<![CDATA[John Hornberg · Storify]]>https://storify.com/JHornbergNodeJS RSS ModuleTue, 23 May 2017 12:43:05 GMT<![CDATA[TEXANS POSTGAME: Houston routs the Titans at home]]>

Breakdown of Houston's 38-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Storified by John Hornberg · Sun, Sep 30 2012 22:51:10

The Texans are the first NFL team in Houston history to start a season 4-0. The Oilers best start was 3-0 in 1991, but never got to 4-0 in the season. It is worth noting, the team points out, that the USFL's Houston Gamblers started their season 5-0 in the mid-1980s. 
For stats from this game, go check out the box score here.
Houston's offensive playcalling were running calls on third down. Houston's coaches probably knew they didn't have to take any real chances against this defense, because they could move the ball easily through more conventional ways. They didn't have to throw down field all the time because the Titans pitiful defense wasn't up to the task of stopping Arian Foster or Ben Tate. 
Matt Schaub was 20 for 28 passing with two touchdowns, one to Owen Daniel and the other to James Casey. There was very little inventive about it today - look deep, throw to the check down receiver. Hence why Daniels and Casey caught more than half of Schaub's completion (11 combined) today.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate got the ball a combined 29 times today for 97 yards rushing (Foster had 85, Tate had 11). The running game wasn't too impressive, but it got the job done for most of the game. On other days, the way the Texans ran the ball isn't going to cut it. Tennessee's defense allowed for holes to open up that other, better defenses won't allow for, and the run block was slapdash at times (see below about the problems on third and one.)
But the offense looked like a well-oiled machine today, with no major hitches or issues. Matt Schaub generally stayed upright, and wasn't bulldozed after the play. The same cannot be said for his counterparts on the Titans.
Houston also didn't turn the ball over. The same, again, cannot be said for their opponents.
The real stars for the Texans, though, was the defense.
There's a certain cache to schooling the Titans, I would think. For many of the players, coaches and front office personnel, they are just another team in the division that needs to be beaten. But to Houston fans, any time they can stick it to Bud Adams, it's a good day.
Tennessee committed seven penalties for a total of 73 yards. Four of those penalties for a total of 45 yards were in a crushing third quarter for them in which the Texans defense took over and 
The Browns, on the other hand, just suffer from a lack of talent. The players they run out there right now, aside from Trent Richardson and some members of their offensive line, are not better than the counterparts they stare down on the defensive side of the ball. 
Not the Titans.
Jake Locker is an extremely talented athlete who needs to be protected by an offensive line that apparently has no clue what it's doing and should be run ragged in practice Monday for letting him get hurt so badly. Kenny Britt (who missed the game with an injury), Nate Washington and Kendall Hunter are all talented wide receivers.
And we all know what Chris Johnson is capable of. 
Tennessee has weapons. But they have to get a complete and mistake free effort to get a winning product, especially with a defense that is atrocious on its best days. 
But the problems are numerous: Tennessee's offensive line takes penalties like they are a good thing; today, Kendall Wright had a bad case of the dropsies that hurt the Titans dearly at key moments; and bad interceptions that turned into points immediately only lengthened the Texans lead.
So far, Tennessee's offense hasn't been able to put together enough complete efforts to win a shootout, which - with an average of around 37 points per game allowed by the defense - isn't a winning recipe.
The time it took for the regular referees to determine if Keyshawn Martin got a first down in the red zone in the first quarter after initially ruling him short was right around seven minutes. It was the same thing on a downed punt in the third quarter: the line judge was saying the Titans downed the ball at the five after it had glanced off a Tennessee defender seven yards up field. The other refs corrected the error without having to look at it. You could see that the regular referees had control of the game on Sunday, made sure it moved at a brisk pace, knew what was going on and maintained order.
The replacement referees on good nights accomplished none of those. 
The players were happy to see them back, too. But not overjoyed.
"It's nice," said J.J. Watt in his post-game press conference. "(I told them) 'Welcome back." That's all I said: 'Welcome back.'"
The Texans were 0 for 2 on third and one at the start of the game, and almost 0 for 3 until the referees changed the spot on the ball on Keyshawn Martin's reception late in the first quarter. That play in particular was the difference for the Texans between three or no points, since it would have been fourth and one, and the seven points that resulted two plays later when Arian Foster bulled into the end zone for Houston's second TD of the game.
Good for him.
The Texans defense stood tall, particularly after the first half. Houston's defense did a good job of beating the Titans up, literally, in the first half. But they didn't have a ton to show for it until the second half, when Danieal Manning took an ill-advised Hasselbeck pass back for a touchdown.
It was one of several times that the Titans would shoot themselves in the foot in the second half. All three of their turnovers occurred in the second half: the Manning pick six in the third, and two more (a forced fumble and the clinching Kareem Jackson pick-six) in the fourth.
This contributes to the point above - the Titans have talent on the roster, and on offense. But a lot of the problems that occurred were self inflicted wounds that, today, put the game out of reach. A lot of credit goes to the Texans defense for making it so, but this is becoming habitual for the Titans to a point where it would have been more surprising if the Texans hadn't forced three turnovers and put the game out of reach with 14 non-offensive points. 
J.J. Watt is getting a lot of the publicity in the early going because he's been a one-man wrecking crew up front. He is the first player since Kevin Greene in 1998 to have 1.5 or more sacks per game through the first four games of the season. 
http://storify.com/JHornberg/texans-postgame-houston-routs-the-titans-at-homehttp://storify.com/JHornberg/texans-postgame-houston-routs-the-titans-at-homeSun, 30 Sep 2012 22:51:10 GMT
<![CDATA[TEXANS GAMETIME: Week 1 vs. Miami]]>

