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I hate baseball.

I like cycling. Those dudes are impressive athletes. All the doping does suck though.

I'm with you on the Longhorns shaping up for a nice season, but I disagree with the thoughts on the defense. I'm optimistic about the young guys at corner, which excludes Palmer and Foster, and think that the trio of Griffin, Jackson and Kelson will be very good at safety. The question mark on D for me is the linebackers.

Snake Diggity

Good post.

Bonds- piece o' shit. Never liked him and prayed for an injury to prevent him from breaking the record. My only hope for baseball is that Bonds' records (72/755) get broken within the next few years by A-Rod or Pujols or the like.

Tour De France- the TDF was a flash in the pan; only cool for me because Lance was such a badass and he was from Austin and had nut cancer and all that jazz. It's as meaningful as f'n skateboarding or non-olympic swimming and all the other douche sports.

'stros- Agree on all fronts. Giving up Willy T (batting 300+ this year), Buchholz (<5.00 era, winning record), and Hirsh (<5.00 era, winning record) all under 25 yrs old for Jennings was complete weak sauce. His #'s don't come close to suggesting he is a capable #2 starter; a #3 at best. They need to blow this thing up and get a lot younger, especially in their minor league affiliates. They need to call up Troy Patton and Josh Anderson. Without spending a shitload in free agency, this team won't be competitive in the next 2-3 years.

'horns- I still maintained that I correctly predicted the '05 NC 3 years ahead of time (during VY's 1st game as a RS Fr against NMSU).

IMO there are 5 main components of a NCAA NC contender: talent, experience, depth, coaching, and the schedule. Texas has proven that it has talent. The schedule shapes up nicely. Our coaching staff has won before, so there's no reason to think they'll keep us from winning again. But this year's team lacks experience and depth, especially on the offensive line and in the secondary. We have TWO offensive tackles on this team. TWO. The other players who will line up at OT are either converted tight ends or true freshmen. Not to mention that both OT's on the roster have severe injury history. Our starters at offensive guard and center are comprised of freshmen, 3 career backups and a talented OG who just blew out his knee. In the secondary, our front-runners to start at corner are both 5'6" (Foster, Palmer). The other contenders are made up of freshmen and Deon Beasley, who was constant milktoast last year. I think we'll be fine at safety, but even there we are unproven. Kelson and Jackson should both be badass, but at this point are still unknown commodities. You don't win national titles with those kind of question marks, especially when you don't have a VY. And all of this is without mentioning the fact that our QB is coming off of a serious injury and our RB is very injury prone.

Best case: BCS Bowl.

Worst case: 4 losses.

SD's prediction: 2-3 losses, Holiday Bowl.


Bonds: Greatest player of my era with or without juice. 7 time MVP, 90,92,93,01,02,03,04, All-Time COLLEGE WORLD SERIES team as a Sun Devil. Whatever you say about him, whatever you think of his personality, don’t ever knock his talent. Baseball as an Organization and sport are the joke here. Don’t blame Barry.

Selig & MLB: Amen.

Tour: Jake….that is so “ugly American” of you. Really, seriously, you gotta widen your view of sports. The Tour is without a doubt the toughest organized endurance event in the world. It combines insane athletes, strategy, and passion. How can one not get into that? Anyway, the Tour has always had doping issues, America just pays attention now because of LA.

Astros: management. That’s the real problem. But my almost 3 year old is hooked. He was there for Biggio’s 3000th and is still cheering “Let’s Go Biggio”….

Longhorns: Same thing every year. Orange Glass wearers say Natl’ title, Orange Glass wearer Jake (and others who do this), sets goals low after a season in which his team lost to an inferior A&M team at home in order to provide an excuse for losing to Oklahoma or going to the Holiday Bowl. Personally, I’ll be excited to see what happens.

Snake Diggity

I'm an Orange Glasses guy when it comes to loyalty to my team, not to predictions. I predicted 2-3 losses last year as well. I think in 2008 we will have a legit shot to go all the way again (Colt as a Jr, experience OL and DB, etc).

