Archive for October, 2017

Check the 11th Box

We scored 13 runs in Game 5. How many total runs did we score in the 2005 World Serious?

The Rockets won two titles in the 1990s. H-Town has never had a football team in the Super Bowl. We got swept in our only Serious appearance 12 years ago. We are way overdue for a championship.

Commentary has been asked over the last few weeks for predictions on how far the ‘Stros will go and I have been reluctant to provide one.

We are up 3 games to 2. We have confidence. We are starting Justin Verlander who has said this is why he’s here. This is the best team we have ever had. Better than the 1998 ‘Stros. Better than the 2005 ‘Stros. You have to believe that tonight is our night. Let’s check the 11th box this evening.

I saw this tweet yesterday:

Cut4‏Verified account @Cut4 23h23 hours ago


This loaded @Astros lineup needs a nickname, and we want you to help give them one:

Nope. We don’t need a nickname contest.

RG tweeted this yesterday:

Everybody get a good night’s sleep so you can stay up late Tuesday. #astros #worldseries

On to other matters. It is pretty simple. You go work for Donald Trump and you surrender your reputation. That’s a no brainer. See this from Time today:

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly lauded Confederate general Robert E. Lee and said the Civil War began as a result of “lack of compromise,” inserting himself into a debate over the value of Confederate statues and monuments around the country.

President Donald Trump’s chief of staff made the comments on conservative commentator Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News show on Monday evening.

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

And this:

The former Marine general’s comments were met with criticism on social media, where some said there is no “compromise” with slavery and others compared his remarks with those made by the president in the past.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a prominent writer and MacArthur Genius grant recipient, posted a thread on Twitter analyzing the different “compromises made on enslavement from America’s founding,” including, among others, the Three-Fifths Compromise.

“Shocking that someone charged with defending their country, in some profound way, does not comprehend the country they claim to defend,” Coates wrote. “Notion that we are putting today’s standards on the past is, in itself, racist—implies only white, slave-holding, opinions matter.”

It is pretty simple and don’t bother to argue with me and don’t try to defend this.

Donald Trump’s folks were trying real hard yesterday to run away from the Manafort fella.  Sorry, not gonna happen.

I have to say it has been a rough year or so for the Podesta brothers.  Oh, well.

We scored 13 runs the other night and the 2005 World Serious team scored 14 in 4 games.

Let’s go check the 11th box!

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Props to the Chron for staying up late and providing us with an up-to-date edition this morning. I thought I would be still reading about Saturday’s game. Nice job, Chron!

Nobody left The Yard until it was all over. Last night, err early this morning was ridiculous. Down 4 zip, 7-4, 8-7, then to win it in the bottom of the 10th is as crazy as it gets.   If there ever is a more intense and dramatic game in World Serious history, I don’t want to be there.

We need today off. We have Justin Verlander going for us tomorrow. It doesn’t get any better than this. Does it?

The ‘Stros will be playing on October 31. How deep into October did we play in the 2005 World Serious?

Not even the Texans’ owner could ruin our H-Town ‘Stros weekend though he tried. His proposed statue deservedly went down the toilet for sure when we learned how he really feels about his inmates, err players.   I have to give him and his PR team credit for making the creative effort to walk back his words – BS for sure.   He has earned himself a position as one of H-Town’s more divisive figures. Way to go. Commentary is not really surprised. After all, he is a huge Donald Trump supporter.

Yuli Gurriel’s racist, insensitive, idiotic, and dumbarse gesture got him a five game suspension for next season. He got off lightly if you ask Commentary. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Here is from Bill King:

HGAC Tables Additional Funds for Post Oak Bus Project

On Friday, HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council (TPC) tabled a funding request from the Uptown TIRZ for an additional $16 million for its Post Oak bus project.  

Several dozen Uptown residents attended the meeting, and several addressed the TPC, voicing their opposition to the project and the request for additional funds.  No one, other than Uptown’s executive director John Breeding, spoke in favor of the request.  

County Judge Ed Emmett, who has opposed the project from the outset, grilled HGAC officials about the process.  Sugar Land mayor Joe Zimmerman also weighed in with a number of questions.  The principal point of concern was that Uptown had issued a press release claiming that the project was “on budget” and “fully funded”, begging the question of why it was asking for more money. 