Storified by John Hornberg · Sun, Sep 09 2012 20:58:41

After winning their first division title as a franchise, Houston enters its 10th season in the league as the prohibitive favorite to win it again.
Heck, they're probably the safest bet in the league to win their division, with only one potential upstart - Tennessee - lurking  around. And even then, the Titans are a flawed team.
They open the 2012 campaign with Miami, a team with a rookie quarterback, Reggie Bush and not much else on offense, and a defense that can potentially stop the run and, well, not much else.
-- Expect the Texans to go up and over Miami's defense. When you have a potent passing game like Houston does, and as horrific a secondary as Miami has, you have to take advantage. Arian Foster is starting, but isn't exactly 100 percent for this one. He would be running into a decent front 7 for Miami, perhaps the only part of the Dolphins with a wealth of talent on a rebuilding franchise. But the Texans still have one of the best passers in the league in Matt Schaub (yeah, I said it), and a bevy of receivers that can all catch the ball and make plays. The Dolphins defense could be facing the bombing today.
-- The Dolphins have serious issues. They tried to claim seven or so players off of waivers after cuts last week. That really says something about the talent Miami had in camp, and has on the roster now. Houston entered the preseason with most of its key positions locked up, and only a few side positions - like kick returner - still to decide. There wasn't much to determine for Houston; they have a talented enough team without having to evaluate other team's refuse. 
-- Ryan Tannehill is in for it. Fans can start understanding if the Texas A&M quarterback - who threw who threw 15 interceptions last year with the Aggies - will have even less to work with to open this year. This season will be a test of his mettle as a quarterback, and whether he sticks as an NFL starter will be determined by how he handles the adversity of getting clobbered regularly this season. The beatings, unfortunately for Tannehill, will start in Week 1 with a brutal Houston defense that, while only average in the secondary, gets after the quarterback.
-- All you need to know: The thing that says the most about both of these teams? John Beck, the quarterback the Texans have inactive for today's game as the third stringer, was once a starter for the Dolphins.
Come back to this post throughout the game for more running commentary and updates about the Texans-Dolphins game from myself and anyone else sending thoughtful nuggets on Twitter. With apologies, a lot of thoughts are stream of consciousness and not exactly edited until later.
Despite this, Ryan Tannehill to Davone Bess is going to develop into something ... at least if Miami is going to amount to anything in the near future. Worth noting, it was a holding call.
Houston's depth this year is staggering. Probably one of the deepest teams in the league. 
Dolphins stalled out at midfield and had to punt the ball. Tannehill looked good throwing the ball, but one positive is cancelled out by a negative here. Still too early to deduce anything from this game.
The plague of the Texans opening drive has been the dropped passes. Foster dropped two and Martin dropped one. All were short gimme dump offs they can't afford to let clang off their hands. 
The Texans, though, had a helluva stop on third down to keep it at 3 points. Brian Cushing forced a fumble in the backfield on a Reggie Bush run. Miami fell on it seven yards back of the line of scrimmage. 
Play calling on the second drive was not smart. The whole building knew based on their formation a third straight run play was coming, and it was predictably stopped. Miami's front seven has been allowing some yards. Perhaps the running plays were in response to the four incompletions on the first drive, three of which were just flat out drops.
Who'd have thunk it?
This is part of the problem, and a little bit of it has been Trindon Holliday, who muffed the kickoff after the field goal and did the best he could by getting to the five (although he should have never brought it out of the endzone ...) Holliday is too limited in his skill set and the team has too many people who can take kickoffs without dropping them to keep the 5-foot-5 speedster around if he can't hold onto the ball. 
http://storify.com/JHornberg/texans-gametime-week-1-vs-miamihttp://storify.com/JHornberg/texans-gametime-week-1-vs-miamiSun, 09 Sep 2012 20:58:41 GMT
<![CDATA[Night at the Dome: Commentary on the Texans vs. 49ers]]>

