H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Much Ado about Nothing

I never thought that soccer would inspire such passion in my soul, but I was wrong. Of course, the fire in my belly is completely unrelated to anything occurring on the "pitch", but instead directed at the completely hypocritical, braindead morons who complained about the chosen team name "1836" so much that the cowards in charge have agreed to change it.

A few quick caveats before I rant any further:
1. I will not attend one MLS game, even at gunpoint.
2. I will not watch one MLS highlight on TV, even if offered $1 million. It's a matter of principle, not logic.
3. "1836" was quite possibly the stupidest team name I'd ever heard to begin with, but to call it "offensive" is analogous to so-called "British-Americans" calling the New England NFL team's nickname "offensive".

This article in the Chronicle today sums up the current state of affairs. My first demand is that any person of Mexican descent living in America who is bitching about this team name IMMEDIATELY cease and desist from demanding to be called a "Mexican-American". Clearly, if you are offended by the mere mention of the date 170 years ago in which Mexico lost a war in which your current home state won its independence, you are by definition NOT an American. You are by definition a Mexican. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a Mexcian. Being a Mexican is certainly something to be proud of, and if I was from Mexico and the mere thought of my kin losing a war 170 years ago drove me that crazy, I would proudly call myself a "Mexican" and more than likely move back to my precious homeland. You simply cannot live in a free country, benefit from all of its innumerable assets and still make such preposterous demands and complaints. It is beyond hypocritical. Are not Bob McNair and Friends rubbing those same complainants' noses in the mud everytime they mention "the Texans"? Should that team also change its name to something less "offensive"? I mean, it was only 170 years ago that Mexicans walked this "Texan" landscape freely. Where's LULAC on this one?

Much like the theatrical athletes in this sport who fling themselves onto the ground and wave pathetically for a gurney when they so much as brush cleats with an opposing player, it is clear that the administrators and executives in this sport similarly throw up the white flag when confronted with any sign of conflict or convtroversy, even in the event that it is completely unfounded and laughable. I wish for once someone would stand up to these idiots and fight their "claim" all the way to the highest court in the land. Otherwise, it is clear that this ignorance will find no bounds.

EDIT: I got through my rant and failed to mention the extremely ill-suited nickname of the Philadelphia NBA team (for those British-Americans among us, I'll spare mention of the specifics so as to prevent you from incurring the severe emotional and physical duress that would surely result). Obviously, something's going to have to give in Philly as well...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Clemens to Pitch in 2006!!!

Well, in the World Baseball Classic, at least. MLB reports that the Rocket was included on Team USA's final 30-man roster, which was released today. Also making the final cut were Astros Brad Lidge and Dan Wheeler and Texas-Ex Huston Street. Here's the roster:

C: Jason Varitek, Brian Schneider, Michael Barrett
1B: Derrek Lee, Mark Teixeira
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Derek Jeter, Michael Young
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones
OF: Johnny Damon, Jeff Francoeur, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells and Randy Winn
SP: Roger Clemens, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis
RP: Chad Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Scot Shields, Huston Street, Mike Timlin, Billy Wagner, Dan Wheeler

From the structure of the roster, it certainly appears that Buck Martinez anticipates getting 4-5 innings out of his starters and then going one inning apiece with a slew of different closers. One other note - I'd expect Michael Young to get the start at 2B over Chase Utley and a starting outfield of Damon in LF, Griffey in CF and Wells in RF.

Dunn Commits to Cincinnati (for now)

The Cincinnati Reds avoided arbitration with Adam Dunn by signing him to a two-year, $18 million deal last night. The contract also includes a team option for 2008. Dunn receives a raise from his 2005 salary of $4.6 million to $7.5 million in 2006, and he will make $10.5 million in 2007. The Reds' option for 2008 is for $13 million plus incentives, with a $500,000 buyout should they decide not to pick it up. Dunn is eligible for free agency following the 2007 season. Interestingly, according to Marc Lancaster, the $13 million team option for 2008 is voided in the event that Dunn is traded prior to 2008, indicating that Dunn is only willing to commit to play for the Reds under the $13 million scenario.

