The Astro Joker

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Trevor Bauer Keeps Challenging Alex Bregman at Baseball Things

And He Keeps Losing.

Trevor Bauer is so thirsty for Twitter stardom that he has to call out the Honorable Alex Bregman just for clicks. So sad. Earlier this week, Bauer went to Twitter to issue a challenge that he would pay buckets of money for every practice home run hit off him by any MLB’er who accepted his offer. Then directed the subsequent call to Alex Bregman because he is the only true professional baseball player who may be just as lethal on the field as he is online.

For context, last year Bregman got into a DM fight with a fan about fake Chris Sale trades (RIP, @Allenh83), made him delete his account from sheer embarrassment, and then went on to be a hero in the World Series, so yeah, Bregman is pretty good at making dudes eat their words online. So here’s the following exchange after Bauer’s “challenge”:

This is the part where Bauer calls him soft, and than Bregman, so kindly provides a link to a YouTube video of him clobbering something “soft” off Bauer for a solo shot in the ALDS this past year. A real-life homer that juuuuuust landed as a matter of fact.

Man, you hate to see this kind of savagery in the offseason, but here we are.

The best part about this is I’m not so sure that Bauer doesn’t secretly want to be an Astro. He is a former student of Pitching Coach/Pitching Whisperer/Pitching G.O.A.T Brent Strom and loves talking about spin rates. It’s kind of like when you were a kid in school, and you would nag and make fun of the girls that you secretly liked. That actually makes sense because Bauer still plays around with toy drones and stuff.

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Also, as a side note here is a screenshot of when I called out Bauer for his accusation of the Astros pitching staff cheating/doctoring baseballs earlier this year. He said he never accused them of cheating but come on man, we weren’t born yesterday.

You automatically know that I GOT HEEM by that retort. “Oh crap, this guy actually sees right through my veil of stupidity, quick, DIVERT THE SUBJECT.” Just as an aside, let me go ahead and put it on the record now, I am not God the Almighty. Moreover, I cannot hit a curveball.

Justin Verlander Wants to Challenge Charles Barkley in Golf and We Are All Winners, Now

The other day, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods went head-to-head to show everyone just how much money they have in the richest way possible: one-on-one golf. After one hole, as they were strolling along, Tiger casually bet $100,000 on closest to the pin, and I about damn near had a heart attack. I’m having a hard time justifying $20 purchases so yeah, these guys are really your everyday Average-Joes.

#TheMatch as it was pinned on Twitter, got a lot of attention, especially from current Astro Justin Verlander. Verlander challenged Charles Barkley, who was commenting on the match from the booth, to a one-on-one showdown of their own for $100,000 to their favorite charity. Frankly, I think this is the greatest idea in the history of professional sports.

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Who cares about the shot clock? Who cares about free agency? I love this idea, JV. Give the people what they want, and what they want are World Series champs blasting tiny dimpled balls all over the green. Verlander is a professional pitcher, which means by law, he has to be somewhat decent at golf.

That’s all pitchers do in the offseason if you didn’t know. They have their arm-strengthening exercises, they play long toss, and work the 7-iron over the sand trap. That’s it. And Barkley has got some game too, despite being notorious for having a swing that looks like his body is continuously being hijacked by Space Jam Monsters all over again.

The offer by Verlander got some major backing by Rockets PG Chris Paul who offered an additional $100K to make it happen.

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Side note: all these athletes throwing around the phrase “$100K” makes me feel super poor. Carry on.

There was also another offer that I think would be a cherry on the cake: free agent outfielder and American League All-Star Adam Jones wants to caddy for JV.

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How awesome is that? I think if we tried real hard, we could get Shaq to caddy for Barkley, and every hole we would get audio of him ragging on Chuck because he doesn’t have any championship rings. If I remember correctly, I do believe Verlander has a championship ring. Need to check my sources.

I also am a big time fan of anything Justin Verlander does in the offseason. During the Cy Young selection show a few weeks ago, the dude had a big ol’ glass of Pinot Grigio 97’ and didn’t give two f’s about it. Plus, whenever Verlander smack talks retired basketball stars, we all win.

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As we head to the opening tee, JV-1, Chuck-0.

