Some things to talk about while Ryan introduces you to Bob Grossman, Toronto Lawyer...
1) Astros players on Venezuela situation
So, so much to unpack in this great story by Evan Drellich on the situation in Venezuela and how it affects Houston's players and front office. Gregorio Petit spoke about what he's going through as he watches the turmoil long-distance:
"It's my country; it hurts. It's home sweet home. My family's still there; my friends are still there. I want people to be proud of my country. ... I want people to feel, 'Hey, that's Venezuela, it's a great country,' all that. I don't want people saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry.' I don't want people to feel sorry for us. I hope everything comes around for a better life. Then I can be here just playing the game, not thinking about anything else."
Jeff Luhnow also was quoted in the story, talking about Houston's ongoing efforts to get "aggressive" in Venezuela. Last winter, that included sending a few of their own players down to play winter ball with a minor league team there.
"The government tends to leave it alone because it's an important part of the personality of Venezuela and making people feel good about their country," Luhnow said. "I expect that baseball will continue to flourish down there. But we're going to have to take a long, hard look at exactly what our model is. We were turning the dial toward being more aggressive this last year."
Jayne over at What the Heck, Bobby? did a two-part series of interviews with players who participated in the program. For the most part, they were very positive about the experience. Most of the bad anecdotes have to do more with cultural differences than anything else. But, as you listen to what Luhnow said in that interview with Drellich, the future for the Astros in Venezuela seems awful cloudy right now.
2) Nice profile on Dexter Fowler
Brian McTaggart has a piece up on Dexter Fowler, wtih a ton of good information in it from this winter. For instance, Fowler became a dad a month after being traded to the Astros. Sort of like Jeff Luhnow getting married soon after taking over as the club's GM.
After five years with the Rockies, Fowler was traded to the Astros on Dec. 3 for pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes, giving him a new outlook on baseball. It was only a month later that his Iranian-born wife, Aliya, gave birth to the couple's first child, giving him a new outlook on life.
"A lot of new things, a lot of different changes, but at the same time you've got to take a deep breath," said Fowler, who was introduced to his wife by a friend in 2010. "That's part of life and whatever life has for us, you have to roll with it."
Seems like Fowler is quickly fitting into the team. I predict he'll be a fan favorite very quickly once the season gets going. Heck, he's already Houston's "face" of MLB for his radiant smile. Plus, did you see that photo of him from Photo Day, taking off/putting on his gloves? He's smooth, man. Smooth.
3) Farewell to Busta
In case you missed it, one of our own announced his retirement recently:
Due to apathy, I've retired from recap writing for @CrawfishBoxes. Realized 60-day DL wasn't going to cure me. TCB Blue & Orange forever!— William Peebles (@BustaPozee) February 24, 2014
I don't "run" TCB so much as I throw a loose boundary over it. Finding people who are interested in joining this site as writers is always fun, but its even moreso when they surprise you. That surprise could take the form of someone who's gifted at understanding statistics, someone who makes kick-ass graphics, someone who can delve into the business side of baseball or follows the minor leagues and draft like a bird dog. The most pleasant surprise, though, is someone who can be funny.
William was that. He brought humor to the site in droves with his recaps for the past two seasons. Some of them are among the funniest stuff we've produced on the site. I hate to see him go, but I can completely understand where he's coming from. It's hard following a team when you can't watch it or go to games that often. It's even harder to write intelligently about said team.
Yeah, I get it, but in leaving, William probably makes the site 10 percent less funny than it was with him here. Nothing we can do but just soldier on until the next writer surprises us in a unique way. Oh, and we can wish William in his future endeavors.
So, sorry, we're closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya.