1 ON 1 WITH BLUMMER

Geoff Blum sets record straight on Astros legacy, MLB’s “need” of big market teams

Astros Geoff Blum, Lance Berkman
Geoff Blum talks all things Astros on the eve of the ALCS. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
Apology from Houston Astros broadcaster highlights glaring problem with "standards"

We caught up with Astros TV color analyst Geoff Blum to get his opinion on the American League Championship Series and the possibility of another World Series victory parade in Houston. Also to let him vent his frustration over being shoved out of the broadcast booth in favor of network announcers during the post-season. Trust us, Blummer, Astros fans feel cheated, too. These national announcers ...

SportsMap: How do you rate the Astros chances to win the World Series this year? Does the team have any weaknesses that worry you?

Blum: Oh man, you know what? The answer is no. There’s really nothing that worries me. If we were looking for perfection, for me personally if I was managing the Astros, it would be just the depth on the bench. I would love to have a left-handed power bat on the bench that would be a threat to the opposing manager and maybe force his hand to make a move with his bullpen. This ball club has been built with a strong nucleus. The infield is one of the best in baseball even with Jeremy Pena replacing Carlos Correa. The outfield has done a good enough job. If there was a way to get better in center field at the trade deadline, they would have done it. They felt comfortable enough with Mauricio Dubon, Chas McCormick, with Jake Meyers. The pitching staff, if they go as far as we think they will, may go down as one of the best in Astros history, if not Major League history. That’s why I feel they have a really good possibility of winning this World Series.

SportsMap: We always hear that baseball needs the Dodgers and Yankees in the World Series to pop a rating. Is that really true?

Geoff Blum: I don’t believe so. If you compare what’s happening now in the post-season to what happens in March Madness, sometimes when you have expanded playoffs it’s OK to have an underdog go out there and compete. America likes that. I also think it’s great for baseball to show its parity.

(Note: the 1980 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals is tied for the highest-rated Fall Classic ever. Lowest rated, the 2020 World Series with the Dodgers vs. Rays. So there.)

SportsMap: Are there too many clubhouse celebrations in baseball? We’re constantly watching the Astros pour champagne over each other.

Blum: Having enjoyed several myself, the answer is no. I think they’re great. I know that people think they are excessive, but baseball, like the NBA and NHL, when you’re playing extended seasons, you’re grinding. I love the idea of clubhouse celebrations.

SportsMap: What does it feel like to get champagne in your eyes?

Blum: I’m not sure there’s a way to describe it – maybe putting a Tic Tac in your eyeball. It’s an explosion of pain you never felt before, but it’s also the most refreshing and exciting thing you’ve ever felt. It’s a realization that in order to pop that bottle of champagne and have it wasted on top of your head, you’ve achieved ultimate success.

SportsMap: Is it accurate to call the current Houston Astros a dynasty? They’re competing in their six consecutive American League Championship Series, but they’ve won only one World Series during that stretch.

Blum: I think it does rely on championships. As close as they got in 2019, that would have started talk of this being a dynasty. The ability to sustain the greatness, what they’ve been able to do going to their sixth straight American League Championship Series is a credit to everybody up and down the organization. You need to have an owner who realizes he’s going to have to spend a little bit to get the personnel on the field to go win championships. You need to have a minor league development system that understands you’re nurturing these players to win as a team and not just perform individually. It’s a credit to these players who go out there and wear that Houston logo on their chests and play their hearts out. Right now you could say it’s a legacy, but to call it a dynasty another World Series win might be necessary. But even if they don’t, this is a time in Astros history we will be talking about for decades.

SportsMap: Players want to play for winning teams, do broadcasters want to broadcast winning teams, too? Are other broadcasters jealous of you, Todd Kalas and Julia Morales?

Blum: Yeah, they are. You know, I started my broadcast career with the Astros in 2013 so I have a great appreciation for what is happening now. I understand what it’s like to call games for a team that loses a hundred games. It’s not easy. It’s hard to sell hope. But the fact that we were selling hope and now we’re accomplishing it makes it that much sweeter. Broadcasters from other teams constantly tell us that we’re on a great run. They ask us, what is it like to go into every single game knowing that you have the opportunity to win? That’s what makes this broadcast so much fun for us.

SportsMap: Do you, Todd and Julia feel cheated because you broadcast the entire Astros regular season, 162 games on AT&T SportsNet, but you’re sidelined for the post-season when the networks take over? Is it like you take a woman on a date, you pay for dinner and then she goes home with another guy?

Blum: When you put it that way, oh hell yeah! We talk about that all the time. The players grind it out for 162 games in a long season. Todd, Julia and I feel the same way. We have ups and downs just like the players do, we get to ride on the plane with them, we get to be in their club house. But once Game 162 is over, we’re completely cut off from the opportunity to have our voices and our energy continue in the post-season. Sure it’s frustrating.

SportsMap: After the Astros won the World Series in 2017, George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman went on Saturday Night Live for a skit during the Weekend Update segment.

Which current Astros have the comedic talent to go on SNL?

Blum: Who would I want to see on Saturday Night Live? After the clubhouse celebrations this year, Chas McCormick might be one of the leaders with a personality to go on a show like that. It would be Lance McCullers, maybe Ryan Stanek. Actually Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris might be the two guys who lead my picks. They’re highly entertaining.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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