TRADING PLACES?

For all the fans ready to trade away J.J. Watt, you might be missing something

Trade JJ? Not so fast. Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

J.J. Watt is the greatest and most popular, most giving and caring, athlete in Houston history.

So why is everybody pushing the Houston Texans to trade Watt for a couple of draft picks or another butterfingers running back before the NFL trade deadline next Tuesday? If that happens, and with the Texans approaching the bye-week, it would mean that J.J. Watt has already played his last game for the Texans.

It would be a grave mistake to trade Watt, even for the Texans who already have one foot in the grave this season.

I get it, great players crave championships. Watt may be the exception. He doesn't need a title to be a champion. He's already much more. He is a legend in Houston.

A few years ago, Hurricane Harvey dropped a record amount of rainfall on our city. Watt asked fans to help him raise $200,000 for flood victims. Watt raised a little more than that - $37 million. And he made sure the money was spent wisely. When skies cleared and the dust settled, Watt's fundraising rebuilt 1,183 homes and 971 children's centers, and provided 249 million meals for people in need. That's how you measure a champion.

Watt was blown away by the charity of Houstonians: "Thank you for continuing to shine a light on the beauty of the human spirit."

That's more meaningful than holding a trophy.

There's an old and incorrect belief that great players yearn to play in New York or Los Angeles so they can grab endorsement money and opportunities outside of sports.

Watt plays in Houston. He is the star of stage, screen and H-E-B commercials. He's hosted Saturday Night Live on NBC and Ultimate Tag on Fox. He stole the show in the movie Bad Moms. Jimmy Buffett called him onstage to play conga drums for Margaritaville at the Woodlands Pavilion. He's got his own ice cream flavor. Watt makes quarterback money endorsing American Family Insurance, NRG, Reebok, Gatorade, Subway, Ford and Verizon.

He doesn't need New York or Los Angeles. He has Houston. By the way, can you even name a New York Knick?

He is the 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, five times first-team All Pro, five Pro Bowl selections, two times sack leader and Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year. He met his wife Kealia in Houston.

Sports writers and some fans think Watt is overpaid for what he delivers now. That may be the case. But money paid to J.J. Watt is money well spent. Do you really want to see him wearing another team's uniform? Remember how we scrunched our faces watching Hakeem Olajuwon, his skills clearly diminished, averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds his final season for the Toronto Raptors?

Weren't you proud to watch Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell enter baseball's Hall of Fame after playing their entire careers in Houston?

J.J. Watt is only 31 years old. He is still the Texans' best player on defense. While the Texans are a hot mess this year, they have a generational quarterback and quality receivers, even after dummy traded away our best pass catcher for a bag of magic beans. The NFL is a fluid league. The Texans could find their way back to competitiveness in a few years. Watt will be age appropriate for a winning team. Whatever you get in exchange won't match Watt's skill set and leadership. So why say goodbye to him now?

Yes, the desire to win a championship rages in J.J. Watt. His post-game, post-loss media opportunities have become painful to watch - "I'm angry" and "it sucks."

Absolutely losing sucks for players. But the adoration and respect that Watt carries in Houston is more valuable and enduring than a photo op holding a Super Bowl trophy in a city that isn't your home.

However, if J.J. Watt marches into Texans owner Cal McNair's office and demands a trade, then that's different. Watt has earned the right to control his destiny.

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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