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

#5: DOGGO OF THE YEAR

#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?

SHADOW INC.

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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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