Weekend that was

Fred Faour: A new direction for SportsMap, Sam Houston Race Park and a weekend you won't forget

Fred Faour: A new direction for SportsMap, Sam Houston Race Park and a weekend you won't forget
Tom Brady is the last star QB standing. Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Today marks the start of a new phase here on SportsMap. All the on-air talent from Gow Media will be writing columns. So every day, you will get great stuff from people like A.J. Hoffman, Lance Zierlein, John Granato, Charlie Pallilo and more. You will also be getting a lot more videos. We have more great stuff ahead so please stay tuned.

Horse of a different color

On Friday, Sam Houston Race Park opens for live racing. (We will be broadcasting live from 4-7 and I will be doing an appearance after from 7-9 p.m.)

If you have never been, live racing is a unique experience. Take time to watch a race from the rail outside so you get a sense of the power of the animals. As far as wagering, check out my audio book Acing Racing 2016 for everything you need to know.

Final Four

Tom Brady we expected to be there. But raise your hand if you thought the three remaining quarterbacks would be Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Now put them down, because you are lying.

Minnesota might be the most complete team left. Keenum is playing at a high level, they run the ball effectively and their defense is off the charts. Don’t be surprised if they are hosting the Lombardi Trophy on their home field in a couple weeks. Have you seen a better finish? Wow.

Weekend wrapup

A lot happened over the weekend. Bill O’Brien got his contract extension. Patrick Creighton also weighed in on that.

The Astros made a monster deal, landing Gerrit Cole without giving up anything of note. Creighton had a nice take on that as well.

And finally, Astros FanFest was this weekend and Paul Muth was there.  



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Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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