Astros are living in the land of Never Before


The whole off-season for Houston Astros fans has add an odd, dream-like feel to it.  After the superior 2017 World Championship season, there have been three plus months that have felt like a sea level denizen being thrust into a life in the mountains. The thin air up here has made us all feel wonderful, but a little bit off.

And our team, the best team we have ever cheered and died for has had a full off-season that has culminated in another training camp. And the camp is the spring time home of the Land of Never Before….

Never before have the Astros finished a post season by winning its last game.

Never before have the Astros entered an off-season with such a tiny laundry list of needs.

Never before have the Astros entered a season with the best team in the majors.

Never before have the Astros had the best hitting team in the majors paired with the best rotation in the majors.

Never before could this front office look around at an abundance of still available free agents and say, “Nah, we are good. We have a royal flush in our hand. Don’t need to draw any more cards.”

Never before have the Astros had an MVP like Jose Altuve, who may have to fight off teammates like Carlos Correa and George Springer and Justin Verlander to hold on to that honor.

Never before have the Astros had the opportunity to repeat.

But all is possible in 2018.

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65 comments on “Astros are living in the land of Never Before

  1. Quotes from the special Astros’ version of the children’s classic “Land Before Time”:

    Narrator [a/k/a Jim Crane]: “They called him [i.e. Jose Altuve] ‘Littlefoot’. All that remained of his [original] herd was his Keuchel, his Springer, and his Correa. He knew them by sight, by scent, and by their love. He knew they would be together, always”.

    Narrator/Crane: “The Great Valley was all they’d dreamed it would be: a land of green, and leaves, and life.”

    Littlefoot’s Mother [a/k/a Jeff Luhnow]: “Well, it’s a long way yet. Past the Great Rock that Looks Like a Long Neck, and pass the Mountains that Burn… still a long way, but we’ll get there”.
    Littlefoot [a/k/a Jose Altuve]: “Have you ever seen the Great Valley?”
    Littlefoot’s Mother/Luhnow: “No”.
    Littlefoot/Altuve: “Well, how do you know it’s really there?”
    Littlefoot’s Mother/Luhnow: “Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart”.

    Littlefoot [a/k/a Jose Altuve]: “Oh, you can’t quit now! What if the Great Valley’s just over the top of these rocks?”

    Ducky [a/k/a Justin Verlander]: “Flap your wings, Petrie [a/k/a Lance McCullers, Jr.]! Higher! Higher, like a flyer!”

    Littlefoot/Altuve: “We did it! We did it together!”

    See you in the Great Valley – and may we feast on the Tree Stars forever!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Spent many a Saturday doing chores while Land Before Time was playing in the background – but that has been quite awhile ago…..Nice memories

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  3. It was good to hear that Martes showed up in great condition. Hopefully he can compete for the rotation or if not this year, the next when Dallas K. leaves for the Yankees or someplace.

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  4. Never before have the Astros gone into a season with a payroll even approaching this year’s.
    Never before have the Astros had an MLB MVP after completing a full season and playoffs.
    Never have I heard the Astros referred to by industry people in the same sentence with the words Beast or Monster or Dynasty.
    Never will I understand what Mr. Bill said up above.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OP1, rent the movie ‘Land Before Time’, and spend a lazy afternoon [prior to the start of baseball season] watching it with the grandchildren.

      The basic premise of the movies – which are about animated dinosaurs – is that an ice age is coming – in Astro terms, the end of our current golden era, when all our heroes are playing together in a Houston uni, is looming. We remember fondly having been to the Great Valley [the World Series] with our herd. But that was a long time ago [November 1, 2017, to be exact]. We have to somehow remember how to get back to that wonderful place. To get there, which seems a long way away, we have to pass the ‘big rocks’ that loom on our horizon – those that look like a longneck [i.e. Aaron Judge and the Yankees], and those that look like a burning mountain [the Indians, who light fires and send up ‘smoke signals’]. If we are going to make it back to the Great Valley [World Series], some youngsters [example: McCullers/Giles] are going to have to get over their childish fear of flying. But Altuve will keep us together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave. That Rastafarian says:

        Rose up this mornin’ – put the blue & orange on,
        a team full of Astros, out on the infield,
        swingin’ sweet bats, nailin’ line drives, straight and true,
        Sayin’, “This is our message to you-ou-ou:”

        “Don’t u worry about that ring!
        Every little thing gon’ be all right.
        “No, don’t worry about that ring”
        “‘Cause every little thing gon’ be all right.”