The Houston Texans play their first (unofficial since it's preseason) home game against the San Francisco 49ers in what is allegedly a "Super Bowl Preview" matchup. Sports editor John Hornberg followed the game with updates and commentary throughout.

Storified by John Hornberg · Sun, Aug 19 2012 03:29:23

The Texans are sitting fewer key players than the 49ers. Delanie Walker, Perrish Cox, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith are all integral parts of the team, especially the defense (Walker is the only key offensive player out.) Still, the 49ers defense should give the Texans offensive line a run for its money in this one early on, and the offensive coaches should start getting a good idea of what they have on the right side.
Parys Haralson started in place of Brooks at outside linebacker, while Eric Bakhtari started at linebacker for Aldon Smith.
For the Texans, Derek Newton started for Rashad Butler on the right side of the O-line. On defense, Tim Jamison started for Watt, and Earl Mitchell started for Shaun Cody.
We have a Bob Gillis sighting!
49ers defense was porous, but I don't think it was just that. The Texans top offensive squad is among the league's best, and stopping them isn't always going to be a walk in the park. 
Anyone familiar with 49ers football will know this is typical of the offense. The first unit doesn't look that much better than it was last year.
To this point, the Texans offense (about 2:30 left in the 1st quarter): Schaub 5-5 passing, 43 yards, 102.5 rating; Arian Foster 4 carries, 8 yards rushing, 2 catches for 10 yards. Total for team: 51 yards on nine plays. Texans passing game looks good. Running game hasn't look good; line hasn't been able to get any kind of push to clear room for Foster to go.

This didn't look good. Jacobs was hopping off the field very gingerly. Gore went back into the game afterward.
Not looking good for the former N.Y. Giants running back.
Clearly, there are issues with the replacement referees.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/night-at-the-dome-updates-from-preseason-texans-vshttp://storify.com/JHornberg/night-at-the-dome-updates-from-preseason-texans-vsSun, 19 Aug 2012 03:29:23 GMT
<![CDATA[Those two teams are playing a huge game? Eh, so what.]]>

The bad sports fan column, or why I don't care about this year's Region IV-4A final between Lake Travis and Boerne Champion.

Storified by John Hornberg · Sat, May 26 2012 11:41:52

Friday, I had this to say on the Twitter:
Corpus Christi Moody was swept out of the playoffs by Lake Travis, and Boerne Champion did what Victoria West couldn't quite do to Calallen and beat them 4-3 in a one game playoff. It promises to be a good series, with the Chargers and the Cavaliers showing off how why they are in the regional final in the first place.

And I just couldn't care less.

This was a golden opportunity to matchup two perennial powerhouses in prep baseball in the state of Texas. Really, you don't get much bigger than Calallen and Moody, even though the schools are maybe 20 miles apart, if that. There would have been plenty to see: Wyatt Mathisen of Calallen is a can't miss prospect that could be taken in the MLB draft, and Moody is regularly one of the best teams in the state. 

In certain sports, when certain teams do something, fans and members of the media stand up and take notice. On the high school level in this state, think Houston Yates in boys basketball or, yes, Lake Travis in football. Calallen and Moody are those types of teams in baseball, and to see them matchup for a shot at a trip to Austin would have been ideal.

Instead, we are left with a matchup most of the state that doesn't get a rise out of anyone. Two teams lacking top college or MLB prospects or lacking starpower in the sport. And this is not unlike many professional sports.
In any given professional league, there are six to eight teams a fan follows: their team, two or three others they keep up with, another two or three teams they don't really like, and their team's main rival. That leaves 22 to 24 (or, in the NFL's case, 24 to 26) teams you just don't care about. They may not be bad teams, but the machinations that make them what they are don't matter at all. Ever.

Many people will spin a story about how they are watching because they love the sport, and they get a rise out of just watching the game in general. And more often than not, they are lying. This is why TV ratings for most matchups in the NBA, MLB and NHL finals don't draw what they should. Because, while a team in a small market make fans in those cities happy, the fan at large doesn't care.

With college sports, the team's followed may increase a little, but the number of schools a fan cares nothing about is exponentially higher. Do Texas fans really care about the fortunes of a Nevada or Washington State? Probably not unless those teams are on the Longhorns schedule.

This even tracks to prep sports. Most fans care about a school or two, dislike a few others, and damn the rest. Still, many take notice  the sports-team equivalent of the Death Star shows up on someone's doorstep, be them a prep team a college team or a pro team. And they really like it when that giant death machine meets its match.

And when that doesn't happen, fans find other things to watch and different things to do.

That's what happened Friday. Many, myself included, expected Calallen's and Moody's equal match to be each other, not two teams from far away that no one expected to make it this far. When that turned out to not be the case, it proved disappointing. Much like, say, a matchup between the Colorado Rockies and the Kansas City Royals would if they were to meet in the World Series. 

The Rockies and Royals in MLB are teams that get nothing out of me. Their day to day fortunes get nothing out of me, and the happenings of both teams can be met with with a quizzical stare, one suggesting I might not have been aware of their existence before that one casual mention. That I can name you more than seven players on either roster would be an achievement of sorts.

Lake Travis and Boerne Champion both deserve to be in the regional final of the Region IV-4A. They both conquered their respective Goliath this week in rather convincing fashion. But that doesn't make the outcome to this observer any less disappointing, especially when you consider that the alternative - a series that could have included bragging rights, top notch teams and players people could be seeing five or 10 years from now playing in the pros.

Instead, all I can say to the series is I just don't care. Sorry.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/those-two-teams-are-playing-a-huge-game-eh-so-whathttp://storify.com/JHornberg/those-two-teams-are-playing-a-huge-game-eh-so-whatSat, 26 May 2012 11:41:52 GMT
<![CDATA[Is Pudge a first ballot hall of famer?]]>

He certainly deserves it, but Canseco's accusations and a surly electorate could hurt his chances when it comes time to vote in 2017.

Storified by John Hornberg · Tue, Apr 24 2012 03:23:34

So, Ivan Rodriguez called it a career after 21 years in the league, going out in style at the Ballpark in Arlington on Monday:
And it seems rather appropriate that the "first pitch" was a throw from home to second - one Pudge made no less than 1,000 times in his career.

The final line of his career: Six different teams (Texas, Florida, New York Yankees, Houston, Washington and Detroit), 14 all-star selections, 13 gold gloves, seven silver sluggers, and the MVP award in 1999, a year in which he slugged 35 home runs and batted .332 (but also led the league in double plays grounded into and had an on-base percentage just a hair above his batting average.)

If you want to see his year-by-year statistics, go here.

But the question is, in five years are we going to be celebrating his career in Cooperstown. I have a feeling we won't, not that Rodriguez doesn't deserve it. And there's two reasons why:
1) Jose Canseco gave him the kiss of death in his book.

Let me throw in right now that Jose Canseco is not exactly the most reputable of sources. And yet, he has really yet to be wrong on his steroid accusations. The one thing that Pudge has going for him is that he's not in the Mitchell Report, the standard by which many of the hall of fame voters judge candidates by.

