- By Kirk Bohls American-Statesman Staff
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. The Houston Astros blew it. Big-time. They have won at a record clip this season, but they clearly lost at Monday’s trade deadline when they could do no better than acquire veteran arm Francisco Liriano. While the New York Yankees went out and obtained ace Sonny Gray without giving up either of their top two prospects and the Los Angeles Dodgers swung big and landed Yu Darvish, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow could reel in only a small fish because he refused to part with highly rated minor-league outfielders Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher. At best, Liriano is just left-handed help for a vulnerable bullpen, which could really diminish the Astros’ chances of winning their first World Series. Dallas Keuchel is hardly back to form, and No. 2 Lance McCullers was in a huge rut before being placed on the disabled list because of back discomfort. Very disappointing when you consider Houston has the best offense in the majors and may have squandered a great chance to reach the World Series.
2. Applause for the Rangers for admitting what they were — an average team 5 1/2 games back in the AL wild-card race — and looking to the future. Good move to deal fading catcher Jonathan Lucroy along with four-time All-Star Yu Darvish, who has been anything but ace-like lately, for three prospects, all ranked in the Dodgers’ top 30, including second baseman Willie Calhoun, who will be groomed as an outfielder. Wish they had moved Adrian Beltre as well. It also doesn’t look as though Texas will re-sign Darvish, who will be a free agent, in the offseason.
3. Tom Herman made the Longhorn players lounge off limits because, well, it was messy. I love it because this is how he is fighting entitlement. He’s had $8,700 lockers installed in the Texas dressing room, which smells of entitlement for a program that’s produced three straight seven-loss seasons, but this is how Herman combats it. “If we give you nice things, you need to treat those things well,” Herman said. Yeah, it may be a small punishment, but it sends the right message. In fact, P.J. Locke’s missing water bottle (for which he was punished in the middle of the night with up-downs in the stadium and cleanup duty in the weight room) and his subsequent Formula 409 bottle are this year’s versions of Charlie Strong’s ping pong table. … Did you see that Clemson hired a sleep coach? I guess a mini-golf course inside the football facility wasn’t enough. While Dabo Swinney hired a sleep specialist to improve the Tigers’ slumber, Texas players wear fatigue monitors that tell them when they will run out of energy. And Texas considered putting in a firemen’s pole if the players lounge ended up below the dressing room.
4. Hooray for the Chicago Cubs. They finally did right by Steve Bartman, the most famous (infamous, some Cubs fans would say) baseball fan since the Yankees’ Jeffrey Maier. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts gave the beleaguered Bartman his own official World Series championship ring. Bartman, you’ll remember, had his life turned upside down when in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Marlins, he deflected a foul ball that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou had no reasonable chance of catching. Never mind that several other fans reached for the ball as well, and even had Alou caught the ball, it would have been only the second out of the eighth inning of a game the Cubs eventually lost 8-3 after they gave up eight runs in that inning. Bartman’s been in virtual hiding ever since because of some shameful behavior by those looking for a scapegoat, including idiots who posted his home address, identified his workplace and threatened him. One Chicago columnist said Bartman should wear the ring on his middle finger.
5. Jerry Jones deservedly gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week, completing a journey he himself traces back to the days when his mom first put a bow-tie on him at the age of 9 and had him greeting customers at the front of the family store in North Little Rock, Ark. “Learned to be positive, the customer was first,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill. There, Jones sold ice cream, Christmas trees and watermelons — all on commission. There’s been no better businessman in NFL history than Jerry, but I wonder if his Hall of Fame bio will include that Jones was a horrible general manager.
6. Former Longhorns outfielder Travis Jones is tearing it up in the Kansas City Royals organization and already has been promoted twice in two months. He started in the Arizona League where he hit .485 in nine games. He was promoted to Burlington and hit .391 in seven rookie-ball games before moving up to Idaho Falls in the top rookie league, where he hit .375 in 11 games. Jones was drafted as a utility player and so far has played right and left field as well as first base and third base. His former teammate, first baseman Kacy Clemens, is hitting .265 with three homers and 26 RBI in 34 games with the rookie-level Vancouver Canadians. Second baseman Bret Boswell has six homers for the Boise Hawks, and pitcher Morgan Cooper is expected to throw his first bullpen session this week. Also, pitcher John Curtiss is on fire in Triple-A, posting five saves and a 2.57 ERA, and could get a September call-up to the Twins.
7. How does Billy Beane keep his job as the Oakland A’s executive veep? I loved the “Moneyball” movie and all, but jeepers, his A’s are never any good. “This is my 20th year on the job,” he said in mid-July. “There’s only so many (rebuilding) cycles that I can go through before I get as exasperated as everybody else.”
8. Resurrecting the scattershooting portion of the program to pay homage to the inimitable, late Blackie Sherrod, and counting on reader feedback for enlightenment. Duckshooting doesn’t sound right. Perhaps Meandering while wondering whatever happened to Marty Cherry.
9. Saw “The Big Sick” on Sunday night. It’s the best movie I’ve seen all year. Terrific comedy/drama — a dramedy perhaps? — with excellent supporting performances by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Great writing, too. You’ll hate yourself for laughing at Kumail’s 911 line in the cafeteria. Gave it nine ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: The Columbus Crew MLS franchise will seriously consider relocating toAustin before deciding against it.