Fred Faour: Astros opening day will be something truly special

The Astros return to Minute Maid Park tonight. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Programming note:The Blitz will be broadcasting live today at 500 Crawford, right across the street from Minute Maid. Please stop by and say hello if you are in the neighborhood for the game.

Today will be a banner day -- pun intended -- for Houston sports fans. It is the home opener for the Astros, and while it is just one game out of 162, today will be special. It will be the first game at Minute Maid since the thrilling World Series win over the Dodgers. There will be other opening days. There will likely be more opening days after World Series titles. This team likely has one or two more in it if they can keep the band together.

But there will never be another opener like this one -- the first one after the first World Series win in franchise history. It will be a chance to relive the moment one last time.

It’s different, because this city has been a sports wasteland when it comes to titles. Sure, there have been Dynamo and Comets titles, and if you go back far enough (even before I was born), the Oilers won an AFL title. But even that was a secondary league at the time.

Among the big three, it’s been the Rockets winning back to back titles, and now the Astros. That’s it. There are those who claim the Rockets titles were tainted because Michael Jordan was on a hiatus, but they conveniently forget Jordan was back and playing at a high level the second title. His Bulls just weren’t good enough.

The Astros have no such false asterisks. They made their way through perhaps the three most famous franchises in baseball, and certainly the three with the biggest payrolls. They took out a solid Boston team, then knocked off the Yankees and a powerhouse Dodger team. They avoided the Indians -- perhaps the best team in the AL last season -- but then the Indians could not beat the Yankees.

So the Astros earned that title. And the scary thing? On paper, they look even better this season. The rotation will be stronger, with a full year of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Cole is the fourth starter. World Series hero Charlie Morton is the fifth starter. The bullpen looks better, too. And there is room for improvement with young hitters like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

Morton will fittingly get the ball tonight.

Yes, the Astros have already opened the season. They are 3-1 after a series in Arlington against the lowly Rangers. MLB should have let the Astros open at home. But that’s OK. Tonight will be fun. Amazing, in fact.

No opening day ever again will be as meaningful.

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James Harden returned to Houston Monday night and lost to the Rockets in double overtime. After the game, Harden complimented the maturation of the Rockets young players, and had some nice things to say about Houston.

Harden has a player option and can opt out after the season, which has some Rockets fans wondering if he would consider returning to Houston and taking over as the team's primary ball handler.

Plus, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has said he wouldn't rule out Harden returning at some point.

Be sure to watch the video above as we break down all the angles involving a potential fit for James Harden with Houston's young core of players, and much more.

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Catch The Bench with John and Lance weekdays from 7-10 AM on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

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