But that only scratches the surface of Pudge's voter-related hall-of-fame chances.
2) The BBWAA are a fickle and moody breed who like to moralize a lot and use unrealistic standards to judge players.

And they are the type of people who, even without real basis for doing so, will hold the accusations of people like Canseco over Pudge's head when it comes time to vote. Or, if those accusations have been disproven by that point, the fact that he didn't achieve any of the hitting milestones most expect from hitters against him.

The Baseball Writers Association of America is not known for its abilityto getit rightthe firsttime. (See: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk) Or thesecondtime. Or ever.

 Rodriguez has outstanding numbers for a catcher, but he doesn't have 500 home runs or 3,000 hits, the two key benchmarks for a person at the plate. And, it's worth noting, that gaudy numbers weren't enough to get Carlton Fisk or Gary Carter into the hall of fame on the first ballot.

The test case for this will come on the 2013 ballot, when Mike Piazza, a deserving player and a potential first-ballot hall of famer, gets in. If he makes it or gets really close, it could signal a shift from the standards that catchers were evaluated by the BBWAA.

The baseball writer's association operates under weird rules were potential candidates get punished for not shining bright enough, or -- as is likely the case for Barry Bonds next year -- being a total dick to the media on a regular basis.

Yes, I work in the same profession. That doesn't mean I don't believe that these people aren't wrong a lot when it comes to putting players in. Players/Executiveswho didn'tdeserve it in recent years have made it in. Playerswho do are not in yet.

There's no doubt, barring some kind of startling revelation about what he did or if he did anything during his 21 year career, Ivan Rodriguez should be a hall of famer come 2017. But the specter of steroids and a fickle voting body that has no basis for the subjective way its members judge candidates could derail a celebration five years from now.

And that's a shame.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/is-pudge-a-first-ballot-hall-of-famerhttp://storify.com/JHornberg/is-pudge-a-first-ballot-hall-of-famerTue, 24 Apr 2012 03:23:34 GMT
<![CDATA[Is it time to let the Astrodome go?]]>

It's sat for almost a decade, unoccupied. And as city leaders continue to hem and haw about it's future, it continues to deteriorate.

Storified by John Hornberg · Mon, Apr 23 2012 10:48:53

Ah, yes. The great debate: Do we turn the Astrodome into something, or do we implode it?

The estimated price tag of $78 million suggests one of two things to me: Someone is either being really too sentimental about the dome, or someone wants to shove several million dollars of taxpayer money into their jumper and flee to the nearest Caribbean country, never to return.

Like most stadiums its age, the Houston Astrodome - *ahem* Reliant Astrodome, apparently - has not aged gracefully. Like an old ship mothballed in a harbor, it looks like it's been ransacked and rusted out.
And it's not an uncommon fate for places of sentimental value to a community. Buffalo's Municipal Auditorium, home to the NHL's Buffalo Sabres from the 1930s to the mid-1990s, was shamefully allowed to decay for almost a decade before the city of Buffalo built up the nerve to part ways.

The universal opinion of everyone who toured the Astrodome when Reliant Park's handlers opened the doors and showed people around was almost universal: Depressing.

But to many, it still carries with it a significance as being more than a baseball or football stadium. It had the lofty name of being the "Eighth Wonder of the World." It was the first domed stadium, and holds a special place in so many people's hearts as the first place they went to see a baseball game. It carries significance in a sentimental sense and in its revolutionary design for the time.

It carries such significance that it was nominated and made the list of Places that Matter by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Harris County really wants to save it, something they have been trying to do for the better part of a decade now:
... From 2012 ...
... And 2010 ... Or the proposal from 2008, about turning it into a movie studio, or the on again, off again plans from 2003 to 2009 about turning it into a "five-star" hotel ...
... or back to 2002, when the Dome still hosted activities and had a potential future as an Olympic venue.

Here's a better idea: Blow it up.

It's too close to Reliant Stadium? So was Cinergy Field. It's a rigid dome that will cost a lot to bring down? It didn't for the Kingdome years ago.

The most resonant argument: But it's a place of historical significance?