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  5. I was high on this kid after his first two months in our system:

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  6. So in honor of the Winter Olympics – here are some things that have been puzzling me….
    – Is it really a sport if the main implement is something I use to sweep off my front porch?
    – Is there something wrong with me for thinking the biathlon would be more interesting if they were allowed to shoot at their opponents? (Paint balls only)
    – Or how about if they combine the biathlon with the snowboarding? Let’s see if they can hit their target with a paint ball when it is spinning twice this way and twisting three times that way.
    – And doesn’t baseball feel so superior to figure skating. If you touch the plate you score 1 run. Period. Unless you have a replay challenge you immediately know where you stand. In figure skating you wait 5 minutes to see how 9 different judges opinions are melded into a score that is good to the hundredth point
    – Don’t you think it is amazing that in speed skating when they have to cross over from the inside to the outside lane they don’t take out the other skater
    – I know the answer is money….but why do they keep putting the Olympics in venues that people really don’t want to go to? And if the biggest chunk of money is from TV, why not lower ticket prices so they are not a bunch of empty arenas.
    – Is there anything more amazing than these stories where they show some athlete who did not know how to skate (but was great at some other sport) two years ago and now is in the Olympics
    – And my ears pricked up when the 2 man bobsled was on TV and they talked about one of the bobsledders being Sam McGuffie. This kid was a local Houston area star running back (go youtube “Sam McGuffie hurdle” if you want to see an unbelievable run) who went to Michigan and then transferred back to Rice. And now he is in the Olympics as a bobsledder (maybe something he picked up at Michigan?)

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    • – When they test Olympians for PEDs, do the snowboarders get tested for something that’s currently legal in Colorado?
      – I don’t understand why everyone jokes about curling so much. Have you never played the shuffleboard game at a bar or Dave & Busters (or real shuffleboard if you go to a Florida retirement home)?
      – I can’t get into figure skating because they’ve already decided who will win before they take the ice. It’s about as bad as gymnastics since the scoring changes in that sport.
      – What bothers me about the World Cup and the Olympics is that a city must build brand new facilities in order to host. That’s ridiculous and obviously something filled with corruption. You’d think a city like Houston with our rich history of under the table payments to construction contractors would have been a shoe in to land the summer games…
      – There aren’t a lot of people training for bobsled, luge, skeleton (crazy people), etc. We could probably field a team from the Chipalatta community and come within 4-5 places of qualifying for the Olympics if you’re interested in buying a sled.

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  7. Interesting read here….
    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/aj-reed-ready-to-help-astros-in-2018/c-266781456
    I know that if Reed makes the roster it is only until Gurriel comes off of his suspension. But reading between the lines I think they did not call him up in September as a slap along side the head to “Grow up” and “Take his career seriously”. Losing 25 lbs. makes me happy – good job A.J. – I hope the extra weight made your bat slow….

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  8. The Astros had the second highest OPS from the leadoff spot in the majors. That guy is still here.
    The Astros had the fifth highest OPS in the majors from the #2 spot in the lineup and those guys are still here.
    The Astros had the fifth highest OPS in the majors from the #3 position in their lineup and that guy is still here.
    The Astros #4 spot was the eighth highest in OPS for #4 s in the majors and that guy was injured for six weeks and he’s back. He was only 22, also.
    The Astros had the 28th highest OPS #5 spot in their lineup and there is a place for them to vastly improve.
    The Astros had the 8th highest OPS from their #6 spot of all the #6 spots in the majors.
    The Astros had the 3rd highest OPS from the #7 spot in their order of any team in the majors.
    The Astros had the highest OPS from their #8 spot of any team in the majors.
    The Astros had the highest OPS from their #9 spot of any team in the majors.
    The Astros had a large number of players hit in the #5 spot and nothing seemed to work in the spot behind Correa. Perhaps AJ Hinch can get that fixed.

