Barry Warner: On the Astros, Bob McNair, The Masters overreaching, the NFL draft and the Rockets

Barry Warner: On the Astros, Bob McNair, The Masters overreaching, the NFL draft and the Rockets
Astros owner Jim Crane went above and beyond. Photo by Joshua Jordan

The World Series champs finished their first homestand with a 5-1 record.

Not only did Jim Crane exceed the previous record of employee rings, he also paid the taxes for each individual. Thursday night when he presented a ring to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, it was because Landry’s is a big sponsor of the Astros.  I did not see him giving one to the formerly beloved owner of the Texans, Bob McNair.

The trade with the Pirates for Gerritt Cole has been a steal thus far. In Saturday night’s bizarre win, he went seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. Cole's 22 strikeouts are a club record for a pitcher in his first two starts with the Astros.

Last night in Minnesota, where temperatures dipped into the 20’s, they won 2-0, with Justin Verlander striking out 9 in six innings.  

It is absurd for MLB to allow a game played in those type of conditions. It shows once again the greed of owners.

McNair at it again

The philanthropic Texans owner continues to make national headlines, this time for his interview with the Wall Street Journal where his only regret for the “inmates are running the prison’’ comment was “The main thing I regret is apologizing. I really didn’t have anything to apologize for.”

According to the reporter, Andrew Beaton, the Texans owner wanted to set the record straight.  

Close friends and confidants tell me he is still sharp, on top of several topics other than football. There are no after effects from the chemo treatments when the cancer hit five years ago.

Once again, my advice is simple.  Do not talk to the media, here or anywhere.  At this stage, only bad things happen.

It has become a PR nightmare, but no one on Kirby Dr. will tell him no.

He still denies meeting with the 2008 Texans’ players and staff after Barack Obama was elected President.  The staunch, conservative owner consistently has donated millions to Republican candidates.

Owen Daniels confirmed McNair’s talk to the team when on with John and Lance on ESPN 97.5.  Eric Winston did the same on the Texans Propaganda Network.

I’ve spoken to several other players and former assistant coaches who confirmed the same. I have been in this business for 62 years and never heard an owner do something like that.

Sad that a man who has done so much with his money for our community has tainted his legacy.

A local angle at pretentious Augusta

The semi religious experience at Augusta was turned upside down by the winner of the green jacket, Patrick Reed, holding off Ricky Fowler and Jordan Spieth.

No other sport, including the hypocrites running the NCAA put more of a muzzle on the media than the members of the toughest and snobbiest golf course in the nation. There is no mention of fans; instead they are called patrons.

Augusta rules with an iron fist.  All of the past winners of the Green Jacket have been cut from the same mold.  But not Reed, who lives here in Spring. He has a rep of not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, being outspoken, cheating and being hated by his college teammates.  Like Aaron Rodgers, he blew up the bridge between his parents and siblings.

Being the rebellious spirit I am, it is somewhat refreshing to see a Dennis the Menace personality winning the Holy Grail of Golf.

He is the class clown, the goofball in a Catholic school where the nuns would rap his knuckles with a ruler.

The highlight of the first round to me was defending champ Sergio Garcia putting five balls in the water and taking a record 13 on the hole. The golf gods humble even the best, at times making them look like hackers

CBS got its wish, with Tiger Woods playing on Sunday. But not as a contender. Woods closed with a flurry, shooting a 3-under 69 in the final round and finishing at 1-over 289 for the Masters.

Both his irons and putter were faulty through the 18 holes.

After all of his surgeries and other problems, watching him today is like getting together with an old lover from 10 years ago.  You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Hopefully I am wrong and he will win a major at least one more time. The stars must align.

Watching him at his prime was a thrill.

NFL Draft: Who do you trust evaluating QBs?

The Broncos love Josh Allen, despite many in scouting for other teams questioning his football intelligence. But they would be thrilled if USC’s Sam Darnold dropped to five.  My sources tell me that John Elway was underwhelmed when Josh Rosen spent the day at the Broncos facility. A couple of GM’s have told me they are truly concerned about the cerebral and socially conscious UCLA quarterback caring more about trying to fix the outside world than football.

I have been privileged to know Gil Brandt. the man whose scouting genius put together the Dallas Cowboys until 1989, when Jerry Jones fired him.

He spoke with’s Peter King in his must-read Monday Morning Quarterback column about the upcoming draft   He is the polar opposite of many on Rosen, who is his top choice, followed by Sam Darnold, colorful Baker Mayfield, big armed Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson as first round quarterbacks.  

‘‘This will be an incredible extravaganza. for years to come, people will compare every draft to Dallas. the saying everything’s bigger in Texas will definitely apply. we’ll have sections all over the stadium for all 32 teams, and it’ll be like a competition between all the teams and their fans. twelve big-time college coaches will be there—Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Chris Petersen, others. day two’s going to have the same excitement.”

Playoffs are coming

Rockets have home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs, which open here Saturday night.  The first opponent will be determined when the regular season ends Wednesday night.

The hottest team in the league is in Philly. Props to Sam Hinkie, the controversial Sixers GM when they would annually tank for the lottery.

The former assistant to Daryl Morey coined the phrase “Trust the Process.”  It paid off with a 50-win season, led by Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid.



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Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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