THE PALLILOG

O'Brien's silence on Hopkins trade speaks volumes

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Caveat ahead of the rest of this column: So much is trivial relative to the life and death and other critical Covid-19 pandemic issues, but sports matter as passions of so many, as multi-billion dollar businesses with impact on many other businesses, and beyond. All things in context.

We grind on. All we can do. As responsibly as we can. The line from the TV series Friday Night Lights comes to mind: "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." Not true of course, but still a great message. Now: "Wash Hands, Social Distance, Hang In There." Man it's a struggle for sports material these days.

Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien isn't exactly the most beloved sports figure in Houston these days, but give the man his due for donating 100 thousand dollars to the Houston Food Bank. Those so inclined, insert O'Brien donating DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals joke here. 100K will provide tens of thousands of meals to many people in need. Doesn't change the fact that on the professional side it is so weak that O'Brien has yet to speak publicly about his Hopkins deal that is as universally mocked as ridiculous as any trade I can recall. It's a virtual certainty it won't turn out to be the worst trade ever or even close, but at the time of the deal nobody other than (presumably) O'Brien himself, and maybe his right hand man Jack Easterby thinks the Texans made a reasonable exchange. Every expectation should be that upon questioning Emperor O will offer up variations of "Like all moves we make we do what we think is best for the football team." It's still part of his job to take the questions. Frankly, it's weak of Cal McNair to let O'Brien get away with it.

The NFL proceeds relatively undeterred. It's monstrosity of a draft extravaganza in Las Vegas won't happen, but the NFL Draft will in less than three weeks. Barring a highly surprising trade, the Texans sit out the first round Thursday night April 23. Part of the price for acquiring left tackle Laremy Tunsil who went on record this week saying he intends to become the new highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The Texans have reportedly offered a package averaging 18 and a half million dollars per season. That's a little over a million per Tunsil penalty (17, not counting three that were declined) committed last season. He's a very good should be entering his prime left tackle. Philadelphia right tackle Lane Johnson's extension signed last year averages 18 mil per season, presently tops among tackles. Johnson's deal also set the new tackle high with over 54 mil guaranteed.

Seems pretty obvious that 20 mil per season (at least) is Tunsil's hope. That's where ex-Texan Jadeveon Clowney was thinking as he entered unrestricted free agency. Not happening. No pity party necessary if Clowney winds up "settling" for, say, three years 45 mil. The Texans certainly could use him, and only the Browns presently have more available salary cap space. You don't suppose?

​Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Someday​.

There is no chance of Major League Baseball starting its season within the next couple of months. I doubt A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow are sharing a laugh about it, but they can't be unhappy to hear that if even if there winds up being no MLB games played in 2020, their season long suspensions will be considered served. Thing is, if no baseball is played, no team is going to fire a manager to hire Hinch for 2021, or an executive to put Luhnow in charge.


Astropologists may struggle to deal with it, but Evan Gattis this week became the latest ex-Astro to acknowledge how disgraceful their cheating system was. On an Atlanta based podcast within The Athletic Gattis offered this apt line: "It was wrong for the nature of competition, not even just baseball."

Simply Shameful

Re: those dozens of spoiled, self-entitled UT students now with coronavirus after chartering a plane to Cabo for spring break in the process spitting in the face of government advisory and any common sense. Are they sorry for their immensely irresponsible and selfish behavior that could ultimately impact many other people, or only sorry that they have coronavirus? If that.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Tom Brady is leasing Derek Jeter's 30-thousand square foot Tampa home. Think they haggled over the rental price? 2. Which is sadder: that ESPN intends to televise the entirety of a 16 NBA player NBA 2K video tournament, or that I'll probably watch some of it? 3. Top "should have beens" this weekend: Bronze-Ferociously contested Sunday softball Silver-Astros at Angels Gold-the Final Four in Atlanta

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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