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  9. No need to cite the chron article, it echoes what occurred to me a few weeks ago. 2018 has not been talked about much as a unique, or breakout year for Lance, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was different about him come playoff time. The last quote explains a lot.

    “My arm couldn’t have really felt much better all of last year from start to finish – my arm felt amazing. I had a back injury that we couldn’t really figure out, and we’ve just been doing a ton of rehab and a ton of different things to try to eliminate that, and right now I’m feeling really good. So my only focus is to make absolutely every single start that I’m lined up for.

    Whether I was starting, whether I was coming out of the bullpen, A.J. (Hinch) had told me, ‘Hey, no matter when you pitch, it’s going to be big moments. So you’re going to need to come up big for us.’ So that’s kind of what kept me going. … When you get in those moments, you’re playing for history, you’re playing for something much greater than yourself, and the only focus anyone should have is to win a World Series.”

    My read on this and others’ comments is that Hinch commands their respect, his words of encouragement and confidence in the individuals and team. There’s some sort of x-factor this combination provides, something transparent about our clubhouse, a kind of brotherhood you can see missing in other dugouts. Not only success but adversity has galvanized it. When they put the pedal to the floor, there’s another gear that the ghost of Astros’ past couldn’t achieve.

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  10. Cameron Maybin just signed with the Rays – hope he gets plenty of playing time. He had his limitations offensively, but had his moments for us in both the regular season and the playoffs.

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  11. Becky’s comments on Jayne got me to wandering back to check on the guys I’d been watching over time – guys like Ryne Birk, in two years across 4 levels and now age 23 year at CC, he’s amassed 600 AB’s with a .780 OPS. She’s turned me onto Alex Di Goti.

    https://whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com/2018/01/beyond-top-30-second-basemen.html?m=1

    Which then got me to thinking about Altuve.

    Why we aren’t trying to get a deal done now, which will communicate to the team that even three years isn’t enough (the years after Springer McCann Yuli and Reddick are conceivably gone). If right now we buy out the two 6 mil years and offer something like 5/90? Long enough to make Correa stay awhile. I’m saying this because Altuve is one of those guys who will play for free – he loves the game that much. My feeling that he hired Boras is because he doesn’t try to understand his true value, leave that to an expert. He just wants to play 100% and god willing let the chips fall where they may. I’m sure he has people in his ear saying he deserves Mike Trout money, but I know he wants to remain and Astro!

    What would it take to chipalatta chip chip away at Altuve and ask him to remain forever, to coach up the boys when his playing days are done? That would be EXACTLY what I’m obsessed about if I’m Luhnow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Like “official” stories today where there’s no evidence, just wild speculation lighting up these news boards. I don’t know anything, but I already don’t trust the league’s petty rules and methods, so if he did take something unwittingly against the fine print – that’s petty!

      If it’s weed and 50 games then whatever, let the league play their games knowing it’s already rampant. If it’s meth, like Arauz or McCurry, perhaps a concerted thing, that would be a surprise.

      But like most info disseminated in this way, there will be leaks, and I don’t really know anything.

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    • I just woke up!
      “Never before has Forrest Whitley been suspended by MILB for drug use.”
      I read he said he took something to help him stay awake on a long drive and would appeal.

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  12. well 2 or 3 times i started to comment that ALL the news coming out of astroland was good news, but i didnt cuz im superstitious and didnt wanna jinx things. SO Forrest Whitley isnt my fault!! it is HIS fault however.
    this is a setback but nothing major for THIS season. lets hope this is the last of the bad news before the season starts.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Grayson – true – leaks are the new news scoops…
    OP – I thought all retirees were like my father-in-law who gets up at 5 AM every day
    RJ – It is my fault for saying it was great to have the Top Pitcher of the 2020’s under control for the next 1/2 decade or so…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, I commented up above. I, however, am seeing the silver lining that 50 fewer games this year is that much less mileage on his arm in a year that he shouldn’t be anywhere within sniffing distance of Houston. If they uphold the suspension then it should do two things:
      1. Encourage Mr. Whitley to use his signing bonus to hire a car service for such drives in the future
      2. Let him work the back half of the season and come into ST of 2019 strong.

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    • I spent my whole life getting up at 5am and I’ll be darned if I’m going to be doing that now, when I have a choice. I watch TV late then I get on the computer late, then I go to bed late and I get up late.
      spent my whole life doing what I had to do and now that I’m broke and old, I’m gonna do what I want to do.

