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Archive for November, 2017

The 29th Again

Our Skipper didn’t win AL Manager of the Year Award yesterday. He was third in the voting. When was the last time a ‘Stros skipper won the Manager of the Year Award?

Just so you know, State Rep. Carol Alvarado sent this out yesterday:

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank Congressman Gene Green, his wife Helen and their family for their service and commitment to the people of the 29th Congressional District for the past 24 years.  I had the privilege of working for him and more importantly took tremendous pride in having him as a friend and mentor.

Over the past 24 hours, I have been humbled by the encouragement I have received from countless friends and supporters to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 29th Congressional District.  I am fully prepared to fight for all the people of the 29th Congressional District on issues like DACA, immigration reform and protecting our DREAMERS.  As well as championing women’s reproductive health, the Affordable Care Act and access to health care.  In addition, attainable higher education, and the creation of good paying jobs.

I will continue to visit with key stakeholders in our community and will be making an announcement on my candidacy in the coming days.  

Carol

Political Ad paid by Carol Alvarado Campaign, Yolanda Alvarado, Treasurer.

Rebecca Elliott of the Chron has this write-up today on the 29th.

Gene Green’s retirement opens the door for Harris County to send its first Latino representative to Congress, a milestone that has been a long time coming in a region that is more than 40 percent Hispanic.

In fact, Green’s 29th Congressional District was drawn in 1991 to reflect the area’s Hispanic population but never has elected a Latino representative.

Interest in succeeding the longtime Democrat already is fierce.

State Sen. Sylvia Garcia and state Rep. Armando Walle threw their hats in the ring Tuesday to represent the district that covers much of eastern Houston and part of Pasadena.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado is considering running, and former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has asked the county party for filing paperwork.

“I hope that whoever is running realizes this is a very, very, very important opportunity for the Latino community to get not only descriptive representation, but also substantive representation,” University of Houston political scientist Jeronimo Cortina said. “What we don’t know yet is how the primary is going to be dealt with. It could be ugly, but it also could be very amicable.”

Cortina’s colleague Brandon Rottinghaus echoed that sentiment.

“The seat’s going to be won by a Latino one way or another,” he said, adding, “It is kind of a black eye for the city and the county that the number of elected Latinos is fairly low compared to other places to where there are a similar number of voting age Latinos.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Green-s-retirement-could-lead-to-Houston-s-first-12357701.php.

Everyone knows that Commentary was heavily involved in the drawing of the 29th when it was first created way, way back in 1991. This is what we have always wanted. So now it is going to happen one way or another. This will be a very lively campaign. This the way it is supposed to happen, right?

The race could also have implications on other Democratic Party primary races, especially the countywide races because of the expected and possibly dramatic increase in Latino voter turnout.

Amicable, ugly, pretty, gorgeous, dainty, hardly. Let’s see.

Then I got this forwarded to me yesterday from Kathryn:

Dear Kathryn,

I want you to be among the first to know that I am exploring a run for Harris County Judge. I filed the paperwork today that allows me to begin raising funds for the Democratic primary.

I will make a decision within 30 days. The primary election is March 6, 2018 and the general election is November 6, 2018.

This is a big step not only for me, but for my family. It would be my highest honor to have you join us on this journey.

Many, if not most of our friends, neighbors and colleagues know very little about county government – how it spends its billions of tax dollars or how it addresses a long list of problems such as flood prevention, traffic, transit, road conditions, crime, health care, mental health care and criminal justice reform.

It’s actually harder than you think to find out what’s going on in county government.

Certainly, Hurricane Harvey has raised a number of very serious questions, with more being asked every day. Has our county been proactive when it comes to flood prevention? If not, why wasn’t it at least reactive when it had the chance after the Tax Day Flood and Memorial Day Flood?

Even before Harvey, I got a closer look than most at county government through my work with the Houston Food Bank, the Houston Long Range Financial Management Task Force, Planned Parenthood and the Houston Parks Board. I was not impressed.

I watched the neighborhood in which I raised my four children fill with muddy water from the release from Addicks Dam. I watched the 20-minute bimonthly County Commission meetings move into private sessions. I watched the incumbent Harris County Judge – who boasts of his expertise in transportation policy – fail to develop a comprehensive transportation strategy, or a strategy to develop a countywide park system or to improve the quality of our air and water. 

As I watched all of this, I knew we needed a change. That’s why, over the next 30 days, I’m going to continue talking with leaders, policy experts, voters and donors. 

And I’m going to keep asking questions about why so much of our county government appears to be underwater.

I’ve learned many valuable lessons in my three decades of experience as a leader in large business and nonprofit organizations. Problems fester if you don’t address them. Saying, “It’s not my job” is not a reliable strategy. And there is no accountability without financial transparency and comprehensive ethics rules.

If I can help our county do a better job, and if I can put together a winning campaign, then I’m in. If not, I’ll continue to work from the outside to bring change. The status quo is not good enough.

I would be honored to have your support, answer your questions and receive your advice and wisdom. 

Thank you!

Warmest regards,

Mike Nichols

I don’t think I know the fella. He took a shot or two at Hunker Down. During the primary, he has to hit Hunker Down a whole lot harder.

Larry Dierker of course won NL Manager of the Year in 1998.

Commentary is thinking A.J. Hinch is A—Okay with a World Serious 2017 ring.

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November Surprise

How many individual ‘Stros had 2017 postseason dingers and how many total postseason dingers did ‘Stros players have?

Well that was kind of a stunner.   The November surprise so to speak. Commentary is talking about Cong. Gene Green’s decision to retire.

Check these tweets:

Abby Livingston‏Verified account @TexasTribAbby

Lots of names of potential contenders considering running for Green’s seat: state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, state Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez and attorney Beto Cardenas

Texas delegation fact: No freshman woman has been elected to Congress for a full term since Granger in 1996. With five open seats and three competitive Dem primaries – is this the year?

Rep. Gene Green’s pollster, @ZacMcCrary, said he could easily imagine the number of Democrat candidates running for Green’s seat amount to be in the double-digits.

