The Pallilog

This Astros streak could last a while

Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Astros roll into the weekend on a six game winning streak. Their road trip begins with three games at the atrocious Orioles then three at the faded White Sox. Check my calculation, but if they win all six that would make for a 12 game winning streak. It's not likely but it's a darn decent possibility. Fun with math: if the Astros are 85 (a very high number) percent likely to win each game, it's a 38 percent likelihood they win all six. Bump it up to 90 percent likely to win each game and winning all six becomes a better than 50/50 shot.

Three times in their history the Astros have ripped off 12 consecutive wins. The first came in September of 1999, the final season of the Astrodome. As it played out they needed all 12 wins as the Astros won the National League Central by one game, with Mike Hampton winning his franchise record 22nd game of the season on the final day of the regular season.

12 game winning streak number two came in 2004, straddling August and September. The Astros began the stretch at 64-63, seven games out of the NL Wild Card (only one per league back then). At streak's end they were tied for the Wild Card spot, and would go on to win the last seven games of the regular season schedule to edge out the Giants by one game.

The most recent 12 gamer goes all the way back to…last season. At 37-25 the defending World Series Champions weren't struggling, but a dozen wins later they were nearly halfway to their ultimate win total: the single season franchise record of 103.

The 2019 juggernaut Astros are on pace to win 105 games. To win "only" 100 the Astros can struggle to the finish with a 25-22 record. Bet the over. Never assume, but…

No franchise in MLB history has ever strung together four consecutive 100 win seasons. It doesn't take 20/20 vision to see that as in play for the 2020 Astros. As I put it in a video earlier this week, this Astros' squad is stacked like Pamela Anderson in the 90s.

Still, for all the Astros' awesomeness, they enter the weekend trailing the Yankees (winners of nine in a row) and Dodgers (winners of five straight) by one game in the race for homefield advantage in prospective American League Championship Series and World Series matchups. So the Astros need to keep winning. And winning. And winning. And they probably will.

Giant streak

One of my favorite baseball factoids is about the winning streaks of the 1916 New York Giants. They started the season 2-13, then racked up 17 straight wins. Toward the end of the season the Giants won the still standing record of 26 in a row. 26! The 1916 New York Giants finished fourth. Combining the two streaks the Giants went 43-0. The rest of the season they went 43-66.

Adding a Duke

Thursday night's Texans preseason opener at Green Bay was, well, a football game. Kind of. Four preseason games are not necessary evils. What they are, are annual rip-offs of season ticket holders. Commissioner Babble pays lip service every year to "we know it's not what the fans want and above all else we care about the fans (well, other than maybe player safety)." The owners will get rid of two easy profits preseason games per year just as soon as the players agree to an 18 game regular season schedule.

The Texans' General Manager-less braintrust made a nice little acquisition in running back Duke Johnson from Cleveland. As long as he isn't a malcontent. The Texans have never before had a quality third down pass catching complementary back. Arian Foster was an all-around beast for a few years, which probably contributed to his short shelf life of excellence. Lamar Miller is a solid starting running back, but not good enough to be an unquestioned every down back. Last season Miller caught 25 passes at a lackluster 6.5 yards per reception. Johnson caught his career low in four seasons with the Browns, 47. In 2017 he caught 74 passes and for his career Johnson is over nine yards per reception. If the Texans are good and Johnson is one reason why, trading a low third round pick for a guy under contract for this season and two more is a good deal. Add in the track record of Texans' third round picks and it looks fantastic!

You bet...

Saturday September 7: LSU at Texas is a pick 'em, Clemson is an 18 ½ point home favorite over A&M. If forced to play one of the four teams, Gig 'Em!

Buzzer Beaters

1. The 2016 Reds gave up a record 258 home runs. The 2019 Orioles are on pace to give up 332. Even with the juiced balls, that's ridiculous. 2. Keke Coutee injured? Go figure. 3. Best salad dressings: Bronze-blue cheese Silver-balsamic vinaigrette Gold-honey lime

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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