JOHN GRANATO

The ever changing world of sports

Odell Beckham Jr. is giving his team a headache. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The world is changing at a pace that even kids can’t keep up with. The phone you just bought last week is obsolete. A robot is two months away from taking your job. I just saw an ad for a flying car.

Sports may be one of the last frontiers that remains unchanged. If you hit a grounder to short with a man on first it’s probably a double play, a hundred yards rushing is still the standard for a good game and no one has ever come back from a 1-0 deficit in soccer.

But there are some alarming trends that are changing sports. Let’s start with fashion. The guys are dressing differently these days. Seen Russell Westbrook lately? How about Chandler Parsons? Cam Newton? James Harden had an interesting layout in GQ. You can see that here.

Very colorful. Not something I would try to pull off but no one wants to see me in yellow leather pants, myself included.

They’re certainly not hurting anyone with their style. That’s not the case though with today’s NFL wide receiver. For some reason that position has drawn sport’s biggest divas and nut jobs. From T.O. to Dez to Odell these guys are revolutionizing the game with their antics. If they aren’t catching enough passes somebody’s going to pay and it’s usually their quarterback, but not always.

Dez Bryant called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones clueless and LB Sean Lee a snake. He turned down nice money in Baltimore and wouldn’t sign with Cleveland but says he still wants to play. Oooookay.

Terrell Owens set the standard for not only burning bridges but blowing them to smithereens. In a 2004 article for Playboy Magazine T.O. was asked if his former 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia was gay. T.O. answered “Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it’s a rat.”

On Donovan McNabb: “He’s a funny guy, not funny ‘ha ha.’ Me, personally, I don’t do well with two-faced people.”

At least with Dez and T.O. they went after their QB’s after they had left the team. Saying those things while in the locker room could create some serious problems. Case in point, Odell Beckham Jr.

Last month Odell made headlines with his interview on ESPN with Josina Anderson. When asked what was holding him back in the Giants offense he said “everything.” When asked if Eli Manning was the problem he said “I don’t know.” When asked if he was happy with the organization that just gave him a $95 million contract he said “It’s a tough question.”

This week Giants owner John Mara wished Beckham would get back to making headlines on the field instead of off it. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

No chance John. Odell is the same guy who lost a fight with the kicking net, got fined for peeing like a dog in his touchdown celebration and has conversations with sideline air conditioners.

The Giants are a complete mess (other than when they play the Texans) and the Raiders notwithstanding, the worst team in the league.

Maybe I’m old fashioned but you’d never hear a guy criticizing his coaches, quarterback and organization while he was still playing there but thanks to guaranteed money it might be something we’ll see plenty of in the future.

What can the Giants do? Fine him? They did. And? Anything more than a slap on the wrist would draw the ire of the players’ association. They can’t cut him. The salary cap wouldn’t allow it.

What can the Steelers do with Leveon Bell? His teammates broke the unwritten rules by calling him out for holding out. Is a man’s money no longer sacred? Apparently not.

James Harrison is telling him to fake a headache or hamstring all year and cash paychecks. Earl Thomas decided not to practice a few days then flipped off his sideline as he was being carted off the field. His own sideline? I don’t remember that ever being done before. What happened to the good old days when you flipped off the other team when you were hurt?

The line of what you do and don’t do has been moving for a while now. Authority had never been questioned before Latrell Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlisimo. We haven’t had that extreme in some time but it’s nothing now to criticize the coach if things are going badly.

In recent years we’ve seen high school football players taking out the referee with intentional hits and catchers ducking on a fastball that catches the ump in the chest. I wouldn’t mind if that happened to Joe West but it wasn’t him so I feel like you shouldn’t do that.

I’ve ceased to be amazed by anything that happens on or off the field anymore.

What’s next? A player retiring at halftime of a game? Wait...



 

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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