NERDS AROUND TOWN

Nerds around town: Lakers dysfunction, NBA playoffs and home runs/unwritten rules

Nerds around town: Lakers dysfunction, NBA playoffs and home runs/unwritten rules
ART BY JESUS RODRIGUEZ

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

Hey Nerds!

And just like that it's Wednesday! Stay with it and stay on it, don't let this week slip away!

GOOD DEED OF THE DAY

Feeding America is one of the biggest and highest rated and well reviewed national charities in America. It sounds tacky to say but when it comes to Food Banks, more than your canned goods and non perishables, the thing they need more than anything else is cash. They negotiate great deals from food vendors and are able to use the tax laws and incorporated laws to their advantage and turn that money into as many meals as possible for the hungry. This is just one of the hard truths of charity, that while it's a great thing for people to give them canned goods they really need your donations more than anything, so please please please, donate to Feeding America! #NerdsUnite

NBA FINALS

The NBA Finals start this Thursday night and that is exciting. I am honestly excited about what might happen. I think the Raptors win, I've honestly been of the mindset that it's just too hard to win four out of five and be in five straight at all. The Warriors are in unknown territory already in modern NBA, when the Celtics won eleven in a row it was pre free agency, and really it was a prehistoric NBA, now everything is different and these guys have a lot to prove and a lot on the line. The five appearances I didn't believe would happen as it's just a lot to keep getting back but they are one of the most talented rosters in modern sports and with that comes this opportunity. I think the Raptors will win it, I've been doubting them the whole post season as well but this feels like a scenario where there's enough trouble in Golden State that Toronto can surprise people.

ALL OF THE LAKERS PROBLEMS

So this story about The Lakers becoming dysfunctional, I think it's unfair to say it's because of Magic Johnson and these other people. I honestly think this franchise went in the wrong direction with the last few years of Kobe's run with the team. The Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe era I think is really where the issues come up. If you recall, in the meeting to get Dwight Howard to stay Kobe sat in the meeting and then there were meetings with other great players and Kobe basically made an ass of himself and Lamarcus Aldridge doesn't sign with the Lakers and goes to San Antonio and Dwight Howard leaves and Steve Nash is just too old honestly. The team had leveraged tons of picks and cap space to try and get Kobe some temporary help to chase one more title and the end result is the team we have in front of us today. A team that needed all this time to rebuild anyway, and I do agree that Luke Walton isn't a great coach and Lebron isn't enough on his own to carry a team in the West, but the idea of a part-time president? That's a terrible idea, and the idea that a sport's agent can be a general manager? That's an even worse idea. This was a bad set up but it's all built on an even worse foundation and I think people are forgetting that.

THAT'S CRAZY

So a weird stat appeared yesterday, there is an active streak of 36 seasons in a row that a player in the NBA finals has played with Shaquille O'Neal. That's a statement on a couple of things, first it's a statement that he and his team did a good job surrounding himself with talented players. It's also though an indication of how many rosters Shaq has been on. Orlando to LA to Miami to Phoenix to Cleveland to Boston, did you remember he played in Boston? I did, but I've looked it up before because I even doubted myself on that one once or twice. He's been out of the league since 2011 and still the streak is alive. Now Lebron helped there but Danny Green is on the Raptors and he's a former Shaq teammate so the streak is alive. It's an interesting facet of a massive basketball legacy that Shaq has built.

NOT THAT YOU ASKED

I hate "Baseball's Unwritten Rules." Seriously. They don't make any sense and one I hate the most is no showboating. There is no other sport where people say "no showboating;" there just isn't. The Reds and the Pirates have a series going on and a kid named Dietrich is jacking homeruns like nobody's business and likes to stand in the box and admire them. I don't mind that at all, I would admire homecruns too, especially if I struck out as much as this guy does. He's a classic power hitter, just as likely to strike out as he is to hit a home run and so yeah he showboats but he also strikes out. This is a professional league, if you don't want him to gloat, then strike him out. If he hits a home run he should gloat, he should take 12 minutes to round the bases, because I promise you, I would take 20.

I'm going to jump out and wish you guys a great Wednesday and remind everyone to be kind to each other and try a little harder to have a great day! I'm coming back Thursday and we'll be bringing more good times your way. Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help fight cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio or support our Patreon Page. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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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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