A REAL HOMER

George Springer and Astros stars roll out lively bowling bash for local kids

Photo by Kim Padgett

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The 5th George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit raised more than $250,000 on the evening of June 27, with the proceeds going toward sending economically disadvantaged kids who stutter to the SAY summer camp (SAY stands for the Stuttering Association for the Young). As most Astros fans know, our American League starting All-Star slugger grew up stuttering and now is the SAY national spokesman.

The annual event at Bowlmor on Bunker Hill Road drew an array of local celebrities like Channel 11 anchor Ron Trevino, Channel 2 sports anchor Lainie Fritz, and Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching. After some poignant speeches by remarkable kids (including one with a show-stopping singing voice), Houstonians bowled for a good cause. (I was an honorary lane captain.) Complimentary refreshments included pizza, pigs in a blanket, and fried mozzarella sticks.

Many of the Astros came to lend their support to Springer's effort — think José Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers Jr. — and throw a few bowling balls into the gutter. (Stick to your day and night jobs, guys.)

I pulled pitcher Collin McHugh aside (in between sets) for a few fast, hard-hitting questions:

CultureMap: When I watch the games on TV and they show the dugout, there’s always five landline phones on the dugout wall. I figure one is to call the bullpen, and one is to call the Psychic Hotline. Where do you think the other three phones go?

Collin McHugh: One is to call Aramark to have some food sent down to the dugout. One is to call into the clubhouse to see who's taking a nap. And the other is to call Uber to get me home.

CM: Who controls the music in the Astros clubhouse?

CMcH: Definitely George Springer! He's the team deejay. He has eclectic taste. My personal favorite is Sunday Funday. We get a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire, which is great by me.

CM: How do you kill time in the clubhouse during a rain delay?

CMcH: I like to watch guys play cards. I know it sounds weird, but we've got some really competitive guys, so things get pretty intense. They don't play poker, it's usually something like spades or hearts, old school games. Will Harris and Wade Miley are the most intense, tough duo.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out if Collin McHugh likes the rule that baseball managers have to wear a uniform.


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10th-ranked UH looks poised for a great season

Here's why UH could make a deep tournament run

The Coogs are off to a hot start. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Through eleven COVID stricken weeks, the University of Houston football team has mustered three wins.

The UH men's basketball season began on November 25th. It took them five days to catch up.

The Cougars came into last week ranked 17th in the nation in the AP preseason poll, the highest they've begun a season in 37 years. They took little time to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the nation.

UH shot out of the gate last week to a 3-0 start, including a double-digit win over 14th ranked Texas Tech. That, combined with a myriad of week one upsets, sent the Cougars soaring even further up the rankings.

By Monday afternoon, Houston was already one of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation.

Now it's important to note that it's incredibly early in the season, and there is plenty of time for something to go haywire. With TDECU stadium right across the street, they've had a front row seat to see just how sideways COVID can flip a season. The football team may only have 3 wins, but that's partly because they've had to postpone 5 games.

Regardless, they remain 10th in the nation at the moment, and it's no fluke. This is a solid team that has shown glimpses for the past three years.

Led offensively by sophomore guard Marcus Sasser (17.3 ppg) and Kansas transfer guard Quentin Grimes (16.0 ppg), the Cougars field a deep backcourt that has received welcome early contributions from freshman Tramon Mark (14.0 ppg) who's already earned an average of 19 minutes per game.

Speaking of minutes, UH brings one of the most important skills to the court this season: experience. In the era of one-and-done turnover among NCAA programs, the Cougars bring back four players that averaged over 20 minutes per game last season. That type of experience playing with one another and understanding the system head coach Kelvin Sampson plays could prove invaluable come tournament time.

What truly gives this team a shot though is their defense and hustle, both of which are a direct result of Sampson. They're simply relentless on defense. After finishing 11th in the nation last season only allowing 62.1 ppg, they've shown no signs of letting up. Through their first three games they've given up an average of 52 ppg. Even with double-digit leads, this is still a team diving for loose balls and mixing it up for offensive rebounds.

All of those ingredients make for a very salty, and very entertaining college basketball team. The Cougars have proved in the past three seasons that they're legitimately tournament worthy, and as the preseason American Conference champion favorite, this is a team that could—and should—have their eyes set even higher than their sweet sixteen appearance in 2019. Nothing is certain in the COVID era, however, but if they can make it through the season relatively unscathed they should be a tough out in during March Madness.

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