EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ASTROS ANALYST

Mike Stanton on MLB's return & Astros chances of winning another championship

Photo by Getty Images.

Baseball fans aren't quite sure what to call Major League Baseball's second attempt at starting the 2020 season but Wednesday marks the start of Spring Training 2.0 or MLB Summer Camp. Most MLB teams are preparing for the upcoming 60-game season at their home city ballparks instead of their usual Spring Training locations, but not every player will be playing for their team in 2020.

Multiple players have decided to opt-out of playing the 2020 season for various reasons regarding health concerns or potentially exposing the virus to an at-risk person in their family. The Nationals Ryan Zimmerman, announced earlier in the week he was opting out of playing because he has a newborn child and a mother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

But will the rest of the players on those teams losing key members support or resent these decisions?

Former MLB All-Star reliever and current Houston Astros analyst on AT&T SportsNet Mike Stanton joined The Jake Asman Show on Gow Media's SB Nation Radio Wednesday to discuss this situation. When asked if what players say publicly about supporting their opting-out teammates differs from what they may think privately, Stanton said that could definitely be a factor.

"I think there could be some resentment," Stanton said. "I don't know if it ever becomes public or if it ever becomes known by the player that opts-out, but yeah there is going to be some of that here or there. I'm not going to say it's going to be rapid because I think the players that do opt-out will be dealing with inner turmoil with that decision. It's not going to be a decision that is made on a whim, a snap decision, it's not going to be an emotional decision, there's going to be a lot of things that go into that. I think most players are going to understand why these players are going to be opting out but there might be some players that go 'man I wish Mike Stanton' was here today."

Unlike other sports attempting to return, MLB will not be playing games in an isolated bubble meaning that it will be on the players to police themselves and abide by the social distancing guidelines when they are away from the ballparks. Stanton says veteran players are going to have to lead the way to ensure that the younger players follow in-line.

"There is going to have to be accountability," Stanton said. "Those conversations need to be had in between the players... You can't be on the road and be like 'I'm tired of this hotel room, I'm going to go out to lunch today' you just can't do that. You have to maintain your discipline and not get too comfortable in your situation because that is when mistakes happen."

How does the current Astros analyst on AT&T SportsNet feel about the 2020 Astros chances of winning another championship?

"I think they are definitely one of the top two or three teams in the American League," Stanton said. "I think they have as good of a chance as anyone… Especially in a short season, really anything can happen."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM -10 AM Central on SB Nation Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Mike Stanton below:


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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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