Every-Thing Sports

Houston sports: A song of love and apathy

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The Rockets lost to the Warriors at home in game six of the Western Conference semifinal round despite Kevin Durant being out. Durant left game five towards the end of the third quarter with a calf strain. No game in that series was decided by more than six points. To say they pissed away another golden opportunity in consecutive postseason runs would be an understatement. The team is married to a couple bad contracts which severely limits what they can do to improve, but at least they have a former league MVP in the fold to keep things interesting. After all, this team has only had two losing seasons in the last 20 to 30 years or so.

The Astros broke the curse of pro sports teams in this city not winning any titles couple years ago. Although it took this fanbase enduring several losing seasons, many of which the organization boldly claimed they weren't even trying to produce a winner, the fans were eventually rewarded with a World Series win. Not only that, but this team is built to contend for many years to come in the near future. Fans may have bandwaggoned their allegiance to this team after seeing them win, but you can't blame them for wanting to support a team that has gone from laughingstock to model of consistency.

The Texans finally found the most important piece to building a winning franchise when they moved up to draft Deshaun Watson. Before, they were a team in which very few outside of this city believed in. After drafting Watson, the feeling remains the same amongst those not considered hardcore Texan fans because they don't believe in the front office or ownership to lead this team to anything other than mediocrity. The Texans' fans will continue to support this team no matter what because it went through a period of not having an NFL franchise. The fan and ownership relationship is borderline abusive because ownership knows the fans won't leave, so they continue to act as if the fans don't matter.

Can you see now what I meant in the title? Part of my inspiration came from this FaceBook post by a good friend and mentor Craig Shelton. It was the best description of why Houston sports fans still feel love and appreciation for the Rockets and Astros despite any shortcomings they may have, but have skepticism towards the Texans.

When you look at the way things have fallen for the three different franchises, there's no reason why all three can't consistently compete for championships every year. The love and support the Texans get despite constantly letting this city down year after year is why I described it as abusive. Meanwhile, the Rockets can't even get a full house before tipoff of major games and the Astros play in front of a less than capacity crowd even when one of the premier MLB teams is in town during the week and sometimes on weekends. Yet the Texans will have sold-out games and thousands more tailgating for a Thursday night game against any random NFL team simply because it's an NFL team.

I sincerely hope one day that all three franchises will bring consistent winners to this city. The fans have been through enough. They've stuck by these teams, mainly the Texans, despite not being given a glimmer of hope. It would be nice of the Texans to return the favor and bring home a Lombardi Trophy for their fiercely loyal fans to go with the Larry O'Briens and Commissioner's Trophy the Rockets and Astros respectively have delivered already.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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