OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HEAD

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

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.

Chirp!

 

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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