From the Reds' perspective, this is a great deal because it enables the club to avoid an arbitration fight with their most productive player, and it allows them to keep Dunn through the first year of his free agency eligible years. From Dunn's perspective, it provides him with guaranteed money and ties him up for a maximum of only one year of his free agency eligible years. It also is short enough that it encourages the Reds to make moves to become a contender if they want to convince guys like Dunn to stick around for the long term. From the Astros perspective, it may make no difference at all. If Dunn was traded to the Astros at any time prior to 2008 (while still in his two-year deal), the parties could work out a longer-term deal for 2008 and beyond at any point in time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

No More Moochie

According to the New Orleans Hornets team website, the Rockets sent Moochie Norris and an undisclosed amount of cash to the Hornets in exchange for Polish center Maciej Lampe. Lampe has played in an astounding two (2) games this season for NO-OKC, and he is likely best remembered as "Mr. Pitiful" (a/k/a the last guy in the Green Room) at the 2003 NBA Draft. Lampe did play in a combined 37 games last season between Phoenix and New Orleans and is only 21 years of age. At 6'11", 275 lbs., Lampe potentially gives the Rockets a large, physical presence in the middle to spell Yao and Dikembe. However, more likely is the possibility that between Stromile Swift's alarm clock issues, Derek Anderson's wish to be dealt and David Wesley's expiring contract, more moves are in the offing. Assuming Bob Sura is out for the season and Jon Barry is not going to be activated again this season, the current depth chart appears to be:

PG: Alston, Head
SG: Wesley, Bogans
SF: McGrady, Hayes, Bowen
PF: Howard, Swift
C: Yao, Mutombo, Lampe

What could a package of Wesley, Swift and D.A. retrieve? How about Kenyon Martin? He's apparently worn out his welcome in Denver, and the salaries appear to match up. What about this depth chart:

PG: Alston, Head
SG: Bogans, Barry
SF: McGrady, Hayes, Bowen
PF: Martin, Howard
C: Yao, Mutombo, Lampe

There's obviously a hole at the SG position, but possibly Bob Sura could fill that upon his return. I don't think this will happen, necessarily, but with all of the options that the Rockets have and their backs against the wall approaching the All-Star Break, I would not be surprised to see a major deal go down very soon.

Friday, February 10, 2006

[Baseball America] Astros Top 10 Prospects

For real baseball junkies, this is old news since Jim Callis first posted the Astros Top 10 (subscription required) back on December 2, 2005. The top-half of the list is stocked with serious young pitching talent, which is nice, but it certainly provides further illustration that Astros must look outside the organization in their quest to improve their offense.

1. Jason Hirsh - RHP: Hirsh is a big'un (6'8", 245) who was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year in Double-A last season. Callis mentions that Hirsh's breaking ball was named the best in the League in 2005. His fastball typically runs 91-93. Callis forsees Hirsh as a #2 or #3 starter, possibly even making a run at the rotation out of spring training.

2. Troy Patton - LHP: Patton has battled a little bit of shoulder trouble, but his stuff is apparently nastier than Hirsh's, and he's younger. Seems like Hirsh is closer to the bigs, but Patton's ceiling is higher. Patton posted a 2.63 ERA in 9 starts at High-A Salem and should open 2006 in Corpus Christi.

3. Fernando Nieve - RHP: Nieve has two solid pitches and may have made the big club in September had he not had a bout with appendicitis. From what I have read, Nieve seems destined to be a back-of-the-bullpen power arm, which would fit nicely for the Astros.

4. Jimmy Barthmeier - RHP: Solidly built RHP that Callis pegs as an innings-eater. Probably will not be a factor in Houston until late 2007 or 2008.

5. Eli Iorg - OF: It's a position player! Iorg just played rookie ball in 2005, so he's still miles away from the big leagues, but he's got the pedigree to be an impact player in the bigs.

