Will Astros Games Soon Be Viewable On Your IPad? Maybe

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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MLB's Advanced Media is a great option for watching games, unless it's your home team
The Associated Press reported last week that Major League Baseball may be close to ending parts of its idiotic blackout policy that prevents people living in a team's home market from seeing that team's games. Calling it an incremental step, the head of MLB's online business, Bob Bowman, stated that people would be able to stream the home team's games on mobile devices or through online services such as MLB.TV.

There's just one slight catch, however. For fans to watch the games of hometown teams on their iPads or through MLB.TV, they will have to prove that they have a subscription for a cable or satellite operator that carries that particular team's regional sports network. And if you're thinking, hey this does me no good because I have DirecTV and DirecTV doesn't carry CSN Houston, well, you're right, it doesn't do you any good. And if you live in Las Vegas and wonder why you have to subscribe to the costliest DirecTV bundle option just so you can watch the Padres, well, you're still equally screwed.

"Everyone's trying to solve it," Bowman told the AP. "If our hands were 4 feet apart three or four years ago, they are now 6 inches apart. We're moving in the right way. We continue to talk. The dialogue is professional."

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Here's a Few Suggestions to Fix MLB, Not that the New Commissioner Asked

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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There's about to be a new guy running Major League Baseball.
Rob Manfred was appointed the new MLB commissioner last week. And even as the news was announced, the speculation began as to what Manfred could do to improve the sport, seeing as how he's not old and ancient like Bud Selig, the man he's replacing. Not that he's asked me, but I have a few suggestions, so...

INCREASE THE SPEED OF PLAY

Baseball's always been a leisurely game, but crap, no 1-0 nine-inning game should ever take over three hours to play. There's been talk about cutting down on coaching visits to the mound, on the number of pitchers who can pitch in an inning, and other such stupid nonsense. But here's a simple suggestion: Enforce the damn rule book.

Rule 8:04 is simple and to the point: If the bases are empty, a pitcher has 20 seconds to throw the pitch. If he doesn't, the umpire is instructed to call a ball.  And rule 6.02 instructs the batter to remain in the batter's box, and that if he refuses to step back into the box upon an umpire's request, then a strike should be called.

If we really want to improve game speed, let's enforce the rules before implementing others.

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Miss Texas and Mo'ne Davis Establish the Two Ends of the "Throws Like a Girl" Scale

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Screen shot from MLB's YouTube video
Throw like a girl?
For decades now, right or wrong, the phrase "throws like a girl" has been part of the American lexicon.

I am not here to say that it's okay to use that phrase (lest I somehow alienate all of my female readers and listeners out there -- I love you all), but I'm not here to say that the phrase should be completely forbidden (lest I somehow come across as less of a manly man's man to all of my male readers and listeners -- I actually don't love all of you, some of you are real jackasses).

Have I said someone who's not actually a girl "throws like a girl" before? Yes, yes I have. Do I feel badly about it? Well, as the father of a quite athletic 16 year old daughter, I kind of do.

(I also kind of don't. See me catering to every demographic? God, I'm good.)

Here's the thing, though -- I don't need that phrase. There are a number of other ways to poke fun at the lack of athleticism in most of the male species, ways that don't impugn the entire female race for throwing a ball like a broken windmill. If the phrase "throws like a girl" went away altogether, I'd be fine with that.

And for the last couple weeks, Mo'ne Davis has been performing great works to eradicate the American male parlance of that term.

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Let's Debate the Argument that the Astros Have Killed Baseball in Houston

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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Have the Astros killed baseball in Houston?
Former Astros beat writer Steve Campbell let loose with a series of tweets on Friday morning regarding the Astros that should be shared with a larger audience, and which should be addressed off-Twitter. The basic point of the tweets was that the Astros are killing baseball in Houston, noting that the most positive PR moment for the team over the past half decade has been the new uniforms, and that depending on a winning franchise to restore fan interest makes for a lousy business model.

The Astros have been nothing but a bad team making bad PR moves, compounded with the CSN Houston debacle, that has made the team "irrelevant to people's lives." Campbell further compares the Astros to the newspaper industry, stating that "it is hard to turn the tide once you've turned off people because you put out a deteriorating product AND went into cost-contain (READ: do things on the cheap mode). It makes people angry, and rightfully so."

It's not a given he tweets that the Astros will actually become a winning team, and that if "the underlying premise is that you're going to have to be a championship team for people to care, that's a pretty lousy model." If Houston were still a baseball city, he concludes, people would care no matter what, but it appears that there's just no fan interest.

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Are the Astros Planning Front-Office Changes?

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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Is somebody getting fired?
Is the job of Astros GM Jeff Luhnow in danger? Probably not. The Astros are on a current pace that will have them lose less than a 100 games this, so that's progress. The team probably won't get the first pick in the amateur draft this season -- thank you for reaching new levels of suckiness Rockies and Rangers -- so more progress.

But Fox Sports' well-connected and well-respected MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal, stated that Luhnow's job status is something to watch as the season comes to an end. And while Rosenthal doubts that Luhnow need worry, if something happens, it should not be a shock.

Rosenthal's premise is simple: The Astros are a bad team; the front office bungled the Brady Aiken situation; Jim Crane wants to win; and Crane's new, key advisor is Nolan Ryan, who comes from a bit of a different baseball background and mindset than Luhnow. Throw in the fact that Ryan's son Reid is the team president, and voila, a new general manager seems to be almost inevitable.

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CSN Houston Has a New Owner...Maybe

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And the new partial owner of CSN Houston is...
So it comes to pass that DirecTV and AT&T U-verse were the mystery parties attempting to purchase CSN Houston out of bankruptcy. It was revealed in court papers filed late on Wednesday night that, should the court accept the network's bankruptcy reorganization plan, DirecTV and U-verse will together own 100 percent of the failed network. Both companies will also add the network to their distribution lineup.

The Astros and Rockets will both sign new media rights deals with the new entity, and both will forget about collecting the amount they are due under the media rights deal with CSN Houston. Comcast will have neither an ownership nor a management stake in the network, but it does appear that Comcast will continue to carry the network on its system.

But all of the above is still a big if. Now that the joint DirecTV/U-verse bid has been made public, other parties can attempt to make bids on the network, including Comcast. And there are still a lot of unknowns. So while we're waiting for the final outcome, here are a few items to watch:

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MLB Trade Deadline: Fake Trades Overshadow Real Trades

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Big doings at the MLB trade deadline.
If you live in Houston, there's a decent chance you didn't notice that the MLB trade deadline yesterday was pretty damn awesome.

With 12 trades involving a total of 37 players, with the defending World Champions among the key sellers, with the Oakland A's looking to corner the market on starting pitching and wrap up the American League in late July, Thursday was a reminder of the transactional excitement that the pennant races in baseball can generate.

In Houston, Astros fans are still trying to figure out how they feel about Jarred Cosart being sent packing in a deal with the Miami Marlins that brought back a gaggle of players including top third base prospect Colin Moran.

I mean, wasn't Cosart supposed to be part of this rebuild going forward? So now the Astros are already flipping guys who they landed in the Hunter Pence trade?

When does it end? (Answer: Who cares?)

All right, now I haven't even gotten to the best part of trade deadline day, the newest development and product of the era we live in -- major media outlets getting duped by fake Twitter accounts.

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CSN Houston Still Bankrupt, Still Not Coming to a TV Near You

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Yeah, this whole bankruptcy still isn't settled.
Presumably the bidder for CSN Houston was made known to Comcast yesterday. Presumably, of course, because nobody will comment. An order was sought yesterday evening seeking to prevent Comcast from divulging any details regarding the potential bidder. The parties are supposed to have a status conference with the bankruptcy judge next week.

It's time for this clown show to end. Either the network lives or the network dies, but this ridiculousness has to end. The network's been in operation for 22 months. That's two seasons for the Rockets and nearly two seasons for the Astros. Two seasons in which a large majority of the teams' fans have been unable to watch the teams play games on television. This is happening because the owners misjudged the market, misjudged price points, misjudged the willingness of the other cable/satellite providers to pay huge carriage fees.

The network was underfunded and given an unworkable management structure. It was forced into bankruptcy by one owner, with another owner fighting every step of the way. There's been a fraud lawsuit filed by one owner against a former owner. It's an ugly mess that nobody deserves to win and in which the ultimate loser will be cable/satellite subscribers whose rates will rise when this whole fiasco comes to an end.

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The Continuing CSN Houston Fiasco Makes Luc Besson Films Seem Sane and Logical

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CSN Houston makes Luc Besson films seem sane and logical.
Luc Besson's movies teeter on the edge of insanity. They're full of stylized violence, shouting, slow motion and visual effects. They're full of bright colors, big stars, fancy camera moves and flashy editing. Yet his movies usually make zero sense, appear to have no script, don't follow the rules of logic, and are usually huge, big-budget messes. But when everything meshes, his movies are joyous wonders to watch.

CSN Houston is, in many ways, the equivalent of a Luc Besson movie. The continued existence of the network borders on the brink of insanity. It's loud and messy, and features big stars trying their best to distract viewers, owners and creditors from the mostly inferior product. CSN Houston is failing and it's failing fast. It's what happens when Bruce Willis is cut from The Fifth Element for more Chris Tucker, and there's just absolutely no chance than Gary Oldman is going to pop up and pull it out of its death spiral.

Sometime this week the good folks at Comcast are supposed to find out the identity of the secret bidder for the bankrupt network currently known as CSN Houston. And by the end of next week, there's an actual chance that the people of Houston will know the identity of this entity. That's all, if of course, this so-called entity is still interested in the nightmare known as CSN Houston. And if it is, at what cost is it interested in the network?

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Just How Houston Are You? Sports Edition

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Just how Houston are you? Do you remember this team?
There was one of those stupid Twitter hashtags things about Houston this week, this one showing just how much of a Houstonian a person really is. I'm tired of writing about the depressing antics of the Houston Astros and CSN Houston, and I had to miss this week's CUSA Football Media Day in Dallas because of work issues. And frankly, I'm much too lazy to come up with something original to write about. So, with a sports theme, here's my version of #ImSoHouston...

1. ...that I remember when the Houston Rockets couldn't even sell out Hofheinz Pavilion.

2. ...that I remember Nolan Ryan pitching for the New York Mets.

3. ...that I remember what it was like to be awed by the best scoreboard spectacle in all sports.

4. ...that when I was a kid, the Houston Cougars played football in a major college football conference and went to major bowl games on a yearly basis.

5. ...that I recall Tal Smith when he was the beloved, recently deposed general manager of a playoff baseball team and not the guy who helped to destroy a winning franchise.

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