SWITCHING SIDES

Del Olaleye: Sports fans and announcers have selective memories when a player is on their team (yes, this is about Chris Paul)

Chris Paul has never been a nice guy on the court. Houston Rockets/Facebook

Sports fans’ memories can be selectively short. As passionate as we can be, our sports moral compass lacks a due north far more often than we would like to admit. Our team’s success comes first, hypocrisy be damned.  I’ve chronicled sports hate in the past and I fully embrace that aspect of fandom. In contrast there is an uglier, dirtier and rarely talked about phenomenon called sports forgiveness that seems to have taken hold in Houston and I won’t suffer it. I made that term up so don’t try fighting me on the definition. Sports forgiveness as defined by the Del Olaleye Dictionary can be described as “A complete change of heart about a rival player. This change of heart might even be described as selective amnesia.” This change of heart occurs the minute a once hated player joins your favorite team. We’re all guilty of this, but there is one group who is most at fault and they feel no apparent shame for their betrayal.

Announcers for your favorite team are the main culprits. They appear to be predisposed to forgetting the previous shade they’ve thrown at a player simply because he has their employer’s uniform on. As my radio co-host Raheel Ramzanali pointed out, Chris Paul has all of sudden had his past transgressions wiped clean because he now wears a Rockets uniform. In a recent broadcast, former Rockets great Clyde Drexler disputed a technical foul call levied against Paul due to the new Rockets point guard’s apparent sterling reputation on the court. If there was a way to correctly convey the “Nick Young Face” meme in words I’d do it. Absent of that I’ll just provide the meme here. If you simply google “Chris Paul dirty” the articles will start flowing. One publication named Paul “NBA’s Master of the Low Blow.” I’m just guessing here,  but maybe -- just maybe -- Mr. Drexler is a bit off base in his assessment.

The retcon of Chris Paul’s past is understandable. If Paul played for your favorite team you would forget that he is the new John Stockton, too. None of us is above it. Winning is the thing and he is an elite player whose acquisition has firmly put the Rockets in the best teams in the NBA discussion. We should still at least try to be better. Lets not pretend he is something he isn’t. Acknowledge that he has a groin punching past and keep it moving. No need to lie to ourselves and others. Would a Texans fan pretend that Cortland Finnegan wasn’t what he was? Did you enjoy watching Andre Johnson connect on a punch to Finnegan’s skull? If Finnegan was an elite player and the Texans acquired him, would you just have happily swallowed the Texans play-by-play announcer defending Finnegan after a personal foul penalty? That scenario would definitely happen. You just don’t have to be the fan that nods their head in approval. Don’t be that fan.

We’re all put into a position where guys we once rooted against are now guys we root for. That is just the current sports landscape messing with our fandoms. You might have laughed at Trevor Ariza missing a jumper when he is on the Lakers in 2009 and then cheered for him as a Rockets player months later that same year. That is acceptable. I don’t think Ariza makes anyone’s “never root for” list. Every fan should have one of those. That list consists of players that will never get love if they join your team. You’ve drawn a firm line and you pray your favorite team doesn’t force you to approach that line.

Matt Barnes was a popular choice when this topic was discussed on the Raheel and Del show.

Derek Fisher’s cheap shot to Luis Scola earned him a place on several people’s list as well. Would you tolerate Craig Ackerman, Matt Bullard and Bill Worrell defending Fisher or Barnes if they put on a Rockets jersey? They would, by the way. There is absolutely no shame in the local announcer game. Don’t allow their homerism to make you forget. Chris Paul has been hitting people in their Spaldings since college. Cheering for Paul isn’t wrong but never forget.

You weren’t in a coma during Paul’s first twelve seasons in the NBA. You know what he is. Don’t pretend that you don’t.

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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