Brad Lidge Subconsciously Hates the Astros with FA picks

Former Astros closer doesn't give the Astros a shot to sign the top free agents.

Brad Lidge has made quite a name for himself with his post-playing career. He is a special assistant to the Phillies and has carved out a nice little niche for himself on MLB Radio. He has a gentle speaking voice, but in reality, I’m not buying this nice-guy routine. Houston gave him his start and the only reason he is really famous at all because he gave up a home run to Albert Pujols. I swear to God that that ball still hasn’t landed. The problem with Brad Lidge is that I am 100% convinced he subconsciously hates the Houston Astros.

The first year he left Houston for Philadelphia, he decided to win a World Series with the Phillies. Didn’t want to bring it home for his pride and joy. I mean c’mon Brad, your Baseball-Reference.com picture is you in an Astros cap, dude. You couldn’t do it in 2005, but could in 2008? Judas! He had 123 saves in an Astros uniform and was a top-2 closer in the league in 2005, but for some reason. He even recruited Roy Oswalt to Philly in 2010 just to rub it in our face. Brad Lidge has some built-up hostility in the back of his mind for the Astros and here’s why:

Brad Lidge was cited in a tweet earlier this week by MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that showed expert opinions on free agent destinations. The three players of interest in this tweet are Nathan Eovaldi, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel.

Image via MLB Network

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi is from Houston. I would know, I pitched with him growing up and played with him on some all-steam teams in high school. He threw hard then, and he still does now. The Astros like these type of high spin rate guys, and Eovaldi showing a competency for both starting a relieving (as evident in the longest ever world series game where he threw 7 innings in relief) could make him a valuable asset with Lance McCullers out for all of 2019, and Dallas Keuchel most likely leaving for free agency.

He could be a taller, thicker, higher velocity Collin McHugh with his versatility and longevity. So of course, with all of this well-balanced and artfully crafted information, whom does Lidge have Eovaldi going to? The Yankees. He just thinks Eovaldi is a cash-grabbing monster, and I can’t respect someone who believes that of a the second-Alvin-coming of Nolan Ryan.

Yasmani Grandal

Grandal is a catcher, and it’s no surprise that the Astros need a catcher because the last two catchers they’ve had almost entirely qualify for social security by themselves. Side note: God bless Brian McCann. Grandal is all but leaving Los Angeles as no expert has him returning. Even noted Astros-troll and Rangers telecast buffoon C.J. Nitkowski has Grandal going to the Astros, as they look to field one between the $14-17M/year range.

There have been talks about trading for Marlin’s J.T. Realmuto, but the asking price could be too high, as they have requested top prospects, Forrest Whitley or Kyle Tucker, to be apart of a package. A majority of the experts have him going to the Astros. So who does Lidge have Grandal signing with? The Braves. That’s right, the man who didn’t want to deliver a World Series ring to Houston picked the one team that Houstonian's had nightmares of in October from the years 1997-2003. Lidge apparently wants to hurt us so much that he is the only “expert” to pick Grandal to Atlanta. Cheap shot received Lidge, cheap shot indeed.

Dallas Keuchel

Keuchel is statistically speaking, 99.9% not coming back to Houston. That’s my own stat, and it will be spoken into existence. He even admitted on Fox News he would shave his beard to be a Yankee. That’s the baseball version of a Blue-Footed Booby doing his high-stepping line dance in an attempt to find a mate. After turning down the barely-sub $18M qualifying offer, Keuchel is going to garner much attention from clubs. He finally had a healthy season, has showed a proclivity in coming up big in prime-time games and is of course…left-handed.

The experts are split on DK’s landing spot and to be honest, so am I. The fit though, it would seem, would be a team who is a borderline contender can handle the $19-22M/year that Boras will be asking for him. Most have him going to a team like Washington, or Atlanta, or even Milwaukee. Heck, I would even say Philadelphia. So who does Lidge have signing Keuchel? The Angels. Let me remind you the Angels are IN THE SAME DIVISION as his former team, have the two best players on the freaking planet but no one else, and finished 23 games out of first place last year.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Brad Lidge deep down inside is resentful to the Astros, and it shows here. I loved Lights Out Lidge more than anyone, so it hurts to see his bias showing. Read Common Sense by Thomas Paine Brad and get back to me, sir.

