Friday, March 27, 2009


If Bourn Stays Hot, Astros could breeze into the playoffs. [Richard Justice,]...

Moneyshot quote:
Offensively, Michael Bourn could be the key to everything the Astros hope to accomplish. If he's the player Ed Wade thought he'd be when he made the Brad Lidge trade, he transforms the lineup.

His has the kind of speed that can win games, fluster pitchers and put Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee into position to drive in a ton of runs. He would transform the Astros from an artistic standpoint as well.

Last season's original blueprint began with speed (Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui) at the top of the order. They bring a dimension of speed few other teams have.

Speed is out. Speed doesn't compute. But if you've got speed, if you can make running worthwhile, you've got a valuable weapon.

Last season's plan fell apart when Bourn didn't hit. He finished the season with a .229 batting average and 111 strikeouts. He started this spring very badly, with his averaging sinking to .167 a few days ago.

Maybe, just maybe, he's getting hot at the right time. He has been on base seven times in 12 plate appearances his last three games and raised his batting average from .167 to .219.

(emphasis mine)
12 at bats over three games, and Bourne's batting average is .010 less than it ended up last year, and this is how Justice defines hot? Nevermind that Bourne is just above the Mendoza Line as an Astro, or that he seems to be struggling to understand the geometry of Center Field defense. Nope, none of that matters.

In order to understand this you have to understand how the ego of Richard Justice effects his sportswriting. Richard's been around a long time, and he does have a decent institutional memory of Major League Baseball. He's got a list of funny quips and stories a mile long. Richard also likes to be treated as if he's important, and he likes a certain style of player. Players learn quickly that catering to Justice's twin ideals of upstanding citizenry and catering to his ego (his "I am the media" explosion is still mocked) lest you fall out of favor, is a good way to gain a friend in the media. (being a UT grad doesn't hurt either)

What gets lost in all of this however is that Justice, while a good scribe, lacks the serious analytical ability to really offer any meaningful insight into the prospects of a team.

The point of all this background is to point out that the Astros, even IF Micheal Bourn stays hot, are probably not deep enough in starting pitching or on the bench to seriously compete this year for the playoffs. On top of that, after one and a half equivilent seasons Bourn's batting average is .237 and his OPS is a miniscule .612, expecting a turnaround of epic proportions is probably putting too much pressure on a man who's got good speed, but serious issues with the other four tools required to play baseball.

Blind optimism I can understand from the fans, but from journalists whose job it is to provide insight and analysis?

Houston should expect a little better than that.

Friday Sports Humor


Your Smile of the week....

Here at 3CB we have discovered the "before" shots.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Local Sports Shorts (03/26/09)

"What in the Hell is going on out there?"

Cop stopped Texans player as he rushed to be with dying Mother-in-law [Jeff McShan, KHOU news] - The perils of Driving While Black in Texas. Even after others repeatedly asked the Dallas PD officer to let him go he refused. Shameful.

Tejada gets 1 year probation. [KRIV Sports] - And he's got to correct his birth certificate, and quit getting botox to make himself look younger.

Sam Houston State wants Blake Joseph. [Mark Berman, KRIV] - He'd be a good fit for them. SHSU has a good track record w/QB's from D-1 schools who transfer in.

UH receiver Patrick Edwards to partake in non-contact drills this Spring. [College Football Talk] - I saw a story on this on TV last night, but it's not on any website. Brutal injury, good story, great young man.

Casey, Dillard, to get good look by Pro Scouts. [Meagan Manfull,] - Casey has 'h-back' written all over him, and Dillard has the potential *P-word* written all over him to be a great possession receiver.

Dynamo close to signing veteran Akinbiyi. [Bernardo Fallas,] - *YAWN*...A journeyman with some scoring ability, but little creativity, who's probably 5 years past his prime....sounds like someone a Major League Baseball team would bring into AAA to mentor the young guys doesn't it? Not that MLS is Minor League mind you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NCAA Tourney: The Chalk

Looking at The Bracket running a chalk (where all of the favorites advance) bracket this year could be a winning formula.

