal designated hitter, things are a lot different from previous years for the Astros.

Other than Verlander and Lance McCullers, everyone else is relatively healthy. The pitching staff isn't as dominant, but they're pretty damn good. The lineup is light years ahead of the '05 team. They also have better chemistry and a more experienced/battle-tested manager. This team can still contend for a World Series title beyond the '22 season, whereas the '05 team was on its last legs of relevancy. Guys like Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker should be the faces of the franchise for years to come. In '05, their average age was over 30 and most of their careers were over not too long thereafter.

I could see this version of the Astros being counted out early on as their roster gets into shape and gets its bearings because of the shortened Spring Training, then coming on like an out-of-control freight train. After going 15-30, the '05 team went 74-43 the rest of the way. I'm visualizing Verlander getting fully healthy and starting to get into a groove coinciding with the team taking off and running away from the rest of their division to secure a playoff spot. From there, their experience should take over in crunch time to lead them on another deep run.

This team is capable of winning a World Series, but it also has deficiencies that could lead to disappointment. They haven't missed the playoffs since 2016, and I highly doubt they start now. What I would like to see is the pitching staff being able to carry the lineup more consistently. The '05 team was completely carried by their staff. If the '22 staff can at least hold teams under three or four runs on days when the lineup can't score more than four or five, this team will be really good. Bottom line: I see a World Series run in this team's immediate future. How they get there is up for debate. What isn't is my belief in this team.

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Upton and Verlander are headed to the Big Apple. Photo by Elsa/ Getty Images.

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winnerJustin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Upton clearly gives zero bleeps when defending her man. Kate Upton/Twitter

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