Who here has been watching the scoreboard?
I have the MLB app on my phone, and generally I don’t watch anything other than the Astros. Not this week. I’ve been watching the Rangers’ games and Angels’ games and even the Twins’ (when they’re not getting rained out).
Every game matters. Every inning matters. Every pitch matters. And not just in the Astros’ games.
In March — when I was predicting the Astros would go .500 and maybe win 85 games — if you’d told me Houston would be playing meaningful baseball on Sept. 29, I’d have told you to wake up and smell the rebuilding. Yet, here we are watching our beloved H-town Nine play games that matter.
And what matters most?
- The loss column. It’s what Houston can control. At this point it’s not just about winning more, it’s really about losing fewer. Lose fewer games than the Angels, pray the Rangers’ losses exceed the Astros’ losses. Keep those Twins at bay.
- Maintain control of your own destiny. Right now, Houston has lost control of its destiny. If the Astros win out, the Twins win out and the Angels lose just one, there would be a convoluted tie breaker for that second wild card spot. No one wants to play an extra game before the play-in game, but if that’s what it takes, the more baseball the merrier.
- A ballpark is a ballpark. It’d be a long way until Houston plays at home again this year — if they ever do. That means treating Seattle, Arizona and (hopefully) New York like just another place to play ball.
Compare that to last year. What mattered then?
- Jose Altuve’s batting title. Sure, I’d like Jose to get to 200 hits again, but I’m not tuning in only for his ABs.
- Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh’s win total. Again, I’d like to see Houston get a 20-game winner (plus a 19-game winner) but only because this team so desparately needs wins.
- September call ups. Last season, the more the merrier on the call ups. This season, I think Jeff Luhnow has called up plenty of players.
What are the consolation prizes? In the event that Houston doesn’t make the playoffs — or even the play-in game — do those moral victories matter?
- Houston most likely has this year’s American League Cy Young winner, Rookie of the Year and, quite possibly, Manager of the Year. Will those small victories keep you satisfied during the long, cold winter of discontent?
- The overall improvement. Extra baseball or not, this has been a better team in 2015, and that bodes well for 2016 and beyond. Will that improvement ignite your optimism for the future?