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      • I have buddy who we usually see once a week and every time he mentions how he gets up at 4:30 am and drinks a pot of coffee, watches the news and then feeds the cows, his wife rolls her eyes back and say how she wishes he would stay in bed and get some sleep and do his work in the middle of the day when he can see what he’s doing. He’s ten years older than me, so he apparently is doing it right, much to his wife’s dismay.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Isn’t retirement great! I too used to get up at 5:00 – 5:30 almost everyday for the better part of 40 years. Now I go to bed when I want and get up when I want. Summertime changes the clock somewhat as I want to be outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. I do miss the business I was in (Construction Industry) with all of the good people I met and the many places I got to go. I always looked at it as a paid vacation. Retirement is not nearly as lucrative but as long as I can play golf, watch my Astros, do some traveling, and enjoy my friends, life is good.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m glad you asked.
        1. If the Astros want to win the WS this year, it might behoove them to play Marwin a lot in LF. All the regulars, with Marwin in LF and Gattis at DH gives them a lineup at least as good or better than last year.
        2. Keeping White or Reed on the 25-man allows them to move Gurriel around the infield to spell the starters while playing him most of the time at 1B. Give Gurriel rest occasionally with the 1B you have on the bench.
        3. Allowing Yuli to do that this year helps prepare the team for life without Marwin next year, while getting Marwin consistent playing time in LF. I am convinced that Marwin’s best chance of duplicating last year’s stats at the plate is if he is in the lineup every day.
        4. If the Astros want to beef up that #5 spot in the lineup, they should put Bregman there and leave him there. By the end of the season that #5 spot will be one of the most productive in baseball. It certainly won’t hurt to have Gattis, Marwin, Gurriel and McCann/Stassi in the 6-9 spots, in whatever order Hinch arranges them.
        Starting November 2nd, 2017, the goal was to win the 2018 WS.
        Starting November whateverth, 2018, the goal will be to win the 2019 WS.
        Take care of this season now and worry about next year, next year.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, Forrest is now on notice – and hopefully all our Astro prospects now realize – that the commisioner’s office is watching our system closer than probably any other team’s. As long as we are on top of the league, our young men are going to have to be extremely careful what they put in their body.

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  15. Today was photo day for the Astros. chron has a lot of photos on one of their pages and I looked at all of them. Jake Marisnick, ever the jokester, poses as a left handed batter, with a little grin on his face.
    Did Dallas have a full tattoo on his right arm last season or is that a new World Series Champion addition?

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  16. This doesn’t follow the blog above, but what is going on with Tampa Bay. They dump Corey Dickerson who is too expensive at $5,9 Million so they can pick up Carlos Gomez at $4 Million plus $1 Million in possible incentives. And dump Souza at $3.5 Million. Dickerson and Souza last year were 6.9 WAR – Gomez 1.8 WAR.

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  17. Assuming his account is accurate, how do athletes like Forrest get convinced that only they can fully take ownership of what they ingest? What if his pal gave him acid, or something worse? We’re talking about potentially ruining a life, not just as career. It was a very young thing to do. I’d be very surprised if the Whitley camp proceeds with an appeal.

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    • It would seem to be the most natural thing to totally control what you put in your body, but as we’ve been taught many times over the years whether it is Len Bias or Brian Cushing athletes are not the best policeman

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      • It was probably adderall, if it was an unknown stimulant. Common and easy to get, it’s popular among those who need to stay alert, like truck drivers or poker players. I took one once and it gave me a hightened sense of awareness.

        Otherwise, they would have named the type of PED is was. Isn’t this the consensus?

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      • Chris Davis got busted for Adderall and someone named it. A lot of guys have prescriptions written for this which circumvents the ban. Kind of ridiculous.

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      • Let’s be honest. If we all had to take a drug test, several of us would get a 50 day suspension from Chipalatta.

        I am on Medicare so my doctor has me on 5-6 “supplements “. Humana sends them to me free. I take them every morning. I can read the label but have no idea what they are in combination (if anything). The only side effect is it makes me think I am the funniest guy on earth and you guys and gals are brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

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