Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Oakland “Raiders” Way Back into Hunt

September 21, 2018

“Listen up, Lunk Heads! The A’s won a game by 21-3 over the Angels last night! ~ If we can’t do better than that this weekend playing football, we are going to be the unfunny laughing stock of Oakland, California!”

Winning big at home by the football score of 21-3 over the LA Angels on Thursday, the Oakland A’s have battled back to within 3.5 games of the Houston Astros in the AL West with only nine games left on the schedule. Maybe a closer look at the A’s bench would have revealed that A’s manager Bob Melvin had drafted Oakland’s NFL Raiders skipper John Gruden as his baseball bench coach for a miraculous stretch run.

We Astros fans hope not, but we also hope that what the A’s did yesterday at least rings a bell that’s loud enough to awaken our own offense against the Angels, who had to take that beating Thursday before getting on a plane and flying to Houston for the rested Astros’ final 3-game home series of the 2018 season, starting tonight. With any luck, our guys could run into some tired Angel bullpen arms. It also will not register well either if we fall back into our often seen home range of a 0 to 2 runs game at home.

It’s also important that our Astros start making an offensive statement of their own. The season ends a week from this coming Sunday on November 30, 2018. This is no time to lose our grip on this always rare opportunity.

And left’s face it. If the Astros win it all again this year, they are going to have to do it without their ordained offensive trinity of Altuve, Springer or Correa having the kind of lights out year they each enjoyed as young and uninjured players. You know the story. All have been injured this year and none have played as well this season, either before or after getting hurt. Altuve probably will finish in the low .300s; Springer seems headed for the .260s, about 13-18 points down from last year; and Correa is off the cliff down, with an average of .238 – or .077 points down from his final total of .315 in 2017. Correa has the kind of back injury that will keep him from recovery until (if or when) he regains the flexibility to reach those low outside pitches that the league now knows he can no longer reach in time.

Other than that, Bregman, Gurriel, Gonzales, White, Reddick, Gattis, McCann, and Kemp all need to pick up the tempo of the lost offense that took us all the way last year. It would be a double shame to lose because we couldn’t offensively support the great pitching staff that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has put together this year. 

The lack of an early offense has been really rough on Astros starters. Too often, our starters have been forced to high pinch count their ways through five qualifying innings, just to hang in the hunt for a 1-0 or 2-1 win, if the lead holds. Other times, when the low one-run difference favors the other team early, the departing Astros starter just gets hung with the loss. With a steadier stream of high early scoring, this 2018 Astros club could have 2 to 3 guys closing in on 20-win seasons, instead of none.

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Top Ten AL Batting Averages 

Thru Games of Thu., 9/20/18: 

BATTING AVERAGE

1. Betts • BOS ~ .334

2. Martinez • BOS ~ .331

3. Trout • LAA ~ .317

4. Altuve • HOU ~ .315

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AL WEST SCORES, 

Thru Thu., 9/20/18:

Houston (Did not play.)

Oakland 21 – LA Angels 3.

Seattle (Did not play.)

Texas (Did not play.)

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AL WEST STANDINGS

Morning of Fri., 9/21/18

TEAMS

WON

LOST

PCT.

GB

Houston

95

57

.625

 —-

Oakland

92

61

.601

   3.5

Seattle

84

68

.553

 11.0

LA Angels

75

78

.490

 20.5

Texas

64

88

.421

 31.0

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SCHEDULE BALANCE FOR

HOU, OAK & SEA:

DATE

HOU

OAK

SEA

9/21

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/22

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/23

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/24

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/25

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/26

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/27

@BAL

TEX

9/28

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/29

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/30

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston Sports Poll: Influence or Expectation?

July 17, 2018

Dashaun Watson is No. 1 Pick in 2018 Poll That Alleges Him To Now Be the Most “Influential” Houston Sports Figure.