Yeah, that's true. But so was Texas Stadium. And Yankee Stadium. And Old Comiskey Park (Which fans in this video were none too happy about, though). And the Boston Garden.

But at the end of the day, years of political stammering and lip service have doomed it. Is a building that has fallen into such a state of disrepair worth saving? Some venues get to a point where they have been allowed to decay to a point where it would cost too much to save. And it would seem that the Astrodome - largely neglected for the last decade - has reached that point, or is close to it.

The fact of the matter is, what was a modern marvel decades ago is now an eye sore. No one has come up with a viable plan for it yet, and with each passing day, the old Astrodome rots further. It had its occupancy permit stripped in 2008 for being unsafe, and has only gone down hill since then.

Yes, the Astrodome represents a time when Houston looked to the stars and saw its future. But in a way, it's a relic of that time. The city has realized its future as one of America's major metropolises, and is the center of the energy industry.

But so many I read about react to the Astrodome like a family member on life support. They can't let it go, and no scheme to save them is to cockamamie, no amount too little.

And yet, it isn't really a family member, is it? It's a building. An old building that hasn't served a function or purpose for a decade. One with ripped up turf, dusty seats, and would require more than a fresh coat of paint to bring back to standard.

Perhaps it is time to let the old dome go.

http://storify.com/JHornberg/is-it-time-to-let-the-astrodome-gohttp://storify.com/JHornberg/is-it-time-to-let-the-astrodome-goMon, 23 Apr 2012 10:48:53 GMT
<![CDATA[Recap: The Astros triple threat, and the kids]]>

Breakdown of Thursday's 11-4 win over Washington.

Storified by John Hornberg · Fri, Apr 20 2012 10:57:58

Houston snapped a four game losing steak by jumping on Washington early, then cruising to an 11-4 victory Thursday night. They are home again Friday against the LA Dodgers, a team that had a generally unhappy and unfulfilled time in Milwaukee this week.
For once, the bats weren't the problem. In fact, Houston made team history on Thursday night by banging three straight triples - Jose Altuve, Brian Bogusevic and Matt Downs - in the first inning.

It's the first time since it happened in 1997, when Mike Hampton, Craig Biggio and Chuck Carr did it.

Houston's bats have been on and off this season, sometimes showing up and sometimes not. But it was clear tonight Edwin Jackson - coming off one of his signature appearances of his career to open his season - was not going to get it easy from the Astros. Jordan Schafer was out to open the game. The next six hitters all reached safely, including the aforementioned three triples.

This was surprising in part because the Astros hadn't done it this season. Aside from the eight posted against Atlanta in the first Monday of the year, this team been regularly posting 3 or 4 runs. Not bad at all, but certainly not the crooked numbers they dropped on the Nationals.

What was good to see from a fan's standpoint was that the quiet bats in this young season came to life a little against a couple of good pitchers:
Bogusevic continues to be maddening at the plate. He has tantalizing talent as a hitter - his home run in the first game of the year demonstrated that, as did his 3 for 5 evening with two RBIs on Thursday. But many of the nights this season, he's been swinging away, and missing ... a lot.

He's doing a lot of things right. The former pitcher sure knows how to get in the way of opponents pitches, having been hit twice already this season. He also has five walks.

He's still hitting just .184 this year, up from .121 entering the game. His on-base percentage is now over 3 with Thursday's performance.

Bogusevic is going to need some time. Things have a way of evening out during the season; right now, sans Thursday's game, things aren't finding holes for the right fielder. Later on, if he keeps finding ways to get a hold of pitches and walking, things will balance out.

The key question is: Will he be better than your bargain basement, replacement level player at his position?
It's been a rough week, but this is an important thing to keep in mind in the early going. Houston is keeping opponents close, and scoring runs. Not a ton of runs, but they are scoring. It's more than can be said for any point last year.

Several young players that were expected to do well (Schafer, Martinez) have done very well; some (Marwin Gonzalez) have surprised in their roles; while others have - Altuve, Castro, Johnson - have been a disappointment in one respect or another Seriously, the Altuve can hit, but it's like he found a way to get worse at second base in the off season. ... Castro falls into the "needs more time/seasoning/salt" category.

It would be nice to see Chris Johnson take a walk once in a while. No walks so far this season ... Yeesh.

