Lance Zierlein's Z-report

Carmelo and three other bad Houston sports decisions

Houston has dealt with a fair amount of misses. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Thoughts and prayers to Carmelo Anthony as his “illness” continues to deter him from getting back on the court with your Houston Rockets. I haven’t heard specific details of the illness, but it has to be pretty bad if it’s kept him off the court for three straight games (2-1). Okay, screw it. We all know he’s not sick and the Rockets and Carmelo are going to mutually part ways. I love that the Rockets have always been willing to swing for the fences in order to try and win at the highest level, but Melo was obviously never going to be a fit at this point of his career. Let’s relive some Houston sports decisions that went sideways.

Carmelo to Rockets

If you discard the “Hoodie Melo” narrative where people wanted to believe he was secretly still a great player based on how he played in video footage of pickups games while wearing a hoodie, you can see that Melo is over. At least the version we once knew is over. It’s been years since Melo was a factor for a winning organization and his inability to defend never matched with the newfound mindset the Rockets adopted last season. Did we mention he’s doesn’t shoot 3’s well?

Pippen vs. Barkley

In the 1998-1999 season, the Rockets added 33-year old Scottie Pippen to the duo of Charles Barkley (34) and Hakeem Olajuwon (35). The old got older. While age was a big problem, the personalities of Pippen and Barkley were bigger issues. Barkley had a hard time getting along with Clyde Drexler by their second year together, and it took even less time for his relationship with Pippen to implode. Pippen started trash talking Barkley publicly to basically force the Rockets to deal him before the 1999-2000 season.

Brokedown Ed Reed

Coming off of a season of injury and game tape that was below par, the Houston Texans decided they needed to add the Patriots killer, Ed Reed, to the roster in order to finally get over the hump against New England. Now, it’s worth noting that Ed Reed had a tear in his hip labrum that he did not disclose which meant the Texans couldn’t check for it during the free agency period. Of course he was hurt most of the year, wasn’t good when he could play, and bad-mouthed Wade Phillips on the way out. Quick question. Why did the Texans think it was a good idea to let a young safety in Glover Quin go so they could add a guy who was basically finished? Smart move, guys.

GoGo a NoNo for Astros

The Astros were used to being extremely terrible when 2015 started, but all of a sudden, they found themselves in the midst of a surprise season with young talent bolstering their improvement. The Astros decided that adding Carlos Gomez, another bat, to the outfield would improve their chances of making the playoffs. “GoGo” was a high strikeout player with just average power, but the Astros apparently saw something they felt should be added to their young core. Gomez had just 385 at-bats as an Astros with 9 homeruns and 131 strikeouts. And….. they traded Josh Hader as part of the package for him. Hader is pretty, pretty good. We all know that Jeff Luhnow turned the Astros into a World Series winner, but this move? Not so great. At least we got to see GoGo’s helmet fly off on missed swings at least seven times per game.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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