***Stats via Baseball-Reference***

Astros: 434 Days Later After the Storm

A look at what 2017 meant for Astros fans after Hurricane Harvey.

At the time of this writing, it’s been exactly 434 days since Hurricane Harvey made landfall and brought with it the heavy rains and heavier hearts. It’s also been 365 days since the Houston Astros raised the commissioner’s trophy, too. I would venture to say if you’re a baseball fan and lived in Houston in late August of 2017, both of those days were pretty memorable. Although separate events, they can most assuredly be thought of in unison for the rest of our lives. This piece you’re reading here is about that time. Moreover, it’s not because we need a constant reminder of the rain and the pain, but because as we sit here a year removed from it all, in it lays a story of identity.

When Hurricane Harvey planted itself on top of the city last Fall, it poured more rain onto our makeshift city of asphalt than any before it; 60.5”. That’s an inch less than the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate. It flooded over 200,000 homes. It destroyed almost a million cars. It cost over $125 billion worth of damage. Yah, with a “B.” The flooding that covered the state was the size of New Jersey. It was historically, one of the worst hurricanes in history. That is to say; it was going to take an equally historic moment in the lives of affected Houstonians everywhere to gain some sort of healing from it all.

Enter, the Houston Astros.

As these Astros approached the postseason in 2017, they did so with hearts burdened from a city under water. They were forced to play a home series in Florida because the city was still reeling with devastation. Moreover, because the Texas Rangers wouldn’t swap a home & home. However, the team, as somber as they were in returning, took on an identity. They became healers. After the hurricane, the team went 20-8 in September as the hottest team in baseball, and finished the year with 101 wins; good for third in the American League.

They were healthy, they were hot, and they realized pretty quickly they were playing for a community that was desperate for a good story. While the Astros were playing their games in September, homes were still under water. While the Astros were tearing up opposing pitchers on the road, Houstonians were tearing off drywall back home. While the Astros were running around the bases, Houstonians were running around the city registering for FEMA aid packages and making stops at church triage centers. As the Astros were pouring champagne down each other’s backs for their first division title in over a decade, tears were pouring down the faces of thousands and thousands of Houstonians whose homes were classified as “uninsurable” and were damaged beyond repair.

However, then October came.

As the Astros sewed on their, “Houston Strong” patches, there was a “we need this” kind of expectation for the team. Because we did. The city had been through so much. We had been slugged in the face. A big fat black eye that was going to take years to recover from. Our homes destroyed. Entire families trapped in houses only to never get out. Baseball seemed so far off, but it wasn’t. The city needed the true character of the city to emerge from below the flooded streets. The city needed someone in a position of opportunity and authority to show the world who we really were. We needed people to see somehow what was inside the hearts of over 5 million people. All eyes were on Houston; how would we respond? How would they react?

Well…did they ever. Altuve homered three times in Game 1. Bregman launched balls over The Monster. Off belly-button Chris Sale. Justin Verlander went 4-0 heading into the World Series, and Lance McCullers threw 157 straight curveballs against the Yankees (actually it was 24). Marwin hit the most clutch home run in Astros history off Kenley Jenson, Derek Fisher scored the 13th and winning run in the best playoff game ever played during game 5, and George Springer catapulted baseballs into the deep California sky in Game 7.

Just like that, as Seager grounded the last ball of 2017 to the league MVP at second base, the Astros became a group of healers. They took on the heartache of millions of people and if only for a moment, turned it into hope; into tears of joy.

It’s been a full year.

I can still feel the sensation of seeing Yuli’s hands raise to his hands in disbelief. He couldn’t believe they did it. None of us could. None of us could believe that 25 guys could spend three weeks in the cold Fall of South Texas, of Boston, of Southern California and give us hope from a round white ball and brown wooden bat. None of us could believe that after five feet of rain leveled the city, a five-foot something Venezuelan righty could lead a team from disparity to glory. From 100 loses to 100 wins. But he did. Moreover, we will never forget it. The 2017 Astros won the division. They won the pennant. Moreover, they won the World Series. But raising the trophy on Fire Engine 69 meant only one thing to them, and to the city of Houston: we won’t be backed into a corner, we won’t be beat and we will rise up from the challenges that face us and come together as a community to overcome anything that could possibly come our way.