4th and a mile with Paul Muth

Houston's sideline untouchables

Mattress Mack
Photo courtesy of Gallery Furniture

Nothing makes sense anymore.

This is already an insane start for a year by any measure. Well it seems Chaos heard our cries of bewilderment and had a "hold my beer" moment in the sports world on Monday night.

In a shocking move, famed director (and likely final Knicks fan) Spike Lee announced he would no longer be returning to Madison Square Garden for the remainder of the regular season to watch the Knicks after a run in with employees and security.

There are conflicting stories, but sometimes in life, even if you're right...you're not right.

Short of an actual crime, there is little that Lee shouldn't be able to get away with in that building. He's cemented him self as someone as analogous to the Knicks as he is to the film industry. And when you spend close to $10 million to watch a team as Lee claims he has over the years, then yeah, special treatment is probably expected.

The whole debacle got me wondering though. If a similar situation occurred, are there certain Houston A-listers (that never played) that deserve the same benefit of the doubt? Who out there would fans storm the battlefields of Twitter to defend if they were ever treated improperly inside the confines of Houston's hallowed(ish) sports venues? Here are my candidates.

Minute Maid Park: Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale

In 2017 Mattress Mack rolled out his "Win it all, Get it all" promotion where anyone who bought a mattress during the Astros season would have their bed fully compensated if the Astros won the Won the World Series. After the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, Mack opened the doors of his massive showroom to displaced refugees, and continued paying his employees while they served instead in a volunteer capacity. When the Astros won the World Series that year, not only did Mack throw out the first pitch to game three, but he also kept his word to everyone that bought into the promotion back in the beginning of the season. The bet set him back roughly $12 million, but that's a drop in the bucket for a guy who simultaneously cemented his legacy in Houston lore. Also, I'm fairly certain I haven't seen Mattress Mack without an oversized Astros jersey on in two and a half years.

If you need an idea of how big of a deal he is, I watched grown adults peel away from our playoff game group this past season to take pictures with a man who sells couches. When I got to my seats and people asked where the lost party was, I explained that they were trying to get a picture with Mattress Mack and everyone accepted that as a viable excuse for missing first pitch.

Runner up: George and Barbara Bush.

Toyota Center: Travis Scott

Locally sourced, and global hip-hop phenom Travis Scott owns Toyota Center. On game nights, he's the closest thing the Rockets have to a Lakers Jack Nicholson or Knicks Spike Lee. He's done promos for the team, he's collaborated on custom jerseys, he name drops them in his albums. Scott is all in on the Rockets (and Houston in general), and it's apparent enough that the Rockets reciprocated the appreciation just this past month:




Fans arrived seven hours before tip-off to get in line, and the bobble head is currently running $150-$200 on the resale market.

Runner up: Beyonce, she just doesn't come to enough games.


NRG Stadium: Simone Biles

Look, there just aren't a ton of over the top, ride or die celebrity Texans fans to be completely honest. You've got big names like Dennis Quaid, Jim Parsons, and Rico Rodriguez ("Manny" from "Modern Family"), sure. I don't think anyone would boycott a game over them though. Then there's Joel Osteen, but I think there's a decent crowd that might pay extra to watch him get tossed. Nope, it has to be Houston's adopted daughter, world's greatest gymnast, and honorary Houston Texans cheerleader for a day, Simone Biles. She exudes charm just as effortlessly as she dominates her entire sport, and if anyone did anything to her I would personally expense the torches and pitchforks for everyone that accepts the mob group invite I would inevitably be sending on Facebook.

Runner up: Every local Houston Rapper

4 Downs of the Week

1st Down - Super Tuesday.

Look, I don't exactly care what your political leanings are on a sports website, but I think we can all agree that the fact that we got through Super Tuesday and don't have to deal with anymore political ads and unsolicited texts is something to be pumped about.

2nd Down - 21 days: amount of time left until the start of the Astros' baseball season. In this house there are two seasons: baseball season, and baseball offseason.

3rd Down - Let's talk dedication. And lack of awareness:


Her rubber duck is probably alive and well also.

4th Down - This week's edition of Minor League Baseball Marketing Genius goes out to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, specfically their chiropractor themed night, "Say Yes to Crack."

Fly high, marketing eagles. Fly high.

