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.

4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

When it comes to Houston sports, believe the hype

Tim Warner/Getty Images

I'm not going to stop you if you want to keep listening to everyone trash Houston sports. It's pretty easy to find at this point. I'm also not going to spend another week complaining about it or defending it. It's becoming repetitive and lazy.

While all of this is going on, people are forgetting that there is plenty to be excited about with the Houston sports scene.

Small ball with big promise

The Rockets are looking poised to make another strong second half push for the second season in a row, but the difference this time is just how much it's going to bother basketball purists. The past two seasons prior, the Rockets made respectably deep runs in the playoffs on the heels of James Harden, reliable three-point shooting, and a center that was faster than any other traditional center.

So what did the Rockets do? They replaced the fast center completely and pushed all their chips into a full time small ball rotation the likes of which the NBA hasn't really ever seen.

Small ball lineups are nothing new. Complete dedication to a small ball lineup as your primary starting five is. It's weird. It's different.

It's working.

The last time former Rocket center Clint Capela took the floor was a January 29th loss to Portland. Since then, the Rockets have lost two games. TWO. One was a beat down against a short-handed Rockets team, and the other was lost on a last second buzzer-beater. In the last four games since the All-Star Break, the Rockets have won by 30, 10, 11, and 28 respectively.

This small ball approach is built solely with the post season in mind. It would take a crazy turn of events for the Rockets to find themselves outside of the playoff picture, so it shouldn't alarm anyone if the catch a few losses here and there while they finish ironing out what few wrinkles are left. The postseason teams Houston are likely to face rely on one big man or another, and all would be rendered virtually unplayable in a seven game series because they just wouldn't be able to keep up.

The days of Harden dribbling the air out of the ball are over. This is a team that has completely evolved to play through Russell Westbrook and has become infinitely more watchable as a result.

Roughnecks are a tough out

Let's shift our focus to a team that has never lost a game in its entire existence. Yea, it's a corny dad joke, but it's also fun, and true, and I'll wear it out until I can't.

Hyperbole or no, the brand new Houston Roughnecks are 3-0 to start their season and look like the team to beat in the XFL. The last time the Texans started a season 3-0, Matt Schaub had yet to be run out of town, Arian Foster hadn't even considered a professional career in rap, and Andre Johnson was only two years removed from serving Courtland Finnegan a three piece knuckle sandwich.

2012. The year was 2012.

In the XFL, defense just is what it is. The rules are designed to make scoring easier, so it really just depends on the day. From a betting perspective, it's best to take the over until further notice.

On offense though, the Roughnecks are obscene. Houston leads the XFL in offense, with 13 touchdowns scored in the first three weeks. All of this is behind the arm of PJ Walker, who is currently averaging roughly 250 passing yards per game and has accounted for 11 of the aforementioned 13 TDs (10 through the air, 1 rushing). The "MVPJ" shirts are already available to find on the internet.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Cam Phillips is looking more and more like a "one and done" XFLer, especially after last weekend's 8 reception, 194 yard, 3 TD performance. Phillips currently leads the league in receiving yards and touchdowns.

It doesn't matter what league we're talking about, those are fun numbers to watch guys put up. If you STILL haven't given the XFL a chance, you should. It's way too much fun, and they play Dallas this weekend.

This weekend in Houston


Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (Cook off) - Vegetarians can skip ahead. If you're a real Houstonian, you know that the real party at the rodeo is Cook off. Your Facebook is about to be flooded with friends either searching for or offering wristbands. They're referring to cook off and they're as good as gold if you can get your hands on them. Most of the time a wristband equals all you can eat and, more importantly, all you can drink. If you're invited, get there.

Overwatch League - For the first time since its inception, the Blizzard smash hit video game Overwatch brings their entire e-league into Houston for a weekend of season play. The tournament takes over Revention Center downtown on Saturday and Sunday, and wristbands can be purchased for single day or weekend passes. This is Houston's first opportunity to see their hometown Outlaws take on the competition live without leaving the city. Houston's first match is Saturday vs London, and Sunday vs Toronto.

Houston Dynamo vs LA Galaxy - It's the season opener, and LA is bringing in their latest big name soccer import in Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. Expect a huge crowd for both reasons.

What to watch this weekend

Rockets at Celtics, Saturday, 7:30 pm (ABC)

Roughnecks at Dallas Renegades, Sunday, 3:00 pm (FS1)

4 Downs of the Week

1st down - A unicorn flying over a double rainbow. Actually, something we all assumed was even less likely:

I could cry right now.

2nd Down - Flat Earther proves that natural selection is a thing

3rd Down - I'm mad, but I want one

4th Down - Apples are (for) good

In a recent interview with Rian Johnson, the Hollywood director provided an interesting bit of trivia to IndieWire. According to Johnson,

"I don't know if I should say this or not, not because it's lascivious or something, but because it's gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write. But forget it, I'll say it, it's very interesting. Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but, and this is very pivotal, if you're ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera. Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now."

That's right. I've never, ever seen a bad person use an iPhone.

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