The Couch Slouch

With two decades in the books, 21st century is not off to the best start

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Two decades in the books, and, I must say, the 21st century is off to a rough-and-tumble start.

(This, of course, also could've been said of the 15th century, and it rebounded pretty nicely – the key being the invention of the printing press, followed by Christopher Columbus accidentally "discovering' the New World, prompting the New York Post headline, "Headless Body in Topless Bar as Italian Explorer Stumbles Upon Civilization.")

Let's take a closer look at the bugaboos and blemishes infesting our nascent millennium:

The rise of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless: They call it "Embrace Debate." I call it "Embrace Carnival Barkers Spewing Hot-Take Nonsense That Makes Extraterrestrial Eyewitnesses Seem Reasonable."

The fall of civility: If I'm next in line to check out at a supermarket and they open a new register, the three people behind me will rush over in a stampede to get there first. Uh, as George Costanza once intoned, "You know, we're living in a society!"

Mixed martial arts: Just when I forsook boxing, the UFC became a thing. It is forbidden in Couch Slouch's household, though our beloved pit mix Daisy steals glances of it in the backyard on her smartphone.

Facebook: Sure, Coca-Cola is the most successful retail product of all time because people love its taste. But how do you explain the feat of Facebook, a runaway consumer hit that makes people lonely and depressed?

The NBA has turned into a Pop-A-Shot contest from long distance: God bless Stephen Curry, an utter delight to watch. But now every 7-footer east of DeMarcus Cousins is jacking it up from beyond the arc. And let me ask you this: In soccer, when you score from 30 yards out instead of from five yards out, how come they don't count it for, say, 1.5 goals on the scoreboard? Think about it.

Avocado toast: Do I like avocado? Yes. Do I like toast? Yes. Am I going to pay $10 for a slice of avocado on a piece of toast? No.

Juicing: Eat a banana, for goodness sakes.

Computerized statistical analysis: If you think being told a team has an 82.3 percent win probability with six minutes left in the fourth quarter needlessly sucks the joy out of sports, you might be on to something. Plus do you really want Nate Silver sitting to your left for three hours talking up launch angle and which way Wisconsin is leaning?

Science denial: What planet are flat earthers, anti-vaxxers and climate change rebutters living on? And is e=mc² suddenly in question?

Streaming services: Believe it or not, you can have too many choices. Give me Channels 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13, and I'm good to go.

Kale: I actually enjoy it. But kale enthusiasts are worse than cycling enthusiasts – they think they own the road.

Too much Boston success, too many Boston sports fans: Nobody wants the New England Patriots (or the Boston Red Sox) to win another championship. Nobody wants to be next to a Boston sports guy in a bar, plane or bank line.

Robocalls: A generation or three ago, the phone ringing was a happy sound. Now, it's someone running for reelection, a supposed creditor or a fake IRS official asking for your Social Security number or you could be in prison within a week.

Public subsidies for new stadium venues. Your tax dollars at work; does not include the "personal seat license," where you pay a nominal five- or six figure fee to allow you the right to buy a season ticket to your very own seat!

People taking photos of their meals at restaurants: Just eat the damn food before it gets cold.

Twitter: I do not need 280 characters to express myself on this subject area – Twitter is the global warming of the Internet. We are doomed. #JustSayNoToTwitter

The decline of boxing, pinball machines and telephone booths. This speaks for itself.

FIFA: Crooks.

Replay: The rest of our lives apparently will be under review.

Ask The Slouch

Q. While surfing away from an NFL game recently, I happened across a pro bowlers telecast. As I watched, mesmerized, the thought came to me: How can we use replay to screw up bowling? (Jim Clanton; Spokane Valley, Wash.)

A. Bowling cannot be screwed up. Incidentally, we use replay at my local bowling center only when there is a dispute in regard to whose beer is whose.

Q. Are other scribes and talking heads allowed to disseminate the views of your column without your express written consent? (Jack Drury; Lavale, Md.)

A. It's a moot point – no other scribe or talking head wishes to disseminate my views.

Q. Do you think Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Bell wish they were still in Pittsburgh? (Matthew Blume; Albany, N.Y.)

A. I wish I were still in Pittsburgh and I've never even been there.

Q. Any truth to the rumor that the estate of Harold Ramis is suing the Washington R*dsk*ns for stealing the plot from "Groundhog Day"? (Dan Morgiewicz; Burke, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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