HGAC officials struggled to answer Emmett’s and Zimmerman’s questions.  At one point, an HGAC official said that Uptown had told them in 2013 the project was only going to cost $130 million, compared to the current budget of $200 million.  This is, at least, the third explanation that has been offered in an attempt to justify the additional funding.  I have not found any documentation showing that the costs were ever estimated at $130 million.  But if so, it would be gross incompetence to underestimate the cost by over 50%.  

It is hard to know what HGAC will do now, but Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack may have put the final nail in the coffin on the request by ominously calling for HGAC to have outside counsel conduct an investigation to make sure that there are no legal problems with the request or the project.  That legal review is likely to raise a number of questions.  For example, I found this statement in Uptown’s most recent audit:

“As of the June 30, 2016, reporting period, the Authority purchased a parcel of land from WMJK, Ltd. The Authority Director and District Chairman is an owner in this property. The Director filed an affidavit and recused himself from the Board vote. Subsequent to the June 30, 2016 reporting period, the Authority purchased an additional Post Oak Boulevard parcel from a District Director. The Authority has chosen to keep the purchase prices for property acquired along Post Oak Boulevard confidential until the Authority closes each parcel, this information is excepted from disclosure under 552.105 of the Texas Government Code. Total cost of acquisition is available upon request.” 

Click [here] to see the complete report.  This related party note is highlighted on page 35.

Now, this all may be perfectly legal.  But the optics of a bunch of wealthy landowners coming to HGAC, begging for more state and federal highway funds, which are desperately needed throughout our region, when they are lining their own pockets and then don’t even want to disclose how much they were paid, is, to say the least, unseemly.  

There is an old saying: “Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.”  Uptown’s overreach on this request may be leading it to the slaughterhouse.  TIRZs were originally created to redevelop “blighted” neighborhoods.  That laudable purpose has increasingly been subverted by special interests which have in many cases turned the TIRZs into opaque quasi-governments frequently benefiting a few at the expense of the public.  And, as is the case here, the TIRZs frequent cram projects down the throats of residents and businesses despite their vehement opposition.  As one of the speakers said on Friday, “This is Robin Hood in reverse.  We are stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.”  

It is past time that we re-examine the whole TIRZ/Management District paradigm.  I am sure there is some good work that is carried out by some of these organizations.  But the case for their existence – as entities wholly unaccountable to taxpayers or the public – is becoming increasingly tenuous.

I am glad Bill is keeping an eye on this.

October 26, 2005 is when Game 4 of the World Serious was played of course, the latest we have ever played in a season.

What a game last night. One for the ages.   I am ready for tomorrow.

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Houston United

The next three World Serious games will be played at The Yard. We have yet to win a Serious game at home. How many Serious games have the Texas Rangers won in their crib?

Commentary was at a dinner last night and an observer of HISD asked me about a new PAC called Houston United for Strong Public Schools that has injected itself into the current HISD trustee elections. I saw the other day that Houston United for Strong Public Schools had a post online endorsing one of Gretchen Himsl’s opponents. This was followed by a mailer. FYI: Gretchen is a candidate for HISD Trustee District 1 and she is also Commentary’s client.

I went to the Texas Ethics Commission website and found that the group had just filed in late September. Their address was the same address as the Harris County AFL-CIO. Their treasurer appears to be a member of the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT). So much for transparency.

This is kind of silly. Everybody knows the HFT is a major player and donor in HISD trustee elections. They have been like forever.   Why the front group? As Dems, shouldn’t we frown upon these kind of silly shenanigans and avoidance of transparency? Kind of scratching my head on this one? Oh, well!

Commentary got some run yesterday on Channel 11 news. Here is from their website:

There’s an Astros season ticket holder who has snagged more than 100 foul balls over the years.

Marc Campos has been a faithful follower since back in the early days when the team was called the Colt 45s.

For the last 17 years, he’s had season tickets in the front row along the 1st base line at Minute Maid Park. It’s a strategic spot that has helped Campos earn the title of foul ball king.

“I just like them. I like to show them off. It’s kind of like a showoff value,” he said.

The season ticket holder gives most of the foul balls away.

He has kept about 45 in his collection, which are stored with a ticket and written reminder of how he got them.

“It’s kind of like the kid in you, part of the kid. Ever since I was going to professional baseball games, I always dreamed about getting a foul ball.”

Campos plans to attend all of the World Series home games and he hopes to add another historic foul ball to his shelf.

Here is the story: http://www.khou.com/sports/mlb/world-series/meet-the-astros-foul-ball-king/486424007.


