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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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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