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Dan Bickley

October begins with Houston Astros thriving, Bill O’Brien fired

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, right, celebrates with teammates after the Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

It’s the fourth quarter of 2020, a year like no other. Somehow, it always gets worse.

This is home. This is Mean Street. And before we begin:

Eddie Van Halen just died. He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of guitar gods, along with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. He was so iconic and legendary that he succeeded wildly with two different singers, just like AC/DC’s Angus Young.

Also, Van Halen was always better with David Lee Roth, just like Shaq and Kobe, just like LeBron and D-Wade.

The Astros are thriving. This is a disgusting break of good fortune for a filthy organization that cheated the sport blind over a three-year period. The Astros were spared the vitriol of American public due to a truncated season played without fans. They posted a 29-31 record, slinking shamefully through their encore. They were gifted a playoff berth by Major League Baseball, which felt compelled to expand its postseason to 16 teams.

The irony is nauseating. Commissioner Rob Manfred butchered the investigation of the Astros, penalizing zero players and passing out immunity like Halloween candy. Maybe he deserves to hand them another trophy. But I won’t be watching.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim owes a great deal to the professional incompetence of former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and former Texans GM/head coach Bill O’Brien. Keim might swing and miss a lot. But he knows how to find the sucker in the room.

The College Football Playoff was destined to be failure, a system that provides only four playoff spots to a sport with five major conferences. But in the pandemic of 2020, those running the CFP should be ashamed of themselves.

According to reports, they rejected Larry Scott’s plea for an expanded playoff, one that would level the playing field for the Pac-12, a conference that started late due to COVID-19 concerns. They had a chance to unify a fractured, regionalized, selfish sport beset by greed and corruption.

They punted, resembling the turtles and jellyfish that have always run this sport.

After signing Madison Bumgarner in Dec. 2019, the Diamondbacks believed they were finally closing in on the Dodgers. How bad it must hurt to see it all disappear; to waive the white payroll flag; to watch the Dodgers win an eighth consecutive division title; and to watch the Padres pass them in the fast lane, the new upstarts of the National League West.

Yes, Devin Booker sold his Paradise Valley home. No, I do not believe in any imminent trade demands or threats of relocation.

Booker is coming off a difficult, grueling, rewarding season. He lost his mentor, Kobe Bryant, at the start of the pandemic. He gained a love interest in L.A. celeb-icon Kendall Jenner. He made the All-Star team and missed the playoffs. But not before helping the Suns post an 8-0 record in the Orlando bubble, creating waves of real momentum.

I believe Booker is still rooted emotionally in Phoenix. At least until LeBron James leaves the Lakers, creating an opportunity for Booker to take over the Staples Center and the city of Los Angeles, truly carrying on Bryant’s legacy.

From a weather standpoint, the French Open in early October has been an unmitigated disaster. Let’s hope we don’t feel the same about the Masters in mid-November.

Reach Bickley at Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Bickley & Marotta

Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier