MAKING HIS PITCH

John Granato: How will Astros fans react to Osuna's first home appearance?

Roberto Osuna will likely make his first appearance in a game at Minute Maid this weekend. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Astros are coming home for the first time since the acquisition of Roberto Osuna. It’ll be interesting to see how the fan base reacts when he comes out of the bullpen to pitch for the first time at Minute Maid.

His first appearance as an Astro drew a smattering of boos in San Francisco. But it was San Francisco. I’m not sure they knew about or cared about the controversy enough to boo. Their average rent for a one bedroom is over $3200. It’s hard for them to care about anything else.

What will happen at Minute Maid? Osuna’s ours now. Fan bases stand behind their guys. Milwaukee’s Josh Hader got a standing ovation for his homophobic and racist tweets. Well, I’m not sure he got a standing O because of them but I’m not ruling it out.

I don’t think Osuna will get a standing O here but I’m not ruling that out either. He did have a five pitch outing the other night. That was totally sweet. The problem is that it was in San Francisco at about 11:30 at night. A lot of Astros fans didn’t see it.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the attendance will be like this weekend too. How many people will actually live up to their promise of being done with the Astros? We’ve heard plenty of that over the last week. But it’s easier said than done. Even if you just climbed on board the Astros train last year you’re probably all-in with this team. Osuna aside it’s the most likeable team I can ever remember. They are only adding to that lately with this minor league lineup they are forced to play every night because of all the injuries and yet they’re still winning.

What does it mean if we applaud when Osuna comes in? Like Hader the national media is waiting to pounce on the reaction. Milwaukee got roasted on ESPN for the standing O but that’s what ESPN does. I don’t care what Bill Plaschke thinks of us. We know who we are and what we stand for.

To be clear, I am against domestic violence.

I have been for some time now. I have been an LSU fan for years. My wife went there. My daughter goes there. But they lost me because of how Les Miles handled issues on his team. Jordan Jefferson was seen kicking a marine outside a bar. Jeremy Hill sucker punched a really drunk guy and Jalen Mills was accused of punching a girl in the face so hard he knocked her out. All of these happened without consequences.

I found it hard to root for them anymore. Full disclosure, it coincided with my son playing at the collegiate level so it was easy to push LSU aside. Now that all those guys are gone though it’s more pleasurable to go to LSU games and root for those kids.

And we’ll root for the Astros. It’s going to be hard to watch Osuna and not think about his issue. It’s with him now forever. It’ll never go away and rightfully so. But he doesn’t define what Houston Astros baseball is. It’s exactly the opposite.

For years now we’ve seen guys with checkered pasts join the New England Patriots and tow the line. Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Bryan Cox, Albert Haynesworth, Aqib Talib and so on. That locker room was bigger than their shenanigans. It held them accountable.

In a different way this Astros locker room will hold Roberto Osuna accountable. It’s a bunch of great players and great people. Osuna can’t take back what he did. He can only move forward with the help of his teammates and change the narrative. He will be a better person because he is an Astro.

I’m guessing he’ll get more cheers than boos. I won’t do either. I’ll be with the silent majority. I am not going to stand or applaud. I will have no reaction when Osuna comes in. I don’t want anyone to think I appreciate him for what he allegedly did. I will watch silently and take in your reaction.

I don’t know how big a dilemma this is for you. Everyone has to act as his or her  conscience tells them. Mine tells me to shut up and let this play out. What’s yours telling you?


 

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Davis Mills didn't see much action on Saturday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans played their first preseason game and turned in a winning effort. Here are 11 observations from the victory.

1. The initial and early offense felt scarily familiar to last season. It seemed like vanilla was the emphasis, but a negative play doomed the Texans on each of the Davis Mills led drives. This is an offense in training camp that has overcome bad plays, that wasn’t the case Saturday night.

2. Penalties showed up in force for the Texans. I disagreed with a handful of them, but it is clear there needs to be a little more work on these. It also could be simply the referee emphasis as well. The officials at practice have called offensive pass interference, and Chris Moore got dinged Saturday for that. The team currently doesn’t have the talent to regularly overcome a holding or other offensive penalty.

3. I’m not going to read too much into the first-team offense or the defense. Too many players who will play in games didn’t play in this one. I tend to focus more on individuals than teams in these situations.

4. Jalen Pitre has a nose for the football. It looked like almost every Baylor game out there from his college career. The safety was in on what felt like every play. It will be exciting to watch him assess his game film and build on it. Lovie Smith mentioned how important it was for players to get their first game out of the way. Well, mark that step down for Pitre.

5. Blake Cashman flashed plenty. His athletic deflection on a long-third down throw was a lovely play. He was getting his nose into a lot of the action as well. Cashman has a chance to make this team as linebacker depth. If he can build off the success from Saturday, he will be in a position to make the final roster.

6. Kurt Hinish is a name you may not know just yet. His name is worth learning though. The undrafted defensive tackle from Notre Dame has flashed in camp and he sacked his old teammate Ian Book on Saturday night. Roy Lopez and Maliek Collins are the team’s two defensive tackles, but there is room for someone like Hinish. I don’t believe he would make it to the practice squad.

7. Rookie defensive lineman Thomas Booker had some nice plays. He hasn’t stood out much in training camp to this point. It isn’t out of the question he is on the roster bubble, but there’s still time to find his way.

8. Jalen Camp scored a touchdown and did the crane celebration as a nod to teammate John Metchie who is dealing with cancer. Camp had a few flashes in training camp, but it isn’t consistent. There is an opportunity for a couple of wideouts, but nobody has separated to the point where I can say they have for sure earned the spots on the depth chart.

9. Dameon Pierce wowed on Saturday. It was great to watch the rookie rip off big physical runs. Pierce will be a factor for the Texans in 2022. The consistency of his work will determine how much of a factor. He is exciting, more than Marlon Mack, and if the team starts to trust him more, he has the talent to make it pay off for the Texans.

10. The special teams looks like it might be one of the best aspects of this team. Cam Johnston can absolutely BOOM the ball as a punter and could be one of the best in the league. The coverage on kicks was very good. This is something that will have to be great for the Texans as this is still a team that lives in the margins.

11. I’d guess the second preseason game will look a little closer to what the third preseason game used to look like. A little more from the expected starters would be a welcome sight. I would like to see a little more Davis Mills and a few more of the top players in the game for a stretch and see if Pep Hamilton wants to get a bit more creative.

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