Billy, I guess you probably enjoy sports like "curling" too. Maybe you should move to Canada...or France.


Ojo: "The fans were betrayed."

Some questions for you, based mostly on genuine curiosity about your viewpoints.

Bonds is probably the most amazing player you or I will ever see with our own eyes. How much of that do you think is because of steroids?

Did McGwire break any MLB rules? Even one? If so, which one(s)?

Are players who take other substances ("greenies", for instance) attempting to enhance their performance as equally bad? Or are steroids somehow worse than other forms of performance enhancement? If so, why?

Are the fans also "betrayed" when players don't stay in great shape? I mean, I'm paying for a quality product, here. Should they be allowed to drink beer? Shouldn't I feel more betrayed by them not trying their hardest to win (by using any legal performance enhancement available)?


Now, on to something really important (the Astros!)...

Your reasons the Stros suck this year are:

> 1. The starting pitchers

Clemens has pitched 64 innings this year; his ERA is 3.92 and his WHIP is 1.212. ERA+ is 109.
Pettitte has pitched 145 innings; ERA 3.82, WHIP 1.434, ERA+ 108.

Either of them would be the second-best starting pitcher on our staff. Both of them would be #2 and #3 if we still had them. (This is slightly mitigated by the fact that Clemens is only playing 3/5ths of a season, but still.)

That hurts a little, yeah. And Roy is having an off year. His K/9 is down, his ERA is up. This bodes... (dramatic pause)... poorly.

> 2. The Biggio 3,000 hit chase has hurt the team.

A little, but not as much as Houston sports radio probably says. Especially the idiots on 610: their baseball knowledge is pretty brittle. One of the guys who should/could be starting in Craig's spot (Burke) has sucked a lot worse then Bidge this season. In your defense, the league-average 2nd baseman hits .270 / .337 / .420 -- Craig hits .247 / .286 / .389. But if there was ever a season to start someone for sentimental reasons, this is the one. And Biggio getting 3000 is (in the long run) a really great thing for the team. Now, starting him in the one or two hole, that is absurd. He should probably bat seventh.
All-in-all, letting Craig hit 3000 is better for Houston, the Astros, and the fans. A worthy expense.

> 3. Luke Scott, Morgan Ensberg, Burke and Jason Lane have all had terrible seasons at the plate.

True. These four guys, all of whom have shown great promise in the past (especially Ensberg! 2005, man!), have basically tanked. Sometimes when you're playing cards, you bust.
But what really has be scared is Berkman. Our bona-fide superstar, our superslugger, is having a really bad year. This could be an aberration, or it could be the beginning of the end. I really hoped for 6 or 7 more years of .315 / .420 / .621 from him.
I would also point out that Pence getting injured didn't help the Stros. He was a real bright spot for the teams offense this year

> 4. People have been calling for Purpura's head since the demise began.

I don't know that I'd fire Purpura, but he certainly is no Hunsicker. Dealing Wheeler for Ty Wigginton was fucking perplexing. We already have Loretta and Lamb, dude, this trade is really weird.

Ojo, the three things that concern me most about the Houston Astros are:
1. Roy Oswalt starting to slip.
2. Lance Berkman starting to slip.
3. Our farm system seeming pretty freaking depleted.

Lidge is back on his game like a superstud. I love the guy. We should showcase his skills for the rest of the season and then flip him for awesome prospects during the offseason.

If they do that, and both Roy and Berkman don't get back on track, they also need to look at rebooting the whole thing. I'd consider dealing every single Stro. I know there are some No-Trade Clauses in play w/ Roy, Lee, and Berkman; still, players waive these all the time (witness Gagne waving his to move into a SETUP ROLE with the Red Sox), especially to join contenders.

