Checking in on CSN Houston's programming

USA TODAY Sports

I finally get a chance to watch more of what CSN Houston has to offer. Predictably, it only makes me sad that I can't get this channel.

After finally being able to catch some of what CSN Houston has been producing about the Astros, I'm conflicted.

It'd be so much easier to dismiss the year-long blackout from being able to watch the new channel if the programming were terrible. If the broadcasts were lame and error-filled, it'd be easier to sit back and wait for things to fix themselves just as all those RSN deals get done.

Except that's not the case. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The programming is great.

What I got to watch was the Astros Bases Loaded segment from a week ago. It was pretty perfect for me, since I've had a lot going on in real life lately and have felt a bit disconnected from the team. Bases Loaded delivered on everything I could want to fix that. The recaps at the top were simple, direct and to the point. I loved the top plays from the past week. Even though I'd seen some of them in GIF form around here, stringing them all together was nice.

There was a good piece from Julia Morales on how clubhouse guys mud up baseballs. Not something I think about a lot, but it was a cool "behind-the-scenes" moment. I'm totally #TeamLeila, but Julia seems like a perfectly fine addition to the Astros universe. After all, she took on that giant hot dog in Arlington like a champ.*

Editor's note: I just...I don't even know what to do about that sentence.

Cory Hepola provided just the right kind of natural ebullience you want in a clip show announcer, without trying to be like the failed SportsCenter hosts who just go over-the-top. He was funny, but also brought some fresh material to clips that were a week old.

He then dialed it back for a solid interview with Reid Ryan, where they covered plenty of ground and even touched on The Springer Question, which just won't go away.

All in all, it was a solid show. My only quibble was that for the interviews, the music dubbed over was sort of distracting at times. Like it was supposed to be in the background but was too noticeable or something. Not a big deal, but that was the only thing I didn't like about the whole show.

That pretty much dovetails with everything I've read and seen about CSN Houston. The big shows they've done, like the retrospective on Rockets' big men and the Jose Altuve piece have all been top notch. Some have been award-winning. I even watched Brett Dolan call a high school football game last winter and was impressed by the presentation.

But, at the same time, that's what makes this tough. The latest note from Maury Brown, when he eviscerated that other Forbes guy for the Astros profitability story, said Houston isn't even negotiating with carriers right now and is looking to 2014. That's depressing on multiple levels, especially for those of you who also love and follow the Rockets.

Getting a glimpse of the quality of CSN Houston was almost too much. Without seeing any of it, I could pretend I didn't need it. Seeing it, though, makes the sting of being denied access to it that much tougher. It's always all about the money, but when corporations fight like this, it's the fans that suffer the most.

What have your impressions of CSN Houston been, for those of you who get the channel? Do you find yourself watching their other programming besides Astros games? Is there anything that stands out to you?

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