FALCON POINTS

Hey sports world: It's time to retire the "Houston, you/we have a problem" cliche

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Sports might be the worst when it comes to cliches. Fans and broadcasters alike can't help themselves.

Defense wins championships.

It doesn't get any better than this.

The best defense is a good offense.

One game at a time.

No I in team.

It is what it is.

Then there is my personal favorite, "you guys have a face for radio. When was the last time you heard that?"

Um, yesterday, and 11 other times this week. But yes, you are very creative!

These and many more are all lame. They are lazy. They are dumb.

And then there is the worst one of all:

Houston, we have a problem.

Or, the derivative, Houston, you have a problem.

Memo to fans in other cities: It is time to retire this phrase. Memo to announcers (including the Fox announcer who used it Sunday night) and worse yet, headline writers: You are pathetic and about as creative as a rock.

And if you are from Houston and have used it, delete your Twitter account immediately and pray for forgiveness. You are what we affectionately call a "dumb."

How stale is it? The phrase comes from an Apollo mission (that's space flight, which our country once did) message in the 1960s. That's SIXTIES. It was clever 50 years ago. Yet a quick Twitter search for the phrase yielded thousands of results. A google search? How about 281 MILLION results. So if you use it, you aren't even one in a million. You are one in 281 million. But that makes you clever and creative, right? If we are going to use phrases from the 1960s, how about "make love not war?" Or better yet, "we all live in a yellow submarine?"

Rest assured, there will be fan signs in Indianapolis this week, as there always are. Yankees fans will do it, too. (Although because it's New York, the signs will likely be misspelled. Or it will be "youse" have a problem).

First off, if you make signs for sporting events and are over the age of 12, you have your own issues. But do people really sit around and think, "hey, you know what would be clever?"

The real shame? Houston sports teams have no shortage of targets for clever phrases. You could write a book on Bill O'Brien alone. James Harden is just begging to be made fun of by anyone. Even the Astros have plenty of players to go after.

Houston fans collectively groan every time they hear the phrase. And they hear or see it A LOT. Public service announcement: It makes you look silly, boring and yes, dumb.

So if you are thinking about tweeting it, stop yourself. If you are diligently working on a sign, stop it. YOU are the problem.

And if you are an announcer? Go back to calling junior high school games.

It's also incumbent on the rest of us to stop this menace in our lifetime. If you see something, say something. Send them a shame bell. Or better yet, a link to this story.

Then again, it is what it is.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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