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's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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