The Rangers have won three World Serious games in their crib of course.

Folks keep asking for my prediction and I refuse to give one. I just say one game at a time.

Go Astros!

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Admit It

Happy Birthday today to State Rep. Carol Alvarado who may I add is feeling pretty good this morning after last night’s huge ‘Stros win!

Don’t look. How many pitchers did the Dodgers use last night?

Overstated? Is Texas really going down the toilet? Are we punching our ticket on the Titanic? Check this from the Trib:

House Speaker Joe Straus unleashed a political earthquake Wednesday when he announced he would not seek re-election next year. 

The policy aftershocks could be felt for years.

“This is really an earth-shattering event for politics,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “It’s tough to overstate the relevance of this for Texas politics. The political center of the state collapsed today.”

More than any other Texas Republican with real power, Straus was seen as a voice of moderation. On issue after issue, he and his team alone stood in the way of the kind of runaway populism that Donald Trump championed and major statewide Republicans endorsed.

Here is the entire Trib read: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/25/straus-earthquake-could-shake-texas-politics-years/.

From the Chron:

“It’s huge, the biggest political change we’ve seen in years,” said veteran state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and one of the longest-serving lawmakers at the state Capitol. “This ensures that politics in the House and in the state generally will move in a more partisan direction – a conservative Republican direction.”

Here is the Chron piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Joe-Straus-departure-a-political-earthquake-in-12306902.php.

Some folks or observers or pundits are acting like this is the end of Texas as we know it. If that is the case, why is Speaker Straus walking away. I think the doomsday scenarios are a bit overstated. Commentary looks at it differently. If the new Texas House Speaker let’s a lot of the Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick agenda become law, then it makes it likely that Dems will return to power a lot sooner. Maybe now a lot more of the state’s business community political campaign donations will go to Dems – maybe. Stay tuned.

This is why I have faith.  Abbott said yesterday his next goal was to get the Longhorns and the Aggies back on the football field together.  Glad to know that school finance is fixed and the post Harvey rebuild is complete.  What a leader.

I will admit it, will you? After falling behind 3-1 after 6 innings last night, I thought we would have to return to The Yard to pick up our first World Serious win ever. I left Carol’s watch party so I could be at home licking my wounds. I admit it. I thought we were goners. I thought the bats were never going to come alive. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Marwin’s blast to tie. Altuve and Correa back-to-back. A #SpringerDinger!

The Serious is even!

The Dodgers used 9 pitchers last night of course and we used 5.

It looks to be an exciting baseball weekend in H-Town

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How many World Serious at-bats does Justin Verlander have in his career?

Former Gov. Mark White’s son, Andrew, is thinking about running for governor next year. He describes himself as a “very conservative Democrat.” Ok. What the heck does that mean?

I certainly am not going to pass judgement. Heck, his dad is probably one of the best campaigners I have ever worked with and certainly one of the most courageous public officials in Texas history.

Here is from the Trib:

Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White, is mulling a run for governor as a Democrat in 2018. 

White, a Houston investor, told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday that he is going on a “social media listening tour” before making a decision whether to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He said he expects the process to take three or four weeks. 

White said he never had a desire to enter politics, but that began to change after the death of his father earlier this year and then Hurricane Harvey. Describing himself as a “very conservative Democrat,” White suggested he would run a campaign appealing to Texans who are fed up with policymaking exclusively aimed at the Republican primary electorate.

“Most Texans don’t care about the bathroom bill, and when you call a special session … for the bathroom bill, you know you’ve got a problem with your leadership, and it’s repulsive,” White said, referring to a controversial proposal to regulate which restroom transgender Texans can use.

Here is the entire Trib piece: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/24/andrew-white-son-late-gov-mark-white-explores-2018-gubernatorial-campa/.

Here is his statement from his website:

I’ve never been elected to anything. 

So I thought I’d start with Governor.

Why? Because, while other states are making advances in everything from education to technology, our politicians are stuck on bathroom bills, pandering to extremists. Texas deserves better. I’m Andrew White.  I’m an entrepreneur, and I’ve started six businesses.  I think we should run our state like a business.  Math and data can guide us to make better decisions.  Common sense and decency will solve just about everything else.

It’s easy to create division.  It takes a leader to build consensus.  Let’s take a 4-year break from what divides us and come together as Texans to restore our state’s leadership in jobs, education, and prosperity.

I’ve made a bunch of friends – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents. I’m running as a Democrat, but I agree with Republicans and Libertarians on some issues, Independents on others, and Democrats on many. 

