Every-Thing Sports

I believe in the Astros, dammit!

Astros Gerrit Cole
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).

Injuries

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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Our columnist recalls meeting the Nature Boy at Comicpalooza. Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Comicpalooza is coming to the George R. Brown Convention Center, May 24-26, so pop culture, sci-fi, comic book fans, and whatever are on high alert to get their nerd on.

The lineup of celebrity guests tops anything in the history of the event. Slated to appear are: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and James Tolkan from the Back to the Future franchise; WWE superstar John Cena; Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez from Napoleon Dynamite; Rebecca Romijn, Anson Mount, and Andrew Robinson from Star Trek; Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan from Charmed; and the stars I’ll be lining up to meet, Creed, Oscar and David Wallace from The Office.

There will be an exhibit floor packed with merchants selling all kinds of stuff that appeals to this crowd. There will be comedy shows by the Geeks of Comedy, House Party Comedy, and live wrestling matches featuring the heroes of Texas All-Star Wrestling. There will be cooking demonstrations for kids, cosplay competition, and trivia contests.

For more information, including ticket prices, times and dates for the celebrities, etc., click on Comicpalooza.com.

I’ve been to a couple of these events. They’re huge. I promise you will see things and meet people that you don’t run into during Little League games and Junior League meetings.

An amazing true story

In fact …

Comicpalooza was the scene of one of the great snubs of my career – and trust me, I’ve been “better-dealed” a few times.

They say you should never meet your heroes because they’ll inevitably let you down. It happened to me.

A few years ago I was invited to participate in one of these pop culture festivals at the George R. Brown. They told me, just come up with something. I created a game show called “Win a Date with a Nerd” – a takeoff on the old Dating Game.

Originally the idea was to have a nerd ask questions of three really hot Hooters Girls but I couldn’t convince three Hooters Girls to waste their afternoon on something so stupid. Ultimately, I talked one attractive young woman into picking her date from three total nerds straight out of central casting. These nerds made Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard from Big Bang Theory look like Navy SEAL Team 6 — the guys who got Osama bin Laden.

The game went OK and to this day I have no idea if the date actually took place. I’d like to think it didn’t because it would upset the delicate balance of nature and the Earth might fall off its axis.

Anyway, my favorite professional wrestler Ric Flair was at the event and I met him outside the building. Because there was street construction that limited parking, organizers arranged for limos for guest participants. I was waiting for my car to take me home.

I was talking to the Nature Boy, slobbering over him pretty good, when a car pulled up and the driver yelled out my name.

Flair said, “That’s me,” hopped in the car and the driver took off. No wonder they call Flair the “dirtiest player in the game.”

Another car arrived a few minutes later, and the driver hollered, “Ric Flair.” I tried to get in the car, explaining what had happened. The driver thought I was hustling him and pulled over to wait for Naitch. No way he was letting me in that car.

I wound up calling a friend to come get me.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

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