Every-Thing Sports

I believe in the Astros, dammit!

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After losing Game One of the ALCS by putting a donut in the run column, a lot of Astros fans panicked. Some blamed Zack Greinke, some blamed the bats, others gave the Yankees too much credit. While they did play well enough to earn that win, there were several instances in which the Astros shot themselves in the foot. Game Two came along and fans were happy because Justin Verlander was on the mound. Verlander pitched 6 2/3 innings, only giving up two runs, and deserved to have won that game. The team won 3-2 thanks to Carlos Correa's walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, but Verlander got a no decision.

With the series tied 1-1 and headed to the Bronx for the next three games, there's still reason for optimism. Despite the poor performances at the plate by the lineup, despite the bullpen concerns, despite not having faith in anyone not named Verlander or Gerrit Cole, I still believe in this team's chances to win, dammit! And here's why:

Correa's home run was a spark

Going back to Correa's home run, I think it sparks something for this team. Moments like this can galvanize a team and start a movement. Remember back in 2017 when "Club Astros" was a thing? Remember how loose this team played? Right now, they're more the hunted than the hunters. The pressure has built up and it may be getting to them, especially given how tight they seem to be at the plate. Maybe Correa's walk-off (with the ensuing antics) are a way to light a fire underneath this team? Don't be surprised to see the dugout get more lively and/or better, more loose plate appearances.

Aaron Boone panicked

In Game Two, I think Yankee's manager Aaron Boone panicked. He pulled starter James Paxton after 2 1/3 innings pitched and proceeded to use eight more pitchers the rest of the way. A couple of those guys were/are potential Game Four starters, or they're reliable bullpen arms who were called into duty too soon. Their bullpen is better than what the Astros have, but they're tired out early in this series, advantage Astros. If Boone continues to manage scared to lose, again, advantage Astros.

Cole > Luis Severino in Game Three

Severino was quoted as saying he's not nervous about facing off against Cole in Game Three and having to outduel him (I'm paraphrasing here). He thinks that all he has to do is match what Cole does. Mind you, Severino has only pitched in three games since returning from injury. Sure he was their ace to start this season, but at 25 years old with only a handful of experience, do we really think he can hang with Cole? Answer: HELL NAH! The Astros haven't lost a Cole start since Prohibition. He's either the Cy Young winner this season, or runner-up. Cole had 326 K's this season and 25 in his two postseason starts. Good luck keeping up Luis! (sarcasm font for the humor-impaired).


No team was hit harder by the injury bug than the Yankees this season. They had 4,672 guys on their roster miss time due to injury this season. The Astros were bit by the injury bug as well, but not as bad. That being said, I think the Yankees have a Mr. Glass feel to them. They're the more injury-prone team of the two. While they embodied the "next man up" mentality this season, the Astros did as well. The difference lies in the fact that one of their biggest bats (Giancarlo Stanton) missed Game Two because of a right quadricep strain and is day to day, while the Astros biggest injury concern this past season just won Game Two via walk-off. Again, advantage Astros.

Managerial Experience

AJ Hinch > Brett Boone. There it is. I'm done with this section. If you need further explanation, seek help elsewhere because I don't have the crayons or enough three-line kindergarten paper to explain this to you.

Bottom line here folks: while the Yankees appear to have flipped homefield advantage by winning Game One, the Astros will #TakeItBack and win at least one or two in the Bronx. I'm calling it now: Astros in six, no more than seven. This team is just too damn good and too loaded to clam up and go home like they did last year against the Red Sox. If they only win every Verlander and Cole starts in this series (or maybe squeak out another), they got this series in the bag. Like I mentioned last week, there's no need to panic. this team is fully capable of winning another World Series. Let's take it one game at a time and keep the faith.

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The new rules are having an impact on offense. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images.

Went to my first Astros game this season on Sunday. The game started at 6:10 p.m. The final out of the Astros’ 4-3 win was at 8:56 p.m. Downtown traffic was light, the Southwest Freeway was smooth sailing. I was home by 9:30 p.m. The post-game TV show was still on.

I like MLB’s new rules: no infield shifts, a pitch clock, bigger bases, fewer pickoff attempts, all leading to shorter, faster-paced games with fewer hitters stepping out of the box to scratch themselves. You know, they have ointment for that now.

Sunday’s game took 2 hours and 46 minutes, which actually is longer than most baseball games this season. After years of MLB inventing rules to shorten the time of games that didn’t work, they finally got it right this time. The average time of a game so far this season in 2 hours and 36 minutes. Last year, the average game dragged on for 3 hours and 3 minutes.

Back to the Astros post-game show for a moment. Two questions: why do hosts Kevin Eschenfelder and Mike Stanton keep swapping chairs, and that baseball that Stanton is always holding like a security blanket – is that the same baseball every night, or does he get a new ball each show?

Minute Maid Park was packed with 41,669 fans Sunday. It was the conclusion of a very successful weekend series against the Phils, at least for owner Jim Crane’s bottom line.

Saturday afternoon the Astros lost 6-1. The game took 2 hours and 51 minutes to play in front of 41,240 fans. Friday night’s game, a 3-1 defeat, took only 2 hours and 26 minutes with 40,719 fans.

Shorter games, bigger attendance. So far this season, including Monday night’s victory over the Giants, the Astros have played 17 games at home, drawing 638,941 fans for an average crowd of 37,530. That’s 4,000 fans more than they averaged last year, a 15 percent bump.

That’s a lot of numbers but they all add up to one thing – baseball is back big time. Attendance is up 4 percent across the league. Cleveland’s attendance is up 57 percent.

Tonight should be another big crowd for the Astros-Giants game. It’s Dollar Dog night, always a fan favorite. And attendance should get a booster shot in a couple of weeks when school lets out for summer.

If MLB’s new rules were intended to increase offense and spur more exciting play, that’s exactly what’s happened. League-wide, hitters batted .242 in April. Last year, they batted .231. This year teams attempted 759 stolen bases, the most in any April this century.

Of course every silver lining has a cloud behind it. The Astros used to cut off alcohol sales after the seventh inning. The policy was to allow fans who may have had too much to drink time to sober up before driving home. This year, because the games are about 30 minutes shorter and fans are staying the whole game, the Astros have extended beer sales to the entire game. Longer beer hours are available at about half of the concession stands. The other half will continue to cut off sales after the seventh inning. Fine print: the Astros will stop selling alcohol if a game exceeds four hours.

We’re talking about a lot of beer. Fans spent $28 million on alcohol at Minute Maid Park last year, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. In fact, the Astros ballpark trailed only AT&T Stadium in Arlington for alcohol receipts at sports venues in Texas.

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