The Pallilog

Yes, Astros fans, there is still a chance in this World Series

Justin Verlander pitches Game 1. Bob Levey/Getty Images

I'm saying there's a chance!

For all my character flaws, being a water-carrying silly homer shill is not among them.

I'm saying there's a chance. For the Astros. In this World Series.

A great chance? No. But slim beats the heck out of none. The way the Nationals beat the heck out of the Astros in game two.

The Astros getting swept or losing in five is more likely than them beating Washington four times in five games. Still, the Astros pulling it off isn't some million-to-one shot. What odds would you have given against the Nationals beating Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander at Minute Maid Park on consecutive nights? Sports happen. Overwhelming momentum, positive or negative, exists. Until it doesn't. A game three win puts them right back in it. A game three loss…

Three times in the World Series the home team lost the first two games then rallied to win the Series. Last to do it, the 1996 Yankees, who dropped two in the Bronx to the defending champion Atlanta Braves then swept the next four. The other teams to go from 0-2 down at home to ultimate glory are the '86 Mets and the '85 Royals.

The Nationals are outstanding. From late May until now, five months, their record is better than the Astros' record. The Nats essentially wipe out the massive starting pitching advantage the Astros held over basically everybody else. The Astros' offense, overhyped by more than a few as one of the greatest of all time, has largely failed this postseason. Yes the hitters face better pitching in the playoffs than they do over the full regular season. Same is true for the Nationals. The Astro offense has been too often too impotent. Jose Altuve is the only guy up from his regular season production rate. The other six offensive mainstays (Springer, Bregman, Brantley, Alvarez, Gurriel, Correa) are all waaaaay down. Time is running out to turn that around.

Faint silver lining of the moment: if the Astros are to win this World Series they'll do so at home.

Where does he rank?

After Altuve's thrilling pennant winning home run vs. the Yankees, I wondered via Tweet whether Altuve now ranks number two in the Houston sports legend pantheon. Talking about greatness, ensuring status in the city forever. Is Altuve now ahead of Earl Campbell? There is no definitive right answer. Your response may be influenced by your age and/or by which sport you prefer. Recency bias can influence. Hakeem Olajuwon remains the very clear number one. No disrespect to individual sport athletes, but they're not relevant to this discussion. Apologies to Simone Biles and Carl Lewis, but cities don't swoon over and revere individual sport athletes.

Ugly situation

Infinitely less fun questions that came out of the AL winning celebration: How big of a jerk is now former Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman? Or was it just one egregiously vile but not truly character defining moment? Sometimes one strike and you're out. Taubman's behavior was abhorrent and obviously fireable. How despicable was the Astros' handling of the situation? Very.

The Astros win a lot of games. President of Baseball Operations Jeff Luhnow has built a phenomenal baseball organization. It doesn't mean their poop doesn't stink. An amazing level of arrogance had Astros' upper management think theirs doesn't. Taubman was part of Luhnow's inner circle. That Luhnow didn't say anything until Wednesday was weak. His press conference content Thursday was in parts apologetic, embarrassing, and contemptible.

The Astros' first statement, their smear the messenger piece of garbage, was a disgrace. Taubman's apology line "if anyone was offended" was a disgrace. Many wrongs can be righted at least in part. The Astros righted theirs in part with their subsequent "real" investigation (with MLB leaning hard) and apology to Sports Illustrated, SI writer Stephanie Apstein, and others involved. Taubman will have to seek his redemption elsewhere.

When asked about the situation Tuesday before game one, Manager A.J. Hinch spoke briefly with the decency and dignity that escaped several others in the organization.

Slow start

What should be a compelling Rockets' season got underway with a thud Thursday night, a 16 point second half lead blown in a Toyota Center loss to Milwaukee. For the second straight offseason the Rockets did nickel-dimey stuff in filling out their roster, but it's a strong club that given generally good health from the mainstays should win a bunch (50+) of games. That is unlikely to culminate in an NBA Championship since the defense is unlikely to be elite and they'll mix in enough brick-laden three point shooting games to come up short.

Russell Westbrook is one of the worst three-point shooters in NBA history. Inside three weeks of turning 31 years old he's not going to suddenly become a good three-point shooter, but Westbrook is a one man fast break like the Rockets have never had, and the relentless passion and intensity with which he plays are compelling. That Harden fella should amass some pretty stout numbers again.

​Buzzer Beaters

1. I'm not into karma, but if the Astros lose the Series, man are a whole bunch of people going to be thinking just desserts. 2. Justin Verlander being the only pitcher with an 0-5 World Series record doesn't seem fair. Who says sports are fair? 3. Toughest to name state capitals: Bronze-Kentucky's Silver-Missouri's Gold-Maine's

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

It seems like every single day there is a new update on player testing positive for the Coronavirus. After a team outbreak on the Miami Marlins and new positive tests on the St. Louis Cardinals, it feels like the baseball season could be on the brink of being canceled by Rob Manfred if things do not get better fast.

ESPN MLB reporter and analyst Tim Kurkjian joined The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio Monday to discuss this situation. Kurkjian presented a bleak outlook when asked if he thinks MLB will complete its season.

"I don't think we are going to make it through," Kurkjian said. "The game is in turmoil and it should be given what it is up against, a pandemic like we have never seen before. My guess is that if we have another outbreak like the Marlins or even like the Cardinals then that might be enough to say the schedule is too messed up, the integrity of the game is in question but most important the health and safety of all people around the game is in question, so that might be enough to say 'alright we aren't going to play' but that is a very difficult decision the commissioner does not want to make."

Multiple reports seem to indicate that several Marlins players went out to a bar and broke MLB's protocol as did a few of the Cardinals when they reportedly went to a casino on their road trip. Is it fair to blame the players if the season ends up getting canceled?

"I think the bottom line is when this started, we were asking a bunch of young guys in their early 20s to show discipline and restraint that maybe they haven't shown their whole life," Kurkjian said. "That was a challenge to begin with and obviously some mistakes have been made but to blame the players for this entirely I'm not sure that is fair either."

When asked about the recent altercation between Joe Kelly of the Dodgers and the Astros, Kurkjian said he wasn't surprised a player went after the Astros but knew that baseball was trying to send a message by suspending Kelly for eight games.

"Even though eight games was a harsh penalty, I think it was Major League Baseball saying 'we have to send a message,' Kurkjian said. "MLB is trying to social distance in the middle of a pandemic and the last thing they need is a brawl, a dustup of any kind. To me this was baseball through Joe Kelly telling everyone 'we're not putting up with this.'

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM -10 AM Central on SportsMap Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Tim Kurkjian below:

https://open.spotify.com/episode/66WoodTsqgSVkzYkS1VPbi

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