Barry Warner: Enough with the prelims; it's time for Rockets-Warriors

Clint Capela is going to get paid. Jason Miller

By 9:30 tonight, the heavily favored Rockets will put the JV team from Utah out of their misery. Even with a healthy Ricky Rubio, the Jazz simply cannot score with the Rockets.

Clint Capela has turned Rudy Gobert into a bench player during crunch time. The Swiss born center will become a very rich man this summer as a free agent. It would not shock me if he got between $16-18 million per year.  With his ability to set pick and rolls for the guards, plus defend the rim and get double digit rebounds, he will be highly sought after.

Golden State and the long awaited Western Conference Finals are next.  When it starts is anyone’s guess, since it’s up to the TV networks.

Save the debate

There is no sense getting into a Michael vs LeBron debate as to who is the greatest.

Different times and conditions for each new generation in all of sports makes these arguments far more difficult.

Then there was Kareem, who like LeBron a high school All American. But James did not go the collegiate route, where Mr. Sky Hook was three-time Player of the Year and an 18-time all-star.

The greatest winner of all-time, with 11 rings, was Celtic legend Bill Russell.  And it’s certainly understandable if most do not even remember this shot blocker and rebounder. He starred in the late 50’s and 60’s, when Boston dominated the NBA.

Be careful what you wish for

David Fizdale latest in the long line of Knicks coaches to work for James Dolan, who is a member of the lucky sperm club. The controversial owner of the Knicks, Rangers, Madison Square Garden and cable network inherited these assets from his late father.

Dolan rarely meets with the media, as he spends more time jetting across the country with his rock and roll band. For those keeping score, Fiz is the 11th coach in the last 14 seasons for the once proud Knicks.

His rift with Marc Gasol was the big reason Memphis fired the former Heat assistant.

"I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James," the coach told his star player, according to a source.

Astros struggles

Gerrit Cole’s 77 strikeouts in the first seven starts with a new club are the most by a player in Major League history. This year’s Astro team is getting phenomenal pitching, but the hitting sucks.

Every starter except 2-5 Dallas Kuchel has been tremendous. But the bullpen leaves so much to be desired.  What has happened to normally reliable Will Harris? Joe Smith has been a big disappointment, while Brad Peacock’s slider is flat.

Besides Chris Devenski, the most reliable reliever has been former starter Colin Mc Hugh

Leadoff hitter and last year’s World Series MVP, George Springer seems to be addicted to swinging from his heels, while last year’s MVP, Jose Altuve would not be among the top 10 in the MVP voting, based upon the sample size of 2018.

The popular second baseman looks like a wanna be home run hitter with every swing.

Through 35 games thus far, Carlos Correa appears to be leaving too many pitches in the zone.  

Evan Gattis has now struck out 29 times in 95 at bats, has one homer and just 8 RBI’s.

Marwin Gonzales is a mere shadow of himself, while Alex Bregman has failed to take the next step.

Clutch hitting is simply not there and the bottom third of the order is a joke.  It is both too early to panic and way too early to bring up minor league star Kyle Tucker who is still trying to figure out Triple A pitchers.

JD Davis, who made the opening day roster, would be brought up first.

I’m not panicking, just merely concerned about a pattern that does not look like the way they were winning in last season’s magical moments.

Pujols joins 3000 hit club

One of the truly great people, as well as a major league star, 18-year veteran Albert Pujols got his 3000th hit in Seattle.  In the process, he joins Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and A-Rod the cheater as the only men to have 600 career home runs in addition to the cherished 3000 hits.

How many years has Albert Pujols struck out 100 times in a season? Yep. Zero. You won’t find a single 100-whiff season on his baseball-reference page. And how many other members of the 3,000-Hit/600-Homer Club (or even the 3,000/500 Club) can say that? Only one: Mr. Henry Aaron, the elegant Hall of Famer.

Around the NFL

Safety first? The kickoff rule reccomendation is yet another example of where the NFL hides behind “player safety.”   It is a violent sport, played by semi violet men, making millions for themselves and the owners, who do not want any more lawsuits.

It is part of the wussification of the game.  From the last collective bargaining agreement about two-a-days, the number of practices where contact was allowed, the longer off season away from coaches...the game is not the same.  

Faded star: Colorful former Dallas star Dez Bryant turned down a three year $27-million-dollar deal from the Ravens, figuring he was worth more.

The diva is still waiting by his phone for a deal.

Still out of work: The Raiders singed former UT and Kansas City star linebacker Derrick Johnson.  That was bad news for ex-Texans star Brian “The Cheater” Cushing. It was Cushing’s first reported meeting with a team since he visited with the Seahawks in early March.

Big deal: Matt Ryan sets the bar for quarterbacks, signing a five year $150 million-dollar deal with Atlanta.  Gee, I can hardly wait to see a bunch of guys running around in t-shirts and shorts.



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Upton and Verlander are headed to the Big Apple. Photo by Elsa/ Getty Images.

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winnerJustin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Upton clearly gives zero bleeps when defending her man. Kate Upton/Twitter

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