GOW MEDIA'S BIG MONTH

David Gow: A peek inside the family

David Gow: A peek inside the family
A.J. Hoffman (center) and Fred Faour (right) had the No. 1 sports show in the city in January. Kirsten Gilliam Photography

Last year I caught up with an old friend.  Amazingly, during the conversation, he failed to tell me some exciting news about his kids.  They had gotten exceptionally good grades and were on their way to Stanford.  A very exciting time!  Yet, out of modesty, he said nothing, and I had to learn the big news from a third party.   His omission almost made me feel left out.

Today I will not make the same mistake.  I will share with you some exciting news about “the kids” at the station, who recently got a very good report card.  When Nielsen ratings came out last week, ESPN 97.5 FM finished with the three top-rated sports shows in the city (for Men, ages 25-54, the standard metric for sports).  The top three shows:

No. 1: The Blitz, with Fred Faour and AJ Hoffman; weekdays 4-7 p.m.

No 2:  The Usual Suspects, with Joel Blank and Barry Laminack; weekdays 1-4 p. m. 

No. 3:  The Bench (John and Lance!), with John Granato and Lance Zierlein; weekdays 7-9 a.m.

As always, there is a story behind the successes.    

  • At 8-years old, The Blitz is now the longest continuous-running sports-talk show in the city.  Fred and A.J. do their homework and know all-things-sports.  For that matter, Fred is now also the cerebral editor of SportsMap.com.  But do not consider them the class nerds.  Fred and A.J. talk sports with an edge, perhaps an air of cool.      

  • The Usual Suspects launched one year ago, almost as an odd couple. Joel came from the Rockets and seemed to see everything through the prism of sports.  Barry won our Rock the Mic contest and as a stand-up comic, seemed to see everything through the prism of humor.  Like most good couples, the two have found a solid, compelling balance.  Sports and humor?  Absolutely: the odd couple is now a successful couple.

  • The Bench.  There are many famous duos: Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Heckle and Jeckle, etc.  But in the history of Houston sports talk, John and Lance stand apart.  When we got the opportunity to reunite them, I knew they would be successful; what I did not know was how quickly the market would come.  In this first ratings book since the reunion, they are No. 1 in their daypart.  And they are just getting (re)started.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the other kids.  In middays, Raheel and Del are rising stars on 97.5.  We have one of the country’s top authorities on soccer, Glenn Davis, who hosts Soccer Matters on Tuesday evenings.  Also, I am often asked: what ever happened to Charlie Pallilo?  We got him.  He is on SportsMap 94.1 FM, weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. And 94.1 FM now includes Golic and Wingo, Barry Warner, Charlie, Nate and Creight and the Sean Salisbury Show.  Check it out!   

Finally, as you read the names above, the family is big now.  Bluntly, we have more sports experts in our building than any other media company in the city.  What do we do with them all?  Our “Stanford” is our new media and new platforms.  All members of the team are now talking on air, writing on sportsmap.com and now appearing on videos here on the site.  A very exciting time!   

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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