Blondes vs. Brunettes

A football game of a different type for a great cause

Whether it was a blonde or brunette, the competition on the field was fierce. Quy Tran photography

Red Sox vs. Yankees, Oklahoma vs. UT…..these rivalries don’t have anything on Blondes vs. Brunettes. We compete on and off the field. Literally. Every year in dozens of cities two all-female squads consisting of Blondes and Brunettes battle it out in a game of flag football. We can’t pull hair, so they give us flags. But we do some good with our hate. The game helps raise hundreds of thousands in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Going into my second season of Blondes vs. Brunettes, I am on Team Blonde (thanks to Loreal blonde dye). It’s pretty exciting to be part of such a great charity and event. All our teammates and coaches play for their own reasons. For some of my teammates the fight against this terrible disease is deeply personal.

For months leading up to the big game, we train for this. Blood, sweat, and tears. I poured my soul into each practice, and so did everyone else. On the first practice one girl broke her finger and one of our receivers took an elbow to the forehead, blood gushing.  You would have thought we were playing for the AAC championship and we were not even to the big game yet.

Two weeks before the game I’m playing corner in the red zone. We had about five minutes left of practice to finish this last drive. No way I was going to let them score on my side. As we lined up I saw one of our top receivers in my zone. Picture a Crossfit enthusiast, coming at me full speed.  Whistle blows, play starts, quarterback drops back and looks in my direction. The QB starts to scramble, looks in our direction, but I am all over this receiver. I can see her frustration not being able to get open. I am also frustrated. Seconds felt like an eternity, running all over the end zone. Finally, the ball is thrown. Our bodies are running together as one towards the center of the end zone. I take one step to the right, she immediately stops and reaches left for the ball. Her body’s momentum carried her into mine. We both ended up on the ground. But the good news is… so did the ball. I broke up the play. I got up, but after a few steps my adrenaline wore off and my knee gave out. I dragged myself behind the end zone, to get out of the next play. My coaches and teammates had to help me off the field.

With only two  weeks until the game, my knee was swollen and I was in pain. At this point I was unsure if I could even play in the game.  I spent the next two weeks rehabbing, trying to get back onto the field to play. My recovery came along great and the trainers at UH actually thought it was just a knee sprain. I insisted I was ready for the game, even though I had to wear a giant knee brace.

Finally, game day was here. I warmed up with my knee brace and although it did hurt at times, I stood up strong and said “put me in coach.” I got my chance to go in for a few plays in the first half and I painfully shook it off. I went in again in the second half, but I was frustrated since I wasn’t full speed or playing all out, like I know I can. Putting all that aside, I realized what was most important that day. We came together as a team, cheering each other on, pushing our teammates to keep the drive up until the end. It was such a close game and the team’s camaraderie helped pull together the win that day. The Blondes took the win by one touchdown in the end, to make it three years in a row.

Yet another amazing game and season of Blondes vs. Brunettes football. It turns out I had been trying to play on a completely torn ACL and partially torn meniscus after the MRI results. But it’s OK, I have seven months to recover. I’m coming back from a torn ACL next year, Adrian Peterson style.

 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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