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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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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