If no deal is reached soon, 60 percent of the Houston market won’t be able to see Astros games

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Insert your “who wants to see ’em anyway!” joke here:

Astros owner Jim Crane said Monday there were a “couple conference calls” in an attempt to resolve long-stalled CSN Houston carrier negotiations and avoid a three-team blackout in 60 percent of the Houston-area TV market.

The Astros play the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. If a deal isn’t reached by then, the Astros, Rockets and Dynamo will remain unavailable on major carriers such as AT&T Uverse, DirecTV and Dish Network.

A common tale these days as sports rights fees skyrocket and the costs are passed on to subscribers. Which is all good when the ones passing things on to subscribers also own the sports rights, but when multiple media companies are involved it often gets complicated.

As for your “who wants to see the Astros?” jokes, save ’em. Given the sheer number of baseball games there is value in the product to everyone involved, even if the team is poor.  Something tells me this gets resolved fairly soon.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.