Let’s forget the labels.  I’ll work everyday with all parties to make real progress.  All credit will go to the Legislators who do right and risk consequences. I’ll take the blame for failures.

I want people from other states to wish they lived here. I want Texas to win in everything. Education. Jobs. Self-driving cars… (that can fly!)

We can do this together. Let’s get started.  What’s important to you?  Send me a note, then join us on Facebook.

R.G. has a take: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/andrew-white-son-late-governor-mark-white-explore-democratic-run-governor/.

Ok. Let’s see what Andrew has to say.

The two GOP Senators who are retiring and taking parting shots at Donald Trump don’t get a badge of courage from Commentary. Check these:

This from The Guardian

Arizona senator Jeff Flake on Tuesday launched an extraordinary attack against Donald Trump and the “complicity” of the Republican party while announcing his decision to leave the Senate.

Flake, a key Republican critic of Trump, said he was retiring at the end of his term in 2018 because there was no room for him in the party under the current president’s stewardship. He then delivered an emotional appeal from the Senate floor against the state of affairs under Trump, bemoaning that his Republican colleagues had “given in or given up on core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment”.

“It is time for our complicity and our accommodation for the unacceptable to end,” Flake said. “There are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.”

“We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that that is just the way things are now,” he added. “We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal.”

“Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.”

He said such behavior was “dangerous to our democracy” and projected not strength but a “corruption of the spirit”. He then asked his colleagues: “When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say?”

This is from the Tennessean:

President Donald Trump and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker traded Twitter punches Tuesday morning, evoking dog catchers, tax reform and, once again, adult day care.

The battle continued with Corker, one of the most powerful Republicans and lawmakers in the country, saying the president is dividing the country. Corker told CNN he would “not do that again” when asked if he regretted supporting Trump in the election.

When asked if Trump is a role model to children in the United States, Corker said no “absolutely not.”

He later added: “I think at the end of the day, when his term is over. I think the debasing of our nation, the constant not truth telling, just the name calling, the things… I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for and that’s regretful.” 

This Sen. Corker fella is a pretty smart dude. He is also very disingenuous. He’s known since 2015 that Trump has been a liar and incompetent, and yet he supported him.

Same thing for Sen. Flake, of course Flake said he didn’t vote for Trump.

They have both given up on their political party. I guess it ain’t worth fighting for. I would have some admiration for them if they stuck it out and won hard fought primary races and kept taking on Trump. Instead they are quitting the game. Gutless if you ask Commentary.

The Chron E-Board weighs in today here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Trump-poses-a-threat-to-our-national-ideals-12303542.php.

Justin Verlander has 3 World Serious at-bats of course and he is 0 for 3.

I am hoping that last night was a case of first game jitters.

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Who’s Picking Us?

What are the most runs the ‘Stros scored in a World Serious game back in 2005?

Early Voting in Person began yesterday and here is from my friend Keir:

KLM Public Affairs, LLC

2,718 in-person early votes cast in Harris County today, roughly 30% of the 8,891 first day in 2015, and 54% of the 5,028 first day in 2013.

Let’s see what happens today.

Commentary has wondered why you can’t take a selfie when you vote. What’s the big deal? What is the ballot integrity issue?

Check this year old story from the Trib: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/10/26/texplainer-can-i-take-ballot-selfie-texas/.

Aside from ‘Stros fans and the local media, who in the national media is picking us to win the World Serious?

The Chron’s Sports Copy Desk Chief, Steve Schaeffer, picks us in six.

Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, and the Baltimore Sun are picking the Dodgers.

Eight of the nine Sports Illustrated baseball writers picked the Dodgers but SI picked us three years ago.

Here is what A-Rod says: “This is not … David vs. Goliath. This is truly Goliath vs. Goliath.”

Hey, they won 104 regular season games and we won 101.

538 has the Dodgers.

Bill King has a take on last week’s H-Town City Council meeting here:

City Council Holds Turner to his Word 

In a rare display of spinal rigidity, City Council last week slapped down Sylvester Turner’s attempt to use an “emergency exception” to exceed the City’s property tax cap.

Our City charter limits the amount by which City Council can increase property tax receipts each year to roughly 4.5% percent.*  The charter allows City Council to set a rate in excess of this limit to pay for expenses incurred in a disaster.  

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey, Turner said he would ask City Council to approve a tax rate in excess of the charter limit that would raise an additional $120 million.  That proposal was met with widespread opposition and Turner quickly retreated to a proposal that would bring in about an additional $50 million.

At the same time there were many calling on the State to use some of its Rainy Day Fund to assist Houston with the clean-up.  As a result, Governor Abbott showed up in town with a $50 million check and Turner agreed to relent on using the disaster exception to the cap.  It appeared to be a bipartisan fairy tale ending.

But Turner could not let happily-ever-after alone.  When his administration posted the property tax rate for City Council to approve last week, they left the rate at last year’s rate.  However, that rate would produce revenues in excess of the Charter limit by about $8 million.  

Enter Chris Brown, our City Controller.  Each year the City Controller prepares a worksheet which calculates the rate for compliance with the Charter limit.  This year, the rate needed to be reduced by about a quarter of a cent to comply.  Apparently in a private conversation, Brown told Turner that to keep the rate the same he would have to use the disaster exception which he had promised he would not do in the press conference with Abbott.  

Turner chose to ignore Brown and proceeded to ask City Council to approve the rate in excess of the charter limit.  Brown was sufficiently troubled by the fact that Turner was going back on his promise that he sent a memo to Council laying out the calculations.  At that point, several Council Members, with Mike Knox leading the charge, began objecting to the proposed tax rate.

All of this set the stage for the unusual drama that played out last Wednesday morning at City Council.  When the agenda item on the tax rate was called, several council members weighed in with questions and objections.  Eventually, Brown was asked to come to the microphone and answer questions – resulting in a lengthy, tense exchange between Brown and Turner.  

Turner tried to argue that he had not promised not to use the disaster exception, but only that he had promised not to raise taxes and since his proposal was to leave the tax rate the same as last year, he was not raising taxes.  Unfortunately for Turner, however, his promise not to use the disaster exception had been caught on tape during his press conference.

Councilmember Knox moved to amend Turner’s proposal to set the rate at the charter limit without relying on the disaster exception.  Incredibly, the debate in Council dragged on for nearly two hours, during which only Ellen Cohen came to the mayor’s defense, with Turner becoming increasingly hostile to and dismissive of Council and Brown.  He kept pressing various legalistic arguments in an attempt to justify the plain fact that he was reneging on the promise he had made.  But Council was having none of it.  Ultimately, Knox moved the question and asked for a roll-call vote.  When it was tallied, Knox’s motion carried by a 15-2 vote.

I have been watching Houston City Council for over three decades.  I have never seen a mayor lose a vote by such a decisive margin.**   How Turner thought Council would go along with reneging on a clear, definitive promise to the public not to use the disaster exception is beyond me.  

Had it not been for Chris Brown jumping into this fray, Turner’s gambit might have succeeded.  One thing I learned in this episode is that the City used the disaster exception the last two years without the public, and apparently most Council members, realizing it.  Until now, I have frankly been disappointed that Brown has not been a more aggressive and independent watchdog over the City’s finances.  But he certainly showed some mettle here, as did Knox and the other council members who took Turner to task.  

Folks, this is how our City government is supposed to work.  Our City fathers intended for the Controller and the Council to be active and equal participants in city governance, not some lackeys to be bought off with an occasional CIP project.   But for too long those checks and balances have been missing.

The other thing made clear by this episode is that Turner hates the property tax cap and will do anything to abolish it.  The cap is already riddled with holes that allow City property taxes to rise well above the 4.5% limit.  The taxes collected by TIRZ do not count against it.  Taxpayers have already approved an additional $90 million for public safety.  And now we find out that the City has been regularly using the disaster exception.  

There are certainly many intelligent, well-intentioned people who oppose the property tax cap.  So, let’s have that debate and put the proposition for its repeal before the voters.  But enough of these Enronesque accounting games.  Until the voters say they no longer want the property tax cap, our Mayor and Council should comply with it in good faith, which is what Council forced Turner to do last week.

* The rate is actually determined by a formula that is based on inflation and population growth, but the average is around 4.5%.

** A friend told me that Lee Brown lost a 14-1 vote late in his third term, but I apparently missed that.

“Spinal rigidity” is a pretty good line if you ask me.

The ‘Stros scored 6 runs in a loss to the White Sox in Game 2 of the 2005 Serious of course.

We have a way better offense this go around.

I’m ready for Game 1, are you?

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World Serious!

When did the Dodgers win their first World Serious in LA?