DALE ROBERTSON’S 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL 2018 HOUSTON SPORTS PEOPLE

(All of the tabular information shown here, plus all of his previous six year rankings, from 2012 thru 2018 were published in Sunday’s July 15, 2018 Houston Chronicle.) ~

The 2018 List

Rank Name Role Club Level
1 Deshaun Watson QB Texans NFL
2 Jim Crane Owner Astros MLB
3 Jeff Luhnow GM Astros MLB
4 Jose Altuve 2B Astros MLB
5t James Harden MVP Rockets NBA
5t Chris Paul Guard Rockets NBA
5t Daryl Morey GM Rockets NBA
8 Justin Verlander Pitcher Astros MLB
9 J.J. Watt Defense Texans NFL
10 Ed Oliver Defense Cougars NCAA

Impressions

People who control the money and the flow of resources that produce championships ~ and people who devise long-term plans that actually result in championships ~ each share a common bond among fans and the media. Nobody really hangs their hats of hope on requests for patience and time to prove the efficacy of whatever they happen to be doing. Then ~ once in silvery orange-blue moon ~ along comes a logistics savant owner like Jim Crane and a baseball genius like Jeff Luhnow and it’s like the baseball gods left the locks off the doors at their hall of baseball cookie miracles.  ~ The result? ~ Here’s your baseball miracle as promised, Houston! ~ Delivered on time, as promised three years earlier, here are your 2017 World Series Champions!

That isn’t the stuff that gets you the number one spot with Dale Robertson. Robertson is listening to the Houston fan heartbeat for great expectation, and, as much as I hate to say it, but have to admit it, Dale is sniffing football, and mainly NFL football, most of the time at the top spot. In the seven seasons that Dale Robertson has been doing these rankings, he’s picked someone from the Texans five times as his number one ranking figure.

Here’s the tabular rundown on # 1 picks:

ROBERTSON #1 RANKED HOUSTON PEOPLE: 2012-2018 

YEAR RANKED #1 ROLE CLUB LEVEL
2012 Wade Phillips Def. Coach Texans NFL
2013 Dwight Howard Player/Center Rockets NBA
2014 Bill O’Brien Head Coach Texans NFL
2015 J.J. Watt Player/Defense Texans NFL
2016 Brock Osweiler Player/QB Texans NFL
2017 Dallas Keuchel Player/Pitcher Astros MLB
2018 Deshaun Watson Player/QB Texans NFL

 

This movie title in a film featuring an earlier Dale Robertson stands well as a headline in a year following a poll when someone other than a Texan was picked for the top spot.

As a matter of fact, it’s a title that works well pretty much any year for describing the #1 pick as most “influential” sports figure in Houston in July, when the appetites of those awaiting the forthcoming NFL season are frothing at the mouth for a QB who comes along and fulfills the “great expectation” of Houston winning a Super Bowl.

Oh yes, making the world forget about Tom Brady in the process also wouldn’t be frowned upon by Houston Texan movers and shakers and other local NFL Joes. 

  • see the “Editor’s Footnote at the end of this column.

About that seasonal help to the poll when the picks are made in July. Some of Dale’s picks may have been helped by the seasonal impact of when lists were made. By July of each year, Houston basketball fans are usually too busy digesting their still recent disappointments to build any new peak expectations for next year. Although, based upon Dale Robertson’s approach ~ and had the Rockets signed LeBron James, it’s easy to see King James pushing Dr. Watson back to the #2 hole in 2018, with no arguments from anyone, but that’s not what happened. And, here we are, at the time of year when we Houston baseball fans are too busy exchanging our fantasy hope for the reality of watching the defending World Champs play ball.

And that leaves the large legion of Houston football fans, many of whom happen to be crossover all Houston sport team fans, where the bait is still the player who can drag his tail in the water like a silver spoon flipper and lure the masses of football fan fishers in numbers through the stadium game dates in the fall.

This year, the heroic Deshaun Watson is the QB of allure. A couple of years ago, it was the forgettable Brock Osweiler.  Is Watson for real? He could be, but all we know for sure is that he will have to do more than share time with J.J. Watt and “Scott the Marketing Man” ~ making TV commercials for HEB ~ before Houston has its latest great expectation either finally realized or crushed again.

As one who has been reading Dale Robertson since the time he was roughed up by former Oilers QB Dan Pastorini in an interview that ran into sensitive ground at a tough moment in the season a thousand weeks ago, I already believe that he’s a much bigger football and tennis fan than he seems to be of baseball, but he keeps on trying to cover all the bases that go with his job. ~ I give him lots of credit for his durability, even when I do not agree with his conclusions in this set of rankings for the wrong reason.

That being said, I think we disagree mainly because we interpret the word “influence” differently.

“Influence” always translates to me as “power” and, in that regard, there are no others on this list with more “power” over the fortunes of the three Houston big sport teams than Masseurs Crane, Fertitta, and McNair. That is why I personally would have chosen Jim Crane as my #1 pick in 2018. Crane is the guy who used his power to set up the ground for optimal on-term success in Houston baseball.- How did that work out? And how could it have worked at all, had Crane’s ego needed to take more direct credit for all that Jeff Luhnow did? On the other hand, if we are talking about the “specific influence” of one being able to attract fans by great expectation, it is almost always going to be a player or head coach or field manager that takes the #1 spot. And, most of the time, a magical and talented new QB for the Texans is going to stir up our NFL crazy fans to the Great Expectation (GE) of a Super Bowl ride. – Viewed in that hungry light, I would have to agree with Robertson’s pick of Watson for the top spot as the “GE” giant influence upon that large group of Houston crossover sports fans. Only LeBron James could have beaten Deshaun Watson in Houston from this point in 2018 going forward from mid-July.

Hang in there, Dale Robertson. Maybe Deshaun Watson will finally come through as your cash cow pick.

  • Editor’s Foot Note: Thank you, Tom Hunter, for setting in motion the serendipity that spread from your reminder to me that there once was a Grade B movie actor, also named Dale Robertson, that once starred in a movie entitled “Return of the Texan”. Due credit is all yours that it lead me to find the movie poster for that less than august film that served here as a visual guide to the extra comments included  in conjunction with the movie poster’s use here as a result.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Larry Miggins: A Man for All Seasons

May 18, 2018

Larry and Kathleen Miggins
St. Patrick’s Day 2017

 

During the early 1940s, our very own Houston SABR baseball treasure was a student at Fordham Prep in New York City, where excelled in baseball, basketball, and football — eventually earning a football scholarship as a tight end, offense and defense in those days, of course, to play for the University of Pittsburgh.

Larry also played baseball at Pitt, but passed on basketball because of the conflict it presented to his scholarship time on the gridiron. And this was in the days in which a young man of 6’4″ in height was considered tall enough to be a dominant force.

Basketball Force? Miggins could shoot too — once totaling 38 points in a single game. And in baseball, Miggins played third base in those days, taking infield grounders and playing catch with one of the Pitt voluntary coaches — a fellow named Honus Wagner.

Well, this winter, the For Prep football people decided it was a high time they recognized Mr. Miggins for all he did in behalf of their good name on the gridiron back in 1943. They selected 92-year old Larry Miggins for induction into the Fordham Prep Football Hall of Fame.

In his usual humble way, Larry Miggins shared this news with us in Houston at the SABR April 2018 meeting. Fordham wanted Larry and his wife Kathleen to come to NYC for the induction at the annual banquet of their Gridiron Club on May 5, 2018.

As things turned out, Larry wasn’t up to the travel requirement this time, but he did appear on video to deliver this very charming and honest acceptance speech to the offer of this honor.

Do yourselves a favor. Pick out a ten minutes time span you may listen in peace. Then turn on the sound to your video replay equipment in advance and click the link below to watch and listen to Larry Miggins accepting this deserved honor in digital person.

Once you click the link and reach the site’s home page, simply click the middle bar — the one noted as “Larry Miggins ’43 Gridiron Hall of Fame Induction Speech” — to see and hear Larry talk it through from the heart — as he does everything else.

Then, when that’s done, do yourselves another favor and read the eloquently thorough article that David E. Skelton wrote on Larry Miggins in behalf of the SABR biography project in 2015.

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f925ea43

Larry Miggins turns 93 on August 20, 2018.

God Bless You, Larry! — And May God Bless us for the time He has given us with you!

You are very, very loved — and my own love for you started back in my Pecan Park Eagle days. From that ancient personal time, I am still able to run mental images of you walking to the plate at Buff Stadium, bashing line drives over the left field wall. I just never dreamed back then that you would still be in my life seventy years later.

