"IT'S GOT TO BE THE HAIR"

Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Astros star Jake Marisnick

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Jake Marisnick's mother knew.

Back when the Houston Astros centerfielder and resident sex symbol was playing Little League baseball, Jennifer Marisnick told Tristar Productions senior vice-president Bobby Mintz: "One day, my son is going to be signing autographs at one of your shows."

"It's true," Mintz says. "In the early 2000s, Jennifer Marisnick worked for Reynolds Sports Management, who represents Jake today. She brought Jake to our show in Phoenix. He was about 10 years old. When she told me that Jake would sign autographs with us, I told that I hoped she was right. At least his agent would know where to find us!"

Tristar, based in Houston, is an industry leader in sports memorabilia, trading cards, and autograph shows. And true to mom's word, Marisnick will be scribbling his name on bats and balls for fans at Tristar's 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena.

Other sports celebrities scheduled to appear at the event include: DeAndre Hopkins, John Manziel, Amari Cooper, Robert Griffin III, Mean Joe Greene, and Marisnick's Astros buddies — Yuri Gurriel, Ryan Pressly, and Will Harris. Visit the site for a complete list of celebrities, schedules, autograph prices and ticket information.

I caught Marisnick on the phone in the middle of the Astros taking two out of three from the Red Sox last weekend in Boston. My plan: "10 Questions, just give me the first thought that pops in your head. Let's hurry, you've got a game …"

CultureMap: You're hitting over .300, that's 70 points higher than your career average. You're hitting with power. And still you bat ninth in the lineup? Do the players realize how crazy good, historically good, the Astros are this year?

Jake Marisnick: You look around, up and down the lineup and the bench, and you see a bunch of guys who like to work and want to get better. I don't think we're worried about the numbers as much as we're concerned about improving. I have the chance to pick the brains of some of the best hitters in baseball, so I'm going to take advantage of that.

CM: Astros color analyst Geoff Blum came up with a nickname for you, Jake from Rake Farm. Are you okay with it? Ever have any other nicknames?

JM: Yeah, I think it's pretty funny. I had the nickname Big Fudge back when I was in Double A ball with guys like Christian Yelich. I got the nickname because I was on the disabled list, and they said I was eating everything in sight."

CM: You're going to be at the Tristar show signing autographs. I have a few autographed baseballs in my sock drawer and I have no idea who signed them. The handwriting is so horrible. Are you a good autographer? Do you ever ask other players for their autographs?

JM: Signing baseballs is a little hard sometimes. We get in a routine when we're signing a lot of baseballs, and I get a little quick with them. But I sign them the best I can and put my number [6] next to my name. I do send some balls over to the other clubhouse if it's a player that I like to watch play. But I can make out their autographs so I know who they are.

CM: You're having your best year hitting — by far. The other night the announcers said you worked on some things over the winter and made some changes. What did you do?

JM: Nothing too drastic. The biggest thing was just getting my body synced up. I think I was a little disconnected last year. When you get everything working together you have a little more time to make decisions, and I'm feeling good up there.

CM: You and George Springer both injured your hands sliding head-first into a base. Now some players wear those silly oven mitts. Wouldn't it be smarter to just slide feet-first? One base can't be worth a season-ending injury, like what happened to you in 2017.

Continue reading on CultureMap for Marisnick's thoughts on sliding head-first, and being the team sex symbol.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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