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Astros Crawfish Boil: August 27, 2015

A look at the happenings in the world of baseball from George Springer's impending return to the MLB's study of fan safety.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Astros News:

George Springer’s rehab assignment may begin this weekend
It appears that Springer is set to take one more batting practice with the team, this time at the Twins' Target Field before Fridays game. If all goes well, it appears he could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend with either Class AA Corpus Christi or Class AAA Fresno.

Astros' Hinch has strong case for AL Manager of the Year | FOX Sports
The Astros' quick success this season reflects well upon first-year manager A.J. Hinch, and should easily put him in the running for the American League's Manager of the Year Award.

Carlos Correa joins Topps for memorabilia venture
Topps, which has been associated with sports trading cards for more than 60 years, has signed an agreement with Astros shortstop Carlos Correa that will include the company’s first venture into autographed memorabilia.

Here's why the powerful Astros will be plenty dangerous in October
From top to bottom, the Houston batting order is packed with hitters who are capable of putting a ball in the seats. The Astros have nine players in double figures, which puts them two away from tying the major league record.

For Jeff Luhnow and Astros, J.D. Martinez is the one who got away
The Astros are atop the AL West and cruising toward the playoffs, but the loss of outfielder J.D. Martinez back in 2014 is a huge "what if" for Houston.

Astros expected to have quartet of September call-ups

A righthanded bat may also come soon, but that’s not definitive. (George Springer, of course, is on his way back too.)

AL West Results of Note:

Astros beat Yankees again, ease recent road woes
The day-in, day-out effectiveness of the Astros’ low-velocity, outs-pumping rotation was furthered by Collin McHugh on Wednesday afternoon in a 6-2 win over the Yankees, giving the Astros a rubber-match victory at Yankee Stadium.

Blue Jays rout Rangers, fly higher in East
Justin Smoak hit a two-run home run in the fifth to put the Blue Jays ahead for good and Edwin Encarnacion hit a grand slam in the sixth in a 12-4 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night. The score was 2-2 when Smoak connected off Rangers starter Colby Lewis for his 13th home run of the season. The Blue Jays, with their fourth straight win, now lead the Yankees by two games in the American League East. The Rangers, with their second straight loss to the Blue Jays, fell a half-game behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Justin Verlander loses no-no; 1-hits Angels
The long path back to pitching dominance for Justin Verlander ended Wednesday night with a familiar sight. The Tigers' ace came within three outs of his third career no-hitter, settling for a one-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over the Angels on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

Around the Majors:

The Happiest And Saddest Fans In Baseball | FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight took a look into the happiness of each fan base (using Reddit). Check it out and see if you agree with where the Astros rank.

The unwritten rules of baseball are stupid
The Yankees and Astros got into it on Tuesday night over nothing and a number of baseball writers have come out against the unwritten rules of baseball in response.

Why MLB needs to keep exploring ways to improve pace of play

While I don't see a pitch clock coming to major league baseball anytime soon, the progress made this season in cutting nine-inning games to below three hours has been a welcome move.

MLB "actively studying" fan safety; Phillies plan to expand netting at Citizens Bank Park

Good on everybody involved in wanting to get ahead of a potential tragedy.

Plans for more protective netting already in works in Philly

At least one major-league team plans to extend protective netting for fans. The Philadelphia Phillies intend to install such netting at Citizens Bank Park, but are waiting on baseball before proceeding with final plans, according to major-league sources.

MLB and Urban Youth Academies: Reversing the Growing Gap in Youth Baseball Opportunities

This is Part II of a two-part series on MLB and Youth Baseball. Part I, which can be found here, focused on general challenges for MLB when working with youth baseball, from sports specialization trends to coaching challenges at the youth level, to cooperating with various organizations to promote the game. Today focuses on the specific challenge of improving the game’s diversity and increasing participation numbers in the African-American community, in a "travel-ball culture" where money is increasingly spent to train young athletes.