Random baseball thoughts from a Florida hotel


Here I am in a Florida hotel, my legs feeling like I walked almost eight miles today, which I did.

My thoughts are many and varied and garbled so I must share them.

Is anybody worth $250, $280, $300 MM for playing a kid’s game?

I get it that there is a ridiculous amount of money involved in sports and billionaires are making piles too. But still is there really positive value here? Do these numbers get so crazy it is like when Space Balls hits ludicrous speed – beyond imagination?

I have been around a long time and seen every kind of bubble burst, whether real estate or oil prices or tech stocks, that you can imagine. Sports feels like one such bubble.

What would it take for the Astro’s fans to boo their team?

My son was telling me about the Patriot fans booing their team after losing a couple in a row. I mean these are the defending Super Bowl champs (along with being in practically every SB this decade).

I think our fans are better than that – but I’ve been wrong before.

Even with this alleged scandal, I don’t think Houston fans are jaded enough to do that to a team they love and are so happy to support. I think it would almost take an off field scandal to result in such action.

What is worse – a team electronically stealing signals with management knowledge or the league juicing the baseball to pump up scores, ratings and income?

Some folks will say juicing baseball does not give one team competitive advantage over another. But what if some teams did not build themselves to be high scoring, HR centric teams? Wouldn’t this give certain teams that sign crankers an advantage (which might include the big city teams baseball would like to see succeed)?

In my mind, both things affect the integrity of the game.

Would the modern fan accept reasonable scoring in the games or do they need video game style action to keep their interest?

I think the beauty of a 2-1 pitching matchup may be lost on most modern fans. But I don’t think every game has to be 9-8 to keep them in it. A good solid 5-4 game should do the trick. Am I wrong here?

If most of us had been born today would we have learned to love the game like we have?

Most of us were part of a game that was very oral in its presentation. Our dad or mom would sit with us and talk us through the game. It was a bonding experience for us.

I had a friend who would spend summers on his grandpa’s farm. They would listen together on the radio to a few innings of the Cardinals together before hitting the hay early.

Would these types of interactions happen today when families sit in the same room glued to their phones oblivious to each other?

Anyways, as I said my thoughts today are all over the place. What about yours?

48 comments on “Random baseball thoughts from a Florida hotel

  1. I thought we went crazy when John McMullin gave Nolan a million a year. But at this point, the compensation does not even phase me, it’s so far our of my realm. Where the trouble lies is that most teams can’t spend what a few can.

    If our Astros struggle all year with a pitching staff that is ineffective then at some point some fans will boo. Those will be the fans that take 100 wins a year for granted. They were not hanging around with us when we were losing 100.

    Stealing is worse. Juicing, while it effects the integrity of the game, is an equal opportunity attempt at trying to make the game more exciting to those “fans” just passing though for a few years. A misguided attempt.

    That last question is a tough one. I had 6 brothers. We could all play the game to some degree. We played some kind of ball almost year round. We watched every black and white TV broadcast of a game that showed up on our old Philco.

    But today, kids have a much different life. I suppose there are many things the average child might find more thrilling than watching, or more importantly, playing baseball. And that’s the only real way to keep the game relevant to new generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I commented on the previous post I just can’t see how these guys are worth that much money. Those teams with $200MM payrolls are in my opinion unsustainable if they don’t bring home the bacon and then there’s no guarantee the fans will come. The average fan cannot afford to attend games by dropping a $100+ every time they attend a game. We see this happening in football and basketball. How ever the local basket weaving team’s attendance is up every year. (Yes, that was an attempt at sarcasm).
    Yes, I can see where fans would boo the Astros. Call it spoiled or whatever but if they don’t perform well I could see it happening, especially with the talent they have. I went back to look at the attendance figures and up until the late 90’s their average attendance was around 18 – 20K with a couple of real stinkers (10,000) thrown in for good measure. Fan support tends to be a reflection of how well they perform and the product that they put on the field. If the product is bad the consumer won’t buy it.
    I was in Houston around the mid 80’s and attended maybe 10 – 15 games that year and you just about had your pick of any seat in the house. Sometimes you could move closer to the field if the ushers didn’t care to get right up to the action. I enjoyed going because it wasn’t cost prohibitive. The die hard fan or the corporate ticket holders will continue to support as long as the money holds out. Tax laws have changed (2018) and businesses can no longer deduct these costs.
    As to the latest sign stealing scandal, if we did that, I’m embarrassed for the fans. There was no reason that we should have had to revert to such tactics to win. That tells me that either somebody thought we could not win on our own merits or that it was justified based on the assumption that it was OK or other teams were doing it. If we did then there must be penalties paid but nothing that is considered ridiculous (vacating the 2017 WS title). If you don’t think that the MLB brain trust is always looking for ways to “improve” the game you’re mistaken. Whether it’s juicing the ball, changing the rules, or what ever you’re kidding yourself. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. They are no less guilty than those “sign stealing” participants.
    With all of the distractions for kids today there is IMO a reduction of those who have the affinity for the game that we had growing up. I would say that over 50% of us as children were wishing we could become a professional baseball, football, basketball or other sports performer. It’s probably substantially less these days.
    One last thing (yes, I’m long winded here as I have to have arthroscopic surgery on my knee tomorrow for a meniscus tear so this keeps my mind off it) this plan to reduce the number of minor league teams will be a death blow (maybe exaggerated) to baseball. How many small to medium market towns will lose their teams which they support for their summer time entertainment. If Luhnow is supporting this I consider him not a friend of the game but I admit I don’t know all the facts. Maybe a new topic for you Dan. Enjoy your vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For all the reasons you stated, Dan, my affection for the MLB is at an all time low. I still would like to see my hometown team do well, but watching them – either in person or on television – has become quite unpleasant. I can’t really blame the Astros’ organization. Professional sports have been getting uglier for awhile; but with all the ridiculous money, the malice of the press toward certain teams (presently, us) and the total hypocrisy of the Commissioner’s office, I don’t see things getting better any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan, forget about everything about what everything else except the comfort of you and and your family. You deserve it.

    If you respond to my post, you’re a scoundrel!

    I always wish the best for you my friend.

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  5. Hope you have a full recovery, Zanuda.

    I could go into a long-winded explanation, but I don’t believe for a minute the Astros players would ever risk their careers and integrity on pinning their hopes on electronic sign stealing. Nor would Luhnow Crane risk the $2B brand, especially after the cheap lawyer trick the Yanks/Sox who pre-emptively accused us in 2018 of the very sins they committed.

    Some of my evidences — I have seen Springer and Bregman CLEARLY stealing signs when they were on 2B, same as obviously the Master, Beltran. Why would they be giving signs from 2B if they had them syched by camera and trash can? Here, you are already risking relaying a decoy sign. What player is going to put his instincts away, and rely solely on the misgivings of the “telephone game”?

    Let me share this article from fangraphs. If you don’t have time to read or watch the video, it concludes, “As a Jays fan, Devon Travis is already one of my favourite players, as he’s having a fantastic rookie season at a position that has long been a black hole for the Jays. Now, he’s given me further reason to appreciate him, and a definite incentive to watch his at-bats and times on base a little more closely from now on.” https://community.fangraphs.com/devon-travis-sign-stealer-2/

    Every team videos their own batters, and can see the other team’s signs. They can also surmise from managers on field, when they give signals. There are too many facets of the game that point to what a team is trying to do, than to rely on an electronic system that can easily be foiled by misinformation. Having lost every home game in the World Series, there doesn’t seem to be evidence there’s even an advantage to such a tactic.

    It is plausibly deniable that when Goldstein sent an email saying to go video the other team’s signs, it was only to know what they were, not to use the device in realtime.

    I believe there was a concerted coup to take down the Astros in the media, because we represent a power shift away from major media markets. News outlets have been given license to use hyperbole and make misguided accusations, and no “judge” is allowing our objections. Nobody has even written an article which describes how the team was demonized and unfairly scrutinized on the eve of the World Series. It’s not even remotely curious to the public?

    I hope we are a juggernaut on a mission next year.

    As for excitement in the team, since I love our farm system, there’s always something positive on the horizon for me. Trade talks, “the window of opportunity”, Spring Training, all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ve been talking the last few days about who, and what package.. latest ideas.

      Reds (Correa with Reddick) for LHP Lodolo, 3B India, and Catcher Stephenson.
      Brewers for Turang and Hader.
      Mets for SS Rosario, SS Mauricio, and Top 10 pitcher (they have 4).
      Braves (Correa with Reddick) for Swanson, Anderson, and Jackson.

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  6. Well, we can move on a bit now. I keep thinking about what value the Astro organization and pitching Coach Strom gave to Cole. If he was still pitching like a Pirate, he might have gotten a Wheeler type deal. Instead, he’s learned how to be the best and most valuable pitcher in the game today after two years working in Houston. He added more than 200 million to his value.

    I’ve let up on my Correa trade requests, but I still think he’ll play when he wants to and only then, at least as long as he’s in Houston. The Mets have crossed my mind. To be fair, Bregman will never replace Carlos at short, but if we get a quality guy willing to play 150 games a year at short or third and a quality starter, then I’m ready to do more than tweak the 2020 version of the Astros.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well the signing makes it real and final though looking at what Luhnow was saying at the meetings losing Cole was a reality and a finality long before this no matter how Crane cadged the argument.
    Am I a bad person if I don’t wish for a Cole injury but do wish him to produce like Pirate Cole? Oh throw an injury or two in there – a few more days in purgatory for me is no big deal.
    Funny how after a couple years of slow rolling signings the big ones are happening sooner this time around. Cole will be the domino that has many optimistic teams scrambling for alternatives.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No hard feelings for me with Cole. He gave us everything he had and was prepared to give us more. I can his understand his obvious frustration post game 7. Let’s face it, the Astros blew the bank to win in 2019. We had the talent. It just did not get done. Maybe we’ll have less talent in 2020 and again knock the Yankees out in the ALCS. That would be special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree, dave, he gave us his all. A warrior. I will remember him among the very best to don an Astros uniform. Glad he was on our team for a few seasons.

      I’m going to have the very same attitude as Gerrit the day we traded for Greinke. Even though I knew Cole was moving on, he was stoked for the Astros to have traded for him. We’re going to be just fine with, or without him, because the ingredients were baked in — no surprises.

      The way the Astros draft so well, we’ll end up getting an extra pick now at around #65 next year. The league has switched the draft to Omaha and a week later, so the college world series is concluded (and after Super Two), we can see the athletes more readily.

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  9. As for Cole, I posted toward end of season that he is smart and articulate and if he so chose, could be the face of the Astros, at least wordwise. Dream on, you sillyfan. Moneyball is trop retro. We’re in full bore Greedball.

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  10. I have no ill will for Cole, I just hope he thanked Strom and the astros for taking him from an above average pitcher to 324 million, i just wonder if and who will sign with us , knowing in the back of their mind what could happen to this team in the next 3 months and being part of being booed as pariah every where they go. I guess today that may not matter, there is no loyalty ANYWHERE anymore ,its all about the $$$$.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The move by the Yankees to sign Cole for that amount of money was staggering for baseball and the American League in particular. The Red Sox, Rays and the Angels have their hopes dashed by the signing and only the Astros can stand in the way of the Yankees.
    Cole’s signing makes the Astros moves all the more important for the rest of the league, because the Yankees used their money to buy a World Championship, the very thing they used to do.
    The plan I proposed involving Contreas and Brantley is still doable and allows the Astros to keep their deep lineup, get their catcher, add some arms and a starter and stay under the luxury tax. The key to it working is for the Astros to come up with five good young arms for the bullpen and then trust them. I don’t think the Astros can do that. They don’t seem able to turn pitching prospects into good young major league pitchers. They only seem to be able to succeed with acquiring other team’s pitchers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “They don’t seem able to turn pitching prospects into good young major league pitchers.”

      I sometimes wonder if you will ever give Jose Urquidy his due? You did see that he pitched the best World Series game of our staff this season, after you predicted he wouldn’t make the post season roster.

      Maybe 34th round, Josh James? Framber Valdez for $10,000. The Astros staff is renowned for adding velocity to every pitcher’s arsenal.

      Bryan Abreu came on strong in 2018, under Jason Bell, Erick Abreu in TC, and Graham Johnson in QC.

      Coming from other organizations didn’t help Peacock, McHugh, Harris, and how did we manage to turn Tony Sipp around in 2018?

      We developed Corbin Martin, one of 3 pitchers who made it to MLB as fast from the 2017 draft.

      Astros have solely developed every pitcher in our Top 30 (Bielak, Ivey, Javier, Armenteros, Garcia, Conine, Rodriguez, Solis), but drafting guys with growth mindset and good prep coaches is important too.

      CJ Stubbs was coached by step father, Fred Shuey, who played at San Diego High, USC, and in the minor leagues with Johnny Bench, Bernie Carbo, and Hal McRae. Stubbs was also coached at Torrey Pines HS by former big league pitcher, Kirk McCaskill.

      This year the Astros drafted Alex Palmer (R20), and Ryan Gusto (R11). Both diamonds in the rough. Let’s see what they can do with Hunter Brown’s 99. Forrest Whitley has undergone all kinds of changes/correction since drafted.

      Most of the heavy lifting in teaching prospects is not done not by Strom, anyway, but roving coaches like Doug White, or Drew French. In LMJ’s case, Hooks’ (Gary Ruby), QC (Dave Borkowski), and so on.

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  12. 2. Not much. I am making up the percentages so let’s say 20 % are serious, hard-core fans. Then 60% are kids, family members, etc who are just out for the evening of entertainment. So the final 20% came to see the Astros WIN. PERIOD. So that group will go off on the team when and if you get below .500 winning.

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  13. 3. Electronic stealing is worse. It gives one team an advantage. MLB will continue to always screw with the game (height of mound, HR baseballs, etc) but that does not favor one team or the other. Unless someone decides to pull a Bill Veeck. He one had a portable screen pull out to make the left field wall higher depending on who they were playing. No one said anything. He then decided to pull it out and retract it depending on when his team was at bat. That caused a problem.

    https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/veeck-as-in-wreck/

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  14. I don’t think scoring is that important. However, those games where the team was down 3-4-5 runs and changed pitchers three times in the 7th inning was turning fans off. There are too many that go and watch a boring 0-0 soccer game.

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  15. 70 years ago, I learned to read by reading the newspaper baseball stories to my grandfather. I have no idea how many times he said “Spell the word” and we would both read on. We listened to the Mutual game on the radio. It was a small town and it only took 2 of us to play baseball. We only needed a bat, ball, glove and some space. In today’s cities, with air conditioned homes, that is just not what is done anymore. That time has passed. However, I do have a granddaughter that LOVES to watch the Astros game with me. She gets furious when I say anything derogatory about any Astro.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I’m still optimistic. I’m prepared to wait out the off season and see what kind of club we come up with. But as I said some weeks ago, I think we’re going to have to rely more on already in house talent for 2020. Some of those names will have to step up GoStros1. Based on pending sanctions, I do still believe that some guys will avoid our club and some clubs will avoid partnering with our club. I do remain hopeful someone will make an exception for Carlos though. He’d bring as big a return as anyone.

    But I also don’t believe the Yankees are a lock to win it all in 2020. We should have won it this year. It’s just not that simple.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am miffed by people (and I am just offering my opinion) that anyone wants to dump Correa. He is like that star salesman you have. He is habitually late to work, and never gets his expense report in on time. But he sells your product. Lots of it.

    You can certainly dump him, and whoever you hire will get his expenses to you early, and be at the office at 7:00 AM. But what if he can’t sell?

    And to finish this, if the original salesman causes you problems with everyone else in the office, he will have to go. And that may be part of the Correa problem.

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    • 45, I’m flattered by your miffery. Admittedly, I’ve got a gripe with Carlos which I’ve tried to downplay as of late because I know it’s not popular. He gave us his usual stellar defense in the post season and looked to be in excellent health. But he hit .191 with a .257 OBP and a .639 OPS in October. He struck out 27 times and walked just 6 times. Those are Marisnick numbers. He just had not gotten the reps he needed to hit post season pitching. And I still believe he could have done a better job preparing by playing more than just three games in September but he chose not to.

      All that aside, he might bring more talent to us right now than any single guy in the organization. I sure would not dump him, but if some club wants a great shortstop badly enough, a guy who I really do think will choose to move on from Houston one day soon anyway, then I’d be taking calls right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. The Cole signing makes a lot of sense. He gets his ego stroked and has an exit after 5 years if he’s still slinging it enough to capitalize. Based on the contracts Boston gave David Price and Chris Sale this sounds about right. Obviously there is risk, but the Yankees could toss that money in the gutter and not feel any adverse effects.

    I don’t begrude Cole for signing elsewhere for that money. The talk about trading Correa should tell everyone all they need to know about loyalty in this game. But don’t mistake anything I’m saying…I can’t think of any move that would be more of a Jeff Luhnow move than trading away the best SS in franchise history because the risk of losing him for the 60th pick in the draft down the line was too great to handle.

    I don’t see a need to trade people off the team. Shore up the C and look at your bullpen options. Make trades in June/July to the teams dumping players as their losses pile up. Don’t panic because even as good as Gerrit Cole may be, he can only throw two starts against you in the playoffs.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think that some of us remember Correa’s comment when he did the shoe deal or whatever it was. I didn’t appreciate the inference is that he’s now set. I can’t understand the whole deal about him deciding when he wants and doesn’t want to play. Granted we don’t know all the facts but but this stinks about as bad as a rotten potato. I hope he has a great year with us and then we can act accordingly, whatever that may be.

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  20. From Chandler Rome:
    “Carlos Correa called Jeff Luhnow last night after rumors of a possible trade surfaced. Luhnow told him to “enjoy your honeymoon and don’t be reading trade rumors.”

    “I reassured him he’s an Astro.”

    “It would be surprising if we moved any of our core players,” Luhnow said.

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  21. Sure seems like money is cheap this winter. Tanner Roark, 2 years at 12 million per? By the look of things, we are indeed going to end up with a fair amount of home grown guys on the pitching staff.

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  22. Dan, I have stopped receiving posts from Chipalatta in my emails. I have followed these posts for several years and miss them with the informative responses.

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