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Archive for March 26th, 2018

Mucho Monday

Hall of Fame great Cy Young leads all MLB pitchers with 815 pitching starts in his career. Who are number 2 and number 3 on the list of all-time career pitching starts? Hint: They both wore ‘Stros uniforms as players and both are in the Hall of Fame.

Memo to married male Democrats thinking you can run for a major political office after having an affair with an adult film star or Playboy playmate and get away with it. You can’t.

Oh, really? Commentary is talking about the owner of the Texans. Here is from the Chron:

Texans owner Bob McNair may have missed the mark again with his comments on Carolina owner Jerry Richardson.

Richardson is under NFL investigation and has put the franchise up for sale after accusations of workplace violations, which include allegations of sexual and racial overtones. Sports Illustrated reported in December that at least four former Panthers employees received “significant” monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson, including sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.

“Some of the comments could have been made jokingly,” McNair said of Richardson. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to offend anybody.”

And then this from another Chron article:

Texans owner Bob McNair said NFL playing fields are “not the place for political statements” and that teams must show fans that they “respect our flag and respect our country.”

McNair’s comments to the Washington Post came on the eve of the NFL owners spring meetings. Owners are not scheduled to vote on potential changes to the league’s policy on the national anthem.

“I think we all need to respect our flag and respect our country,” McNair told the Post. “I think we’ll figure out a way to make sure that we do that. We’ll have discussions about it.”

Owners are scheduled to meet again in May in Atlanta and a resolution could come then.

The current policy says that players are required to be on the sideline for the anthem and should stand for the anthem but does not require it.

“We have a policy manual now that says they must be on the sideline and they should stand and hold the helmet in their left hand,” McNair told the Post. “I interpret that to mean that’s what they should be doing.”

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Texans-owner-Bob-McNair-says-NFL-fields-not-place-12780564.php.

Got it?

I sure am glad the Rockets are 60-14 and the ‘Stros are World Series champs and their owners are focused on winning.

What took so long? Commentary is talking about charges being filed nearly 14 months after this alleged incident. Here is from Saturday’s Chron Sports Section:

NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett, a former Houston high school star who has been one of the league’s most outspoken advocates for social change, was indicted by a Harris County grand jury Friday on charges he assaulted a 66-year-old paraplegic security guard during the Super Bowl at NRG Stadium in 2017 and was decried by Houston’s police chief as “morally corrupt” for his actions that day.

Here is a quote from the article from HPD Chief Art Acevedo:

“You’re morally corrupt when you put your hands on a little old lady in a wheelchair. That is morally corrupt … morally bankrupt. He’s morally bankrupt. There’s no excuse for that. None.”

Well, that didn’t sit well with Bennett’s H-Town attorney Rusty Hardin and here is Rusty’s quote from the article:

“I have supported this chief of police, but what he said today was inexcusable. His job is to investigate, arrest and charge people he believes may have committed a crime and to let the system decide whether they are guilty. To call a person charged with a crime ‘morally bankrupt’ is impermissible. It’s over the top.

“Neither I nor the chief of police have ever met Michael Bennett. Neither one of us should be talking about whether he is guilty or not guilty until we know what the facts are. We have the presumption of innocence, and if the chief of police by fiat decides to do away with that, we’re in a hell of a fix.”

This is also from the article:

Bennett is the author of a book titled “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” co-authored by sportswriter Dave Zirin, that will be published April 3.

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/NFL-s-Michael-Bennett-indicted-for-third-degree-12777934.php.

Commentary doesn’t handicap criminal cases. The article says that there is no video footage of the incident. It was nearly 14 months ago. Rusty Hardin is his lawyer.

I wonder if Bennett will be delivering a signed copy of his book to Bob McNair?

Commentary was watching Sen. Rick Santorum on CNN yesterday when he made his CPR suggestion. I may be in the minority but, I didn’t think he sounded as stupid as social media made him out to be. He still sounded stupid though.

Bill King let us know a week and a half ago that he is Irish and that he doesn’t like the look of the Fighting Irish mascot out of South Bend. Bill King also has been very critical of some local H-Town management districts. I wonder if he danced an Irish jig of sorts when he heard about the Montrose Management District. Here is what Bill sent out this past weekend:

Montrose Management District Dissolves Itself

Ding dong, the witch is dead.

After suffering numerous legal setbacks, the board of the Montrose Management District voted this week to dissolve the District.  

While it is a great victory for the taxpayers of the MMD who never wanted it in the first place, the vote to dissolve leaves a number of unanswered legal questions and begs the question of whether other special districts should be dissolved as well.  

Most interesting will be whether anyone will be on the hook for the $6 million of illegal assessments collected by the MMD.  Of course, virtually all of that money has been spent, mostly on legal fees and administrative expenses, so the MMD literally does not have the money to give back.  So, will those from whom the illegal assessments were collected go after the directors that authorized them or perhaps they will try to claw back some of the $25,000 per month paid to the management company that ran the district.  One thing you can bet: this legal fight is not over.

But the case also highlights how far out of control, at least some, of these special districts have spun.  We recently learned that one of the management districts is managed by a state legislator under the guise of being an independent contractor.  And to make matters worse the state legislator agreed to lobby a state agency for funds for the district and to receive bonuses if successful, something which violates multiple lobbying laws.

Some of the special purpose districts provide valuable services to their areas.  But most operate with extraordinary opaqueness.   Few post their financial statements online.  They have issued hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds without any voter approval.  The compensation they give to top executives is jaw-dropping.  And the TIRZs currently siphon off about 15% of the City’s property tax revenue, which has been part of Turner’s justification to repeal the property tax cap.  Of course, he fails to mention that the property taxes going to TIRZs are not subject to the cap, making it one of several subterfuges used to defeat the intent of the cap.   

Frequently, special interests control these districts and carry out projects for their own financial interests even though they are adamantly opposed by the neighborhoods they are supposed to be serving.  They are able to ignore the wishes of their residents because of generous campaign contributions to City officials.  (More on that later.)  Of course, the great Uptown bus boondoggle is the poster child for such projects.  

Taxpayers will get some better insight into this secretive world in September.  That is when the Texas State Comptroller is due out with a database of financial information about all the special districts in the State.  The database was required by SB625, which was passed in the last Legislature.  Unfortunately, the information that the special districts must report to the Comptroller is fairly general, but it is still better than what we have now, unless you are prepared to file multiple Open Records requests.

The City should appoint an outside commission, made up of taxpayers, to review all the special districts and report back regarding their activities and finances.  The state law authorizing the creation of special districts vests in the Houston City Council the power to dissolve them.  Once the commission report is finished, Council should carefully consider whether each district should be allowed to continue its operations or be dissolved.  

Certainly, there will be a case to retain many of the districts.  But there will also be those that such a study will likely show should be wound down.  Let’s have a transparent look and let the chips fall where they may.

Commentary said this on Friday:

I hope to see at least one of these articles a day heading into Opening Day next Thursday.

MLB’s Anthony Castrovince put out his Top 10 MLB lineups and showed us the deserved respect by putting us on top.

Castrovince put out his top pitching rotations and we are number 1. Check this:

The proliferation of pitcher injuries and the evolution of the way games are managed has drastically diminished starting pitching workloads. But it hasn’t diminished the faith and fascination a great-on-paper rotation can inspire.

If anything, our appreciation for starting stability, for the constant confidence that comes with pitching persistence, has only been augmented by an environment in which just 15 pitchers accumulated 200 innings last year.

What follows, as we continue our Top 10 series that began with the Top 10 lineups and continued with the Top 10 bullpens, is a list of the best rotations in the game entering 2018. As always, injuries, ineffectiveness or an uprising from elsewhere can alter this list drastically. But the dirty truth for now is that a majority of Major League teams have so many ifs and buts in their projected starting fives (or fours or sixes) that it’s not especially difficult to find the true contenders for this particular post.

Here are the 10 clubs seemingly off to a great — ahem — start.

*Note that the order pitchers are listed here isn’t necessarily the order in which they’ll first appear in 2018.

Astros

SP1: Justin Verlander

SP2: Dallas Keuchel

SP3: Lance McCullers Jr.

SP4: Gerrit Cole

SP5. Charlie Morton

Brad Peacock was, in terms of FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement calculation, the Astros’ most valuable pitcher last season, and he doesn’t even crack this starting five for the start of the season. That’s how deep this group is, and the depth is the reason the ‘Stros are No. 1. They’ve got a few No. 1’s, really, as there are various staffs where Verlander (whose arrival to an analytically driven organization is helping him pad his Hall of Fame case), a walk-year Keuchel, McCullers and Cole are all capable of fitting that billing on various other clubs. The big key will be Cole limiting the long ball and making use of the Astros’ more breaking-ball-heavy approach to untap his true potential.

Hall of Fame greats Nolan Ryan with 773 career pitching starts and Don Sutton with 756 are number 2 and 3 on the all-time career pitching starts list of course.

MLB is back at The Yard this evening.

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