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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Astros reliever Joe Smith opts out of 2020 season

Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports that Astros reliever Joe Smith has opted out of 2020 season. Previously, Smith had cited “concerns about the health and safety of his family” as his reasoning for not reporting to Astros summer camp, and those concerns no doubt are the reason for his decision to forego the 2020 campaign.

Smith has been a key part of the Astros bullpen over the past couple of seasons, posting a 3.06 ERA in 84 appearances in 2018 and 2019.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 15, 2020 at 09:05 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, coronavirus, joe smith

Monday, July 06, 2020

The legend of the Astros’ free beer ‘Foamer Nights’

On “Foamer Night,” there was a rectangular orange light next to the scoreboard clock in right field. When the digital clock was on an even-numbered minute while the Astros were hitting, the light was illuminated. If an Astros player hit a homer – err, “foamer” – while the light was glowing, fans got free beer the rest of the night through the eighth inning.
Cliff] Johnson became a hit by paying particularly keen attention to that orange light.
The San Antonio native, who led the 1975 Astros with 20 home runs, would take intentionally laborious strolls to the plate if his turn at bat came upon an odd-numbered minute. He’d stop to adjust his batting gloves. He’d call for time as he dug into the dirt with his cleats, keeping an eye on that orange light. When it clicked on, then – and only then – was he ready to hit.

Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 06, 2020 at 06:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, beer

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Alex Cora: Astros’ sign-stealing wasn’t two-man show

“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” he said. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly [former general manager] Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened. But the [Astros players] have spoken up and refuted any allegations that I was solely responsible.”

He added: “If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 11, 2020 at 05:04 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, sign-stealing

Friday, June 05, 2020

Sources: MLB inclined to allow local governments to decide if fans are allowed at potential games

Call it home-state advantage.

As Major League Baseball and its Players Association wobble toward an agreement to start the COVID-19-delayed season, the Rangers could be handed a huge advantage if the schedule ever gets underway: fans.

According to two major league sources Thursday, MLB is inclined to allow local and municipal governance to take precedence when it comes to allowing fan attendance at games.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas-based teams could now allow attendance up to 50% of stadium capacity. The announcement was an expansion of the state’s previous policy of 25%, which had been in effect for two weeks, but had not yet been tested by any league. All plans would also be subject to change based on health and safety protocols.

Texas is the only state to have opened to pro sports with fans, though some other states have indicated they would consider adjusting their stances as they meet various thresholds in containing the coronavirus outbreak. Texas is home to two MLB teams, the Rangers and Houston Astros.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 05, 2020 at 09:45 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, coronavirus, rangers

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Houston Astros Cheating Scandal Docuseries From LeBron James’ Uninterrupted Coming to Quibi

Quibi and LeBron James’ Uninterrupted sports media company are teaming up for a new docuseries about a cheating scandal that has gone down in baseball infamy.

The short-form content platform has ordered “Sign Language” (working title), a series which aims to give viewers an inside look at the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal and its unprecedented fallout.

Per the logline for the series, it will look to “transcend the baseball diamond to explore larger themes of greed, cheating, corruption, sportsmanship, and social media activism.” News of the series comes around two months after it was announced that “Slow Burn” producers Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons are looking to hit a home run with a podcast about the Astros’ controversial World Series-winning 2017 season, which they then intend to adapt into a scripted series.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 16, 2020 at 05:44 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Friday, May 15, 2020

Remembering Bob Watson as an Astros legend

Former Astros great Bob Watson died Thursday at the age of 74 after a long battle with kidney disease.

Watson, who made his big league debut in Houston at 20 years old in 1966, played 14 of his 19 big league seasons with the Astros. His best seasons in Houston came in 1973 and 1975 when he hit .312 with 16 home runs and .324 with 18 home runs, respectively.

Watson, who was known as “Bull” for his 6-foot, 201-pound frame, went on to become the Astros general manager from 1993 to 1995 before leaving to take the same job with the New York Yankees where he became the first African-American general manager to win a World Series title.

Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 15, 2020 at 10:28 AM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, obituary, yankees

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Royals’ luckiest play vs. 2015 Astros in Game 4? Maybe it wasn’t so lucky after all

Morales’ moment still has always been a bit unsettling. KC deserves so much credit for its comeback, yet the game’s most important sequence — the Royals’ odds of winning the game went from 44% to 78% because of that one play, according to FanGraphs (and would have been at 24% had Correa fielded it cleanly to turn two) — has mostly been attributed to the Royals getting fortunate at the most opportune of times.

And yet ... after further review, I don’t think that’s what happened here at all.

