Every-Thing Sports

Hey Andrew Luck haters: Let people live their lives

Andrew Luck
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Life's a funny thing. We go about our daily tasks and never pause to think about things. More often than not, we rarely stop to smell the roses and appreciate everything. These days, we've become so task-oriented and focused that we forget what life is all about. Andrew Luck decided to do that and people got their panties all in a bunch over it. He's a 29 year old athlete who was seemingly on top of the world. He just won Comeback Player of the Year and led his team to the Divisional round of the playoffs last season. He's made upwards of $97 million dollars in his career thus far. Don't forget about his Bachelor's Degree in Architectural Design from Stanford. He got married earlier this year to his longtime girlfriend and recently announced they're expecting their first child.

While his retirement may come as a shock to many, it shouldn't. Other notable athletes have retired "prematurely" before Luck did. My guess is that the timing caused most of the kerfuffle. Was anyone this upset when Barry Sanders or Calvin Johnson left the Lions? To a much lesser extent, did anyone get upset when Royce White stepped away from the NBA? Adam LaRoche turned down $13 million dollars from the White Sox over an issue concerning his son. Did he catch as much flack as Luck? Here are a few common themes as to why guys leave the game early:

Money isn't a factor

Today's pro athletes are getting paid exponentially more than athletes have ever gotten paid. There are also tons more revenue streams for them outside of the sport in which they became famous for. Social media has abled them to build a brand for themselves to capitalize on their fame. The athletes of today have more than enough money and ways to make money.

Injury concerns

With the advancements in medical technology, athletes today have access to more information about their bodies and injuries than ever before. Knowing the depth of an injury and likelihood of it happening again or worsening can cause you to rethink things. Guys like Luck are fully aware of what's going on with their bodies and choose long-term health over short-term fame and glory. Patrick Willis did the same thing a few years ago when he retired from the 49ers. A nagging toe injury made him walk away from the game when he was still in his prime. Football players are typically the ones who this happens to.

Family

Like I mentioned earlier, Adam LaRoche turned down $13 million dollars from the White Sox over an issue with his son. Willis was the primary caregiver for his younger siblings. Luck just got married and has a kid on the way. Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans stepped away for a while to care for his wife who was battling cancer. Dereck Fisher once facilitated his way back to the Lakers from the Jazz because his daughter's medical treatments were in Los Angeles. These guys all chose family over the games they play for one reason or another. Female athletes have it tougher than men. They want families of their own, but often time have to miss significant portions of their careers to have babies. Serena Williams is trying to come back after having a baby, but is already almost twice the age of some of her competition.

More than a game

Some of these guys have a depth of personality that most of us don't. They have an ability to see the bigger picture of life and go wit their gut. Like it or not, Colin Kaepernick knew what he was getting himself into, but chose to do what he believed felt was necessary. Pat Tillman walked away from the NFL to serve in the Army and gave his life in the process. Myron Rolle was an All-American safety at Florida State who was drafted in the sixth round by the Titans. He was also a Rhodes Scholar that eventually chose academia over football and is now a neurosurgery resident at Harvard Medical School.

Sometimes we as fans can obsess over what athletes do. The booing of Luck after the game the other night was horsesh--. This man made a decision that's best for him and his family. So what if your football team sucks again! What about him living his life the way he sees fit? Sometimes we have to realize there's a person inside those lines wearing those uniforms. They have feelings and lives like the rest of us and deserve to live them the way they see fit. Many of them walk off the beaten path. People like that are generally smart, funny, and fun to be around. They should be apperciated and celebrated. I know because my little cousin Vincent who recently passed away was one of those people. Love them while they're here. Appreciate their athletic prowess while they play. One day, they could be gone and you'll never get a chance to do so again.

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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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