Every-Thing Sports

Where does your city fit when it comes to the psychology of the fan base?

Where does your city fit when it comes to the psychology of the fan base?
Eagles fans, we have a category for you. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Saturday, I replied to a tweet from Bomani Jones. He quoted a tweet from Yahoo Sports about the Toronto Raptors pregame video. The video was basically a thumb to the nose at previous Raptors players, while serving as homage to Kawhi Leonard. That being said, the idea of the psychology of sports cities has always been debated as a fascinating topic. So here’s my attempt at explaining this topic.

First up, you have “The Bluebloods.” These cities think because of their history, they are superior to all other sports cities. This big brother complex often leads to foolish statements by fans of these cities. They also suffer from team colored glasses and believe it’s their right to be seen as a constant contender. I’m looking at you New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Tuscaloosa, Columbus, and Chicago.

Next, you have the Cinderellas. These cities have only recently won a title, only have one title, or could have won a title long ago. Either way, these cities were longshots that overcame the odds to win, but don’t have a rich winning history. They often display little brother complex and can get quite snippy with the Bluebloods. New Orleans, Tampa, Cleveland, Miami and Clemson, will you please stand and be acknowledged.

There’s always the loud mouth has-been or never-was uncle in every family who all too often proclaims his greatness on some minor scale of life. Whether it was recalling a fabled performance in an obscure high school game long ago, or touting his letterman jacket, showing off his ancient relic trophies, or talking about the time he almost (fill in the blank),  this uncle’s feats are rotary dial phone old. So Dallas, Green Bay, Atlanta, Lincoln, Notre Dame, Austin, and Lexington, will you guys please come get your pagers, flip phones and VHS tapes.

Last but not least, there are the babies. These are your aunt’s kids who are the youngest cousins that are privileged and get away with anything. They are spoiled because of the tech boom their dad took advantage of and are now the new “it kids.” It’s hit or miss whether you like them or not. They have either taken their privilege and made the most of it, or they have squandered the opportunities afforded to them. A couple of them are cool, but some are brats who have too much and like to show off. Will Oakland, Houston, and Philly please respond to our DMs or we’ll be forced to release the screenshot of that text where you called your mom and dad those ugly names.

Of course most of you will disagree with where your city is on this list. Heck, some of you will wonder why your city isn’t on this list. Some of you may even feel like some of these cities can fall into a couple categories. Guess what? You’re ALL right! I’m not here to ague or debate. I just want to spark a discussion. If you ever have a bone to pick with me, I’m an easy man to find on Twitter.

 

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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