IS THIS THING ON?

Harden played so poorly, a Rockets broadcaster accidentally spoke the truth

We've seen this before. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Lesson No. 1 – on the first day of freshman Broadcasting 101 – if there's a microphone within a thousand yards of you, assume it's "hot" and don't say anything stupid.

Wednesday night, during the Houston Rockets post-game show on AT&T SportsNet, veteran (and we do mean veteran, as in 35-plus years on the air), Calvin Murphy offered a backhanded compliment to brooding Rockets star James Harden. Murphy commented that while Harden had a poor shooting night, he "did the right things getting everybody else involved." True, Harden dished out 12 assists despite scoring only 15 points on 5-14 shooting, including a disinterested 4 points in the closing quarter.

Then, as the post-game show went to a commercial, and thinking his microphone was off, Murphy muttered, "He (Harden) quit," with clear disgust in his voice.

The Rockets lost 114-107 to the Indiana Pacers, with Harden on the floor in crunch time.

In defense (a word rarely associated with The Beard), Harden dearly wants to be traded out of Houston. A good way to convince your employer to say goodbye is to go home early on work nights, which is what Harden did Wednesday.

It wasn't the first time a Rockets broadcaster dissed Harden this season. Earlier, after Rockets new star Christian Wood drove coast-to-coast for a spectacular lefty layup, Bill Worrell shouted, "Who needs James Harden?"

Worrell later covered his poop by saying he meant that Wood didn't need to outlet the ball to Harden on that play.

Blurting out something dumb is a time-honored tradition in broadcasting, dating back to the early days of radio. Murphy should be comforted by the fact that hot-mic blunders typically aren't career killers.

Last year, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were caught mocking military flyovers during nearly empty stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aikman said, "That's a lot of jet fuel to do a little flyover." Buck responded, "That's your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work." To which Aikman punctuated, "That stuff ain't happening with (a) Kamala-Biden ticket. I'll tell you that right now."

Neither was punished, both still at work. Regrettable comments certainly aren't limited to sports. Idiocy has always felt more at home in politics. Two examples:

In 2010, a hot mic caught Joe Biden whispering in President Obama's ear, "this is a big f------ deal during the Affordable Care Act signing ceremony.

A few years ago, Donald Trump was caught bragging he could "grab 'em by the p----."

Both were elected President of the United States. I don't think Murphy will lose his job over Harden "quit," especially since he did.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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