One streak alive: Arizona (12 seed) advancing to the Sweet 16, which marks the 23rd consecutive time at least on team seeded lower than 10th made it to the "third round". The only other 'underdog' to advance is Purdue (5th seed) who won their second round game over 4th seeded Washington.

This weekend was tough for me. Michigan (10 seed) lost badly to OU and OSU (9 seed) gave my eventual pick for the Champion pick all they could handle. This game was made worse by the fact that my late Grandfather was an OSU grad. Because of this I have a rooting interest in the Cowboys. In the end, their loss to Pitt was bitter-sweet.

Still, the chalk was (mostly) how I went on this bracket, I picked some upsets in the first round but few in the second. I admit that I didn't have Arizona getting out of the first round. Ah well. My final four is still intact, as are seven of my elite 8 teams. Life is good in bracketland.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What are the chances this tests clean?

The French go after Armstrong's hair...

[AP via]
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong submitted a hair sample for a surprise doping test in France.

The French anti-doping agency Wednesday published hair test results suggesting widespread use among French athletes of DHEA, a banned substance that can be used to boost testosterone levels.

Armstrong was approached for a hair sample Tuesday in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where he is training, AFLD chief Pierre Bordry said. This was the first time the AFLD has tested Armstrong since he came back to cycling.

“He needs to know that he is like everyone else,” Bordry said. “To have done this test yesterday was a good way to make him realize that he is like everyone else.”

Anti-doping authorities have not traditionally examined hair samples, instead focusing on urine and blood tests. Hair tests are allowed under French law but not under regulations of cycling’s governing body UCI.

“Yet another ‘surprise’ anti-doping control. 24th one. This one from the French. Urine, blood, and hair!” Armstrong wrote on his Twitter feed Tuesday.

“So I’m clear — never complaining about these tests,” he added. “Anything to prove I’m clean.”

Doping accusations, especially from the AFLD, have dogged Armstrong since the beginning of his run to a record seven straight Tour de France victories. He has never tested positive. He plans to compete in this year’s Tour after a three-year hiatus from cycling.
There's also been questionable results and phantom "B" samples that wouldn't hold up in any court, no matter how flimsy the standard of evidence.

Many French, Including the Mensa's at L'Equipe have never accepted the FACT that the greatest cyclist of all time is an American. Because of this they are willing to do anything to prove he is tainted.

The question they are ignoring however is this: Even IF Lance Armstrong, at one time, did EPO or some other substance, how illegitimate are his wins if everyone he was competing against was using the same stuff?

Of course, until something is proven that's not even an issue.

By "proven" I mean tested in an independent lab using strict, accepted, chain of custody and anti-tampering safeguards. Sorry, but a French agency with an agenda doesn't qualify. We already saw how much they're willing to break the rules in the Floyd Landis case.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cougar Basketball Takes Another Step Backward

UH to Play Oregon St. in College Basketball Invitational. [Michael Murphy,]
The Houston Cougars found out their postseason fate Sunday night, accepting an invitation to play in the 2009 College Basketball Invitational.

The Cougars (21-11) will play at Oregon State (13-17) at 9 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round game of the West Regional.

“They’ve had some great wins this year,” UH coach Tom Penders said. “It’s a very interesting matchup for us.”

It is the second consecutive CBI bid for the Cougars.

Ah the College Basketball Invitational. A tournament with so much prestige that they don't have a website, and they feel the need to select 13-17 OREGON STATE.

Oh sure, they didn't pick 13-17 OREGON STATE because their head coach is Obama's Brother-in-law. No way. I'm sure it was their quality win over Seattle Pacific (a program so tiny even doesn't have a link for them) that got them there.

This is a team that finished 7-11 in Pac-10 play this year. A year where the Pac-10 was decidedly down.

Yup, nothing odd about them seeing the post-season.

Oh, and they got the HOME game.