6. Hunter Pence - OF: This guy has become a legend in Astros fan circles, and typically, the Astros have moved him along sloooooooooowly. He'll start the season in Double-A, and Callis talks of a hitch in Pence's swing that has not affected his success thus far, but sure sounds like it has the potential to be problematic as he moves up the ladder.

7. Felipe Paulino Del Guidice - RHP: FPDG, as I like to call him, is a hoss. He's got a 100+ mph fastball that apparently rides up on right-handed hitters. Callis mentions that FPDG has been reluctant to develop his changeup, furthering the notion that his future may be a late-innings bullpen guy.

8. Juan Guiterrez - RHP: Starting pitcher who, according to Callis, needs to "improve his conditioning" and "tone down his antics". Code for "Flame-Out".

9. Brian Bogusevic - LHP: Bogie's 2005 pro debut in short-season A was a waste, blamed by all interested parties on fatigue. 2006 will prove whether or not that was the truth.

10. Josh Flores - OF: This is my favorite farmhand. He's a "tools" guy who Callis dubs the fastest in the organization. He destroyed pitching in rookie-ball in 2005 and will start 2006 in CF for the Legends.

Interesting tidbits from Callis's Q&A session:

- Koby Clemens is considered a "top-30" prospect by BA.
- Callis considers the Astros in the "bottom third" of farm systems in terms of talent.
- Callis calls Justin Towles "the best all-around catcher in the system".
- Charlton Jimerson has the best all-around tools in the system, but his inability to make consistent contact seems to be a hurdle that he is never going to overcome.
- Jason Hirsh made the leap from #25 in 2005 to #1 in 2006.
- Callis says that Taylor Buchholz would be his pick to fill the #5 starter role at the start of 2006.

Bronze Medal for H-Town Sports

Thanks to the brilliant folks at Deadspin, a daily must-read site for those of us here at H-Town Sports, for naming us the 3rd-best Rockets blog in cyberspace. In true H-Town fashion, if the Rockets' play had been more inspiring this season, we may have spent more time discussing them, which may have vaulted us to a higher spot in the rankings. If you stink, you're going to get ignored in this town...unless you're about to pass up on the most talented player in the NFL Draft who hails from your hometown, in which case some focus may be allocated to you. Regardless, thanks for the recognition and welcome to our visitors from Deadspin.

By the way, you've GOT to check out Kevin Pittsnoggle's wedding photos posted at Deadspin moments ago. Man if I'd seen those before I made my walk down the aisle...

Texans Pick Up Carr's Option--So What?

The Chronicle reported this morning that the Texans have picked up David Carr's three-year option. This means he will be paid an $8,000,000.00 bonus, as well as base salaries of $5,250,000.00 in 2006, $5,500,000.00 in 2007, and $6,000,000.00 in 2008. Here's the article:


The always astute John McClain makes the key point that the Texans picking up Carr's option has absolutely no bearing on what they will do in the draft. I think this is certainly correct. Think about it: Whether you're going to trade Carr or keep him, wouldn't you lock him up to a reasonable salary over the next three years if you could? Doesn't it make him more palatable to other teams looking for a QB? He becomes a "reasonably priced" starter instead of someone who a team would have to take a chance on via a big contract/signing bonus.

ESPN, however, appears to disagree. Len Pasquarelli believes locking up Carr necessarily translates into the Texans picking up Reggie Bush:


While I can understand that opinion, I just don't think it's right. Regardless of whether the Texans are going to take Bush or Young (a decision, I might add, that has not been made by all accounts), they had to pick up Carr's option. If he stays, he stays for a reasonable price. If he goes, he becomes someone else's QB for a reasonable price. Seems like a pretty straightforward business decision to me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rockets, Van Gundy face down old age

Jonathan Feigen reports in today's Chronicle that the Rockets are nearing completion of a deal that would send PF Lonny Baxter to the streaking Charlotte Bobcats. While some Rockets fans may see this as a "firesale" following last night's nail-in-the-coffin loss to the Lakers, veterans Jon Barry and Derek Anderson surely see this deal as their ticket to activity. Both have been "injured" for months apiece and have publicly proclaimed good health in an attempt to force JVG's hand. However, JVG has insisted that the "matchups" have not favored the insertion of either player back into the lineup, leaving the Rockets with a glut at power forward.

