Every-Thing Sports

Can we finally put to bed some stereotypes in sports?

You're here on this site reading this because you're a sports fan. You have more than likely have invested countless hours watching and cheering for your favorite, or against your least favorite, teams. Whether it be the high school you went to (or your kids' school), your college or pro team of choice (or a birthright), you've dedicated a certain portion of your life to sports and your teams. You've also, by sheer exposure, have developed certain opinions. For example: I've talked to some fans in Houston who will support the Texans no matter what because they remember the years without pro football.

There are also other opinions that you've undoubtedly formed as a sports fan. Some of them are based off observation, some are based off history, while others are based on certain biases. We call the ones based off biases stereotypes. You know what stereotypes are because you have done it to others or have experienced them yourself. I know a lot of you have been profiled by employers, the police, landlords, bankers, etc. But have you ever thought about some of the stereotypes in sports? Or better yet, have you ever thought about how many of them are outdated and irrelevant? Here's a few that I've been thinking about:

"Athletic" quarterbacks can't make it in the NFL

First things first: "athletic" quarterbacks is most often code for black quarterbacks (minus a few exceptions, this is pretty true). The leading MVP candidates this year are Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson. Deshaun Watson was in the race until his showing against the Ravens a couple weeks ago. They all fit the mold of athletic quarterbacks. More and more the NFL is catering to these guys instead of trying to get them to fit a mold. Coaches like Kliff Kingsbury are getting a shot because of their knowledge of the types of wide open offenses being run at the college level that play to the strengths of spread style athletic quarterbacks. Sooner or later, these guys will take over the league.

White guys aren't good athletes

Sneaky fast/quick. Good hands and good route runner. More cerebral and that helps his lack of athleticism. This is mainly a football thing. However, Christian Mc Caffrey is blowing this out the water. He's one of the leading yards from scrimmage guys in the NFL this year. Pro golfer Dustin Johnson is considered the best athlete on the PGA tour. He once did a photoshoot where he showcased his ability to dunk a basketball. Mike Trout and Christian Yelich are two of the best baseball players on the planet. This narrative has to go.

Kids need to pick a sport and stick with it

Growing up, most kids play different sports. They may excel at all or none of them. The ones who excel at one or more are now being forced to pick one and stick to only that sport. Why? Would we have seen Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders if it were for a foolish idea like this? The idea that kids can't play multiple sports is dumb. The year-long playing and practicing of some sports gets in the way, but so does limiting kids. Narrowing their focus makes them narrow their thoughts, and we all see how far that's gotten this country.

Over my nearly four decades on this planet, I've watched a ton of sports. Ever since I could talk, my family would say sports was the thing I showed the most interest in. My aunt Charlene will tell everybody about me only knowing George Rogers for the Saints and yelling "Go Big George!" every time anyone in a Saints uniform did anything. I vividly remember the Lakers vs Celtics NBA Finals matchups of the 80s. I moved to Atlanta the summer the Braves were going from worst to first and suffered through only winning one World Series in the 90s. USMNT's run in '94 and USWNT's win in '99 got me into soccer. I was old enough to know Steffi Graf winning the Grand Slam in '88 was a huge deal. I also remember when Tiger Woods burst on the scene and vaguely remember Jack Nicholas' miracle win at The Masters in '86. Seeing the aforementioned Jackson and Sanders play pro football and baseball at the highest levels were among my favorite memories. None of this would be believable had any of these teams/athletes limited themselves to the narrow-minded thoughts of stereotypes. What are some of the stereotypes you've seen? Sound off on Twitter and let me know. Let's discuss this further. I'm sure there are some you guys can think of that I've left off here.

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The 2022 regular season is nearing its end and while for the Houston Astros the true test will begin in the postseason, now is a good time to look ahead at what the team’s starting rotation could look like in 2023.

The big question will be whether long-time ace Justin Verlander returns to the team. Heading into 2022, there was doubt whether he would even be with the Astros coming off Tommy John surgery. Verlander re-signed with Houston on a two-year deal with a player option for 2023.

His production in 2022 has been nothing short of sensational. Verlander has the most wins for the Astros with a week left in the season. He has a 1.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 5.2 wins above replacement. More importantly for both Verlander and the Astros, is that he has played in 26 games and counting this season.

Whether Verlander remains with the Astros will likely depend on whether Houston is willing to spend. It is highly likely Verlander opts out of his player option following the strong 2022 campaign he has put together and looks for a bigger payday. Houston has shown it is not afraid to let key players walk in the offseason, so let’s take a look at a potential rotation with and without Verlander.

If the 39-year-old, who will be 40 by the time the 2023 regular season starts, stays with the Astros, he will undoubtedly be either the No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher in the rotation along with Framber Valdez, who is right behind Verlander in wins this season at 16. If Verlander leaves, Valdez should be the new Astros ace at No. 1.

Behind those two should be pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who in seven games in 2022 has a 2.38 ERA and has cooled the concerns about his right flexor tendon strain being a long-term concern. He suffered the injury last postseason.

After those three, things begin to get interesting. Let’s say Houston opts to stay with a six-man rotation. The fourth starter could be Luis Garcia, who has a 3.90 ERA in 2022. The 25-year-old has shown he is more than a capable starter for the Astros.

The big question is if Hunter Brown can lock himself a spot in the rotation. Numbers wise, he makes a solid case to be more than Houston’s fifth starter as he has garnered 1.13 ERA through four appearances and two starts.

Brown’s starts have been against the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, so there is a bit of a caveat there, but the upside undoubtedly should put him in the conversation for a starting role in 2023.

If Verlander leaves Houston, it should be more of a guarantee that a spot in the rotation as a starter for Brown is locked. Another factor in whether Brown is a starter could be if the Astros keep Dusty Baker as manager. Baker has shown at times he is willing to side with veterans over younger talent.

Other factors in Brown’s role will also be Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier. Urquidy has a 3.88 ERA in 28 games, all of which have been starts. Javier has a 2.65 ERA in 29 appearances, 24 of which have been starts.

Javier’s role for the Astros the last couple of years has involved starting and coming out of the bullpen, but this season he has shown that he is a capable starter. Based on this season’s play, Javier should have the edge for a starting spot, which leaves the question, what should the Astros do with Urquidy?

If Verlander walks, and Houston opts to keep a six-man rotation, then he just slides in and becomes starter No. 6. If Verlander stays, then is he willing to accept a role out of the bullpen, or do the Astros continue to use Brown out of the bullpen? Over the course of the season, both Brown and Urquidy will undoubtedly have chances to start throughout 2023.

Because of the long grind of an MLB schedule, the Astros should not trade whoever doesn’t get a starting role if Verlander stays, but how likely is it that it is even a problem for Houston? Regardless of who leaves or stays, the Astros should also continue with a six-man rotation because over the course of 162 games, it is what is best for your starters.

If the Astros bring back general manager James Click, based on how the Astros have seen players like George Springer and Carlos Correa walk in the past under his leadership, it is likely Verlander leaves Houston, but at the same time, many didn’t believe he was going to be back at all for 2022.

One thing is for sure, the Astros have a great problem to have. So many starting pitcher candidates, many of whom can be under team control for several years. So even if Verlander walks, an unforeseen injury happens, or a player ends up being disgruntled, Houston has more than enough flexibility to remain among the American Leagues’s best.

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