Every-Thing Sports

Houston Sports: From national afterthought to most hated

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Sports fans everywhere have their hang-ups. Some are insufferable, some are idiots, some get violent. Others are dumb, humble...you get the point. Remember when Houston sports fans would be upset over lack of national media attention? They would whine and cry that they weren't get any respect or enough love or too little coverage. It wasn't that the national media had a biased against Houston sports, they simply weren't as interesting.

That all changed when the Astros won the 2017 World Series. They were a homegrown, fun-loving bunch of guys that played with swag. Deshaun Watson was in the midst of his rookie season with the Texans and was taking the league by storm. The Rockets had the NBA's best record at 65-17 behind league MVP James Harden and were a "hamstring away" from defeating the Warriors and going to the Finals. From those highs to now, what and where did it go wrong?

The Astros Cheated

This was low hanging fruit. The Astros had a reputation around MLB for being off-putting, specifically Jeff Luhnow and the environment in his front office. Sure, people may not like Alex Bregman's act, but you can't deny his talent. Jose Altuve and George Springer have awesome stories of overcoming obstacles. But when Mike "el soplón" Fiers decided to break an unwritten rule, it all went to hell in a hand basket. The commissioner asked teams to stop stealing signs and the Astros refused. It was stated in his report that their failure to comply was the impetus for their punishment. Now, the floodgates have opened and the hate is flowing freely. It's all deserved given what they did, but some is over the top and emotionally driven.

Harden And Morey Aren't Likeable Guys

Daryl Morey is very good at what he does. He's one of the top general managers in the NBA. James Harden is very good at what he does. He's one of the best players in the NBA. They've been a pair since Morey traded for Harden in 2012 and haven't won anything but some individual awards. This despite having paired Harden with Dwight Howard first, then Chris Paul. When those experiments failed, Morey made a move for one of Harden's childhood friends and fellow former MVP Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is another guy who's not very likeable. Whether it's his antics on the court or his handling of the media, he seems to fit right in. Now that "small ball" is in full effect, the national media is trying to find a way to poop on it, but are getting turned away because of the Rockets' play as of late.

Bill O'Brien Is A Powerful Dumbass

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Bill O'Brien is a prime example. The Texans were in a good spot. They drafted Watson and he brought them some credibility, as well as fulfilled their franchise quarterback role. However, O'Brien has managed to turn this team into a laughingstock. He's assumed so much power and control as GM and head coach, that the only people capable of firing him is one of the McNairs and they're the ones who've given him this much power! It's utterly ridiculous! After the playoff loss to the Chiefs, the national media finally picked up on the stench the local media has been smelling for years. Now, O'Brien and the Texans are facing the scrutiny nationally they've faced locally and it's well earned. He's turned this organization into a punchline.

Where does Houston go from here?

The only thing Houston can do from here is to lean into the bad guy role. I wrote about this concerning the Astros a few weeks ago. Looking at how the Rockets and Texans have been talked about nationally, it's time for them to embrace it as well. Harden shot back at Giannis Antetokounmpo when he threw shade his way. It was refreshing to see some fight out of him instead of the usual safe answers. Too bad the Texans don't have that in them. They need to start winning and winning big before they can talk big. As far as the fans are concerned: support your teams, wear their gear, but beware. The Texans won't give you any ammo in which to defend them with because they have an affinity for being mediocre. The Astros were caught cheating so there's not a whole lot you can do to defend them. The Rockets haven't been to or won a title since OJ was found not guilty. Look at the bright side Houston. You still have the Roughnecks.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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