Every-Thing Sports

Calculating the next bright spot for Houston sports

Photo by Matt Patterson/Houston Texans

The major pro sports are the big three: Football, basketball and, baseball. No disrespect to the others, but they don't move the needle in this country like the NFL, NBA, and MLB do. Sure, things are shaky because of the pandemic, but this isn't up for debate.

When it comes to winning a title in one of these leagues, you probably have better odds of getting bitten by a shark than seeing your team win a title in your lifetime. Those of us that have experienced that emotion are beyond blessed. Houston has experienced that feeling three times: back-to-back titles by the Rockets in 1994 & 1995, and the 2017 Astros. The Oilers got as far as the AFC conference title game, but could never get through. The Texans haven't advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs. So which one of these teams is currently poised to bring Houston it's next championship moment?

The Astros have the most recent title and still have the core from that team. But they're quickly becoming just another team in the race instead of a contender. Losing Gerrit Cole, the mounting injuries, a drop-off in play, and dealing with the fallout of the cheating scandal has turned them into also-rans. They're a game under .500, six games out of first place, and only a game and a half up on the Mariners for second place in the division. That's key since second place makes the playoffs. They also have big roster decisions to make with regard to who to pay and who to let walk. Factor all of that in, and I think their window may be closed or in the process of closing.

The Rockets are a complete mess. James Harden has the team by the jewels in a vise grip. I remember doing a radio show back in 2015 with Craig Shelton when he said Harden doesn't have championship DNA. I wanted to agree with him, but thought Harden could get it done eventually. I later came to realize Craig was right a season or two later. The Rockets are hamstrung with big contracts for players not many, if any, teams will want. Please stop calling into shows with ridiculous trade proposals. Use ESPN's Trade Machine and some common sense. In the next seven drafts (this year's included), they only have two first round picks ('22 and '23). Don't look for them to win big any time soon.

My odds on favorite of the three to win a title next is oddly enough the team without a championship history at all: the Texans. Yes, Bill O'Brien has made questionable moves as a coach and general manager. Yes, I know Houston has been cursed with failures with both of their NFL franchises. However, I believe Deshaun Watson is special enough to overcome some of O'Brien's shortcomings. I also think O'Brien would put his ego aside if it meant making a move (hiring a GM) to win a title. Either that, or the McNair's will put it aside for him.

Some will disagree with me here, and that's to be expected. But I will die on this hill. The Astros look to be in sharp decline and the Rockets are in purgatory. If either one turns it around, I'll be the first to eat my words. With the way the Astros completely fell apart this season, I've lost/losing hope. The Rockets performance in the bubble versus the Lakers confirmed what I've known for years. The Texans look to be in the driver seat of the three to bring that special feeling back to Houston, and I think it happens sooner than you think.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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