Jose Altuve Is En Fuego …

I have said here several times recently that the MLB race to focus on this September is the one in the AL West.  As of this morning, the Astros lead the Mariners by one game and the Rangers by two games.  The three teams have fewer than 25 games remaining and the Mariners final 10 games are against the Rangers and the Astros.  Even a Hollywood script would not set up much better than this.

This morning, you can overlay an individual performance of historical significance atop that pennant race.  José Altuve has been en fuego this week:

  • On Monday, Altuve hit two home runs against the Rangers – one in his final at bat of the night.  The Astros won 13-6.
  • Last night, Altuve homered in his first three at bats in the first three innings against the Rangers.  The Astros prevailed here 14-1.

Altuve homered in four consecutive plate appearances over a two-game stretch and hit 5 home runs in 6 plate appearances in those two games.  He has had some injury problems this year limiting him to only 68 games so far in 2023; but he is clearly on a hot streak as the teams enter the deep stretch in the pennant race; here are his offensive stats as of this morning:

  • Batting average = .321
  • On-Base percentage = .563
  • OPS = .969

Moving on …  I ran across a report that led me to put a note on my clipboard whereupon, I proceeded to lose it in and amongst a bunch of other notes.  [Aside:  No one who has ever witnessed the physical presence of Curmudgeon Central has been overwhelmed by the orderly nature of the surroundings.  It is not as if a tornado blew through; it is more like a tornado is still in the process of blowing through.]  In any event, I “found” the note this morning and want to present it here.

There was something called the “Up Next Elite Camp” for young basketball players who aspire to careers in the NBA.  One of the speakers for this camp in New Orleans, LA was Tee Morant who is the father of Ja Morant – – the now suspended Memphis Grizzlies’ superstar.  Here is the key element of the message Tee Morant had for these youngsters:

“My son didn’t get in trouble cause of the people around him.  He got in trouble because of his decisions.”

Wow!  Dad didn’t say that his son needs to associate himself with better people; he didn’t say that his son was in the wrong place at the wrong time so you always need to be aware of your surroundings; he didn’t say his son is a fundamentally good person who just didn’t think the way an adult needs to think.  Tee Morant said that his son was in trouble because his son made bad – – read boneheaded – – decisions.

Congratulations to Tee Morant. That message delivered to the aspiring NBA players at this camp is far more important to them than anything anyone else tried to teach them about things like playing the pick-and-roll and/or defending the cross-over dribble.

Did any of the kids process Tee Morant’s message?  We can’t know this in the short-term but there is another question that we might see an answer to soon.

  • Has Ja Morant heard and absorbed the message his father put out there for those Up Next Elite Camp youngsters to think about and recognize?

Ja Morant is 23 years old and has a guaranteed contract that has already provided him with access to a level of wealth that is life changing if not quite generation changing.  Ja Morant – – using his father’s words – – got himself suspended twice and cost himself more than $30M (reportedly) off the value of his guaranteed contract because of his own decisions. So, is that suspension/fine plus the words of his father sufficient for Ja Morant to take a step back from his celebrity status for enough time to do a reset on his social life?

Morant’s suspension will end on December 19th – – assuming of course that there are no new boneheaded incidents involving Morant between now and then.  It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that Morant and his entourage could interpret the current suspension as evidence that Adam Silver and his cronies are simply out to put the young superstar in his place and to limit his free expression when he waves a handgun around on various social media channels.  Even if that level of paranoia were true, that would be a bad motivation for future action by Morant and his entourage – – and the chances that is indeed the situation are slim indeed.

Finally, I’ll close today with this definition offered up by Ambrose Bierce:

Cynic n.:  A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.  Hence the custom among Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………