From the Chron:

“I have been fortunate to have never lost an election since 1972 and I am confident that I still have the support of my constituents and would be successful if I ran for another term in Congress,” Green said in a statement. “However, I have decided that I will not be filing for re-election in 2018. I think that it is time for me to be more involved in the lives of our children and grandchildren. I have had to miss so many of their activities and after 26 years in Congress it is time to devote more time to my most important job of being a husband, father and grandfather.”

Green, who turned 70 last month, is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Look, it hasn’t even been 24 hours, so it would be silly to start handicapping the race. Reminder, we haven’t had a full-blown Latina/Latino Dem primary of this size and magnitude in Harris County, like never. Let’s let the dust settle first. There will be a lot said in the coming weeks and months for sure.

It is called party purity. Gov. Greg Abbott want to take down State Rep. Sarah Davis in the GOP primary just because she won’t be his lapdog. She had a good F-You response yesterday here:

 “I have always voted my uniquely independent district, and when it comes to campaign season I have always stood on my own, which is why I outperformed Republicans up and down the ballot in the last mid-term election. Republican voters in (House District) 134 will not be told for whom to vote, and will not nominate a candidate who will be so easily defeated in the fall because they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the extremist fringe group, Empower Texans.”

Carlos Beltran is retiring. Here is what GM Jeff Luhnow said yesterday:

“He was worth every penny for us,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, site of the annual GM meetings. “The fact that we were able to have him finish his career with the Houston Astros meant a lot to us. It meant a lot to our players. It meant a lot to our city.

“He obviously had a historic run in 2004. To be able to come back and help us win a championship – and he helped us win in a lot of ways. Even though his numbers were not what they were (in 2016), he contributed in a lot of ways that were not really seen by our fans. … He really was a player-coach for us this year, and he contributed in ways that lead me to believe there’s no way we win the championship without him this year.”  

I agree. I hope he is at The Yard when the team gets their World Serious rings next season. Now that would be cool!

8 ‘Stros had a total of 27 postseason dingers of course.

Our 1979 ‘Stros had a total of 49 dingers for the entire season.

I am still celebrating the title.

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The Trophy

Which three MLB players hit the most dingers during this past postseason?

I sent out and tweeted a photo of my nephew Dave with the World Serious 2017 Championship trophy this past Friday. Dave works for Telemundo and GM Jeff Luhnow visited the station and brought along the trophy. Cool!

Jim Crane, the owner, took the trophy to a gala at the MFA the other night and it was accidentally knocked over and suffered some minor dings. Luckily some museum staff were on hand and performed minor surgery and fixed it up.

Commentary loves the idea of the trophy being hauled over the H-Town region, so folks can take a photo with it. I will patiently wait for my opportunity. I also think everyone who has supported the ‘Stros through the years should get a photo with the trophy, especially those who showed up at The Yard during the three consecutive 100 plus loss seasons.

From the Chron E-Board this past Saturday:

(Thumbs down) Texans owner Bob McNair could have atoned for his sins (“we can’t have the inmates running the prison.”) with one move: signing blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a replacement for the injured Deshaun Watson. That would have been a bold move, one that would have brought the team a player in the mold of the one carried off the field with a knee injury. What we get instead is Josh Johnson, who hasn’t completed a pass in the NFL in six years, and this cryptic explanation from coach Bill O’Brien: “Colin Kaepernick’s a good football player. Hasn’t played football in a while.”

And this:

(Thumbs twiddled) One reasonable take away from this week’s election: The only thing keeping Democrats viable is Donald Trump. It certainly isn’t the party’s narrative. It has none. Our state’s Dems were either hubristic or delusional at a Texas Tribune panel discussion Sunday in Austin. Former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro suggested he might mount a run for the White House in 2020. One problem: He likely can’t win in his home state. Meanwhile, Wendy Davis didn’t rule out challenging Greg Abbott one more time. Another problem: Her last campaign was one of the most poorly run in Texas history.

Hey, but she gets a movie made about her. It was reported that Sandra Bullock has sort of agreed to play former State Sen. Wendy Davis in a flick about her filibuster called “Let Her Speak.” Interesting. I wonder if they make the flick will they let part of it be shot at the Capitol.

Filing deadline is four weeks from today.  I amwaiting for local and state Dems to show me their cards, err candidates.

It is November 13 and the Hallmark Channel is running Christmas flicks.

Let’s see, Jose Altuve had 7 postseason dingers, #SpringerDinger 6, Carlos Correa 5, and Alex Bregman, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, and Justin Turner of the Dodgers had 4 each of course.

Someone asked me on Friday if I was still celebrating our first ever World Serious Championship. I replied, “heck yes!” I am going to keep celebrating. What? You want me to be focused on the Texans?

 

 

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The Teams

It is a tale of two teams.

Everyone knows that Commentary is a huge ‘Stros fan and supporter. I have been a season ticket holder since the Dome days. Yeah, yeah, I have criticized some of their moves, and the constant raising of ticket and beer prices, but I have still been with them because at least they have been straight with me on stuff. This year they rewarded us with a World Serious title – finally.

Drayton was a good guy and so is the new owner, Jim Crane.

The Texans, well that is another matter. Their owner is a big Donald Trump supporter. He’s upset the local African American political leadership community with his “inmates” take.  Some other African American national political leaders have taken well deserved swipes at him on his latest remarks, and now the Texans are front and center on the Colin Kaepernick deal.

The Texans are playing their fans. The ‘Stros never played their fans and were always up front on what they were trying to do. You can’t say that about the Texans. I have said it before. They think they are smarter than us, but they aren’t.

Here is from Rodger Sherman of the Ringer:

Kaepernick is bringing a lawsuit against the NFL claiming that franchises have colluded in not signing him. While that could be tough to prove in court, it’s easy to show just how hypocritical teams have been for arguing that their rationale revolves around “football reasons.”

