Photo Credit: Jermaine Every
Don't you hate it when people try to tell you how you should feel? Or how about when they try telling you what they think you should be doing? Unsolicited opinions are the new wave of social media these days. Hop on Twitter, Facebook, or any social media platform, and you'll see/hear all kinds of them.
Last week, there was a a bit of a kerfuffle on social media here in Houston. Some members of the local sports media (John Lopez and Landry Locker) made statements questioning the fandom of Rockets fans. They are under the unfortunate impression that if you watched the season premiere of Game of Thrones instead of watching the beginning of the Rockets opening playoff game, you're not a real fan and I couldn't disagree more.
"You're not a real fan" guy is a dumbass! That statement is usually followed by something extremely stupid, highly regrettable, and will often be very hot take worthy. Telling someone how to be a "real fan" or questioning their fandom on the basis of them choosing to watch something else because they'll miss the beginning of an opening round playoff game might be peak dumbassery. Don't get me wrong. There are times when telling someone they're not a real fan is absolutely necessary.
For example: I'm a lifelong Saints fan. When the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl and were set to face the Patriots, I wanted to vomit. Most people hate the Patriots because they're a dynasty. Others hate them because of the various scandals accusing them, or being found guilty, of cheating. My son said he was rooting for the Falcons and I lost my mind! No self-respecting Saints fan would ever under any circumstance root for the hated Falcons! That's like a Texans fan rooting for the Titans, or a Longhorn fan rooting for the Sooners! My wife told me I was being unreasonable, but my son understood where I was coming from. I had to educate him as to why it was like cursing in church to root for the Falcons.
Outside of rooting for your team's hated rival, there aren't many situations that your fandom can be called into question. When people openly root for their team to lose games for the sake of better draft position, they aren't violating any fan code of conduct. This happens often when a team is so bad, the fan would rather see them lose now in order to draft a player that could help them win in the future. Some would disagree with me here and that's okay. But when leagues find a better way to avoid tanking, this behavior will forever be a part of fan culture (side note: the NBA now gives the three worst teams an equal shot at winning the draft lottery, while the NFL and MLB continue to reward that top slot based off record continuing to prove why the NBA is constantly ahead of the curve).
Another form of potentially questionable fandom is wishing for the firing or trade of a team's coach, front office staff, and players. Fans will often get frustrated with how things are going and demand change. If a general manager sucks at player acquisition, or a coach can't get the most out of his players, or a player isn't living up to potential or a lofty contract, fans will call for their heads. This too is born of frustration, and isn't a knock against fandom. If anything, it shows a higher level of passion than casual fans exhibit.
When I saw there was going to be a conflict between the Rockets and Game of Thrones, I scoffed at the notion of choosing which one to look at live. I'm fortunate enough to have two TVs in my room (pictured above), so I was able to watch both. I often do this because there's too much to watch sometimes, I'm playing my PS4 while something is on, or I'm simply feeding my ADD. The Rockets TV was on mute because I can follow a game without the sound, and because Game of Thrones was my priority. Lots of people DVR'd the game or picked it up after switching over. None of this makes you less of a fan. In fact, I question the person who calls out the fan for how they show their support more than the fan themselves.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.