Zach Posted: May 05, 2020 at 11:55 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, carlos correa, comeback, kendrys morales, playoffs, royals

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Worth It? Does MLB’s reaction to Astros, Red Sox tainted titles mean cheaters can prosper?

And now, some commentary on the major baseball news of the day:

The 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros are cheaters. We already knew that.

The 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox cheated a bit too. Less than the Astros, but enough that MLB on Wednesday docked them a draft pick and suspended one of their staffers for the year.

And for the second time, no players were suspended.

So much for the sanctity of the game, right?

 

QLE Posted: April 23, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, red sox

Friday, April 10, 2020

MLB.com: How Wilmer’s Tears Changed Baseball History

Many of us watched what went down at Citi Field the night of July 29, 2015, when Flores, then the Mets’ 23-year-old homegrown utility infielder, found out he had been traded and tried to hold back tears he couldn’t control. It was a rare, relatable glimpse into the human element of the Trade Deadline, a riveting presentation of baseball theater.

That moment, though, is even more important and engrossing with the benefit of retrospect. Whether Flores’ tears directly led to his swap getting spiked remains a matter of dispute. But that terminated trade has had bigger repercussions than the vast majority of deals that actually happened. Its ripple effects include the Mets winning the 2015 National League pennant with Yoenis Céspedes, the Brewers landing an uber-reliever named Josh Hader and Mike Fiers joining the Astros team whose sign-stealing scheme he would one day expose.

Great account assembled from talking to many people involved with these events.


Friday, April 03, 2020

Evan Gattis says his 2017 Astros ‘cheated baseball and cheated fans’

“ Not mad at people hating us — just mad, like kind of on the fans’ side,” Gattis continued. “Not everybody was super-happy about the cheating. … They were teammates, and maybe they didn’t feel like they were in a position to say anything. And they’re living with it right now. I could have said some [expletive], I could have done something, but I did not. Definitely not.”

majorflaw Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:11 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dorktown: The 1979 Astros were a team from baseball’s stone age

They finished up having failed to hit even 50 round-trippers. With the Mets excepted, you can see that every other team’s home run total approached or exceeded double that of the Astros — and even New York still hit over 50% more homers than Houston.

Since all teams started playing 162 games in 1962, no one’s hit fewer than 55 homers in a full season. And in only three of the other 1,465 team-seasons did a squad fail to hit more than 60 homers…

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:15 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Astros request a new judge to hear lawsuit filed by pitcher Mike Bolsinger

Before Mike Bolsinger could ask a court to decide whether the Houston Astros played fair with him, the Astros claimed the judge could not play fair with them.

Bolsinger, a former Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, sued the Astros and owner Jim Crane in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month, arguing the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme resulted in a pitching performance so poor that he has been unable to find another job.

The Astros have not yet filed a response to Bolsinger’s claim. But Harry Mittleman, one of the defense attorneys, this week submitted a declaration saying the Astros did not believe Crane and the Astros could have a “fair and impartial trial” before Malcolm Mackey, the judge assigned to hear the case.

Mackey, 90, was first elected to the Superior Court in 1988.

Makes their comments of the other day sound rather hollow, doesn’t it?

 

QLE Posted: March 27, 2020 at 12:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, lawsuits, mike bolsinger

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Astros Cite ‘Sincere Apologies’ in Response to Sign-Stealing Lawsuits

Lawyers for the Houston Astros said members of the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse” after the sign-stealing scandal.

According to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, this is part of the argument presented to try to dismiss three different lawsuits from season tickets holders against the organization.

The lawyers argued the plaintiffs have no legal standing to recover damages, but first noted how contrite the organization has been:

“The ‘sign-stealing’ controversy has been a source of great disappointment to Astros fans as well as to the Astros organization. On several occasions, members of the Astros organization—including individual players and its Owner, Jim Crane—have expressed their sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

That’s not how I remember it…..

 

QLE Posted: March 24, 2020 at 12:34 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, lawsuits

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Report: Giles to return WS ring

Relief pitcher Ken Giles is prepared to return his World Series ring from the 2017 season with the Astros, saying he wasn’t aware of the sign-stealing plot while with Houston.

Ron J Posted: March 04, 2020 at 08:37 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cheating, general

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Ringer: How Teams Tried to Counter the Astros’ Sign Stealing Before MLB Did

In late August 2018, the second-place Oakland Athletics visited Houston for a potentially pivotal three-game series against the first-place Astros. The A’s entered the series boasting baseball’s best record over the previous two and a half months (45-19 since June 13), and they trailed the Astros by only 1.5 games in the AL West. The previous week, the two teams had actually spent a few days tied atop the division, although the A’s had never pulled ahead. If Oakland swept this series, the reigning world champions would be looking up at the A’s.