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Have the Astros turned a corner? Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

After finishing up with the Guardians the Astros have a rather important series for early May with the Seattle Mariners heading to town for the weekend. While it’s still too early to be an absolute must-win series for the Astros, losing the series to drop seven or eight games off the division lead would make successfully defending their American League West title that much more unlikely.

Since their own stumble out of the gate to a 6-10 record the Mariners have been racking up series wins, including one this week over the Atlanta Braves. The M’s offense is largely Mmm Mmm Bad, but their pitching is sensational. In 18 games after the 6-10 start, the Mariners gave up five runs in a game once. In the other 17 games they only gave up four runs once. Over the 18 games their starting pitchers gave up 18 earned runs total with a 1.44 earned run average. That’s absurd. Coming into the season Seattle’s starting rotation was clearly better on paper than those of the Astros and Texas Rangers, and it has crystal clearly played out as such into the second month of the schedule.

While it’s natural to focus on and fret over one’s own team's woes when they are plentiful as they have been for the Astros, a reminder that not all grass is greener elsewhere. Alex Bregman has been awful so far. So has young Mariners’ superstar Julio Rodriguez. A meager four extra base hits over his first 30 games were all Julio produced down at the ballyard. That the Mariners are well ahead of the Astros with J-Rod significantly underperforming is good news for Seattle.

Caratini comes through!

So it turns out the Astros are allowed to have a Puerto Rican-born catcher who can hit a little bit. Victor Caratini’s pedigree is not that of a quality offensive player, but he has swung the bat well thus far in his limited playing time and provided the most exciting moment of the Astros’ season with his two-out two-run 10th inning game winning home run Tuesday night. I grant that one could certainly say “Hey! Ronel Blanco finishing off his no-hitter has been the most exciting moment.” I opt for the suddenness of Caratini’s blow turning near defeat into instant victory for a team that has been lousy overall to this point. Frittering away a game the Astros had led 8-3 would have been another blow. Instead, to the Victor belong the spoils.

Pudge Rodriguez is the greatest native Puerto Rican catcher, but he was no longer a good hitter when with the Astros for the majority of the 2009 season. Then there’s Martin Maldonado.

Maldonado’s hitting stats with the Astros look Mike Piazza-ian compared to what Jose Abreu was doing this season. Finally, mercifully for all, Abreu is off the roster as he accepts a stint at rookie-level ball in Florida to see if he can perform baseball-CPR on his swing and career. Until or unless he proves otherwise, Abreu is washed up and at some point the Astros will have to accept it and swallow whatever is left on his contract that runs through next season. For now Abreu makes over $120,000 per game to not be on the roster. At his level of performance, that’s a better deal than paying him that money to be on the roster.

Abreu’s seven hits in 71 at bats for an .099 batting average with a .269 OPS is a humiliating stat line. In 2018 George Springer went to sleep the night of June 13 batting .293 after going hitless in his last four at bats in a 13-5 Astros’ win over Oakland. At the time no one could have ever envisioned that Springer had started a deep, deep funk which would have him endure a nightmarish six for 78 stretch at the plate (.077 batting average). Springer then hit .293 the rest of the season.

Abreu’s exile opened the door for Joey Loperfido to begin his Major League career. Very cool for Loperfido to smack a two-run single in his first game. He also struck out twice. Loperfido will amass whiffs by the bushel, he had 37 strikeouts in 101 at bats at AAA Sugar Land. Still, if he can hit .225 with some walks mixed in (he drew 16 with the Space Cowboys) and deliver some of his obvious power (13 homers in 25 games for the ex-Skeeters) that’s an upgrade over Abreu/Jon Singleton, as well as over Jake Meyers and the awful showing Chas McCormick has posted so far. Frankly, it seems unwise that the Astros only had Loperfido play seven games at first base in the minors this year. If McCormick doesn’t pick it up soon and with Meyers displaying limited offensive upside, the next guy worth a call-up is outfielder Pedro Leon. In January 2021 the Astros gave Leon four million dollars to sign out of Cuba and called him a “rapid mover to the Major Leagues.” Well…

Over his first three minor league seasons Leon flashed tools but definitely underwhelmed. He has been substantially better so far this year. He turns 26 May 28. Just maybe the Astros offense could be the cause of fewer Ls with Loperfido at first and Leon in center field.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTube with the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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