Every-Thing Sports

The Astros are a lovable dynasty

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Dynasty. It's a word that gets thrown around in the sports lexicon too loosely these days. According to Merriam-Webster, a sports dynasty is defined as "a prolonged run of successful seasons." After enduring several 90 and 100-plus loss seasons, the Astros stuck with "The Process" and made the playoffs starting in the 2015 season. Although they missed the playoffs in the 2016 season, they finished with a 84-78 record and five games out of the wildcard spot in the American League. History was made in 2017 as they fulfilled Sports Illustrated's Ben Reiter's 2014 prophecy of winning the World Series. They lost the ALCS to eventual champs the Boston Red Sox in 2018 and are on the verge of winning another title this year.

Most dynasties are despised, hated even. The Warriors of the NBA and the Patriots of the NFL are the ones that come to mind when thinking of sports dynasties of recent memory. Both teams have a history of prolonged success in their respective sports. Both are also pretty much universally disliked for one reason or another. This Astros team (outside of the Roberto Osuna signing and Brandon Taubman controversies) have been pretty well-liked. Here's why I think they've been a likable dynasty:

Club Astros

A few years ago, "Club Astros" was born. It was a simple, yet fun and effective thing that helped appeal to the masses. After a win, a player would be the clubhouse DJ and play music. There would be special lighting to go along with the music. In 2015, when they started winning, Club Astros was discovered by the media. Fans got wind of this and immediately took to it. Social media played a large part of this. George Springer was/is usually the DJ.

Underdogs

In 2014 when Ben Reiter picked them to win the 2017 World Series, everyone thought he was nuts. The team had lost 92 game sthat season and their best player that season and the few previously was a 5'6 2nd baseman that was a slappy hitter. No one thought this team would do anything significant. However, they'd go on to bigger and better things. Jose Altuve and George Springer are the two holdovers from the previous regime that were building blocks for the title contender that they are now. Altuve was AL MVP in 2017 and Springer was World Series MVP in 2017. Who would've thought that was possible back then?

Humble...and cocky

While guys like Altuve and Springer have proven to be very humble in interviews, others (like Alex Bregman) have proven opposite. Bregman has been the red-ass that this team needed. The exception is that he can back it up. He's been one of the guys that can be arrogant, but will ball out. While I'm all for the the nice guy act, every team needs a dose of asshole. Bregman is the perfect dose.

Analytics approach

Analytics have been used in baseball more effectively and for a longer period of time than any other sport. The Astros have taken analytics to a different level. From shifts on defense, to spin rates when pitching, and the way they approach at bats while hitting, this team has truly taken a liking to and usage of analytics. How much you ask? So much so that they've been accused of cheating. Opposing teams/players have accused them of underhanded tactics because they've hand the upper hand when pitching, playing defense, and while hitting. They've simply used statistical analysis to their advantage better than most other teams.

Us vs all yall mentality

When Bregman saw a pitcher tipping his pitches and shared it with his fellow Astros, they were accused of cheating. When pitching coach Brent Strom transformed some unknown/forgotten about/or non-factor pitchers into killers, they were again accused of cheating. This team looks for different ways to gain an advantage over their opponents. If (when) they find something, they share it with one another. In the past, some pitchers and/or hitters would hold things to themselves. This team makes it a point to share the wealth of knowledge.Pitchers and hitters alike also crittique one another for added eyes on any potential advantages. For example: if Bregman sees Gerrit Cole tipping his pitches, he lets him know. Or, If Justin Verlander notices Yordan Alvarez is taking a bad approach at the plate, he helps correct it. They're the epitome of "us vs yall" in every sense of the phrase because everything is a collective effort.

This may seem like a homer type of article, but I've actually talked to other fans of other teams and they truly like and/or appreciate the Astros. Another common theme amongst other fans when it comes to the Astros is respect. Outside of the obnoxious Yankees fans that treated Astros fans like crap, other fans have thought of the Astros as a solid group of folks simply trying to enjoy rooting for their team. Other recent dynasties (the NFL's Patriots and NBA's Warriors come to mind) have been universally despised. The Astros have their missteps (the Osuna signing and Taubman debacle), but they've also found themselves getting out of fire of those situations relatively unscathed. Hopefully by the time most of you read this, the Astros are on their way to a second World Series title in three years. They're set up to compete for more over the course of the next few years. Here's to them staying a likable bunch of guys that can keep on winning titles while bringing pride and joy to Astro fans everywhere.

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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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