This Texans team seems to be embracing their young players. Photo by Cody Stoots
It's early August and still hotter than a pot of gumbo cooking outside on the south Louisiana swamp. Back to school pics are flooding social media. The Astros have all but clinched the AL West. Chocolate, frozen foods, and other sensitive items still melt before you can get them home. Hurricane season is upon us. We also have the no more weekends without football until early February! Rejoice!
The return of football means NFL training camps are underway. The Hall of Fame Game and ceremony kicked things off this past week. With that comes unofficial depth charts. This is when teams will put out a depth chart of who's getting what reps in practice and whatnot. It's not "official" because we aren't in season. It's "unofficial" because it'll inevitably change due to injury (God forbid), play, or possibly even a change in scheme from game to game.
Screenshot via: Mark Berman/Twitter
What I noticed is the rookies and younger guys are no longer buried on the depth chart simply because they're rookies or inexperienced. Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre are starters because they've played themselves into those positions. Kenyon Green has been banged up, or else he'd also be a starter. Christian Harris is a backup, for now, because the vets in front of him have a better grasp of the scheme so far. Nico Collins and Davis Mills have proven themselves to be head and shoulders above the others at their respective positions (#2 receiver and starting quarterback respectively).
Gone are the days of bygone eras in which teams would bury young guys simply because they didn't have the experience. This old school mentality has long since needed to be trashed. If a guy can play, he should get the most playing time. I understand that their first and second rounders are starters, but they're also more talented than others. Collins and Mills were thrust into the spotlight as rookies because the team was devoid of talent last season. They used their time to earn a starting spot and have proven that they're still thought of as such even with the influx of new talent.
Could they have traded for or drafted a guy to compete with Mills? Sure. But why not give the guy a shot? If that third round pick turns into the franchise quarterback, you solved a MAJOR question mark with a cheap option and can use draft capital to sure up other areas of need/best player available. Letting these young guys earn valuable playing time also lets you know whether or not they're a fit in more ways than one.
For example: if a guy can show enough athleticism to earn playing time, can he learn the playbook to entrench himself as a starter and vice versa? Is this someone we want to extend ASAP? Do we need to find a replacement because he isn't cutting the mustard? Imagine if these guys pan out and the team has cheap starters for three to four years and are able to spend money on bringing in vets to help round out a roster that could be ready to contend? Novel idea, huh?
All that being said, I'm glad young guys are getting their shots. The best players should always play, no matter their age or draft status. Some with higher draft status will get longer leashes and that's good business. However, if a guy isn't cutting it, he shouldn't be ahead of someone who can do just as good, if not better. Kudos to the Texans for turning the corner and getting the ship headed in the right direction.
We're not saying this is the greatest photo of Alex Bregman ever…but we're not saying it's not. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.
Only Alex Bregman, his tireless crew (we’re looking at you, Tyler Straub), and his endless business and charity interests could make Major League Baseball’s quiet offseason seem so 24/7.
The latest: Wild Sol, the spicy and saucy new Southwest food brand that Alex and his wife Reagan have created — and just toasted with a totally fire launch party at EaDo hotspot Chapman & Kirby.
Alex and Reagan welcomed a star-studded, invite-only list of party people to celebrate the Wild Sol official launch and sample some savory — and spirited, literally — salsas (more on the “spirited” part in a moment). The party also saluted the Wild Sol team who have been working for more than a year on the launch: Laurice Howard, Reagan’s mother (and an Instagram treasure); the aforementioned Tyler Straub (whom we here at CultureMap have dubbed “Tyler the Creator”); Michael Posey, and Adrienne Price.
While hot Houston DJ Mr Rogers spun his party-perfect beats, the VIP crowd sampled Wild Sol’s line of Hot, Mild, Salsa Verde, and Mango Habanero salsas. Flecha Azul Tequilaprovided the perfect way to cool off from the spicy Mango Habanero and Hot salsas. Considered the fastest growing additive-free, ultra-premium tequila in the world, Flecha Azul was founded by A-list friend of the Bregmans — Mark Wahlberg — along with his partners Aron Marquez, and Abraham Ancer.
A Sol-powered party
Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña (aka La Torrenta) hit the party. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.
As for the crowd, it was a family affair and a who’s-who list of sports celebs. Guests included Alex’s mother, Jackie De Oliveira Bregman; and Reagan’s parents, Laurice and Grant Howard, with her brother Kyle Howard. Other guests included Flecha Azul Tequila founder Aron Marquez; Houston Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña; Astros business development director Kyle McLaughlin; Astros’ reporter Julia Morales Clark and husband Matt Clark; Adrienne and Jared Crane; rap legends Slim Thug and Paul Wall (who attended with his wife, Crystal); Warren Moon; former NFL star Adrian Peterson and his wife, Ashley; Madison Straub; Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale; former Houston Texans star Chester Pitts; Madelyn Payne; Haleigh Broucher; and Southern songstress Lenora and her fiancé Jarren Small.
The normally Navy SEAL-composed Alex Bregman tore it up on the dance floor and posed for an epic photo with his beloved Mom and with Paul Wall and Straub — making us wish they three would start a hip-hop act.
“I am so grateful for all of our friends and family who showed up to support,” said Alex Bregman of the party. “We’ve got great momentum and we’re looking forward to taking this to the next level.”
A little about the new Wild Sol salsas: each brings the heat and is made with an actual splash of Flecha Azul tequilas. Here’s the Wild Sol starting lineup:
Ladies and gentlemen, your Wild Sol starting lineup. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.
Hot Salsa: robust and spiced with dried chilies that really bring the heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila
Mild Salsa: rich with limes, tomatoes, and dried chilies for a touch of heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila
Salsa Verde: herby and smokey with tomatillos and vibrant serrano peppers; made with a splash of Los Coyotes Mezcal
Mango Habanero Salsa: sweet up front with fresh mangos and a punch of fiery habañeros; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Reposado Tequila
“We are excited to collaborate with our friends at Wild Sol,” said Flecha Azul Tequila founder Marquez. “Over the last year, I received samples of recipes, and their desire to produce a salsa that is unique and spirited shines through. You can’t have the best spirited salsa if you are not using the best tequila.”
No, you can’t, Aron. Those on the hunt for Wild Sol’s salsas can find it online at WildSol.co. — expect even more products this year. Houston shoppers can also look forward to Wild Sol on H-E-B and Kroger shelves in the coming months, the company promises. Score the Flecha Azul tequila line at local Spec’s, Total Wine & More, or online.
Breggy talks his bomb offseason
Bregman poses with his manager Tyler Straub just before he headed back to Phoenix after attending Astros Fan Fest. Photo by Steven Devadanam.
As we mentioned, few — if any — MLB stars have put in the work like Alex Bregman this offseason — on and off the field. Just how committed is the All-Star third baseman? In January, he flew in from Phoenix, where he’s been training, just to attend the Astros Fan Fest — only to hop a flight immediately after the event.
Seriously, does he sleep?
“Oh yeah,” Bregman told us at the event. “Sleep is the key. The sleep’s where you recover — you gotta sleep. I feel like that’s the best form of recovery for any athlete. So, we try to sleep eight to 10 hours a night.” When we jokingly asked if the headline is that Baby Knox (his son) is letting him sleep eight to 10 hours a night, Bregman chuckled.
“Oh, Knox sleeps — Knox might sleep 12 hours himself. He’s growing so much and I think it’s because he sleeps so well.”
Bregman, who (somehow) turns 30 on March 30, is well aware of all the speculation as to whether he’ll extend with the Astros, like his teammate José Altuve. He revealed good news for his fans who are waiting for an epic season.
Big things ahead
“I feel better than I’ve ever felt,” he told us. “I feel younger than I’ve ever felt. I feel more athletic than I’ve ever felt. I’m really looking forward to having a really good year.”
He’s also working on every part of his game as he readies for another World Series run, and is ready to play ball —as he works on every part of his game. “I think it’s every single aspect of the game, trying to get a little bit better,” he said. “This offseason’s been really hitting-focused and it’s been fantastic. I cannot even tell you how excited I am to get down to Florida and get going.”
We also caught up with Bregman at the annual Cactus Jack Celebrity Softball Tournament put on by Travis Scott this past week, where he hit the field with a host of all stars and celebrities. Having just headed up his Bregman Cares Classic tournament at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field, a ball game for a special cause meant that much more to him.
“It means so much,” he told us before the game. “Being able to help any community is such an honor.”
We also asked Bregman about his Super Bowl experience, where he partied with Houston Texans superstar quarterback C.J. Stroud and newly minted NFL Hall of Famer Andre Johnson, the first Texan to be inducted into the halls of Canton, Ohio.
“It was an honor to be able to hang with him and Andre,” Bregman added, “and celebrate their amazing seasons.”
And we’re ready to celebrate an amazing Bregman season, too.