Calculating the next bright spot for Houston sports
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.