Hopefully JB and DA read the entire article, which certainly seems to spell their ultimate demise with the Rockets. Returning from Charlotte in the proposed deal is former UK Wildcat Keith Bogans, a relatively long, extremely tough SG who will attempt to fill a massive void in the Rockets' roster: athleticism at the SG position. While this deal is a no-brainer on two fronts (adding a Wildcat and adding youth/athleticism while dealing from a position of strength), it certainly does not bode well for the future of Barry or Anderson for the rest of this season.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bagwell (Originally Posted at Sports Law Blog)

Here is a link to the post I wrote about the titannic struggle ongoing between HOF 1B Jeff Bagwell and World-Renowned Concessionaire Drayton McLane during my guest stint at Sports Law Blog. Since nothing's been written on this subject of extreme local interest here yet, I'm taking the lazy way out (though nothing's really changed).

Monday, February 06, 2006

Vince Young v. Reggie Bush--It's Not Just a Football Decision

When the Texans crapped the bed one final time against the 49ers on 01/01/06 and put the nightmare that was the 2005 campaign to rest, there was no way they could know the headache they'd created for themselves. At the time, everyone was elated that Reggie Bush, a modern day Gale Sayers according to many pundits, would be a Texan. But a mere three days later, Vince Young changed everything with his legendary performance in the Rose Bowl.

At the outset of this discussion, allow me to say that I am far from impartial on the Bush v. Young debate. I graduated from the University of Texas, and am completely certifiable when it comes to Horns football. Indeed, I am proud to say that I have spent most fall Saturdays for the past three seasons nattily attired in a burnt orange skull cap. While I pulled it off as well as someone of my ilk can, I looked ridiculous. Perhaps that fashion sense directly contributed to me remaining a bachelor. But it didn't (and still doesn't) matter. Jesus in Cleats wore a skully, so I did too. Thus, consider this analysis with several grains of burnt orange salt.

As anyone who has kept up with the situation knows, drafting VY necessarily translates into an indictment of David Carr, which may or may not be fair. ***NOTE--Personally, I'm not a huge Carr guy anymore (I just don't think he's a guy his teammates will follow through a wall), though I do think he will be a successful NFL QB somewhere.*** Nor will VY be able to cure the complete and total lack of an offensive line (Chester Pitts aside) in Houston. While Vince is as close to Superman as anyone I've ever seen, he can't erase the personnel disasters that are B. Joppru, P. Buchanon, T. Hollings, etc. No one should think that Vince becoming a Texan will transform the team into a playoff contender overnight. It won't. In fact, I think he'd best be served holding a clipboard for a year before taking the reins of the offense.

But what VY will transform, however, is an entire fanbase. Whether to draft Vince is no longer a football decision. It's a marketing mandate. Imagine the number of Texas Exes that will become ardent fans (and possible season ticketholders) if Jesus in Cleats becomes a Texan. Imagine the number of Houstonians that will begin to take an interest in the Texans because their hometown boy is under center. Imagine the plethora of #10 jerseys that will fly off the shelves, both in Houston and nationally, once Vince holds his up for the first time at the April press conference.

Alternatively, imagine how many existing season ticketholders will decline to renew their tickets in disgust after what they perceive to be another ruined draft at the hands of Texans management. Now, I like Reggie Bush. I think he'll have a good career. Whether he's Marshall Faulk, I don't know. But I do know that he will never be embraced like Vince Young in Houston. He'll never be the local hero. And God forbid Vince becomes a star in Tennessee for the Titans. The old Oilers with a Houston legend at the helm? The very thought makes me want to honk in my skully. That's why, when all the off-field factors are considered, there really is only one choice. And it's why I think Vince will be a Texan.