It will be hard for Colin Kaepernick to win his collusion lawsuit against the NFL. Even if he proves that certain NFL teams chose not to sign him due explicitly to his political beliefs, that’s still not enough to prove collusion. He’ll also have to present evidence that multiple teams jointly agreed to avoid signing him, and the burden of proof is high.

If I were Kaepernick’s lawyer, I wouldn’t bother chasing evidence of conversations that may have never taken place. (I would be a bad lawyer.) Instead, I’d have the court wheel out its TV and VHS player (I presume that all courtrooms continue to use VHS players), and I’d say “Exhibit A, your honor.” Then I would pop in a video that shows every snap taken by Texans quarterback Tom Savage this season.

Savage is completing 45.6 percent of his passes and averaging less than 5 yards per attempt, and he has led Houston on one touchdown drive in six quarters. He has as many fumbles (four) as completions of longer than 15 yards. He has been sacked nine times and thrown just 57 passes. And historically, he’s not been any better: He has just one career touchdown pass on 149 attempts. He’s a walking, throwing argument that disproves the claims that Kaepernick’s absence from the NFL stems solely from football reasons.

And this:

What happened: The Texans opened this year with Tom Savage as their starting quarterback, but took only one half to realize how awful he was and bench him in favor of Deshaun Watson. Then Watson played like the best QB in the NFL for six weeks before going down with a season-ending ACL tear, a devastating blow for both the team and the entire NFL. Houston has seemingly settled on Savage as the replacement, in spite of the evidence that he remains the same awful quarterback the team benched in Week 1. As an emergency backup, Houston signed Matt McGloin, who previously played for head coach Bill O’Brien at Penn State, as well as T.J. Yates, who served as the Texans backup for several years, most recently in 2015. On Monday, Houston cut McGloin and signed Josh Johnson, who has not thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game since 2011.

Should they have signed Kaepernick? More than any other NFL team, the Texans appear to demonstrate the falsehood of the popular argument among Kaepernick’s detractors that many franchises are not signing the quarterback because his skill set doesn’t match that of the teams’ starters.

In Week 1, Savage got sacked six times on just 19 dropbacks behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. When Watson stepped in, O’Brien installed an almost entirely new scheme that took advantage of Watson’s abilities as a runner. The Texans even ran the speed option with Watson, which, uh, they did not with Savage. The Houston squad that was shut out in Savage’s lone half of Week 1 action led the league in scoring over the subsequent seven weeks, showing the ease with which an NFL team can adapt when a player’s dynamic skill set calls for innovation.

Kaepernick would allow Houston to continue running the plays that made it so good with Watson under center. Instead, it’s going back to the decidedly tame Savage offense.

But what really irks me is the signing of Johnson, who served as the 49ers’ third-stringer behind Kaepernick in 2014. O’Brien told reporters Monday that a problem with the idea of bringing in Kaepernick is that he “hasn’t played in a while.” Johnson hasn’t thrown a pass in the league since December 11, 2011, 14 months before Kaepernick played in Super Bowl XLVII. Barack Obama was then serving his first term. My dog wasn’t born yet; last month I noticed that she’s growing white hairs on her face. At that point, Grantland was a year younger than The Ringer is now. O’Brien’s statement about Kap’s lack of recent experience coupled with the Johnson signing is an insult to the collective intelligence of fans everywhere.

Savage, Yates, and Johnson are all worse than Kaepernick by almost any conceivable metric. Savage has thrown just one career touchdown pass; Yates threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns between the 2012 and 2014 seasons; Johnson — who, once again, has not thrown an NFL pass in six years — is theoretically a dual-threat quarterback, but he’s worse than Kaepernick at running and has thrown twice as many career interceptions (10) as touchdowns (five).

The Texans have more than $12 million in salary cap space. At 3–5, they’re within striking distance of first place in the AFC South and the playoff berth that comes with it. They traded their first-round 2018 draft pick to Cleveland to get Watson, so tanking is effectively useless. Houston can either sign Kap or continue sucking without the ability to reap the rewards of their losses. 

Kaepernick would allow Houston to continue running the plays that made it so good with Watson under center. Instead, it’s going back to the decidedly tame Savage offense.

But what really irks me is the signing of Johnson, who served as the 49ers’ third-stringer behind Kaepernick in 2014. O’Brien told reporters Monday that a problem with the idea of bringing in Kaepernick is that he “hasn’t played in a while.” Johnson hasn’t thrown a pass in the league since December 11, 2011, 14 months before Kaepernick played in Super Bowl XLVII. Barack Obama was then serving his first term. My dog wasn’t born yet; last month I noticed that she’s growing white hairs on her face. At that point, Grantland was a year younger than The Ringer is now. O’Brien’s statement about Kap’s lack of recent experience coupled with the Johnson signing is an insult to the collective intelligence of fans everywhere.

Savage, Yates, and Johnson are all worse than Kaepernick by almost any conceivable metric. Savage has thrown just one career touchdown pass; Yates threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns between the 2012 and 2014 seasons; Johnson — who, once again, has not thrown an NFL pass in six years — is theoretically a dual-threat quarterback, but he’s worse than Kaepernick at running and has thrown twice as many career interceptions (10) as touchdowns (five).

The Texans have more than $12 million in salary cap space. At 3–5, they’re within striking distance of first place in the AFC South and the playoff berth that comes with it. They traded their first-round 2018 draft pick to Cleveland to get Watson, so tanking is effectively useless. Houston can either sign Kap or continue sucking without the ability to reap the rewards of their losses.

This is sad and pitiful. I am a fan of the team, but I sure am glad I have not invested in them like I have with the ‘Stros. These guys don’t respect their fans.  I guess it is hard for a huge Donald Trump supporter to sign a player like Kaepernick.  The owner is choosing politics over the fans.

From Bill King:

Montrose Management District Abruptly Cancels Board Meeting

After business owners planned to attend next Monday’s Montrose Management District board meeting in mass to protest the continued operation of the District in light of the recent Court ruling that it had illegally collected over $6 million in assessments, the District abruptly announced that the meeting had been cancelled.  The meeting was cancelled via email to the District’s mailing list.  There was no mention of the cancellation on its website as of about 8:00 this morning.