Plus, the veterans are showing up. Matt Downs is a valuable cog off the bench that landed in Houston because the Giants are run by people who still use examine leaves and twigs as a means of predicting the future for a ballplayer. Carlos Lee is playing like he wants another contract, and Travis Buck seems to have found a nice niche as a bench player and pinch hitter.

Second, it also means the pitching is doing its job and more or less keeping runs off the board. Kyle Weiland notwithstanding, the rotation has been in the top 10 in the league so far this season. The bullpen ... too early to tell, but there are some encouraging signs. Brett Myers seems to do well at closing for Houston and the support staff, aside from a few moments, hasn't done anything so blasphemous as to earn them a demotion to the minors.

Houston is still 5-8. It's good for only so much. But remember: This team wasn't supposed to have five wins until mid May, the way everyone predicted it.

So, small victories.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/recap-the-astros-triple-threat-and-the-kidshttp://storify.com/JHornberg/recap-the-astros-triple-threat-and-the-kidsFri, 20 Apr 2012 10:57:58 GMT
<![CDATA[Rewind: Recapping Texas' win over Boston on Tuesday]]>

Breaking down the Rangers 8-3 trucking of the Red Sox in Boston, and more.

Storified by John Hornberg · Wed, Apr 18 2012 10:36:07

So, Texas spent the better part of Tuesday night humiliating the Red Sox at Fenway, 18-3. They belted six home runs in the process, including three in the eight inning off of a familiar face to Astros fans:
Yeah, that about sums up the Rangers win over the Red Sox on Tuesday, something that was much less baseball game and more ax murder.

And yet, this is exhibit A as to why fans of the Astros should be glad: They sent Melancon, a good but not great reliever who picked up a 20  saves last year while not being nearly as automatic as one might want from a closer.while not being nearly as automatic as one might want from a closer, to the Red Sox for Jed Lowrie, a switch-hitting shortstop who is an offensive upgrade on Clint Barmes with a comparable glove, and Kyle Weiland, their fifth starter.

On paper, it was a good trade. Through the lens of the first two weeks of the season, in which none of the three players involved have been great but the two the Astros got have been adequate, it looks like a steal for Houston.

Melancon's ERA entering Tuesday's game? 22.50 in three appearances with a WHIP of 3. After? Over 49, and his WHIP doubled to 6. Melancon has made four appearances this year, and he's given up a run in all four.

And THAT player could have been the Astros closer this year. Yikes!
But this kind of gets to what Bobby Valentine said the other day. The new manager in Boston touched rang the dinner bell for the voracious Boston media when he was critical of Youkilis the other day, and for a while it seemed the former long-time Rangers manager and ESPN blowhard was off base. Now ... not so much.

It's clear Youkilis isn't giving it his all. Is it so wrong for a manager - who entered a clubhouse that was nailed to the wall for quitting at the end of last season, mind you - to lay into his charges when he thinks they are dogging it?

Maybe saying it to the media was the problem? After all, that was Curt Schilling's problem with the whole matter.

But how does it take away from the play on the field. Manager sees something, says something about it to the media. Maybe Valentine thought the only was he was going to get through to Youkilis was to do something out in the open.

It seems, much like last year, there is something wrong with the Red Sox clubhouse, and it's derailing their season in April instead of September.
But, I'm getting off base. The Rangers spent the whole game picking on Jon Lester and the band of mediocre relievers that followed him on Tuesday. It goes without saying: Texas has the best band of professional hitters in MLB, and that's by a wide margin. No one is comparing to their ability to harass even the best pitchers right now.

Jon Lester is not a slouch of a pitcher. Fried chicken, beer and a month of crappy outings from last year notwithstanding. He's been one of the better pitchers in the AL since 2008, and that hadn't changed through two outings this season.

The Rangers made him work for everything, and most pitchers aren't going to be up to that task. Lester certainly wasn't tonight, and neither was the Red Sox bullpen.

Which leaves me to ask, which team really is?

One last side note ...
Happy for Jamie! Nice win tonight!!! Go Rockies http://pic.twitter.com/SQrMIfOT · Car Go
Jamie Moyer finally picked up a win this season. At 49 years old. He is now the oldest player to win a game in MLB history.

