Dan P does his best Stealers Wheels’ impression….

Personally, I hark back to that Stealers Wheels’ classic song “Stuck in the Middle With You” today. I would like to do what friend of the blog – Mr. Bill – eloquently asked us to do in a recent comment when he said: “We can stay mad, or we can find a way to move on and overcome”.  But I can’t yet do that. I am caught in that no man’s river between thinking about baseball and thinking about cheating on baseball and I can’t yet swim to either shore.

So today is a mix of thoughts about pre-season baseball as the Astros start their new life “after” the scandal and additional thoughts about the scandal itself.

Difference in approaches. On Saturday when the Astros’ pre-season starts with a rematch of the World Series, the Nationals will send ace Max Scherzer to the mound and he will not be facing Astros ace Justin Verlander or co-ace Zack Greinke (who will only just arrive in camp in time for the game). No, the Astros will send prospect Cristian Javier, their 2019 Minor League Pitcher of the Year to the mound.

This is nothing new for the Astros who sent long time minor league pitcher Brady Rodgers to the mound last spring to kick things off. It should be a thrill for the young man to take the mound first and should be exciting for folks, who get to see him for the first time in an Astros uniform. Does he have a shot at making the club this spring? In this spring of transition and with quite a few spots up for grabs, don’t bet against him.

The buzzer “stuff”. I have a few questions for those cynics about the Astros using buzzers last season to get to the World Series and especially on Jose Altuve‘s ALCS clinching walk-off home run.

  • If the Astros were cheating, why was their hitting line in the ALCS .179 BA/ .281 OBP/ .600 OPS – kind of like having a whole team of Jon Singleton‘s for the 6 game series?
  • If they were cheating by using buzzers wouldn’t they already know not to rip off Altuve’s uniform?
  • If they were guilty, why would Carlos Correa make such a passionate defense of Altuve? Instead of doubling down, why not use the “commissioner has investigated this and found nothing” defense”?
  • Did you actually watch the at bat and the pitch? Was Altuve either laying off some impossible pitch in that at bat or swinging at some surprise pitch that he could not hit without being tipped off? Or did Aroldis Chapman throw a bad hanging slider that was right over the middle of the plate and practically teed up for Altuve to launch?

Won’t it be fun to see Lance McCullers Jr. again. When we last saw Lance he was pitching out of the bullpen for three games in the 2018 ALCS against the Red Sox with what was a blown-out elbow that required Tommy John surgery immediately after the season. Sure, he could drive us crazy a bit by making too many pitches and completing too few innings in his starts, but he was always a bit of a bulldog who provided good results for the Astros.

It will be exciting to have LMJ back out on the mound and healthy.

Who else must we ask about the scandal. We have heard from former Astros, who were aware of the cheating in 2017 like Dallas Keuchel. We have heard from former Astros, who were not aware of the cheating that did not happen in 2019, like Gerrit Cole. We have heard from players who thought they were cheated, most famously like Cody Bellinger (who might have hurt his team more with his .143 BA, than the Astros did by “cheating”). But then they have branched out to every blogger, every writer, who has an opinion about anything. Everybody who ever played the game, every talking head who has or has never played.  They’ve gone off the deep end with talking to someone like Lebron James about this and every other celebrity they can access.

I know this will go on and on extending to every player on every team they will play. Why not dig up Babe Ruth, extract his DNA and grow a clone we can interview? Or at least create a 3D hologram of the Sultan of Swap to put on ESPN.

OK – enough about that…..

And about that Dusty. He was probably not my first, second or third choice for this job, but listening to some interviews with him, Dusty Baker is growing on me. It sounds like he will listen to pitching coach Brent Strom, which is my biggest concern.

Sure, we have to see how he handles this team, but it should be an interesting science experiment in 2020.

So, what are you thinking about today?

76 comments on “Dan P does his best Stealers Wheels’ impression….

