Charlie Pallilo: On the Rockets, NFL draft, bad people and no-hitters

Baker Mayfield went No. 1. Good luck with that. Brett Deering/Getty Images

Rockets-Utah Jazz makes for an interesting second round matchup. That is unless the Jazz doesn’t recover from gagging on its 25 point lead Wednesday night and failing to close out Oklahoma City. In which case Rockets-Thunder makes for an interesting second round matchup. Either way, the Rockets should play their way into the Western Conference Final.

The Rockets 4-1 series win over Minnesota was pretty easy, the Timberwolves are a lousy defensive team. When center Rudy Gobert is on the court the Jazz is the best defensive team in the NBA. Things can go askew in a playoff series, but Utah lacks the offense to keep up with the Rockets over seven games. If it turned out to be OKC, while not inconceivable that Russell Westbrook and Paul George could combine to outplay Chris Paul and James Harden, and despite beating the Rockets two out of three regular season meetings, the Thunder lacks the bench and consistency to pick over the Rockets.

So much for that

So the brash, sometimes punk, often fantastic Baker Mayfield goes No. 1 in the NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns. I’ll bet the under on the Browns’ hope that they finally nailed it at quarterback. Mayfield carries character questions, is slight of build, is slow for running round and freelancing, and worst of all….the Browns took him.

How delightfully pathetic that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s tried to squelch booing of his Draft opening remarks by using Dallas Cowboy greats Troy Aikman, Jason Witten, and Roger Staubach as props alongside him at AT&T Stadium in Arlington? It didn’t work. There was one cool thing about it. The three players each threw a ball into the crowd. Roger the Dodger fired a spiral maybe 30-40 yards. Staubach is 76 years old. I might take him today over Brandon Weeden as Deshaun Watson’s backup.

Not feeling the draft

Speaking of the Texans, they as we know did nothing in round one. A bummer for them considering they could have reeeeeeeeally used  guard Quenton Nelson or cornerback Denzel Ward, both of whom were on the board at pick number four. But if Watson’s ACLs (and other body parts) stay healthy, there is no doubt you would move up in the first round one year and give up the fourth overall pick the next year to secure a quarterback of Watson’s talents.

The Texans having no second rounder should cause agita. They had to give that away to unload Brock Osweiler, costing them the ability to draft a significant prospect with the third selection in the second round. The deal saved Bob McNair 16 million dollars. To this point that is 16 million dollars in additional profits for McNair. In fairness, unused salary cap space rolls over from year to year so that money can functionally be spent in the future, but they haven’t used it this offseason. With three third rounders new Texans General manager Brian Gaine has to take at least one offensive lineman.

As will be the case every year from now until the end of time, congratulations to all the NFL “insiders” and experts for getting at least 75 percent of their 1st round draft pick calls wrong. Brad Ausmus hit for a better average.

Friends in low places

If you haven’t seen the latest Sports Illustrated story about why Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is basically being forced to sell his franchise, it pretty much confirms Richardson behaved as a despicable human being. It also makes Bob McNair look like less than a class act or sharp tack.

Hit charade

Astros and A’s play this weekend in what could be the last weekend of open roof baseball this season at Minute Maid Park. I hope not, but we know that five months of blast furnace conditions are bearing down on us. A presumably non-dramatic element of the series opener has the Astros taking their swings against Oakland pitcher Sean Manaea, who pitched a no-hitter last Saturday against Boston.

80 years ago Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Vander Meer became the first guy ever to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Since then 189 pitchers have made a start following a no-hitter, nobody has matched Vander Meer’s feat. The closest bid came in 1947 when Ewell Blackwell followed a no-hitter by taking one into the ninth inning of his next start.  Nolan Ryan had seven cracks at making a start after throwing a no-hitter. Closest Nolan came was the eighth inning, when career .228 hitter Mark Belanger broke it up. I doubt Johnny V is spinning with worry in his grave over Manaea’s chances. Nowadays a team might consider building a statue for a pitcher who throws back-to-back complete games.

Buzzer Beaters

1. UTSA had a player drafted in the first round.  2. UT and A&M did not. 3. Best shellfish: Bronze-oysters  Silver-lobster Gold-crab


Patriot Paws/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It's that time of year: Houston Ballet's packed and popular Nutcracker Market will be held Thursday, November 14, through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center with more than 100,000 shoppers expected to scoop up everything "Christmasy" that can fit under a tree, down a chimney, on a dinner table or you can put a bow on it.

About 260 merchants, including 23 rookie booths, will kick back 11 percent of their sales toward the Houston Ballet Foundation. When you add in all the admission money, thousands of Houston area students will get a valuable lesson in the arts.

As always, all roads will lead to booth 920, to the back and to the right in NRG Center, where the Donne Di Domani ladies will be selling their legendary marinara sauce for the 28th year. Donne Di Domani means "Women of Tomorrow" in Italian, or "Spaghetti Sauce Ladies" in plain English.

The sauce is still $10 a bottle, credit cards accepted. If you buy a 12-bottle case for $120, they'll throw in a dozen recipe cards guaranteed to please the family, including your uncle who comes to your house each Christmas and does nothing but complain about your cooking.

Here's why I love writing about these ladies. Sure their sauce is amazing. Consider this a warning: If you wait till Sunday to buy the sauce, you'll be the little piggy who had none. But the real story is what Donne Di Domani does with their profits — we're talking millions here. Yeah, they sell a lot of sauce.

Each year, after the market closes and they total up the profits, the ladies decide which charities they'll support. It's a long list of organizations such as Shelter for Cancer Families, Casa Juan Diego, Triumph Over Kid Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Carmelite Nuns of New Caney, and many more.

One year, when I was in the hospital getting my X-rays touched up, I heard that Sister Angel and the Carmelite Nuns said a prayer for me. Wrong church, wrong pew, but I'll take it.

Pawsing for our heroes
The charities may change, but the ladies will always support an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Last year the charity was Folded Flag, which lends a hand to widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

In recent years, Donne Di Domani sponsored service dogs trained by Patriot Paws in Rockwell, Texas. I've been to Rockwell and seen how these remarkable dogs help wounded veterans get through their day. It costs $30,000 to train a dog, and the dogs are given free to vets who need them. Donne Di Domani so far has sponsored four Patriot Paws dogs:

"Hoffy," who was named after me (best honor I ever received), didn't make the grade. His mind wandered and he didn't concentrate on his studies. (The acorn sure didn't fall far from the tree.)

Continue on CultureMap to find out what happened to "Hoffy."

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