Del Olaleye: In a win-or-lose-it-all championship scenario, who do you trust more -- Ken Giles or James Harden?

Ken Giles with one out to win it all? Or James Harden with the last shot? Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Who do you trust? It a simple question with no simple answer. I’m not trying to be existential. I talk about sports for living. My capacity for higher thinking is limited to Netflix and naps. Fandom is based on belief. If your favorite team broke your belief why would you even watch? The Astros provided people reasons to believe time after time in the 2017 season. That belief was solidified with a World Series win. I think most people trust the Astros to come through. One central figure in their title run failed enough on the field to erode any trust fans may have had in him. Not just the fans by the way. His manager stopped believing in him as well. We’ll get to him later.

The Rockets have done everything in their power to wipe away the end of the 16-17 season. They set a franchise record in wins well before the season was over. The acquisitions of P.J. Tucker, Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute have brought a defensive focus that was absent in the past. They have the soon to be crowned MVP and a possible coach of year candidate. But do you trust them? Specifically, do you trust their most important piece?

The question of trust prompted me to create a high pressure hypothetical and go around the office and ask for a gut reaction and answer. Remember when I wrote one hundred words ago or so “We’ll get to him later”? Well now is later. The man who’s postseason performance eroded the trust placed in him is Ken Giles. He’s been a topic of conversation throughout the Astros hot start. He’s not the only one to create trust issues by failing in the postseason. One player who has a chance to gain some trust back is James Harden. For this scenario we’ll call him “Elimination James.” He earned that nickname with a string of bad performances in series clinching exits.

Scenario 1:

Ken Giles is facing Bryce Harper in Game 7 of the World Series in Washington. It is the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded with two outs. The Astros lead 5-4. An out and the Astros win the World Series. If Harper gets a hit, the Nationals win.

Scenario 2:

The Rockets trail the Cavs by one in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It is Rockets ball with 15 seconds to go. Lebron James tells the world “I’ve got 13.” Elimination James vs Lebron for the NBA title. Harden makes the shot and the Rockets win the title. If he misses, the Cavs win it all.

I created these two hypotheticals and walked around the office and laid them out for my co-workers. I asked one question. Who do you trust to get their job done more?

The Responses:

Raheel Ramzanali - Not Giles

James Weddington - Giles

Michael Carrell - Elimination James

Robert Harris - Elimination James, “he’s a true closer.”

Tyler Frisby - Not Giles

Tyler Scott - Not Giles

Beautiful Andrew - Not Giles

Lance Zierlein - Giles

Jong Lee - Not Giles

Joel Blank - Elimination James

Barry Lamanick - Elimination James

Nick Sharara - Not Giles

Ron Culver - Not Giles

The Sean Salisbury Show? It was Unanimous - Not Giles

Lance and James used probability and math to pick Giles. The math is in Giles’ favorite to get the job done in their opinion. Only Barry, Joel and producer Robert Harris picked Harden to succeed. The majority of the office went with “Not Giles.” They didn’t believe in Harden, they just believed in Giles less.

So who do you trust?

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


Thurs, Sept. 24 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33) vs. TEX: Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53)

Fri, Sept. 25 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78) vs. TEX: Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53)

Sat, Sept. 26 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87)

Sun, Sept. 27 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07)


Season finale - The Astros will wrap up their regular season with their four game set in Arlington at the new Globe Life Field. Houston's magic number rests at two, as the Angels still have a puncher's chance. With Houston's miserable 8-20 road record, the postseason is anything but clinched.

Where's the offense? - The Astros offense has left a lot to be desired over the last few weeks, scoring more than three runs just twice in their last ten games. The bats really need to get going, especially if the team expects to do anything in the playoffs. George Springer has been the only reliable bat of late, with the performances of Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and, most of all, Jose Altuve, leaving a lot to be desired.

Playoff seeding - If the playoffs started today, the Astros would face off with their division rivals in Oakland. There's an infinite number of possibilities over the next four games, but the Astros can see themselves finish anywhere from the fifth seed to out of the playoffs entirely. Any of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland could be first round foes depending on how the cards fall.


Lance Lynn has been one of the better pitchers in the game for a few years now, Kyle Cody is an intriguing young arm with good stuff, and Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson gave the Astros fits in Houston just last week. It isn't a recipe for success for Houston. The Astros win 1 of 4, which combined with the Angels and Mariners failing to take care of business, is enough to get Houston into the playoffs.

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