GOW MEDIA'S BIG MONTH

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 future is bright for the Astros. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2020 has shown us lots of things. A few of the things it's shown us is that anything is possible, expect the unexpected, and do not be surprised at the outcome. Well, the Astros checked all three of those boxes in this pandemic season and post season. Anything was possible when they finished the 60 game season 29-31 and barely made the playoffs (yes, the new format helped, but they made it). We should've expected the unexpected when they were able to beat the Twins in the first round 2-0 after the A's ran away with the division this season. We for damn sure shouldn't have been surprised at the outcome of their ALCS series when they forced Tampa to a game seven after being down 3-0 because this team is experienced and scrappy. We are talking about the team that's made it to the ALCS four years running and won it all in 2017.

Sure, there are some high dollar guys that mean a lot to this team that they may lose (looking squarely at George Springer and Michael Brantley), but that's the end of it. They'll also be without Justin Verlander after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Some will say coming back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game seven was good enough. They'll tell this team to accept its fate and fall into the background. They replaced their manager and general manager after the cheating scandal, no way they can move forward and succeed right? (insert your favorite GTFOH GIF)

Springer and Brantley could both leave as free agents

This team may not be thought of a contender moving forward, but I have faith in the talent that's still there. I believe Jim Crane knows who and what he can't live without moving forward, so I think he'll shell out the cash necessary to keep guys like Springer and Brantley...as long as it's within reason. Crane won't, and shouldn't, get into a bidding war with another team for either guy, but I think he will make a fair offer to both. Verlander being out in his last season under contract is a big blow. However, I think it can work to the team's advantage.

Let's say they're only able to bring back Springer OR Brantley, but Kyle Tucker takes that next step. Let's say Forrest Whitley, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy all take that next step while Lance McCullers continues his accent. What will the league say when Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman return to their previously dominant forms? All of this speaks to the continued era of the dominant Astros.

Even if they lose Brantley and/or Springer this offseason, I still think they have enough in place to keep the lineup competitive and threatening. The pitching staff has enough firepower to put some fear into opposing lineups. If they continue to make the right moves and develop the talent they have in-house, this team won't fall off or take a dip. Instead, they'll continue to be a force if they hold true to the talent they have, and acquire the complimentary talent they need to accent the players they have now. The pitching staff will be in good hands. McCullers, Framber, and Urquidy are guys I feel that can carry the load. Meanwhile, Forrest Whitley is waiting in the wings. Kyle Tucker is poised for the next step in the lineup, and Captain Correa clearly established himself as a leader this post season.

The future is bright for Astros fans. If ownership and the front office pony up the money to keep some guys, it'll be even better.

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