The A’s dropped the first game of the series 11-4, but the next two contests would each be decided by one run. Journeyman Edwin Jackson, pitching for the 13th of his record 14 franchises, took the mound for Oakland in Game 2. He also took his time. The A’s and the Astros wouldn’t face each other again during the regular season, and given their proximity in the standings and the closeness of the score, each pitch was too critical to rush. But there was one other factor extending Jackson’s pauses between pitches: The A’s were aware that the Astros might be stealing their signs. [...]

Of course, it’s possible that the Astros were still stealing signs in late 2018 via some pervasive, hitherto-undocumented method (insert buzzer-based conspiracy here). But by that time, at least some Astros opponents were paranoid enough to act under the assumption that the Astros were cheating, regardless of whether they still were. Jackson and Lucroy weren’t the only battery to slow down against the ’Stros; Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who recently said he hopes the Astros feel like ####, worked with catcher Francisco Arcia in two late-2018 starts in Houston and showed a similar spike in bases-empty time between pitches. [...]

Also of note is that no other team in 2018 had a home pace gap as large as the Astros did: Opposing pitchers slowed down more in Minute Maid than they did at any other park.

bobm Posted: February 29, 2020 at 08:22 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cheating, pace of play

What did Joe Torre know and when did he know it?

Earlier this afternoon a reader named Sean James pointed me to this morning’s Buster Olney podcast at ESPN, where Buster and ESPN’s Karl Ravech were talking about the potential penalties the Red Sox might be facing when MLB’s report on their sign-stealing operation finally comes out. One part in particular stuck out.

At the 10:50 mark, Ravech tells Buster a story about something that happened in the 2018 ALCS between the Sox and the Astros. Buster said afterward that he had not heard this. I do not believe I have heard this. If it has been reported out before, I don’t recall it, but there has been so much flying around over the past couple of months that it might’ve just gotten lost. Anyway, here’s Ravech:

““I don’t know if I told you this, but there was a meeting before the LCS between the Astros and the Red Sox that involved A.J. Hinch, it involved [Jeff] Luhnow, it involved [Dave] Dombrowski, it involved [Alex] Cora, and Joe Torre was in that meeting and Torre basically said to the teams, both of them, to all those people and anyone else who was in the room, ‘Look: if you are inclined, or have gotten away with, or are doing anything that would violate the rules that you are all aware of or should be aware of, um, you’re gonna have to understand, at some point there’s gonna be a player or players or front office person that’s going to leave your team, go to another team, and basically rat you guys out. Basically tell, you know, the dirty secrets.’

“So whether Joe Torre was aware, at that point, what was coming from Mike Fiers, and there’s no evidence to believe that, but I was told that that message and that meeting basically scared the heck out of those guys in that room. To the point where they acknowledged ‘we’re in trouble, we’re dead, so we cannot continue this particular behavior.’””

The sort of thing that makes you wonder if the folk from that poll who suspect an MLB cover-up have a point…..

 

 

QLE Posted: February 29, 2020 at 12:46 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, joe torre, red sox

Friday, February 28, 2020

By 3 to 1 Margin Americans Say Astros Investigation was a Coverup and Players Need to Be Punished

South Orange, NJ – February 27, 2020 — By a sizeable margin, a majority of Americans feel that individual players should have been punished by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for their role in the sign stealing scandal surrounding the Houston Astros.

Fifty-four percent, responding to a national Seton Hall Sports Poll this week, said yes to punishing players in what was acknowledged as a player-driven scheme.  Only 17 percent felt they should not be punished.  Twenty-nine percent said they don’t know or had no opinion.

This was consistent with public opinion in the first week of this month when 52 percent said the Astros world championship should have been taken away, and 35 percent said it should not.

The Poll was administered this week to 693 adults across the country on landlines and cellphones.  It has a +/- 3.8 percent margin of error.

Something for those among us with a deep interest in polling.

 

QLE Posted: February 28, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, opinion, polls

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Fans heckling Astros spring opener get signs stolen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Fans hoping to heckle the sign-stealing Houston Astros at their spring opener were met with quite the coincidence.

They got their signs stolen.

In the Astros’ first spring training game since their sign-stealing scandal rocked baseball, some fans brought signs jeering Houston, and ballpark personnel confiscated them before the exhibition opener against the World Series champion Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

In a Series rematch, the Nats got hearty cheers, while everyone in an Astros jersey — including the mascot, Orbit — was booed. Houston did not use any players implicated in MLB’s probe.

The sort of story for which drum riffs seem to be the only appropriate comment…..

