By Evan Brunell
The Astros defied expectations last season by finishing with a 76-86 record in a year where franchise icons Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt were traded. Unfortunately for Houston, they still don't have a great baseball team despite importing Clint Barmes and Bill Hall to be the new double-play combination and help in the minors is not forthcoming. They need their young players at the major-league level to develop, and a leap forward by starting pitcher Bud Norris could be huge.
Norris posted a 4.92 ERA in 27 starts last season as a 25-year-old despite a 9.3 K/9 rate. If Norris can knock his 4.5 BB/9 mark down, he could evolve into a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. Heck, even regression to the mean could go a long way as Norris' xFIP was 4.12, suffering from an impressively low baserunner-strand rate of 67.1 percent. The league average in 2010 was 72.2 percent and strand rate is not considered one that can be influenced by skill.
But if you couple both a leap forward with the regression to the mean on strand rate and Norris could suddenly be considered one of the best young starters in the game.
- Turk Farrell played with Rusty Staub for the 1963 Houston Colt .45's
- Rusty Staub played with Rick Aguilera for the 1985 New York Mets
- Rick Aguilera played with LaTroy Hawkins for the 1995 Minnesota Twins
- LaTroy Hawkins played with Hunter Pence for the 2008 Houston Astros
In the second film of the Bad News Bears franchise, the down-and-out Little League team that improbably finished in second place had to find a way to reach Houston and play at the Astrodome. If they defeated the Houston Toros (hint: they did), it would earn the squad a date to play against the Japanese champions.
During the game, the umpires attempted to suspend play due to time constraints. Coach Leak (William Devane) led the crowd in a chant of "Let them play!" that is regarded as the film's seminal moment. This chant would be repeated years later during the 2002 All-Star Game that ended in a tie.
Several Astros made cameo appearances in the movie, including Cesar Cedeno, Enos Cabell, Bob Watson and J.R. Richard.
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