Ugh! My ‘hood was without power for over 10 hours yesterday.

Early Vote in Person for the state constitutional amendments, the H-Town City bonds and HISD and HCC trustee races begin today.

Here is from the Chron on HISD District 1 Trustee candidate Gretchen Himsl, Commentary’s client:

Gretchen Himsl, 46, is a policy analyst for Children at Risk, an education and child-welfare advocacy nonprofit, where she has worked since October 2016. She previously served as a staff member for the Texas House Appropriations Committee.

Her primary issues include improving education outcomes for children through higher graduation and reading comprehension rates, setting a sustainable budget that puts more money in classrooms faster and rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey in a more equitable manner.

“I have policy experience going back quite a ways,” Himsl said. “I’ve been trained to look at systemic programs through the lens of equity and sustainable government.”

Gretchen is supported by current District 1 Trustee Anna Eastman, City Council member Karla Cisneros and former HISD Trustees Paula Arnold and Cathy Mincberg – all who live in District 1.

Who would have thought?

After being down 3-2 after the 3 in the Bronx.

Carol believed! Laura believed! Two cool and fabulous people and fans that I sat with this past weekend at The Yard. The Yard was rocking like I have never seen before. H-Town certainly has ‘Stros fever.

This is all class from Ashley Varela from NBC Sports:

Following the conclusion of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night, there was a heartfelt moment between the two managers. According to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Joe Girardi hung around the clubhouse in order to congratulate A.J. Hinch. “I know it’s your first time through,” Girardi told the Astros’ skipper. “Go win it all.”

It’s a classy move on Girardi’s part. Had the Yankees advanced on Saturday, it would have marked his second trip to the World Series in eight years. He helped the team through their last championship run back in 2009 and knows the intricacies of the postseason better than most other managers in this year’s playoff bracket. His words were warmly received by Hinch, who said it was a “lesson for him” and “one of the classiest things he’d seen from one manager to another.”

Girardi wasn’t the only one who had kind words for his opponents on Saturday. Brett Gardner also voiced his support for Houston, telling reporters, “My hat goes off to those guys over there, and I wish them the best of luck in the World Series.” Aaron Judge described the series as “a lot of fun,” crediting both the Astros and the electric crowds in Yankee Stadium and Minute Maid Park for keeping the series challenging and exciting.

From the Chron:

The Astros’ clinching victory Saturday night in the American League Championship Series was the most-watched program in the history of FS1, with an average audience of 9.924 million viewers, and had an audience of 10.5 million on FSI, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Go.

The Spanish-language telecast added 445,000 viewers, and the streaming audience averaged 152.748 minutes per viewer.

The seven-game series averaged 6.5 million viewers on Fox television and FS1 for the largest ALCS viewing audience since 2013.

Game 7 also was the most-viewed LCS telecast on any network since 11.6 million for a Giants-Phillies game in 2010. For the entire postseason, Fox is averaging 5.1 million viewers, flat with last year’s numbers that included the Cubs’ NLCS victory.

The Dodgers won their first World Serious in LA back in 1959 of course over the White Sox in 6 games.

The cheapest ticket for sale on Stub Hub right now for Friday’s game is $550 for standing room only.

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Elimination Game

Tonight is an elimination game in the MLB playoffs. We win and we stay alive. We lose and we’re done.

What is our record in MLB playoff elimination games?

Let me get the non-MLB stuff out of the way.

Commentary is not going to say much about Donald Trump’s chief-of-staff appearing before the press yesterday. He only did so because Trump s__t all over himself on Monday in politicizing the issue of calling Gold Star families.

Early Vote in Person starts on Monday and Commentary is starting to get some mail – five pieces so far – I think.

Let’s remember this about the ALCS. The Yankees won the three played at their crib and we’ve won the two at our crib.

Here is what the Chron’s Jake Kaplan says today:

With their backs against the wall, the Astros have called on Justin Verlander to save their season.

Their ace of only seven weeks has been in this position.

“This is why I’m here,” he said Thursday.

Friday night’s Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees will be Verlander’s fifth career start in a potential postseason elimination game. During the Detroit Tigers’ last best run, when they made the ALCS or World Series in three consecutive Octobers from 2011-13, do-or-die games like this were reckoned with annually.

Verlander will take the Minute Maid Park mound Friday with a 1.48 ERA in his four career elimination games. In three of those previous four, his Tigers won. The defeat came in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, when a 23-year-old Verlander was charged with one earned run in six innings of a 4-2 loss.

In each of his last two elimination games, Verlander dominated. Both came against the Oakland Athletics in fifth games of a Division Series. In 2012, he struck out 11 and allowed only four hits in a complete-game shutout. The next year, he struck out 10 and held the A’s to two hits in eight scoreless frames.

That’s why he’s here.

We don’t do so hot when it comes to elimination games in our MLB playoff history.

In 1980, we lost Game 5 of the NLCS to the Phillies 8-7 in 10 innings and were done.

1981, lost Game 5 of the NLWDS to the Dodgers 4-0 – done.

1986, lost Game 6 of the NLCS to the Mets 7-6 in 16 – done.

1997, lost Game 3 of the NLDS to The ATL 4-1 – done.

1998, lost Game 4 of the NLDS to the Padres 6-1 – done.

1999, lost Game 4 of the NLDS to The ATL 7-5 – done.

2001, lost Game 3 of the NLDS to The ATL 6-2 – done.

2004, we WON Game 5 of the NLDS over The ATL 12-3 to advance.

2004, lost Game 7 of the NLCS to San Luis 5-2 – done.

2005, lost Game 4 of the World Serious to the White Sox 1-0 – done.

2015, won the AL Wild Card Game over the Yankees 3-0 to advance.

2015, lost Game 5 of the ALDS to the Royals 7-2 – done.

That’s a 2-10 record in MLB playoff elimination games of course.

In all fairness, with the exception of The Fish, MLB clubs lose more MLB playoff elimination games than they win. Got it?

If you are going to the game, try the METRO Rail. It’s free if you have a game ticket.

Let’s hope the bats come alive tonight.   Let’s hope we have a game tomorrow night.

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Silent Bats

What is Justin Verlander’s career postseason won-loss pitching record?

A 15 to 2 H-Town City Council vote yesterday against the Mayor’s property tax rate proposal is all you need to know about how poorly it was handled and presented. Not even the Mayor’s twitter attack dogs could muster a tweet in support.

Here is from the Chron E-Board on yesterday’s vote:

Watching a talented quarterback bobble the ball on the one-yard line is exasperating, especially in an important game.

So it’s no surprise the city controller and council members this week were frustrated with Mayor Sylvester Turner. He had done a remarkable job of carrying the ball right up to the goal line; he has been on the verge of solving Houston’s potentially catastrophic pension problem. But days before voters begin casting their ballots on a related bond issue, Turner startled City Hall with an ill-timed proposal that would deny homeowners a small property tax cut.

The mayor wanted to sidestep the city’s revenue cap, which he’s allowed to do because Hurricane Harvey put the city under a federal disaster declaration. But the move generated needless controversy, and council members who fully support the pension plan were right to reject the proposal. Most important of all, voters must not let this distract them from supporting crucial bond issues on the ballot.

The revenue cap became a lightning rod for controversy when the mayor proposed basically suspending it and raising the tax rate by 8.9 percent in the wake of Harvey. But he pointedly suggested the tax hike wouldn’t be necessary if the state government would tap its Rainy Day Fund to help Houston pay disaster expenses. If the mayor hoped to pressure Gov. Greg Abbott into opening the state’s checkbook, the tactic worked. The governor bowed to intense criticism and presented Turner with a $50 million check to help fund the city’s disaster recovery effort. At that point, the mayor dropped his proposed property tax hike.

But on Monday, City Controller Chris Brown circulated a memo saying that the mayor once again planned to sidestep the revenue cap, which would have required a small cut in the property tax rate. Instead, the mayor intended to keep the tax rate at its current level for another year. The impact on taxpayers would have been negligible – the average homeowner would have paid another $7 next year – but it would have raise another $7.8 million for the city government.

The mayor argued that the city essentially did the same thing after floods in two previous years by including disaster relief expenses in its calculations. That surprised council members, who didn’t recall any similar controversy when they voted on the tax rate the last couple of years.

No doubt the city needs the money. The mayor’s property tax plan was perfectly legal and fiscally responsible. But its rollout was badly mishandled and the pointless controversy it generated couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Read-voters-lips-12289031.php.

City Council did what it had to do.

