4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

The Astros are still stealing stuff, and Houston's big sports weekend

The Astros look to do it #ForTheH this season. Photo by Bob Levy.

Farewell, sweet prince.

I would be remiss if I didn't start off by bidding a fond farewell to the center we didn't deserve. I'll talk about the trade itself a little later, but what a lot of people don't realize is that Clint Capela is really the only basketball player Houston fans have had the opportunity to watch develop for any amount of time since Patrick Beverly.

Seven-footers are already easy to like. Foreign seven-footers with an infectious smile and a heart of gold are that much easier. I bought my Capela jersey before I bought my James Harden jersey if that's any indication of my respect for the kid. For the more baseball inclined, it's sort of like rooting for Lance McCullers over Justin Verlander. Yeah, Justin Verlander is better, sure. But McCullers is a homegrown guy. There's something about being there the first night McCullers took the mound his rookie year for the first time in his batman cleats that endears itself, much in the same way as watching Capela go from end of the bench guy holding Dwight Howard's warm ups to coveted trade chip this past week.

What I'll miss most are his intangibles. No, not his ability to find soft spots in the defense to rise up for an easy lob from Harden. Not his hustle, or even his defensive tenacity. More than anything, I'll miss the in-arena promos he would feature in during commercial timeouts. The 2017-2018 season of "Fashion Cop-ela"-- in which Capela would judge his teammates' style choices and subsequently "book them" or let them free -- is the stuff of legends. Toyota Center's time stoppages lost a little extra charm Tuesday night as a result.

As far as the trade goes? Yes, it was a good move. Get everyone out of Westbrook and Harden's paint and be ready to fire from deep when it comes your way. They weren't equipped to make a run the way they were built before the trade, so why not lean into the small ball thing whole hog? Let's play with no center because I love chaos. Let's watch the whole thing burn, I'm down.

Astros debut something new...that isn't new.

Here's my least favorite annual tweet after the Super Bowl:

No you're not. Basketball is in full swing and you're 50 days out. And don't try to sell me on spring ball, you can't make me watch it.

In spite of this, the Astros used what MLB apparently believes is "their turn" to hold their media day Tuesday to get everyone pumped for the upcoming season. They debuted new food selections in the ball park, released giveaway dates, and broke some real ground by announcing that they would (be the second to last team in baseball to) hold a "Pride Night."

On a Wednesday.

In June.

Against the Twins.

How progressive.

But this isn't the only announcement the Astros made that lacked originality. One of the final announcements the franchise released was the debut of their much anticipated hashtag campaign for the 2020 season:

Now when I first saw it I thought, "Ok. Not bad. It might look silly if you don't capitalize it, but after everything that's gone down this off season, I could see this being a decent rally cry."

Then I got a text from a friend Tuesday:

"Astros unveiled their marketing campaign and slogan for 2020. The hashtag is #ForTheH. But, the Roughnecks have been using the same hashtag for weeks... Are they tied in?"

Naturally this required an immediate investigation. After five long minutes of Twitter scrolling, we had discovered a devastating revelation, sure to rock the franchise once again to it's foundation.

The Houston Astros stole their twitter hashtag.

We'll probably never know how long the Astros had planned this slogan usurping, but what we can state as fact is that the city's favorite football team, The Houston Roughnecks, had staked their claim to the hashtag as early January 3rd.

There it is, plain as day. Now the question begs itself, do the Astros lean into their new national reputation of villainy and bully the new kids on the block out of the hashtag they very clearly did not come up with first, or do they concede? For a team as desperate as the Astros are for good PR, this theme thievery certainly does them no favors.

Shout out to Megan Arnold for blowing the lid off of this bombshell story.

Clear your Saturday

Hope you weren't busy this weekend. You've got a new-look Rockets team to watch late Thursday night against a nasty Lakers team that will immediately test this mad scientist lineup. Saturday you're going to need to get your chores done early so you can be out at TDECU stadium early enough to tailgate and watch the inaugural Houston Roughnecks XFL team battle the Los Angeles Wildcats at 4 pm. This is going to need to be a team effort, because while you're watching the Roughnecks compete #ForTheH, you'll need to have a buddy grabbing some solid real estate at a nearby bar. Once the game is over--unless you've dropped the $160 needed to get in the door--you're going to need to find a spot to post up and watch UFC 247: Jones vs Reyes, and that's where your buddy comes in. I don't make the rules, but you're going to have to watch all of the things.

The ultimate world power rankings of the week are back


#4: Derrick Nnadi, Super Bowl Champion. Also loves dogs.

Big ups to Nnadi, who channeled his giving spirit following his Super Bowl victory last Sunday by paying the adoption fees for 91 dogs in a Kansas City animal shelter, according to ESPN.com. The Kansas City Star followed that up with a report that celebrity chef Rachel Ray came out of nowhere and apparently offered to buy food for all the dogs as well. So that's cool too, thanks Rachel.

#3 Katie Coates, trailblazer

On Monday Coates won an 11 year battle with the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF). As a result of her efforts, pole dancing is now recognized as a professional sport, and-- as a result--is now one step closer to being considered for inclusion as an Olympic sport. Well, technically at least. Now you can tell your wife/girlfriend that punched you in the shoulder for ogling at Jennifer Lopez during her halftime show that you were just admiring her skill AT A SPORT.

#2 Bad apps with bad names

Monday evening was supposed to kickoff the 2020 election season with the Iowa Caucus. The event went on as scheduled, but the whole reporting the winner thing went to hell in a hurry thanks to massively flawed app used to tally the results. And what better company name to turn to to develop an integral piece of political technology with a focus on transparency?


That's about as on the nose as it gets. Their explanation from the site is just as silly:

"Why Shadow? When a light is shining, Shadows are a constant companion. We see ourselves as building a long-term, side-by-side "Shadow" of tech infrastructure to the Democratic Party and the progressive community at large."

This is all real life and also why I bury my head in sports.

#1: Sports photoshop bro

I'm too lazy to pinpoint when it actually started, but the first time I noticed anyone put real effort into it was back when Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees and ESPN had some guys try to photoshop how a clean shaven Damon would look. Since then, sports photoshop bro has evolved into a monster capable of rendering players traded into their new uniforms in the blink of an eye:

I wonder if there are guys who are brought in the week of trade deadlines that are just contracted to fire off the uniform photoshops. Is there a special title in their graphics department otherwise? Is there some guy in the background, some unsung hero like that pizza box folder in the Dominoes commercials that just dominates this entire niche market sector? This whole concept bothers me more than it should. Either way, it's trade deadline day in the NBA so it's your time to shine.

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Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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