HARRIS COUNTY – HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Can the second annual Houston sports awards top the first? Stay tuned

Last year's Houston Sports Awards were a big success. Courtesy photo

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

How do we top last year’s inaugural Houston Sports Awards?  

That’s the question I’ve been asked for the last seven months.  

There’s absolutely no way to one-up a night that honored our legendary 34s – Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan – and ended with the announcement of the creation of the Houston Sports Hall of Fame. And with the news that those icons would be the inaugural class of inductees.

Or is there?

To us, it’s a labor of love. #WeAreHoustonSports. We know what we accomplished that first night was amazing – from the dual red and blue carpets to the dazzling Hall of Fame rings to the honorees. So it’s no wonder it took us the better part of seven months to come up something as creative and eye-popping for No. 2, which will be Feb. 6 at the Hilton Americas.

First off, we’ll be honoring uber-Houston sports fans President George H.W. Bush and his late wife Barbara, who are near and dear to everyone’s hearts. There isn’t a big sports event they haven’t attended over the past seven decades.

George presided over Super Bowl coin flips, while Barbara, who passed away in April, was a fixture behind home plate at Minute Maid Park – feet-up, keeping score. They both threw out first-pitches, sat courtside at Rockets games and had lunch with and watched the best golfers in the world at the Houston Open.

As for the theme? The logical thought, to a lot of folks including Clyde Drexler, was go with another iconic number. Like 22, worn by Drexler, Roger Clemens and Sheryl Swoopes.

But why repeat ourselves?

Instead, we’ve thought long and hard and decided to take you on a stroll through the most outstanding moments from the last eight decades of the city’s rich sports history.

From Jackie Burke’s first professional win in1949 to those infectious Luv Ya Blue Oilers in 1979, a pivotal 2009 season for the Houston Texans, and everything in between. We’ll certainly pack a lifetime of moments and sports legends into this one special night.

Now that we have your attention with those little tidbits, start thinking about who or what we might single out from those years that end in 8 or 9 from the thirties, fifties, sixties, eighties and nineties.  As we reveal them over the next few months, you can see how many you got right.

And, no, we’re not counting the current decade. We’ll be honoring moments from 2018 with awards like Moment of the Year, Player of the Year (professional, college and high school categories), Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year. To name just a few.

Finally, people are already asking about the 2019 Hall of Fame class. Specifically, will any of the inductees be among those moments we already mentioned?

All we can say is maybe yes, maybe no, but mostly maybe.

And here’s one more maybe. Maybe we can’t top the 34’s.  They are after all, arguably the greatest three athletes in Houston Sports History.  But we can be creative, and we can wow you once again in ways you never imagined.  And maybe, just maybe, we top it all.

Challenge accepted.






 

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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