I suspect some of the directors may have wanted to get some clarity about potential legal exposure after last week’s ruling before facing another angry crowd of business owners, demanding their money back.  

It is also curious that the attorneys for the District filed a notice of appeal with the Court the next day after its ruling.  Obviously, there was no board meeting to authorize an appeal.  And given the Court’s ruling that the District cannot spend any money from the illegally collected assessments, how are the legal bills for the appeal going to be paid?

It seems likely that the litigation over all this has just begun.  Some who have paid the illegal assessments are considering filing a RICO conspiracy suit to recover their money from those involved levying the illegal assessments since the District does not have anywhere close to the $6 million it has been ordered to repay.  

Standby.  This one should be interesting.

If folks don’t want this management district, why continue? Very puzzling and troubling.

Also this from Bill: 

City’s Sales Taxes Continue to Stagnate

The Texas Comptroller reported yesterday that the City’s sales tax receipts for November (which reflect September sales) were up by 2.3%.  This followed a decline of 3.9% in October.  The October decline was to be anticipated because of Harvey.  However, I had expected to see more of a rebound in November from storm repair purchases.  Perhaps delays from receiving insurance payments have pushed some of those sales out a bit further.  

The City had a bump in sales tax receipts early this year from the Super Bowl, with month-over-month increases in March and April of 6.5% and 5.3%, respectively.  But longer term trend appears to be that precipitous decline when oil prices fell has leveled out. 

The current City budget projects a 1% increase in sales taxes and it is running only slightly behind that through the first four months of the fiscal year.  

Houston continues to  be significantly outperformed by its suburban neighbors.  I have been tracking six cities nearby cities.  Their sales tax receipts were up 9% this month.  I am working on a longer term comparison which I will be sharing with you soon.

If you are interested in looking at sales tax receipts for yourself, you can access that information for any entity in the State [here].

From Royko on Tuesday’s Virginia results:

Regarding VA election. It must be noted that felons were allowed to vote, and there has been an 800,000+ increase in illegal aliens and “Asian” refugees, with an unknown number allowed to vote. Also, northern Virginia is inhabited by Washington bureaucrats which now makes VA a solid blue state.

Ok. It was still a Trump arse kicking.

From the ‘Stros:

Louisville Slugger®, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball announced tonight that Houston Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve has won his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award as the top offensive second baseman in the American League, while George Springer wins his first. The Silver Slugger Award is the top offensive award in Major League Baseball, with the top players at each position in each league selected in a vote by MLB coaches and managers.

Do Altuve and Springer even use Louisville Slugger bats these days?

Maybe that should have been today’s MLB question that I skipped.

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Run Dems, Run

Name the two ‘Stros who were born in Albuquerque, New Mexico?

Local Dems can’t win in 2018 if they don’t run. If we learned anything from yesterday, it’s to field candidates – period. For county, state and federal races. It is happening here for some positions but not in others.   There are certainly county, state, and federal positions that could be flipped next year. Here is how the Chron E-Board ends one of their takes today:

But it wasn’t just a top-down success of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam that pulled his party over the finish line. Political observers point to a bottom-up effect of passionate and engaged candidates running at local levels in record numbers. In 2015, Democrats challenged 23 Republican delegates in Virginia. On Tuesday, they challenged 54.

Let this be a lesson to Texas politicos: Run! Too many of our candidates – both Rs and Ds – go unchallenged cycle after cycle. In 2016, no state senator in Harris County faced a major opponent. Not one. Bad politicians get to keep their offices. Policy debates get decided by fringe voices in party primaries.

Nevertheless, Democrats still lack a key candidate for governor, or Harris County judge, or the litany of other down-ballot races. If that’s the best Texas can do, no wonder people don’t vote.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/After-Tuesday-s-election-it-is-clear-something-12342854.php.

There is a Latina running for Harris County Judge against Hunker Down. Is she going to be the only Dem in the primaries running for that position? What about for other key races.  Right now Donald Trump is toxic and that is not going to change. We need to wrap him around every GOP incumbent, no exceptions whatsoever.  Filing deadline is a little over a month away.

Steve Brown from Fort Bend County put this out yesterday:

As for me and my family, we’ll decide in the coming weeks how best to serve our country and community. It’s important to me that we expand affordable healthcare coverage to all Americans, no matter how poor or sick. Additionally, we must enact common-sense gun control policies, protect the middle class from disastrous tax cuts for the wealthy, restore the Voting Rights Act, make college affordable and fix our criminal justice system (just to name a few key issues).  Stay tuned…

We will.

Meanwhile, yesterday evening, Commentary got an automated phone call on a quickie poll for State Rep. District 134. I don’t vote in HD 134.

Bregman and Giles of course were born in New Mexico and here is from today’s Chron:

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has proclaimed Nov. 9th as a day to honor two Houston Astros from New Mexico who helped the Astros win its first World Series.

Martinez said Wednesday that Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and pitcher Ken Giles made significant contributions to the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series Championship-winning season and deserved to be recognized.

Bregman attended Albuquerque Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He later played baseball at LSU before the Astros drafted him in 2015.

Giles attended Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque, played baseball at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona.

I wonder how many of the following will be found under Christmas trees next month? From the Chron:

For the baseball fan looking to remember the Houston Astros’ World Series season with the ultimate keepsake, the Houston Chronicle introduces its latest book, “Astros Strong.”

The 128-page book combines the Chronicle’s best game and features stories from the regular and postseason with glossy, high-resolution images of 2017’s biggest moments.

“Astros Strong” also includes features on notable Astros, including World Series MVP George Springer, batting champ Jose Altuve, All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa and others.

From Tags:

HOUSTON — For the second consecutive year, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was named both Major League Baseball’s Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Player in the Players Choice Awards, which were revealed Wednesday night on MLB Network. The awards were voted on by the players in September.

We can never get too many awards.

 

 

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Thank You, Virginia

Which ‘Stro player played in the most games this season?

Wow! Dems across the country need to send a big Thank You to voters in Virginia for sticking it to the Donald Trump agenda yesterday. Hopefully this slows down what the crazies in the GOP are trying to do to us. Thank You, Thank You!

Commentary loves to see GOP leaders pointing fingers at each other this morning including those who are blaming Trump for yesterday’s debacle in Virginia. The Trump agenda certainly suffered a severe arse kicking yesterday and that is good for the country.

Would I have preferred to see different numbers in our HISD trustee race yesterday? Of course. So now we are in one of those stand alone runoffs.

Here is an observation from yesterday. 12,375 ballots were cast in the HISD, District 5 Trustee race, 3,504 in District 3.

Steve Houston said this about the HISD day off:

While there may or may not be more crazies on the left, and even more that are ignorant of the facts, it remains that HISD has policies in place to discipline employees that request a day off but are denied and then they fail to show up. Every employee knows this and it was crystal clear that a tremendous amount of employees had already asked for the day off. Had the school system remained open, a great many would have called in sick, gone through the motions of obtaining a doctor’s note to protect them from arbitrary discipline, and those in charge knew that would happen if they remained open. My comments were based on historical precedent and an understanding of human nature, something the commentator from Spring apparently knows little about. Social media feeds were also full of right wing crazies directly blaming the mayor for closing the schools, far more than their leftist counterparts by the way, which was not the case as I pointed out. Blame Mayor Turner for anything you like but you are being ignorant if you think he has control of HISD.

And then this:

The ISD could have denied most requests for the day off and most of those people would have shown up but had the school system remained open, a great many would have called in sick, gone through the motions of obtaining a doctor’s note to protect them from arbitrary discipline, and those in charge knew that would happen. The knee jerk response of “fire them all” only works when a small number of employees try this so it was easier to just give in, the 1000 requests being only the tip of the iceberg.

My comments were based on historical precedent and an understanding of human nature, something the commentator from Spring apparently knows little about. Social media feeds were also full of right wing crazies directly blaming the mayor for closing the schools, far more than their leftist counterparts by the way, which was not the case as I pointed out. Blame Mayor Turner for anything you like but you are being ignorant if you think he has control of HISD. Sure, he should have held the parade on Saturday but the city received a great deal more national coverage by shutting down for the day, relatively few complaining about the school day.

Alex Bregman of course played in 155 games this past season to lead all ‘Stros. So he can go on as many TV shows as he wants.

It has been a week since we won the Serious, just saying.

 

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Today We Vote

It is Election Day. Go vote. No excuses, please.

Jose Altuve is an AL MVP finalist. What is his career batting average?

This works. From the Trib:

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has emerged as potential Democratic challenger to Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018.

In an interview Monday, Valdez described herself as “in the exploratory process,” looking at the data for a potential run against the Republican incumbent. “I’ve been approached and I’m listening,” she said. 

There are 35 days until the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primaries, and Texas Democrats are looking for a serious contender to take on Abbott. Valdez said she believes it’s “time for a change” in GOP-dominated state government.

“Too much of one thing corrupts, and I’m a strong believer in a two-party system,” Valdez said. “I’m hoping that enough people are seeing that too much one-sided is not healthy for Texas.”

Here is the entire read: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/11/06/dallas-county-sheriff-emerges-potential-gubernatorial-candidate/.

That’s a lot of folks. From the Chron:

More than 530,000 viewers watched coverage of the Astros’ World Series championship parade and City Hall reception Friday on Houston’s four major network affiliates, according to the Nielsen Company.

Astros parade coverage aired from noon to 5 p.m. on KPRC (Channel 2), KHOU (Channel 11), KTRK (Channel 13) and KRIV (Channel 26).

Channel 13 averaged 218,000 viewers from 2-4 p.m., Channel 11 averaged 119,000 and Channel 2 averaged 110,000 from 12:30-4 p.m. and Channel 26 averaged 86,000 from 2-5 p.m.

The four stations averaged a combined 16.4 percent Nielsen rating an reached a peak of 19.2 percent at 4 p.m.

Let’s see 530,000 watched it on the flat screen.

Another 750,000 attended.

We have 6,400,000 in the Greater H-Town area.

What were the other 5.12 million doing?

From Bill King:

Court Rules Montrose Management District

Illegally Collected $6 Million in Assessments

The trail of TIRZ/Management District horrors continues.  This time it is the Montrose Management District (MMD).  

The MMD was formed in 2011 from the merger of two earlier improvement districts which had been authorized by the Legislature.  Since the merger in 2011, MMD has collected over $12 million in assessments from businesses in the Montrose area.  Last week, a District Judge ruled that the petition used by MMD to assess a tax against Montrose businesses did not have the requisite 25 signatures.  Of course, the fact that the Legislature passed a law that would allow as few as 25 property owners to authorize a tax on hundreds of property owners is absurd on its face.  But MMD, according to the Court’s ruling, could not even meet this ridiculously low bar.  

Most problematic for MMD is that the Court ruled that it must reimburse the $6.5 million in illegally collected assessments.  [Click [here] to see the Court’s ruling.]  Of course, the MMD does not have anywhere close to $6.5 million.  According to its most recent audit, it only had about $600,000 in cash at year-end and according to recent monthly reports, it appears to have even less now.

But MMD’s problems don’t end there.  After it levied the 2011 assessment, property owners in Montrose began collecting signatures to dissolve the MMD.  According to the statute, that requires property owners owning 75% of the land in the District.  Pretty fair don’t you think?  It only takes 25 property owners to authorize an assessment, but 75% of everyone in the district to undo it.  Just in case you had any doubt about our Legislature being in the bag for these special districts.  

Over several years, the dissident owners collected nearly 900 signatures which they contend constitutes over 80% of the land in the MMD.  But when they submitted the petitions, MMD took a page out of the City of Houston’s playbook and invalidated about a third of the signatures.  One of the property owners I interviewed said the MMD invalidated his petition on the four properties he owned without anyone ever contacting him to verify whether he owned the properties or had actually signed the petitions.  

When you look at how the MMD has been spending its money you can understand why the vast majority of business owners in Montrose want to dissolve the district.  The following is a table of the revenue and expenses taken from the MMD’s audits.

From 2011-2017, the MMD collected over $12 million from Montrose businesses and spent about $11.5 million.  Forty-three percent (43%) of its expenditures, right at $5 million, have been for administrative expenses, legal fees and business development expenses.  The management consultant for the MMD alone has been paid nearly $1.5 million and is currently being paid over $30,000 per month.  No wonder the property owners want to get this monkey off their backs.

Management districts and TIRZs were originally formed to assist neighborhoods with redevelopment.  If they are doing their jobs, they should be welcomed by the businesses and residents they serve.  Increasingly though we are seeing situations like the Uptown TIRZ and now the Montrose Management District where these entities are at war with the neighborhoods they are supposed to be serving.  And to make matters worse, the bureaucrats and lawyers running these districts are getting rich in the process while cramming down projects and assessments down the throats of businesses and residents.  

Hopefully the next Legislature will take a hard look at these special districts.  But given some of the conflicts of interest that abound with respect to these districts in the Legislature, that may be wishful thinking on my part.  More on that topic soon.  

The next meeting of the MMD Board is next Monday (November 13) at noon at University of Saint Thomas, Carol Tatkon Boardroom, 3807 Graustark, Houston, TX 77006.  Parking is available at the Moran Parking Garage.  The vast majority of Montrose business owners who are opposed to the continued existence of this district should show up at this meeting and make it plain to the board:  Go away!  

Who can defend this?  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Jose Altuve has a .316 career batting average of course.

Skipper A.J. Hinch is an AL Manager of the Year finalist. How about that?

 

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The Parade

Put Commentary among those who think we need to stop sending out “thoughts and prayers” when it comes to mass shootings, particularly when the shootings happen in a place devoted to praying.  To those idiots who don’t think this is a gun problem.  We are the only civilized country on the planet where this happens on a regular basis, you morons.

When #SpringerDinger made his MLB debut with the ‘Stros back on April 16, 2014 against the Royals, name the 3 other starters for the ‘Stros that day who will also be wearing 2017 World Serious rings in a few months?

Some parade thoughts. There was some twitter buzz during the parade about the elected officials on the stage and who should be up there. Who cares? For one thing, I think the City of H-Town picked up the cost of a lot of the parade expenses and it was held at City Hall, so the City Council members should have been up there. The same goes for State Rep. Carol Alvarado. There is no bigger fan in H-Town, certainly among elected officials it is not even a contest. Heck, she flew out to Yankee Stadium to see one of the ALCS games and she flew out to LA for Game 6 of the World Serious. The team invited her to attend Jeff Bagwell’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown this past summer and she accepted. She is a regular throughout the season at The Yard and The Yard by the way is in her district.

Commentary will say that one elected official speaking at this type of event is enough. Just the Mayor, please.

About those folks who got left behind at the Metro Rail stations. I feel your pain, err I don’t. Everybody learned a lesson on this. Metro is not ever going to be able to handle half a million folks converging on Downtown in a few hour timespan. Next season when we do this again, folks will have a plan like leave early in the morning and make it a day Downtown, book a Downtown hotel room the night before – you get the picture.

Commentary chose to stay at home and watch it on the flat screen. I didn’t think I had to attend the parade to make this season’s World Serious first a complete one. It was complete for me when Jose Altuve tossed it to Yuli Gurriel.

Commentary is glad the Chron E-Board still follows and reads Commentary. Here is what I tweeted on Thursday:

America’s Team‏@MarcCommentary Nov 2

I guess they had a reason for not holding @astros #WorldSeries parade on Saturday.

Here is what I said on Friday:

Did they even consider holding the parade tomorrow?

Here is what the E-Board said on Saturday:

(Thumbs down) We’re stuck in the office Friday writing instead of celebrating with the Astros. We say that because for us and for thousands of Houston kids, MLB should have waited until Saturday for the parade. HISD called off Friday classes; bad move. School administrators were worried hundreds would call in sick. That’s a CYA line. Ultimately, they forced families to scramble for child care. There’s a reason parades for the Rodeo or Gay Pride or Art Cars happen on Saturday. School is closed; there’s no one downtown, and parking is abundant. When we repeat as World Series Champions next year – and we will repeat – please, MLB, consider the kids.

Royko had this to say:

There seemingly are far more leftist crazies, but there are also many that are ignorant of the facts.

It was my understanding that the HISD was flooded with requests from employees from all classifications for the day off. They could not function without a minimum level of employees. The parents were left with dealing with the kids who should have been in school.

Steve Houston said this:

Crazies on the far right of the political spectrum are already blaming Mayor Turner for giving HISD the day off, forgetting he had absolutely no say in the matter whatsoever. If 1000 asked for the day off, I am sure many, many more times that were not planning on showing up, few substitutes would have been available either.

MLB sent out the World Serious gear list. There are tons of stuff. At the top of my list is the orange t-shirt that says “Never Forget The First.” I like the fitted World Series Champion lid. I also like the lid with the trophy on it but they don’t come in fitted sizes.

Here is what Kuffer has to say today about the intrusion of out of state money in our HISD trustee races:

That’s a lot of money, but at least from my perspective in District I, it hasn’t been particularly visible to me. I’ve received mail from the Santos campaign, but no more than what I’ve received from the Himsl and Richart campaigns. I haven’t received any robocalls or been visited by any canvassers – for whatever the reason, it’s extremely rare for someone to knock on my door on behalf of a campaign – and if there are ads running on TV or the radio, I’ve not seen them. I don’t think I’ve seen any Facebook ads or ads in my Gmail, either. Maybe the bulk of this money is being earmarked for a runoff, I don’t know. Risky strategy if that’s the case.

The eight day finance reports are now available, but you won’t see any activity related to HUSPS in there. For example, here’s Santos’ 8 day report, which includes a $5K donation from Houston Federation of Teachers COPE, but HUSPS is nowhere to be seen. You have to go to the Texas Ethics Commission page and search for Houston United for Strong Public Schools there. In their TEC report, you can see that while they’ve raised $225K, they’ve only speny $115K, and $47K of that was for polling, which ought to be fascinating given the turnout context. I can’t tell from this how much they have spent in each race – there isn’t a single entry that specifies a dollar amount for Santos, for example. I don’t spend as much time with PAC reports as I have done with candidate reports, so maybe I just don’t know how to read these. Point is, this is where to look to get the details.

All of this has caused some controversy, which has played out on Facebook. The HUSPS website has no “About” page, and it took some sleuthing to figure out their origin. Not to put too fine a point on it, but large amounts of money being spent on local races by groups whose backers are not apparent is generally something that many of us find alarming. As Campos has noted, it’s hardly unusual for the HFT to get involved in HISD elections – they’re as much of a stakeholder as anyone else, after all – but this method of doing so is new. I don’t understand the rationale behind this approach, either, but it is what they have chosen to do. We’ll see how it plays out.

My good friend Laura Murillo is quoted in a front page Chron story today on Latinos and the 2020 census. Here is a part:

Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, noted that the Latino community has historically shied away from participating in census surveys. For the 2010 census, the Houston chamber hosted information sessions and explained that responses assist the government in making decisions about how to spend federal tax dollars.

While Murillo said the chamber is willing to partner with the Census Bureau again, the federal government’s actions on immigration have alienated many Latinos and will make openly sharing information with government officials a hard sell. She cited the Trump administration’s decisions to push for a border wall and end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, also known as DACA, as reasons some may find to be wary.

“Trust has been breached,” she said.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Latinos-sound-alarm-on-2020-census-12334264.php.

Strong quote by Laura.

Check out the Bill King interview in Burkablog here: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/bill-king-rules-independent-run-senate/.

Hope Texas Dems got around to reading Chron columnist Erica Grieder yesterday. Here it is: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Texas-Democrats-need-to-try-a-little-harder-to-12332397.php?utm_source=chron&utm_medium=linkmodule&utm_campaign=btfpm.

Commentary has said before that I don’t know if having a serious Dem run for governor will impact how the rest of the Dems do down ballot and in local races. It turns out in today’s Chron, Wendy Davis is considering making a run. I don’t have a problem with this if she runs hard against Gov. Greg Abbott and the GOP on guns, bathroom bills, school funding, health care, DACA, SB4 – heck, on all of our issues.

Commentary would be Ok if President Bill and Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile, the Podesta brothers, Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and top 2016 Clinton Campaign bigwigs would just ride off into the sunset and stop being a distraction and a hinderance to what is going to happen in Virginia tomorrow and throughout the country in 2018.

I agree with the following tweet:

Ronald Klain‏Verified account@RonaldKlain Nov 4

Enough. For the next 72 hours, any Democrat not focused in Northam v Gillespie is not focused on what really matters.

On April 16, 2014, the day #SpringerDinger made his MLB debut starting in right field, Jose Altuve started at second, Marwin Gonzalez at shortstop, and Dallas Keuchel at pitcher of course.

Let’s see, SNL, “Today” show, Disney World, Rockets game, Texans game, late night TV, keep going. We are after all, America’s Team!

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America’s Team

It works for me. Commentary is talking about the Chron E-Board today declaring that the ‘Stros are now “America’s Team.” Sorry Cowboys, but when was the last time you won a championship. America’s Team sounds a lot better than Houston Proud, Houston Expect the Unexpected, Houston’s Hot, or Houston It’s Worth It.

Here is how the E-Board take starts:

World Series Champions.

Believe it. Houston earned it.

As long as the Astros have played ball, we’ve ended each season mumbling, “Maybe next year.” Now that the 2017 baseball season is over, we can finally shout something else.

World Series Champions!

Beyond that, we humbly suggest our Boys of Summer have earned another title: The Houston Astros are now America’s Team.

Just take a look at the photographs of the players joyously leaping into each other’s arms after winning the championship. The diversity of this scrappy band of brothers reflects the hard-working population of Houston, the most diverse city in the nation. Our area’s leading sociologist, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, tells anybody who will listen that all of America in 25 years will look like Houston looks today. If that’s true, all of America will soon look like the Houston Astros.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/America-s-Team-12327850.php.

If you think about it, the ‘Stros looks a lot more like the H-Town area than the Dodgers look like the LA area, just saying.

Commentary is ready to embrace America’s Team. Stick it on an orange t-shirt and I’ll wear it to Opening Day.

Name a few of the batting accomplishments from #SpringerDinger during the World Serious?

School’s Out!

This is what you now call a ‘Stros Day.

HISD is cancelling classes today so folks can go to the ‘Stros parade if they choose.

Some folks like the day off. Some folks don’t.

Here is the Channel 13 news story.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) —

Houston ISD is closed on Friday – the day of the Astros victory parade – after nearly 1,000 staffers reportedly requested off.

According to HISD trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones, 950 of the district’s teachers and bus drivers had submitted time off requests.

When asked for comment, an HISD spokesperson said the cancellation was a result of “logistical and safety concerns about traffic.”

HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza announced that the district’s schools, facilities and administrative offices will be closed Friday, Nov. 3, so that students and staff can enjoy the Astros World Series parade and festivities.

Here are a couple of tweets:

Lisa Falkenberg‏Verified account@ChronFalkenberg 3h3 hours ago

 

I love the #Astros but really, @HoustonISD? Cancelling school Friday? There are a lot of parents who cannot afford to miss anymore work.

And:

Mom Who Roars‏@brandymcd1 3h3 hours ago

Replying to @ChronFalkenberg @HoustonISD

So many spent 2+ weeks scrambling for child care due to Harvey, and now they have to again? Bad call.

And:

Annise Parker‏Verified account@AnniseParker 11h11 hours ago

I love the Astros, but closing the schools says sports are more important than academics. Lots of kids lost school days to Harvey.

I heard from a few folks yesterday who said for Pete’s sake, we won our first ever World Serious, so why not!

Of course, a lot of kids were probably going to skip class anyway.

I could go either way on this. Did they even consider holding the parade tomorrow?

They are estimating 500,000 folks to show up at the parade in Downtown H-Town. I wonder if that includes 200,000 plus HISD students, teachers, and staff.

Speaking of HISD, I saw this online yesterday:

Union-backed PAC with $225K gets behind 4 Houston ISD board candidates

By Jacob Carpenter

Published 8:00 am, Thursday, November 2, 2017

A political action committee mostly funded by the nation’s largest teachers’ union has received $225,000 to spend on supporting four candidates for the Houston ISD school board election and a city ballot measure, campaign finance reports show.

Houston United for Strong Public Schools plans to spend in support of three incumbent candidates — Wanda Adams, Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca and Anne Sung — and newcomer Elizabeth Santos ahead of Tuesday’s election, records show. The PAC doesn’t plan to spend on candidates in two other Houston ISD board races.

Political action committees operate independently of individual candidates’ campaigns. Houston United for Strong Public Schools has received the most donations to date among PACs supporting local school board candidates.

Records show Houston United for Strong Public Schools took in $150,000 from the political arm of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents about 1.7 million public employees, most of them working in schools. 

The PAC also received $75,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union representing about 1.6 million public service employees. In addition to supporting the four board candidates, the PAC plans to spend in favor of a Houston city ballot measure to authorize the sale of $1 billion in bonds under a pension reform plan.

In a statement, AFT President Randi Weingarten said union members contribute to candidates who work to make public schools a place where “parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach and kids are engaged.”

“In Houston, that means first and foremost supporting school board candidates focused on helping children and educators heal and recover after Hurricane Harvey and ensuring Houston families continue to have control over their public schools,” Weingarten said.

“And it means electing candidates who support strong community schools, are focused on real learning over high-stakes testing and recruiting and retaining teachers so they stop leaving the district after only a few years in the classroom, and who will fight for additional funding from Austin.”

Here is the story:  http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/PAC-backed-by-unions-puts-225K-behind-4-Houston-12323411.php.

I said this the other day:

Commentary is going to be curious to hear how our local leadership responds to this massive and major intrusion into our local electoral process.

This is ridiculous.

HISD Trustee Anna Eastman posted on the issue and put some folks in a defensive posture.

A lot of folks aren’t saying much on this because what are they going to say – that it is a good and healthy thing?

I finally got around to seeing the ad that is running in Virginia that was put out by a Latino group.  Some folks don’t like the ad.  I don’t have a problem with it.  Imagine being a youngster with immigrant ties.  Imagine being Johnny Reb.

Commentary was scratching my head on this one the other day. I’m talking about sticking a new neighborhood in a floodplain. I thought we were #HoustonStrong not #HoustonWrong. Here is how the Chron E-Board reacted yesterday:

Houston just faced our first major flooding test after Hurricane Harvey, and we nearly failed.

Buried in the City Council agenda on Wednesday was an ordinance to create a Municipal Utility District for a 151-acre housing development smack in the middle of the floodplain.

It is the sort of item that never should have appeared on the agenda in the first place.

Thanks to Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Morris and local advocacy groups like Residents Against Flooding and Save Buffalo Bayou, the scandalous MUD proposal was brought to public attention and referred back to the mayor for the time being. Were it not for media scrutiny and civic activism, this MUD, which was originally supported by District A Council Member Brenda Stardig, and the underlying master-planned community would have proceeded like any number of the oft-ignored issues that come before City Council.

City Hall got lucky that someone else caught its mistake.

Mayor Sylvester Turner needs to reject the MUD and send a message that times have changed in Houston. Our city can no longer tolerate a civic philosophy that insists on construction at any cost. We can no longer allow developers to treat our city as their playground for profit. Flood prevention and ecologic resilience must be given a newfound priority.

Here is the entire E-Board reaction: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Has-Houston-learned-nothing-after-Harvey-12324681.php.

#SpringerDinger tied the record for most dingers in a Serious with 5 joining Chase Utley and Reggie Jackson. He had 29 total bases which is now a Serious record and which was previously held by Willie Stargell and Reggie Jackson with 25. He had 8 extra base hits, also a new Serious record. He hit a dinger in 4 consecutive Serious games, also a new Serious record. He led this Serious with the most hits with 11 and batting average among players who played every game at .379 of course. Not bad at all.

I can’t decide if I’ll head Downtown to check on the parade stuff.

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World Serious H-Town

Finally!

After all these years and heartbreaks!

1980, 1986, 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2015.

For those who are no longer with us and never gave up hope.

For those who were there during the three straight 100 plus loss years.

For those who have always believed. For those who have always supported.

Hey, Texas! You have a World Serious championship!

And we did it by playing 3 homies at the Trop. (Glad we got a World Serious title before Arlington and my nephew Dave said the best trade of the year was the Darvish trade to the Dodgers.)

We did it after a killer storm put it on us a couple of months ago.

I totally agree with the General’s tweet:

John McClain‏Verified account @McClain_on_NFL 1h1 hour ago

 

As I tweeted during the Hurricane Harvey coverage and now after the World Series, I’ve never been prouder to work for the Houston Chronicle.

The Chron has been outstanding for sure.

I don’t know what else to say other than to say we have a bit of a well-deserved swagger this morning and that’s OK.

We’re champions and that’s cool. H-Town needed this. It was way overdue.

And last night I got to hang with one of my best friends, State Rep. Carol Alvarado, a super ‘Stros fan who went out to LA for Game 6 and flew back to join us here for Game 7.

Former State Rep. Rick Noriega was also with us and providing commentary throughout the game.

My good friend H-Town Hispanic Chamber CEO Laura Murillo who has been a lifelong ‘Stros fan was with us last night and throughout this last month and of all of us the most undeterred and steady when things got dicey during our historic playoff run.

SpringerDinger, Tuves, Correa, Keuchel, Verlander, Bregman, A.J., and all the rest, congrats and thank you very much!

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