OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HEAD

Barry Warner: Madness, Kaepernick and more sports

Colin Kaepernick surprised Bob McNair. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Without question this is the most mind-blowing tournament I have ever seen.  Brackets have been busted, hearts have been broken, buzzer beaters, No. 1 seeds eliminated.

The best story of March Madness is the Loyola Ramblers. And not just because of coach Porter Mosier’s kids who upset both Miami and Tennessee.  It’s the remarkable story of 98-year-young team chaplain and scout, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

She is getting more press coverage than the players, posing for selfies and signing autographs.  Sister Jean, the team chaplain since 1994, has had a TV camera trained on her during games and has been mic’d up for her pregame prayers.

The national celeb plans to be with the 11th seeded Ramblers in Atlanta on Thursday night at the Sweet 16 in Atlanta, where they will face No. 7 seed Nevada in a South Region semi.

Coogs just miss

The UH Coogs finish the season 27-8 under coach Kelvin Sampson as a

buzzer beater keeps them from advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and a game against the Aggies. But I still cannot figure out why Sampson, a defensive minded coach did not put two players on the inbound pass.

Strange indeed.

But it’s a boost for Kelvin Sampson’s program, as they move into their new state of the art facility.

A&M moves on

The Aggies made it to the Sweet Sixteen doing it in a manner that Kevin Sumlin’s football teams could not: With defense.

Once again coach Billy Kennedy’s kids clean the glass, pulling down 84 percent of their shots against former defending champ North Carolina and Providence. The keys are 6-10, 241-pound sophomore Robert Williams and 6-10, 266 pound junior  center Tyler Davis.

So much for putting a lot of stock in your conference, where the Aggies finished seventh in the SEC

Rockets roll on

Like a well-oiled machine, Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets continue to roll, even though they make a scary habit of letting teams get back into the games in the fourth quarter.  

The more you watch P.J. Tucker, the more you appreciate the unselfish play of the former Texas star.

Astros, Altuve stand tall

Astros owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow rewarded superstar second baseman Jose Altuve by signing the MVP through the 2024 season. It’s a five year, $151 MILLION-dollar deal.

Crane is one again putting his money where his mouth is by paying guys who grew up in their farm system.  When he bought the club, it was bare bones payroll and 100 loss seasons. Crane lived up to his promise of taking care of his stars.

They did the deal quietly with the toughest agent in baseball, Scott Boras, representing the Venezuelan package of dynamite.

Net Gaines

Huge props to new Texans GM Brian Gaine.  Unlike his predecessor Rick Smith McNair, who treated the media as maggots, Brian had a press conference to discuss the first few days of free agency.

How refreshing.

Communicating with you the fans through the media rather than Slick Rick hiding in his imperial office. On the day they lost out on left tackle Nate Solder, Gaine added three offensive linemen.

And that was before the shocking signing of Tyrann Mathieu on a one-year deal. The hard-hitting safety declined a pay cut from Arizona. With the addition of the Honey Badger the Texans have upgraded the back end of the defense with a great player on a one year deal.  He gives defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel multiple options in the back end.

But the key to secondary is the play of former first round pick Kevin Johnson. The kid is blessed with talent but can’t stay healthy.

Still at odds

Colin Kaepernick was seen last Thursday working out at a local soccer field, then flew to New York to participate in the collusion case.  Bob McNair, was part of the NFL deposition. According to sources, the Texans owner was shocked at Kaepernick’s presence.

Not from an optics perception but who I still think McNair should let Gaines sign Kap.  His mobility is perfect to back up Deshaun Watson

Still Luv ya blue

Big thanks to Titans owner Amy Strunk for a first-class day of golf and dinner for ex-Oilers.  Warren Moon flew in from Seattle, Kevin Gilbride from the East coast and Dr. Doom, Robert Brazille, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

I had dinner with Rams legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.  He is like a little kid in the candy store with the acquisitions of Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters.  He’s never had a talent like the Chiefs former No. 1 pick.

Wade loves Watson and what Bill O’Brien did with him. “From the tape I saw the kid is destined for greatness. He has things that you can’t teach or coach.’’

Chirp!

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ASTROS FREE AGENCY

Astros set to bring back a familiar face

Castro is back! Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

MLB.com's Brian McTaggart is reporting that Jason Castro will rejoin the Astros after agreeing to a two-year deal with Houston for $7 million which also includes 2 million in incentives. Martín Maldonado and Castro will split the catching duties, which gives the Astros lineup flexibility by having a right-handed and left-handed hitting option at catcher.

Castro was drafted by the Astros 10th overall in 2008 and left in free agency after the 2016 season. Last year, Castro hit .188 and is a career .230 hitter. Keep in mind, Maldonado's contract will be up after this season and Castro could be the main catching option for the Astros in 2022 if they don't bring him back. Plus, the Astros drafted catcher Korey Lee with the 32nd overall pick in 2019 and Castro is a nice safety net if Lee is not ready for the majors next season, which seems likely.

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