Bill King also has to do what he has to do. Here is what he has to say about the H-Town city bonds:

City Bond Election

Pension Bonds: YES

Improvement Bonds: NO 

As many of you are aware, the City will hold a bond election on November 7.  Early voting begins next Monday, October 23.  There will be five bond propositions (A-E).  The first (A) seeks approval to issue $1 billion in bonds to shore up the police and municipal pension plans.  The other four (B-E) are “improvement” bonds asking mostly for funding for the purchase of police and fire vehicles, and improvements to City parks, health clinics and libraries.  I intend to reluctantly vote for Proposition A and against Propositions B-E.

Go here for Bill’s explanation: https://www.facebook.com/BillKingForMayor.

Justin Verlander is 10-5 in his postseason career of course.

Verlander can’t do it by himself tomorrow night at The Yard. The bats have to wake up or else. Very good teams do not choke in the playoffs.   Silent bats don’t cut it. Show up tomorrow night.

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The Statue Thing

We are going to have an ALCS Game 6 at The Yard Friday night. How have we fared in our three previous LCS’s Game 6?

It looks like the owner of the Texans will get a statue over at NRG Park. I really don’t have a problem with this as long as we start looking at how we put up statues on public property and start making the statue community a bit more diverse. Here is from the Chron:

Texans owner Robert McNair soon could loom a little larger at the county-owned NRG Park, with a statue of him likely headed for the stadium’s entrance.

First, however, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. must decide how to accept the privately donated statue for placement on public land.

The statue, first announced last year during the lead-in to Super Bowl LI and paid for by the local host committee’s fundraising efforts, is set to be placed at NRG Park.

The sports corporation board of directors is scheduled to discuss a “feasibility study” for erecting the statue of McNair, who has owned the team since its creation as an expansion team in 2002, at a meeting Wednesday.

Edgardo Colon, chairman of the sports corporation, said no public money will go toward the statue. The study is needed because the corporation has never faced the prospect of a privately donated statue for the site. Other statues were placed during the construction of NRG Park.

“We do not have a formal policy for how to address this request,” Colon said.

For that reason, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said he was unsure the county should proceed with the art piece of McNair.

“What I would ask is everyone take a deep breath and have an overall policy,” Ellis said, adding his suggestion “was in no way a criticism of Bob McNair or anybody else.”

While NRG Park is operated by the sports corporation, ultimate control of the county property falls to Commissioners Court.

Ellis said his concern is a public facility should have open, transparent discussions about placing honors to figures on taxpayer land.

“I am not saying you have a referendum on it, but you consider it and be transparent,” Ellis said.

He added that other worthy Houstonians such as Roy Hofheniz and El Franco Lee – who held the commissioner’s seat now held by Ellis for 30 years – should also be part of a discussion about honoring people at NRG Park.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/McNair-statue-planned-as-permanent-fixture-at-NRG-12285847.php.

I don’t have a problem with Judge Hofheinz and Comm. Lee. The Judge, after all, had the vision of the Dome complex which is a big deal to the region.

Don’t forget former H-Town Mayor Bob Lanier who spearheaded the effort to vote on the baseball and football referendum back in 1996. Without the referendum we might be playing Game 6 at the Dome this Friday and never heard of J.J. Watt.

How about my pal, Drayton McLane, Jr.? Look how his leadership and vision has transformed Downtown H-Town? We have statues for Baseball Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell at The Yard. Drayton is certainly worthy.

Before we get too carried away with statues for white dudes, how about one for former H-Town Mayors Kathy Whitmire and Lee Brown, or do they already have one?

Former H-Town City Controller Leonel Castillo has a community center. How about adding a statue? He was certainly a pioneer in Latino politics. We have a statue in the Northside of a vaquero waving a gun. How about one for Lone?

How about one for Ninfa Laurenzo on the Navigation Boulevard Esplanade? Ninfa was a pioneer in the Tex-Mex food scene which is now huge in H-Town.  She was certainly an “original.”

Do we have statues in H-Town for Mickey Leland and Barbara Jordan?

Like Commentary said, I don’t have a problem with the Texans owner getting a statue, but let’s start diversifying our community of statues.

The ‘Stros lost Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS against the Mets, 7-6 in 16 innings and were eliminated, we lost Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS against San Luis, 6-4 in 12 innings and were eliminated in Game 7 the next day, we won Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS against San Luis, 5-1 and clinched our first and only trip to the World Serious.

Commentary is not going to second guess the Skipper’s bullpen moves yesterday. I will instead direct my energy toward a win with Dallas Keuchel on the mound.

Game 5 starts at 4 pm today.

Game 6 starts at 7 pm Friday.

Go Astros!

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