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The Houston Texans knew they had a problem, and this is how they're addressing it

The Houston Texans knew they had a problem, and this is how they're addressing it
The Houston Texans seem to be focused on repairing their image. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

"It's a new day, yes it is!" That's how the theme song from one of my all time favorite wrestling tag teams/groups starts. One of my favorite lines says "Can't change the past/Gotta let it unfold." If this doesn't apply to the 2022 Houston Texans, I don't know what does.

Over the last few years, the Texans have been a laughingstock. From a comedy of errors under Bill O'Brien, to Cal McNair's reputation as Tommy Boy, Jack Easterby was once thought to be some sort of Boogeyman, to the fans finally having had enough and fighting back with their wallets. Things haven't been smooth sailing on Kirby Drive. It started to look like a never-ending rainy day for a while. Then it happened. Nick Caserio came in riding his white horse and the weather started clearing up.

Initially, some were still skeptical, yours truly included. We had every right to feel that way. He was yet another in a line from New England. "Patriots South" was beginning to look like a real thing, even though Cal denied it. Before he could get settled, his franchise quarterback wanted out and was also found out to be an alleged pervert. That's when Caserio started to push all the right buttons.

Some people thrive under pressure. Some crumble worse than a dry ass Popeye's biscuit. Caserio is one of the ones that has managed to make coals into diamonds. Armed with a bad cap situation, devoid of draft picks in his first draft, a talented QB who wants out, and an owner trying his best to do the right things, he navigated it all masterfully so far. He traded Watson for a nice haul and used those picks in this past draft to address some concerns. Knowing the QB talent was better in the upcoming draft, he's giving Davis Mills an opportunity to show what he's got. Their collective appearance on The Pat McAfee Show recently was to show the national media something we here in Houston see every day: there are new faces of this franchise, and it's headed in the right direction.

While Mills still has to prove he can be the franchise QB, Caserio has done a good job of putting talent around him to place him in a position to succeed. If Mills is a hit, the team can use the draft capital to improve other areas of the team, and Caserio has another feather in his cap. If Mill isn't "the guy", the team will draft one of the top prospects and move on. Third round QBs that don't work out aren't seen as failures per se because expectations aren't as high. However, I believe Mills' floor is a career backup and he still holds value even if he isn't seen as a starter. Besides, who wouldn't want a guy who went to Stanford in the QB room?

Easterby has faded into the background after being thrust into the spotlight. He seems to have been thrown in the ring with a grizzly bear and come out unscathed. Lots of us were wrong about him. I now believe he was forced into a situation he wasn't prepared for, made the best he could out of it, and is now settling back into the role he originally sought out, which is the owner's right-hand man and a team/player development type of guy.

The person who deserves just as much, if not more, credit than Caserio is Cal. He went from Tommy Boy to Boss Hog in the matter of a year or so. The story of him playing video games sitting on the floor of his office fed into the perception of him being a doofus. Now, he's literally kissing babies, handing out shorts, and grilling for the fans. He's been seen at the forefront of food/water drives, as well as being very visible and accessible to fans at training camp.

These are the new faces of this franchise moving forward. Look for newer players to take some of their places when their play starts to equal wins for this team. "Get us back on the right road/On the right track/On the right flow (That’s right)/Live in the future that we all know."

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Will robot umps improve baseball? Composite Getty Images.

Major League Baseball could test robot umpires as part of a challenge system in spring training next year, which could lead to regular-season use in 2026.

MLB has been experimenting with the automated ball-strike system in the minor leagues since 2019 but is still working on the shape of the strike zone.

“I said at the owners meeting it is not likely that we would bring ABS to the big leagues without a spring training test. OK, so if it’s ’24 that leaves me ’25 as the year to do your spring training test if we can get these issues resolved, which would make ’26 a viable possibility,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday during a meeting with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. "But is that going to be the year? I’m not going to be flat-footed on that issue.

“We have made material progress. I think that the technology is good to a 100th of an inch. The technology in terms of the path of the ball is pluperfect.”

Triple-A ballparks have used ABS this year for the second straight season, but there is little desire to call the strike zone as the cube defined in the rule book and MLB has experimented with modifications during minor league testing.

The ABS currently calls strikes solely based on where the ball crosses the midpoint of the plate, 8.5 inches from the front and the back. The top of the strike zone was increased to 53.5% of batter height this year from 51%, and the bottom remained at 27%.

"We do have technical issues surrounding the definition of the strike zone that still need to be worked out,” Manfred said.

After splitting having the robot alone for the first three games of each series and a human with a challenge system in the final three during the first 2 1/2 months of the Triple-A season, MLB on June 25 switched to an all-challenge system in which a human umpire makes nearly all decisions.

Each team currently has three challenges in the Pacific Coast League and two in the International League. A team retains its challenge if successful, similar to the regulations for big league teams with video reviews.

“The challenge system is more likely or more supported, if you will, than the straight ABS system,” players' association head Tony Clark said earlier Tuesday at a separate session with the BBWAA. "There are those that have no interest in it at all. There are those that have concerns even with the challenge system as to how the strike zone itself is going to be considered, what that looks like, how consistent it is going to be, what happens in a world where Wi-Fi goes down in the ballpark or the tech acts up on any given night.

“We’re seeing those issues, albeit in minor league ballparks," Clark added. "We do not want to end up in a world where in a major league ballpark we end up with more questions than answers as to the integrity of that night’s game or the calls associated with it.”

Playing rules changes go before an 11-member competition committee that includes four players, an umpire and six team representatives. Ahead of the 2023 season, the committee adopted a pitch clock and restrictions on defensive shifts without support from players.

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