 

QLE Posted: February 23, 2020 at 01:05 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, fans, hecklers, sign-stealing

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Astros scandal: Josh Reddick says he and his teammates have received death threats

Part of the ongoing fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is that some of the players involved say they’re receiving threats. Mike Fiers of the Athletics, who played for the Astros in 2017 and later blew the whistle on their sign-stealing scheme, recently claimed to have been subjected to death threats for serving as the primary source for the original bombshell report.

Now Astros outfielder Josh Reddick has come forward as the recipient of threats and ill wishes. ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets:

“Astros outfielder Josh Reddick just told reporters he has received death threats via social media — and that in one case someone wished cancer upon his children. Reddick said he’s not the only one in the Astros’ clubhouse who had received death threats, either.”

 

QLE Posted: February 22, 2020 at 12:52 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, josh reddick

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Astros are leaning into the role of villain

You absolutely knew this was going to happen.

After a two-month firestorm in which the extent of their cheating operation was revealed, and after a week of players around the league voicing their displeasure at both the Astros and at Major League Baseball for not punishing them in a manner they deem sufficient, the Astros are pushing back. From the Washington Post, here’s Josh Reddick:

“At some point, you have to move on and not give a s—. We’re going to go out there and win and shut everybody up.”

Something for the fans of professional wresting around here…..

 

QLE Posted: February 20, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, villain

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Feinstein: In the Astros scandal, Rob Manfred has taken a bad situation and made it worse (WaPo)

Some will argue that stripping the Astros of their title does little. But they’re wrong, it would have a great deal of meaning. Taking away the trophy means the team can’t display it in perpetuity and forces it to take down all banners that proclaim “World Champions.” Remove the Astros’ name from the record book, leaving a blank for the 2017 World Series winner, as there is for 1994, when the World Series was called off after the owners forced the players to strike by violating the rules of collective bargaining.

Mayor Blomberg Posted: February 18, 2020 at 07:45 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, rob manfred

Whitley’s new strategy: Less work, more weight

One of the scouting reports I’ve read talked about how Whitley had a big spike in velocity in his senior year after getting serious about conditioning and remaking his body. The scout also suggested has backslid on his work. I don’t how accurate the report was but, at the least, it’s worth keeping an eye on Whitley this spring.

“I think just the general thought process that went into that was just not coming into camp absurdly skinny like I had the past couple years,” he said. “I remember a couple years ago I came into camp at like 190, so I kind of wanted to lower the workload, eat a little bit more and focus on coming into camp at a little better weight.”

Two years ago, Whitley was working out six or seven times a week, sometimes twice a day. He said it was way too much. He cut the workout load down to just four times a week — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday — and didn’t start throwing until December.

“Honestly, it was a lot nicer,” he said. “I got a little bit more time to myself. Played a lot more golf. It really felt like a true offseason to me, which was good for me in terms of the mental break from the season.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 18, 2020 at 08:59 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, forrest whitley

Monday, February 17, 2020

Disciplining Astros not as easy for MLB as Altuve revealing a tattoo

If only there was a strong Commissioner and no MLBPA, the players complaining about no player discipline would get the justice they are craving.

Some of their union leadership need to educate its body a little better on union/contract protections.

Even more crucial would be the aforementioned lack of notice. Four labor lawyers with first-hand knowledge of the grievance process agreed: the lack of notice from the Astros to their players would have made any case pursued by the league practically DOA. Yes, grievance hearings do now and again end with surprising results, but the probability tilted significantly toward any potential suspension being overturned, the lawyers said.

Facing that reality, the league made a value judgment: It would offer the players immunity in hopes of gathering the full story of the Astros’ sign-stealing exploits and rely upon the details of Manfred’s report to bend the public toward the idea that the league had sought and delivered justice.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 17, 2020 at 10:11 PM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, mlbpa, sign stealing

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Astros’ Dusty Baker begs MLB to protect players from cheating retaliation

“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about,” Baker told reporters Saturday. “And in most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.”

Hank Gillette Posted: February 16, 2020 at 05:28 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dusty baker

Against the Astros and their reputation, suspicious Nationals felt they had to assume the worst

“The way that it really erodes integrity of the game is tough,” said Nationals closer Sean Doolittle when discussing what he wanted to see from the Astros in response. “And I don’t know because part of me wonders if you’re the kind of person that’s willing to do that, are you able to step back and see how that affects the integrity of the game? Can you see how it erodes public trust and fan confidence in the product that we have on the field?”

When the Astros advanced to the World Series against Washington, the Nationals began getting tips from around the league. General Manager Mike Rizzo noted Friday that Washington “got a lot of volunteer phone calls on how to beat them and how to play them.”

Hank Gillette Posted: February 16, 2020 at 05:28 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, nationals

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