THE PALLILOG

Let's examine how a 60-game season could impact the Astros

Astros Jose Altuve
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

So there's going to be a Major League Baseball season of sorts after all. We think so anyway. COVID-19 could weigh in further. After a pathetic and damaging negotiation between the owners and players, we wind up with a 60 game blink of a season. 37 percent of a 162 game schedule is not a legitimate season. That equates to a six game NFL regular season or a 30 game NBA regular season. No one would find either of those legit. But 60 is what we have. If you like baseball (or at least the Astros) it can be exciting, and it will do if for no other reason than it has to. The postseason format will be legitimate, but whatever team wins the World Series will not be a champion worthy of the same regard of any full season champ. That won't make winning worthless, but it will make it different and discounted in value.

If last season knocked off after 60 games, the eventual World Series winning Washington Nationals would not have made the playoffs. 60 games into the 2018 season the Dodgers would have been on the outside looking in. They wound up winning the National League pennant. A 60 game regular season in 2018 would have relegated the Astros to having to play in the American League Wild Card game, on the road at the Yankees.

Great teams can play mediocre ball over a 60 game stretch. In 2017 the Astros roared out of the gate destroying their competition. They started the season 42-17. They would wind up winning 101 games and the World Series. Yet, over a 60 game stretch from early July into mid-September the Astros went 29-31. Over 162 games baseball water nearly always finds its level. 60? A different animal.

Amidst all the fallout of a truncated season, the Astros lost their shot at becoming the first team to ever win at least 100 games for four consecutive seasons. The .617 winning percentage that yields 100 wins over 162 games translates to a 37-23 record over 60 games. Las Vegas has the scaled down Astros win total over/under number at 34 ½. That's two behind the Yankees, tied with the Twins, just one half game more than the Rays, one ahead of the Athletics. Using the Vegas numbers, if the Astros dipped to 31 wins (which is not a free fall from 34 ½) they'd miss the playoffs. The separation that occurs among teams over 162 games simply cannot happen over 60. It introduces a greater component of chance though not outright randomness.

With design of reducing travel, interleague play becomes a much larger element of the schedule. In a normal season teams play 20 games vs. the opposite league. They'll still play 20 this year, now that's one third of the schedule as opposed to 12 percent.

NBA

While baseball plans to play at all home stadia with the possible exception of Toronto, the NBA bubble plan marches toward a July 30 resumption of play. The Atlanta Hawks aren't among the 22 teams heading to Orlando, so Vince Carter formalized his retirement announcement Thursday. Carter was much more than a dunker though I think he's the best in game dunker I've ever seen. Yes including Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. I didn't see enough early Dr J. Carter generated two different cool nicknames: "Air Canada" during his early Toronto Raptor seasons, and "Half Man, Half Amazing" courtesy of Kenny Smith. "Vinsanity" wasn't bad either. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in a record 22 NBA seasons. That's one more than Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parish, and Kevin Willis. Think LeBron James has five more seasons in him? LeBron is 35 years old and in his 17th season. Carter retires at age 43. Carter finishes up 19th on the NBA career scoring list. No player eligible for the Hall in the current top 40 all-time has failed to make the Hall. Most prolific scorer eligible for the Hall not elected? Tom Chambers.

Off the field

Quick hop up on a soapbox. Politely (or impolitely if it works better) guilt trip/shame those you know who are not wearing masks in public places. The Republican Governor of Texas and the Democrat Mayor of Houston agree masks are a must. Isn't that enough? The uptick in positive test percentages and hospitalizations is a saddening, angering, and pathetic testament to irresponsibility.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Is Major League Baseball possible with no spitting allowed? That's part of the health protocol. No saliva, tobacco, seeds, or shells permitted. Gum is ok though.

2. Cheers for Liverpool! Where The Beatles came from you know. And for the first time ever, home of the English Premier League champs.

3. Most memorable masked movie characters: Bronze-Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees Silver-Batman Gold-Hannibal Lecter

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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