HAPPY DAYS

John Granato: Scientific proof that being a sports fan makes your life better

John Granato: Scientific proof that being a sports fan makes your life better
Want to be happier? Be a sports fan. Bob Levey/Getty Images

If you’re reading this you must be a sports fan. I’m a sports fan. Always have been. In the greater scheme of things we aren’t changing the world are we? The academic world looks down its collective nose at us and maybe deservedly so. We’re not exactly curing cancer. But you know what? We’re probably happier than someone who is.

When you break down your life you can do it in seven parts - the days of the week. Let’s assume we all live until the ripe old age of 70. Some of us will live longer, some not, but let’s use that nice round number.

If you live until you’re 70, 10 years of your life is Mondays. That’s 3,650 crappy days. That’s a sad thought. Mondays flat out suck. It’s a scientific fact. If you doubt this you should listen to some of the songs that are dedicated to Mondays: Blue Monday, Manic Monday, Rainy Days and Monday, I don’t like Mondays.  These are just a few. There are a lot more.

It’s not even arguable.

Mondays suck.

But not if you’re a sports fan.

For non-sports fans what do they have to look forward to on Mondays? Nothing. If you are a sports fan you’ve got plenty. There are 16 weeks a year that have Monday Night Football and this year there are 26 Rockets and Astros Mondays that don’t fall on MNF nights. There are also five Mondays that are holidays so let’s just say that there are on average around 45 of 52 Mondays a year that there is something to look forward to for sports fans.

Therefore over the course of 70 years there are really only about 490 really crappy days. Of course that’s the most optimistic of scenarios. Are we content when our team plays, win or lose? Are we really happy if our team gets beat? Probably not.

Over their history the Astros have won about 50% of their games. We’ll just have to assume they win at that pace on Mondays as well.

The Rockets are a little better but not much. They’ve played .524 ball over their history. Let’s assume then that the two teams would lose on average 12 of those 26 Monday games.  Now we’re down to 33 good and 19 crappy Mondays a year. That’s just over 1,300 crappy Mondays for sports fans who live until they’re 70.

Non-sports fans?  They do get those five holidays. They probably read a good book some of those Mondays too. I can’t imagine they go out and have any fun on Mondays. They are above all that. Their work is too important to risk a hangover. Let’s say they have 10 good Mondays a year. That’s 2.940 crappy Mondays in their lives.

That’s a pretty big number and we haven’t even gotten to Tuesday yet. Truth be told, Monday gets a bad rap. Tuesday? There aren’t songs written about Tuesday but it sucks even worse. Granted, you’re closer to the weekend on Tuesday but it’s by far the worst sports day of the week.

Unless you go to a MAC school there’s no football to look forward to and looking at their attendance MAC people aren’t really thrilled about their football either. The Astros and Rockets play about 30 Tuesdays a year. We can assume they’ll lose 14 of those so we’ve got 36 crappy Tuesdays a year or 2,500 total in our 70 years on earth.

Non-sports fan? I’m sure there’s an opera or play or something boring those people enjoy some Tuesdays. We’ll give them five good Tuesdays a year which means they have around 3,300 crappy Tuesdays over their 70 year lives. Another big number.

Same pretty much goes for Wednesday. Hump day. Whatever. Wednesdays suck too. So let’s throw another 2,500 crappy days on the fire for sports fans. Another 3,300 for the other side.  

Let’s check in on our scoreboard:

                                          Sports fans        Non-sports fans

Crappy Mondays:           1300                  2940

Crappy Tuesdays:           2500                 3300

Crappy Wednesdays:     2500                 3300

                                      ____ ____

Total Crappy Days:         6300                9540


We’re up by over 3,200. That’s an ass kicking.

So what about the rest of the days?

In my mind there are very few if any bad days from Thursday through Sunday. If you ever go out on Thursday you know it’s a hot night. It’s the unofficial start of the weekend. You can drink because you know you’ve got an easy day ahead. You can go in hung over or even still drunk.

Not much gets done on Fridays in the business world. Honestly, who puts any effort into Friday’s work day? If you do you’re far too driven. Even nerds who don’t like sports know that. The whole day is spent looking forward to getting out of whatever job you have and getting the weekend started.

The weekend? There’s no such thing as a bad weekend. If you don’t like sports you don’t have anything good to watch but at least you don’t have to go to your boring job where you’re boring everyone talking about work instead of sports. I’m sure you think you’re having fun but the rest of us pity you and your non-sports conversation.

In your non-sports life you didn’t celebrate the Rockets championships in the 90’s or the Astros last year, or the Texans… Did I mention the Astros last year?

You don’t know what a slider is or an off sides means. You think traveling is something you do in a car not what James does every time he drives the lane.

And then there’s that curing cancer thing. Yeah. It’s an important job. But how many days are you trying to find that cure and failing. Days? It’s more like years. Failing time and again. Over and over, year after year.

Even if you do succeed and have a huge breakthrough that’s just one successful day. One day versus all those crappy failed days. Not exactly a great batting average is it?

Yeah you cured cancer but at what price? Your happiness.

Give me a beer, some peanuts and a ballgame over that miserable existence any day.

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*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 The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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