The Astros won the AL West. Again! Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Houston Astros clinched their fifth American League West Championship in the past six seasons on Monday when they defeated Tampa Bay 4-0.
Houston’s success the past few years include a World Series championship, three AL championships and five straight ALCS appearances. The Astros are almost guaranteed to be the No. 1 seed in the AL again this postseason. However, the Astros’ success has been long overshadowed by the sign stealing scandal in 2017.
Despite the public backlash, loss of key players and change in leadership, there has been one constant — Houston keeps winning. With yet another season in which the Astros dominated the AL West, it looks like the team is beginning to give outsiders no choice but to acknowledge that they are just that good. 2017 was not an aberration. It was the beginning, and national media is catching on.
In an article from Deadspin’s Sam Fels, he brought up what Astros fans know more than anyone else. When the team has success, and posts about it on social media specifically, people are quick to dismiss it due to the five-year-old cheating scandal.
The irony is that Houston was not alone in stealing signs, which Fels mentioned. Both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been linked to doing similar deeds. Boston even brought back their manager after he was punished for it. The difference, however, is that the Astros have never fallen off the mountain top.
Five straight seasons have seen Houston make it to the ALCS, which might just have to be renamed the Astros invitational at some point. Not even the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are the closest team that has mirrored the Astros’ success can boast that in the National League.
Houston’s done it with the core that won the 2017 World Series, and they’ve done it with new players too. Trey Mancini, who only recently joined the Astros at the trade deadline, told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart the team’s culture is just different.
Everyone wants their team to be the Astros, that’s what everyone is really angry about, Fels said in his article. Deadspin is one of the first, and if Houston keeps winning, other national outlets, even those based in Los Angeles and New York, will have no choice but to acknowledge that as well.
In the post-Super Bowl analysis, one key observation was … if you want success in today’s NFL, before anything else, you need a great coach and a great quarterback.
Like the Kansas City Chiefs duo of coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“As long as those two are together, the Chiefs will be serious contenders for the Super Bowl.”
If Houston Texans fans weren’t already champing at the bit for the 2024 season to start, this should put them over the moon.
Great coach? Check! Rookie coach DeMeco Ryans brought respectability back to a doddering franchise with a wave of his hand. He took a team that had won 11 games over the past three seasons – combined – and pushed the Texans to a 10-7 regular season record, an AFC South title and a home playoff victory. No wonder he tied Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski for NFL Coach of the Year only to lose the crown based on one measly first-place vote edge to Stefanski. Texans fans were livid. Where’s the My Pillow guy when you need him?
Great quarterback? Check! Rookie C.J. Stroud set the NFL on fire last season, throwing 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His accuracy and touch had NFL experts scratching their heads – has there ever been a rookie quarterback to match Stroud’s talent?
Let’s say it’s true, the key to success is having a great coach and great quarterback. The Texans would be a safe investment for the future.
Right now, the NFL is all about the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid is 65 and quarterback Mahomes is 28. They ain’t going anywhere for the next few seasons.
But not far behind in the coach-quarterback theorem are the Texans. DeMeco Ryans is 39 years old. C.J. Stroud is 22.
If you had to rate coach-quarterback combos, who are you taking for the next 10 years? Give me Ryans and Stroud. The Texans future is bright and young. You can’t even say, just wait for them to develop. The Texans are already there. Just wait till next season.
Back on Earth: I’m not comparing Stroud and Mahomes as players. Mahomes is the best, most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen. But it’s fair to compare their statistics from 2023 – and looking at raw numbers, Stroud stands toe-to-toe with Mahomes and had a better year in certain columns, like touchdowns vs. interceptions. Mahomes threw 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season.
Of course statistics are funny numbers. After the Chiefs victory over the 49ers, the networks were comparing Mahomes’ Super Bowl performances against the all-time greats.
It’s a fruitless challenge – comparing Mahomes to, say Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is not oranges to oranges. The game has changed drastically since Bradshaw was throwing ropes to superstar receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, both of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bradshaw went 4-0 in Super Bowls. His stats must be elite, right? Not exactly. For his career, which included an MVP season and multiple Pro Bowl selections, Bradshaw completed a paltry 51.9 percent of his passes, a stat that would put him well at the bottom of the barrel in today’s NFL. Even more surprising, he threw 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions – a ratio that would bench a modern quarterback.
The great Joe Namath? He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too. Broadway Joe barely completed half of his passes, a career mark of 50.1 percent. He threw 173 touchdowns and a staggering 220 interceptions. Both numbers would have today’s fans screaming to put in the backup quarterback.
Like Jets fans hooted their quarterback Zach Wilson this year? Wilson was dead last, the lowest-rated quarterback in the entire NFL this season. Here’s how horrible Wilson was – he completed 60.1 percent of his passes in 2023, a significant improvement over Hall of Famers Bradshaw and Namath.