Football season is beginning.
The Hall of Fame Game is on Sunday, high school practices open Monday and the Astros could be forgotten by Tuesday.
That’s always been the plight of baseball teams in the Houston area. The only way to steal attention in football season is to go to the playoffs. That hasn’t happened for the Astros since 2005 and the Texans have set up shop amid the fertile wilderness of these summer and autumn months.
The Astros haven’t really been interesting all season, sitting well below .500 for most of the season, perched below the rest of their new division-mates in the American League West. Only the most loyal fans can follow the team through the minor leagues, getting excited for another George Springer home run, for a red-hot Max Stassi at Double-A or the debuts of Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Villar.
Attendance is again lagging at Minute Maid Park, though at least the Astros appear to be improving on last year. All bets are off once schools starts and football takes over, though. It could be a lean couple of months at Minute Maid Park.
The trade deadline provided a brief respite, putting the Astros into the national spotlight for something other than ridicule. Houston dealt starting pitcher Bud Norris to the Orioles for a solid, if unspectacular, outfielder, a lottery ticket of a minor league pitcher and another draft pick next year. They dealt center fielder Justin Maxwell to Kansas City for another lotto ticket.
Both moves drew generally favorable reviews from the national media. Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated (among other places) went so far as to tell CSN Houston this week that he sees Houston’s farm system setting them up to win “multiple World Series from 2016 to the end of the decade.”
That’s a lot to swallow, especially as the team trudges into another 100-loss season.
With Mark Appel safely in the fold as this year’s No. 1 overall pick and the trade deadline safely behind them, what’s left? Where is the excitement? Drayton would have never let his team lack the sizzle that this one does right now.
Sure, you can go watch Villar steal home, which was every bit as exciting as it sounds. The speedy 22-year old scored on the play even before the ball reached home plate. It was a great jump and even more impressive speed.
But, Villar, Jose Altuve and the rest of the Astros can only do so much to counteract the effect of football. Who wants to care about a 100-loss baseball team when the Texans have Super Bowl aspirations? Who wants to watch a Friday night start by Dallas Keuchel when Nederland and PN-G are set to tangle on the gridiron?
Every year, the Astros fight this battle, but it may be getting worse. As the Astros free fall into last place yet again, the Texans are a powerhouse. The Astros may own the summer, but the Texans own the last half of the year.
Maybe that’s a good thing. General manager Jeff Luhnow has a very solid plan to rebuild this club. It involves locking up core pieces like Jose Altuve to realistic deal. It involves slowly bringing along promising rookies and not promoting them just to put fans in the seats, but when the players are ready to put their talent on display.
It’s a plan that takes a lot of patience and will lead to some dreadful results in the short term. The Astros didn’t want to lose this many games yet again. They probably could have avoided another 100-loss season with a little luck. Instead, they were dealt no luck at all, as pitcher after pitcher went down with injuries.
Maybe it’s good, then, that people will be forgetting about the Astros now. They can finish out another lackluster season in silence, with the occasional burst from Springer’s callup or other rookies performing well. But, Luhnow’s plan was never about this September, it was about Octobers in 2016, 2018 and beyond.
If Joe Sheehan is right about the future of this club, I’m sure the Astros won’t mind being knocked into football obscurity for the time being.
When the time is right, no one will be able to look away.
David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at email@example.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.
Football season is beginning.
Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
Mid County knocked out of tournament
The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.
- West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son
Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County
The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.
MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0
First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.
Up the odds for solid bank fishing
There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.
Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl
Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.
- West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar
Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional
The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.
- West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney
- More Sports Headlines
- Bassmaster Elites are coming back