To add some context to this: I was 14 months old when Jamie Moyer pitched his first game for the Cubs on June 16, 1986. The Chernobyl disaster happened two months before. People still took Geraldo Rivera seriously.

Dude is old. But he gives a good lesson to a lot of high school and college age pitchers: Stuff fades, but intelligence does not.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/rewind-recapping-texas-win-over-boston-on-tuesdayhttp://storify.com/JHornberg/rewind-recapping-texas-win-over-boston-on-tuesdayWed, 18 Apr 2012 10:36:07 GMT
<![CDATA[Astros Game Rewind, April 16 vs. Washington]]>

Recap of Monday's 6-3 Astros loss to the Nationals.

Storified by John Hornberg · Tue, Apr 17 2012 09:24:16

Houston at the plate has been lukewarm this season. Entering this at-bat by Chris Johnson, Houston was 0 for its last 13 with the bases loaded, including Carlos Lee flying out and Travis Buck striking out preceding the hit. But of course there was another thing standing in their way on Monday ...
Yes, Stephen Strasburg. The first round pick. The greatest thing to hit Washington since George Washington. The greatest mechanical train wreck to take the mound in decades, if ESPN is to be believed. Regardless of what you think is going to happen to his elbow or shoulder as his career progresses, he's still damn good for this point in his career and especially considering he's coming off of Tommy John surgery, and that's all that matters to the 2012 Astros.

That doesn't mean he wasn't hittable. The Astros did get six hits, most of them coming in the previously mentioned sixth inning rally, and it's worth noting that Chris Johnson had a 3 for 4.

Strasburg gave the Nationals six strong innings before giving away to the 2/3s-of-an-inning brigade.
Kyle Weiland gave the Astros five good innings. Too bad Brad Mills had him pitch 5 2/3s.

The good thing about houston so far is that they have a good crew in the starting rotation. Norris, Rodriguez, Happ and Harrell have looked pretty good this year ... but Weiland might need a trip to Oklahoma City to work a few things out. Unfortunately, Houston isn't in a position to be getting less than six from its pitchers.

Granted, when the bullpen comes in this year, it isn't necessarily adventure time, like last year. But that doesn't mean the team should be pushing its luck with much of the same crew out there again this year.
http://storify.com/JHornberg/astros-game-rewind-april-16-vs-washingtonhttp://storify.com/JHornberg/astros-game-rewind-april-16-vs-washingtonTue, 17 Apr 2012 09:24:16 GMT
<![CDATA[New Story]]>

Storified by John Hornberg · Sun, Apr 08 2012 22:26:49

Altuve looked absolutely awful in the opener, enough to earn him a spot on the bench for replacement player letter B (otherwise known as Brad Bixler). Technically, he only had one error. But he looked awkward in the field and uncomfortable at the plate. A few more weeks like that will almost certainly earn him a ticket back to Oklahoma City or Corpus Christi.
Lee's performance this weekend was a throwback to his pre-Astros days, when he didn't mill about the field like a lost duckling and he swung with purpose at the plate. It's a reeeeeeeeeally small sample size, but he's 3 for 12 so far this year with a towering home run. He looked like he still belongs in the majors, and is at least attempting to get himself another $10 million-plus contract.
The youngster is rewarding everyone's confidence so far. He had another good day Sunday, going 1 for 4 today (but it's a push because he also struck out twice and looked foolish at times against Juan Nicasio.)
This one goes for the whole weekend. The Astros starting pitching looked brilliant this weekend against a pretty strong hitting Rockies team. Lucas Harrell, Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez all looked good in their starts, going 6+ innings each and turning it over to the bullpen, which more or less held.

The bullpen has looked a little suspect again this year, but there seems to be enough good arms down there to find a nice rotation. Optimistically, it's rust. But I have a feeling Wesley Wright and Brandon Lyon just aren't what they were expected to be
The team played well this weekend at home. It isn't going to the World Series, but at least we've moved past watching Jason Michaels try night in night out. See, progress!
http://storify.com/JHornberg/new-storyhttp://storify.com/JHornberg/new-storySun, 08 Apr 2012 22:26:49 GMT