  1. i agree with your view on dusty. i didnt like the selection at first, but he has impressed more than depressed me since coming in. my take on the scandal, for the life of me i cant understand how these guys could possibly think this could go on without being caught. its seems about like the plan of a 3 yr old that pushes the chair up to the counter, climbs up grabs the cookie jar and takes all the cookies, then runs to his room with cookie jar and chair left without being replaced in their usual position and expects to not get caught. the only thing that seems to make since is everybody knew and everybody else were also trying in their own way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What I am thinking about today… the Astros begin play tomorrow! (Saturday) It has been a long, painful offseason. I am in Bill’s camp. I am not mad at the club, disappointed yes, but not mad. They do not pay my living expenses or bills so they SHOULD be seen as they are… ENTERTAINERS. That is how I can get over being angry about sports. The Texans and Rockets are involved in leagues that are very political and the leagues try to influence me and others. That irritates me until I remember… they are ENTERTAINERS and do not pay my bills. Same thing about those actors in Hollywood or wherever. They are ENTERTAINERS. So, come on friends. Don’t be angry at the club, be disappointed, yes, but not angry. Throwing out your memorabilia is throwing your money away. The club does not feel any loss of income for throwing the stuff out. They have already been paid for the stuff. Don’t go to the games or watch them on tv if you are against them. That is what I do about the Texans and Rockets, but not to be against the home teams but against the leagues’ stances. Smile, and enjoy the crack of the bats and smack of baseballs hitting leather gloves.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It is obviously very easy to hack into this blog. Someone has stolen the password and log in for DaveB. Some morose, rum addled, down in the mouth guy has taken over for Mr. Effervescence. We could always count on him bringing us back down to earth with very pithy, insightful comments. But low and behold, he has been kicked off for Debbie Downer’s miserable brother. Really sad.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Back in October when we lost game 7, I was disappointed but not devastated. I thought we’d have a legitimate shot to get back to the postseason in 2020 and once there, anything can happen. Right now I’m a bit in fan purgatory. I’m not excited about watching the games this spring. Nothing I read is about actual baseball. Nothing has been done to address drug usage by players. Nothing has been done to fix the baseballs so they perform in a reasonable manner. Nothing has been done to head off a strike after 2021.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Dan, obviously, I can’t move on either. But I have zero animosity for those that can. If you want to send my last post over to this side, feel free, I don’t know how to.

    Chapman had nothing that night. Altuve got a pitch in the zone finally and simply hit it. Guys hit homers all the time without knowing what pitch is coming, especially MVP’s and batting champs.

    As I noted above, how I feel today is expressed in my last post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was far more surprised by the Rajai Davis HR off of Chapman than the one Altuve hit. It reminded me of a game in the late 90’s the Astros played against the Marlins. Billy Wagner decided the best approach to beating Moises Alou was to hang a slider over the middle of the plate. You could almost make out Alou saying “gracias!” as he singled home the winning runs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think this is the one you wanted moved.

      From DaveB(Uncle K) :

      “uncleknuckle

      FEBRUARY 21, 2020 @ 12:14 PM
      Mr. Bill, you’re a better man than me. I’m not prepared to accept what occurred and move on. I might well not ever again be the same Astro fan I was for so many years. Right now, I’m not close. And as I noted earlier, I’m fed up with all of MLB right now, not just the Houston Astros. I can also tell you that I’ve done a whole bunch of dumb things in my life. But I have never been a part of a premeditated effort to cheat anyone in any way. It’s not self righteousness, it’s the way I was brought up. And we’re not simply talking about a few 20 something guys screwing up and wandering off course for a weekend. We’re talking about dozens of millionaire’s, some upper management “leaders” working for a billion dollar corporation in a long term focused effort on getting an illegal edge.

      If my son came home from school with a trophy won while cheating was involved, even if only by his teammates, he and I would have taken that trophy back to school.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess I am in the ‘Serenity Prayer’ camp: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    The past I can’t change. But I can change my attitude about it – and shine a brighter light of hope on the future.

    Plus, there is still a starry-eyed little kid in me that absolutely loves the smell of leather gloves, baseballs, wood bats, and springtime.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know Mr. Bill, Nephew cleared waivers and is back in Dodger camp. Nobody wanted him. Makes Uncle wonder if maybe he was one of the biggest beneficiaries of an Astro system in 2018 when he helped carry the group with his bat that summer. Of course him being a loved one, I still want to believe that all those great minor league stats had something to do with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry I wore my hat to the gym one day , it was brutal, life is to short and these were good folks,I don’t need that. I have saved them for a better day , but anything I had on the walls, in my office, from 2017 is long gone in the trash, it has zero validity to me, we cheated.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, can I just say how much I love that? “I’m wearing my Astros shirt today but I’m not at work….” Man, I am laughing alone in my office. I just identify big time. So many things I do at home. If people only knew the real me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It captures where a lot of us are and the visual image is so clear. Like the little boy obediently sitting down in the corner who protests, “I’m standing up inside!”

        Liked by 2 people

    • Kevin, I never have bought any gear, except for always having an Astro hat on hand. More than anything else, it keeps the sun out of my eyes. Nobody around here recognizes the logo. I suppose that’s a good thing.

      Like

  8. I didn’t buy an Astros hat because they won a tropy in 2017. I bought the one I am presently wearing way back in the Clemens/Petitte/Killer B’s era. I got all my boys one just like it, the day we clinched the Wild Card behind a surprise masterpiece thrown by Galveston’s own Brandon Backe. Clemens was supposed to pitch that day, but came down with the stomach flu before the game. That hat will be with me until my dying day. I was all in on orange and blue long before Carlos Beltran rode into town carrying his little bag of electronic tricks.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Having spent a lot of time learning about HS and College (prep) players, the Amateur and Internmational drafts, and our 7 affiliate teams, this time of year gives me much more to do than consider the opinions of nay-sayers and scandal. Even finding disagreement with MLB, Fangraphs, (ZiPS, etc.) tells me those entities don’t really have the best feel for our system. Having spoken to other minor leaguers on different teams, they confirm that each team has their own rankings. That gives me hope in guys like Taylor Jones trying to find a place, or Josh James, who is carving out his own Cindarella story.

    I am beyond excited for the hope that lies ahead!

    Talking to Astros fans who live in other cities and who are putting up with the immature ridicule, they also give me encouragement, as I’m sure those who pack up their families and travel to Florida in support of our guys will. It should set up to help our guys realize myself, and many others are behind them 100%.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Since Dusty has managed in the NL recently…..I want to know if he believes in small ball. Drove me nuts when a bunt would have scored someone. I don’t have to tell you folks how I feel about this, you “heard” me jumping up and down about it for the last few years! Next year when Springer is a FA the other clubs will probably not be very welcoming if their club would sign him, I look for him to stay with the Astros. My heart is still too broken to get excited about this season……I’m trying but it’s very difficult😂. I don’t give a dam if Mike Fires has had death threats…..I want to see him pitch to these guys, and I hope one of those pitches smacks him in the mouth. I’m not a violent person….but I will be when our guys meet him eye to eye. Have a nice weekend everyone. Becky⚾

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reddick and several other Astros reported death threats today. One person wished his kids get cancer. I do care that Fiers has recieved death threats, what in the World?!! Is that how we want the city of Houston portrayed, if they came from here?

      It is WAY past time for Manfred to get out in front of this right now! MLB was entirely complicit in this problem by allowing video monitors in the dugout, and they knew about complaints as early as 2013-2014, if not since 1876.

      Baseball has had a long history of this infraction, and the big difference besides it being blown totally out of proportion today is that every team knew the Astros were doing it by mid-season 2017 (Lucroy statement), so they were already using decoy signs to combat it. In years’ past, it took a long time for the info to come out, which means the pitchers weren’t aware when there were no baserunners. It was much more successful in the past, than in 2017. (I have already provided Marwin’s stats that prove he hit better without the banging in the first half of the season.)

      Baseball is not a Morality Play. It is filled with cunning, deceit and guile. The Commissioner is beholden to the Owners, who have proven to be locked in to the Bottom line. If someone gets hurt, or God forbid terribly hurt, it is not a stretch to show Manfred has exibited Depraved Indifference in causing it.

      ACT NOW MANFRED. I wrote the same thing 3 months ago. This moron with Dodgers publication has been spewing hate about the Astros all along, and now he has the audacity to say it’s gone too far.

      https://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2020/2/21/21147543/astros-death-threats-josh-reddick-mike-fiers

      Like

  11. I mean no offense to your comments, Becky. These were my own feelings brewing for some time now. I know you would never wish harm on ANYONE. Have a nice weekend!

    Like

  12. Grayson….no, I don’t like that from anyone, or to anyone. I’ve had several back and forth with Jeff Passan, in the last week. Along with MLBTRADERUMORS as well. The more they write about this, the more it stirs up hate. It was just a matter of time that our guys were getting death threats. …..and it’s not going to be a surprise that actual violence atually happens. The mob mentality is nearly everywhere these days. I’m preparing for that to happen….and if you think Manfred is going to say ANYTHING about this to stop???? Think again.
    I apologize for hoping that Fires would get hurt, MLB has already said they will *protect* him. WHO will protect our guys????? No one. So there ya go.

    Like

  13. If MLB doesn’t provide protection for the Astros then it is up to Jim Crane to do it. If he can pay to keep people on the payroll who were involved in this mess in the front office – he can pay to provide additional protection for these players.
    Any threats are bad but it’s insane that someone like Reddick who didn’t want the signals is getting threatened.
    The media is to blame for all this additional stir – their bottom lines have turned them from journalists to click monsters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what I told Passan. I asked him very politely to please stop, but the next,day, and the day after that, and the day after that….he kept writing about “it”. It’s now the joke around MLB who ever the lead off batter is, he’s going to get hit. Do we want Springer to get hit Every. Dang. Day.?????
      And you gotta be smoking wacky weed if you think MLB is going to protect any of our guys, I just hope non of our guys gets killed with a 95mph fast ball to the head.
      Crane, pay everyone what the are owed and shut the door…..this season is lost.

      Like

  14. Speaking of Dusty – wonder how he feels playing against his old team the next two days. Being spring training probably he will just be laid back about it.

    Like

  15. I’m sitting at the haircutters waiting my turn and was looking at mlb.com where they show the MLB pipeline Top 100 in the majors where only Forrest Whitley is ranked from the Astros. They also have the Top 10 by position where we have Abraham Toro #9 (3B) and Whitley #3 (RHP). Oh and former Astro Seth Beer who is now with the D’Backs is #5 (1B).
    Hey Grayson if you are out there – who else should be there from the Astros? Taylor Jones?

    Like

    • Dan, Taylor Jones may have Top 100 stats, but he won’t ever make it into the Top 100 prospects because of his age. They just won’t do it.
      Toro might make it into the Top 100 if he has a terrific first half of the season in AAA and is still there when mid-season rankings come out.
      With great stats in the first half of the season, Jeremy Pena could work his way in there, but probably the next Astros prospect to make it would be Pedro Leon, if he ends up signing this summer with the Astros.

      Like

  16. Seems the attorney that filed suit against the Astros on behalf of season ticket holders has had his own Hooks season tickets and a significant relationship with the Corpus club for some years. No longer. The Hooks have pulled his tickets? More bad PR, or justifiable?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. As a “Has Been” player (actually a “Never Was”), nothing is any more demoralizing than showing up for try outs and knowing you have no chance to make the team. That is probably true with the minor league fielder’s on this team. But this is an opportunity for several pitchers to “make the team.” Let’s hope at least a couple seize the chance.

    Like

      • Yes, that guy. Made me hurl a couple of expletives at the tv. Part of me would like to see the Astros (to use a pro wrestling term) go full on heel. Embrace the role of villain. All of this sanctimonious BS we are hearing from all these players from various teams is sickening and ridiculously over the top. The first time one of our guys gets hit by a pitch… the whole dugout should empty.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. Chandler Rome reported that Orbit was booed. Now that can’t stand. We have to bring bats and clubs. (Sarcasm)

    (Hey, people get to boo and express their opinion. As has been said before, it is better to keep ones mouth shut and have people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. )

    Like

    • Translated, “we cheated but the Astros cheated more so ignore our cheating”. Still can’t wait to see if we ever hear from Beltran or Cora.
      In our rain shortened game last night somebody needs to tell Myles Straw if he never swings at a pitch (especially 3 down the middle), he’ll never get on base.

      Like

      • That’s true Z – but I did love Straw’s best imitation of Jake Marisnick as he completely outran a fly ball deep into the left center gap.

        Like

  19. Astrocolt45…..yeah I saw that piece by Mark Teixiera, don’t you just love all these sanctimonious jerks telling Altuve to apologize for winning a trophy “he didn’t earn”. I wonder how he felt playing with his buddy A Rod, all the years he did steroids…..
    Celebrated our wedding Anniversary yesterday, went to the casino, yep I won!
    I had to get outta town for a few hours, to have fun….and quit reading all the negatively about our team. And RIGHT ON CUE Buster Olney wrote yet another scathing report about “it” This morning. The first guy who gets hit when the season starts will be Springer….probably every game they play. What I’m more afraid of, are these *mental* fans bringing something to the game to actually really hurt someone. Benches are going empty a lot this year, everybody is going to join in the “fun”, we just have to be prepared for that to happen.
    Of course the media had to get in Greinke’S face and try to get him on record about this crap……but he said he didn’t want to talk about it, i cant imagine what he thinks about it. Astros are picked 3rd to win the World Series this year, wouldn’t that be awesome! Becky⚾

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I forgot to move daveb’s comment from last post that I promised to move over – here it is

    Mr. Bill, you’re a better man than me. I’m not prepared to accept what occurred and move on. I might well not ever again be the same Astro fan I was for so many years. Right now, I’m not close. And as I noted earlier, I’m fed up with all of MLB right now, not just the Houston Astros. I can also tell you that I’ve done a whole bunch of dumb things in my life. But I have never been a part of a premeditated effort to cheat anyone in any way. It’s not self righteousness, it’s the way I was brought up. And we’re not simply talking about a few 20 something guys screwing up and wandering off course for a weekend. We’re talking about dozens of millionaire’s, some upper management “leaders” working for a billion dollar corporation in a long term focused effort on getting an illegal edge.
    If my son came home from school with a trophy won while cheating was involved, even if only by his teammates, he and I would have taken that trophy back to school.

    Like

  21. So I could not resist this relative to the title of this blog post…..
    With apologies and a deep felt not to the late great Gerry Rafferty – here is a fan heading to the first Astros game of the 2020 season…..

    “Stuck in the Middle with ‘Tuve”

    Well I don’t know why I came here tonight
    I got the feeling that cheating ain’t right
    I’m so scared in case they throw’ll in Springer’s ear
    And I’m wondering how the road fans will jeer
    Fiers to the left of me
    Texeira to the right, here I am
    Stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve

    Yes I’m stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve
    And I’m wondering what it is I should do
    It’s so hard to keep a smile on my face
    Losing control, the other pitcher’s all over the place
    Trout to the left of me, Cora to the right
    Here I am, stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve

    Well ‘Tuve started out with nothing
    And he’s proud that he’s an MVP
    And your friends, they all went bawlin’
    But the writers stab you in the back and say
    Cheat, Cheat

    Trying to make some sense of it all
    But I can see that it makes no sense at all
    Was it cool to bang the can on the floor
    ‘Cause I don’t think that they can cheat anymore
    Manfred to the left of me, Beltran to the right
    Here I am, stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve
    Yes I’m stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve
    Stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve, here I am stuck in the middle with ‘Tuve

    Liked by 2 people

  22. From Chandler Rome. If Framber can continue throwing strikes, this is really good news.

    “Framber Valdez threw well in his first Grapefruit League appearance. Struck out three across two hitless frames and was up to 95 mph on the stadium radar gun. 19 of his 27 pitches were strikes.”

    Like

    • That’s for sure, AC. He showed insane movement on his pitches and good stuff, but folks could wait him out because is control was so shaky. He could be a weapon if he knew where it was going

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I saw a blip on ESPN yesterday Manfred said his report on the Red Sox will be completed the end of this week. I’m going to have to hurt someone if he let’S them skate on all of this.

    Like

    • I am wondering when the “get out of jail free card” was given to the players in Boston. If it was after the beating the Astros took, I doubt they were forthcoming. If MLB got the info first, they might have some honest answers.

      Like Becky, I fully expect Manfred to state he could find no wrong doing although some was suspected. Blah Blah Blah.

      Had Manfred handled the investigation into the events of 9/11, he would have come up with “Pilot Error.”

      Like

  24. This is a post at MLB Rumors. I truly don’t get the reference. Did I miss something the past few years????

    “Yankees: New York took Cole from Houston, which has been the Wile E. Coyote to the Yankees’ Road Runner in recent postseasons.”

    Like

    • Think they got it backwards but then again it’s the Yankees so what did you expect? Anyway the Yankees have other pitching problems with Severino and Paxton with injury problems. Oh I feel so sorry for them….NOT!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Keep in mind a few things:
      1. MLBTradeRumors is a fan site. It blew up and is now pretty important, but it’s still a fan site. There is probably not an editor reviewing the posts.
      2. The idea is that Houston has been NYY’s nemesis. They tried to make an analogy and failed, but that might be on purpose. The NYY fans are even less reasonable than those of other fanbases. Many are probably not aware that NYY has not won a championship in a decade.

      Like

  25. Twitter comment today on Tim’s page. To borrow from Larry the Cable Guy. It don’t matter who you are, now that’s funny.

    “Did you know an elephant weighs 250 pounds at birth making them the biggest babies on earth outside of Yankee fans.”

    Liked by 2 people

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