What a wonderful world this has turned out to be.

Thanks, old friend and hero. From the bottom to the top of our shared Irish being-ness, I thank you too — for being you.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Old Stadiums and Egos: Both Are Tough Nuts

December 4, 2017

The Pontiac Silverdome
The roof already was down, but the walls would not fall.

 

Not a Mere Gold Line Stand. In Pontiac, Michigan over the weekend, they made an attempt  to implode the old home of the NFL Detroit Lions, The Pontiac Silverdome, but little happened. A series of powerful explosions went off as planned, but, when they had finished, the old stadium just stood there, not even teetering. Maybe they mistakenly used explosives when they intended to use “implosives”, but, whatever, we have a hunch that a Lions fan named “Tom Corey” posted the best possible explanation from his experience as a Lions fan in recent years in social media. “Even the stadium is afraid to cross the goal line.”

And maybe Corey’s words can hang in the air in Houston as a comfort to Texans fans in the event that some vandal terrorist decides to try and blow up a perfectly beautiful NRG Stadium. The attempt would most likely be either fumbled away or intercepted before it even got close to the end zone.

 

New Texas A&M Football Coach Jimbo Fisher
Changes for 2018:
Jersey Color: About the Same
Jersey Lettering: Now says A&M
Money Color: Much Greener

 

Can $75 million dollars buy the major championship in your sport of interest? It can if you are club owner Jim Crane and the thousands of fans who can still afford to see live games at Minute Maid Park in Houston to watch the MLB Astros because Jose Altuve and friends already have delivered on that championship in 2017 with good chances of repeating, at least once, either this year or sometime soon. It doesn’t look quite so “easy” for Jimbo Fisher, who just signed a 10-year guaranteed $76 million dollar salary to win at least one national championship at the highest rung of college football as Head Coach of Texas A&M.

The Fisher hiring doesn’t look so good. It was fueled by the compulsive decision to get rid of the former coach, Kevin Sumlin, and to replace him with a coach that matched the value and decor of their still new A&M gazillion dollar renovation of Kyle Field. As the disappointing 2017 wore down, the panic level increased and the availability of candidates that could offer a national championship from their resumes for credibility sake had boiled down to one man, Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles.

Compulsion kicked in full blast. And remember, compulsion occurs in all of us when we begin to behave as though we really have no other choice. When that compulsion falls over the minds of a relatively few rich and powerful men who are used to buying their way to just about everything else they want in life, the door swings wide open for a vast expenditure of money being paid out that emotionally may even feel as though the national championship is in tow and only now awaiting a certain due date.

All we have to do is sign Jimbo Fisher.

And that’s the bunk.

Jimbo Fisher is no guarantee of a national college football title. He’s Jimbo Fisher, a guy who won the national title once at FSU in 2013, but under very different circumstances of recruiting and support. FSU was a pressure job too, but Fisher wasn’t getting this kind of money as the advance payment on winning a national title “or else”.

Right now you couldn’t even get good probability odds on A&M’s chances of winning anytime soon. Their new coach needs time for building relations with the kinds of Texas high school coaches he will need to access the very best uncommitted athletes across the state, staff building, current player and recruiting needs assessment, making the Aggie good old boys looking over his shoulders happy, while trying to build some kind of connection to the more everyday Aggie fans and students.

Ease up, Aggies. Give Jimbo Fisher a chance to get his feet firmly down on this good old Texas earth before you start pre-ordering his College Station statue.

Meanwhile, departing Coach Kevin Sumlin gets to walk away with the $10.5 million dollars that Texas A&M has paid him “not” to coach the last two 2018-19 seasons of his contract. He just walks away. To only do what he pleases. No news stories to read about alumni that hate your guts. And no press conferences with cub reporters hoping to rile you with questions like, “Coach Sumlin, would you care to comment on why the Aggies do so well against Louisiana-Monroe, but can’t seem to ever beat LSU?”

Which deal would you rather have? The one that goes with Jimbo Fisher’s $75 mil? Or the untethering deal that went to Kevin Sumlin for $10.5 mil?

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle