Some things to talk about while #CrushCity takes over Houston...
1) That old playoff feeling
Sitting through another Astros win last night, I felt giddy. I was jumping up and down for most of the night at big moments. It's a good feeling, this winning. It's easy to forget how it feels.
But, as I watched the later innings of that win over the Royals, I couldn't help but think back to how I felt in the other Astros playoff runs I can remember.
This one feels different, mainly because I'm not anxious about the results.
Sure, the games are tense. They're exciting, but they're not exhausting. I don't go into them hoping they don't lose, so the legacies of these players isn't tarnished.
Back in '97-'99 and in 2001, it was all about getting over the hump. Houston had these great players, but after getting dumped by the Braves in that first year, people started questioning Biggio and Bagwell. They couldn't perform in the playoffs. They must not be any good.
So, those next three playoff trips were more nerve-wracking than anything. When were they going to win that first postseason series? Could they ever beat the Braves?
In 2004 and 2005, the ends of Biggio and Bagwell were in sight. The signing of Clemens and Pettitte meant something. It upped the expectations and made those playoffs fun but exhausting. The window was closing, so the team had to win now, at all costs.
Maybe that's the difference with this team. There are no expectations.
So many of these guys are young, it feels like the Astros should be here for a while. This is the appetizer in what should be a long and hearty meal at the postseason banquet. Because of that, I'm savoring the moment and not worried if they might lose. This season has still been a success. It's still been so, so much fun to watch these guys win together.
Of course, things don't always work out. Just look at the Oklahoma City Thunder. They looked poised to dominate for years after sprinting to the NBA Finals as a young, up-and-coming team. They weren't supposed to be there that soon. Then they never got back.
Is anyone else feeling this way about the Astros? Are you nervously waiting to see how they do? Has the Houston Sports Malaise hit you and made you expect failure? Or, can you just appreciate this team, win or lose?
I don't know how I'll react if they fall to the Royals, Rangers or Blue Jays in the next week. I do know I'm happy to be enjoying the playoffs for once, instead of worry about legacies and expectations.
2) David Price in the playoffs
In David Price's first postseason, he was terrific. He pitched out of the bullpen for the surprising Tampa Bay Rays, throwing 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts, one earned run and two hits.
Since then, he's won 104 games, posted a 3.10 ERA and has the fourth-most strikeouts of any pitcher in this decade.
He's also struggled in the playoffs, losing to the Rangers in Game 1 of their ALDS series on Thursday.
This makes some people question him, just like they question The Greatest Pitcher on Earth Clayton Kershaw. Heading into free agency this winter, David Price will get even more questions when he signed an enormous nine-figure deal.
Because his dog is named Astro, because Dallas Keuchel pitched him at the All-Star Game and because "Houston needs an ace" is a meme that's been around for a couple of years, David Price will be in Astros fans' crosshairs this winter.
Should they worry about signing him? What good is an ace if he can't win in the playoffs?
In his career, Price has won 65 percent of his games. He's pitched with a microscopic ERA and brings heat from the left side of the plate. Basically, he's the inverse of Dallas Keuchel with the same results.
Since 2008, only five pitchers have a better winning percentage than Price's. The best of them (Zach Greinke) has only won 2.5 percent more often than Price. If you want an ace on the market, in other words, you can't do much worse than him.
Why, then, isn't he as good in the playoffs? Is it some character deficit in the man? Are his pitches just not suited to the high-pressure environment of the postseason? Does he fall apart at the first sign of pressure?
Those will be hurled at him, but the most likely answer is that even the best pitchers only win three out of five games. Sometimes, that 35 percent can bite a player at an inopportune time, like it did Price. Five of his six playoff starts since 2008 have been bad. One was really good, but Price didn't get the win.
There's no secret to postseason success. Good players perform better than bad players. Sometimes, we remember bad players more fondly because of good playoff performances. Sometimes, we remember great players for their struggles in one month of a six-month grind. It happens.
It shouldn't stop any team from signing Price this winter, however. He's still one of the best pitchers around and will instantly upgrade the top of a rotation. And, yeah, eventually he'll win in the playoffs.
3) How are you watching today?
The last two 3 Things posts have been pretty heavy. I'm not used to that, so let's finish off the week with something lighter.
How are you repping the Astros today? Are you wearing Astros gear at work? Anyone got cool Astros socks on under a suit? I'm rocking an Astros polo, thanks to casual Fridays. Gotta support the team.
Anyone going to watch parties or cutting out of work early to see the game?
Let us know in the comments. Keep any pics as tasteful as Colby Rasmus without his shirt.