I don't want to cash in and try again from scratch, and losing Roy and Berkman will hurt almost like losing Bagwell and Biggio. But as Biggio leaves, blowing the whole thing up and building anew also seems kinda right. This is the house that Bagwell and Biggio built. When they leave, maybe you turn out the lights, close the book, turn the page, whatever.


Oh, responding to Jake:

> Giving up Willy T (batting 300+ this year)

I'm mixed on Willy. I'd rather have Pence at the plate, even though Willy is the better fielder. That .300 Willy is sporting means less than you think, as he's playing half his games in Colorado.

Buchholz and Hirsh... we have to wait and see. Winning records don't mean shit in baseball as far as talent or skill are concerned. I thought both pitchers were pretty dang good, but then again I'm not a MLB GM. Possibly the Astros staff knew something that we didn't.

To claim that Jennings didn't appear to be clearly better than either Buchholz or Hirsh is sour grapes, in my opinion. Jennings looked great on paper. Considering that he was pitching at Coors, his numbers seemed awesome -- easily a #2 pitcher for nearly any team in baseball, and arguably a #1 on several sad-sack teams. I went over all this when the deal was made.

Why does Jennings suck so much now? My guess is that the fucker is injured, and has been for a while, and hasn't told folks the whole truth about it.

I agree that the Astros aren't likely to be competetive in the next 2-3 years. The real question is: should they even try?

Ojo Rojo

Yaaaayy! Tom makes an appearance.

To address your questions:

Yes, agree with you on how good Bonds is. Best player in three generations; maybe ever. I don't think the effect of steroids on his production is a fixed percentage throughout his career because what they partly allowed him to do was compensate for aging, and then some. So even if he was doing roids early in his career (I don't think he was) the effect of steroids early in his career might've been negligible, while the effect later could be as much as 100% if you figure that he might not have been able to come back from injuries the last couple of years and might've retired by now if not for the effects of steroids. Even if it was possible to quantify, let's say it was a small 5% effect. Can we then take away 5% of his home runs so that now instead of 754 he's got 717? Does he get the record then? Does he only hit 68 in a season? What if the effect of steroids accounted for 10% of his production? 20%?!

Why didn't you just ask me to define "cheating?" I'm not familiar with the MLB rulebook, but everything I've heard and read indicate he did not break a single rule by taking steroids. But that entirely misses the point. For one, fan betrayal is not based on whether or not someone broke a rule out of the MLB book. For another, McGwire
did break state and federal laws, presumably. But that's not the point either. For three, that there is no steroid policy in the MLB rulebook, is entirely fucked. The fact is, naive as it may be, fans expect their sports heroes to be legit. Legit means no roids.

This is a line drawing exercise. I don't know where it should be drawn. I want to rely on exercise physiologists, doctors, chemists, etc. to tell us where to draw that line and for MLB to create a policy around that. Personally, I think athletes' performance should be based exclusively on exercise and nutrition. And by nutrition I mean anything that can be derived from food. I think any "performance enhancing drug" is bad; its badness based on how much it enhances performance. If steroids have a greater effect on performance than greenies, then yes, steroids are worse.

I don't know why you fixated on the "betrayal" thing, but I will say that I personally felt betrayed by McGwire and Sosa. I got really into the home run record chase. I was one of the fans who came back to baseball because of it. Then to find out that the only reason they were able to hit so many home runs was because they were taking steroids. I was disgusted. I'm not one of these guys who says just because I buy a ticket that I can complain about the "product." The purchase price of a ticket doesn't entitle a person to any more than a seat in the stadium. If you don't like the product, don't buy a ticket. Do I feel betrayed (or do I think fans should feel betrayed) because a player drinks beer? Not if it doesn't adversely effect his performance. Even if a really talented player, who the team pays a lot of money, becomes a drunk and his abilities erode because of it, betrayal might be too strong a word. But being a drunk or even not giving maximum effort is different than holding yourself out as the best home run hitter who ever lived, when in reality you're just the best home run hitter who ever took the cream and the clear.

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