Here's the definitive case for which player Houston fans should boo the loudest

Here's the definitive case for which player Houston fans should boo the loudest
Who deserves the most heat? Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Which now-former Houston superstar athlete will hear the loudest boos the next time he comes to town with his new team?

Carlos Correa? James Harden? Deshaun Watson?

I’m thinking it will be James Harden. It should be Carlos Correa. Here’s why.

Harden demanded a trade from the Rockets because the team was in rebuild mode and that’s no place for one of the all-time great scorers in the second half of his career. Even though the Rockets made him one of the highest-paid players of all time, granted his every whim and pampered him like a teacher’s pet for eight seasons, Harden had good reason for wanting out. Great players want to play for contenders and the only thing missing from Harden’s resume was an NBA championship – which wasn’t going to happen in a Rockets uniform.

While Harden handled his final days in Houston poorly, pouting and causing a distraction, he forced what needed to be done. Harden is a strange cat and doesn’t possess the warmest personality. He was never embraced by fans like former Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Rudy Tomjanovich were.

Harden will be in the visiting team’s locker room when the 76ers play next season at Toyota Center. I expect a thunderous chorus of jeers when Harden is announced in the starting lineup, whenever he touches the ball and shoots his step-back 3. Rockets fans will scream “traveling!” Yeah, now it’s traveling.

Despite the Texans making Deshaun Watson one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks (at the time), it is understandable why he wanted to leave Houston. It’s important to note that Watson demanded a trade before he was accused of sexual misconduct by 22 masseuses and was put in timeout for the entire 2021 season. He was paid $10 million but had to be humiliated by the Texans’ decision not to play him. Please, somebody humiliate me like that.

Watson believes that the Texans promised to consult him on future front office and coaching hires – and then didn’t. We don’t know if that actually was the case, but Watson thinks the Texans lied to him. Reportedly he didn’t think the Texans did do enough to support cultural causes that Watson promoted. It was a bad employer-employee situation and sometimes it’s best for the employee to seek a new opportunity. Which Watson did. A better roster for more money in Cleveland.

It will be a scene when Watson and the Browns visit NRG Stadium next season. I expect Watson will hear a mix of cheers and boos. Football is different from baseball and basketball because football players don’t get singled out very much by the public address announcer. An All-Pro offensive lineman can play the best game of his career and never get mentioned once to the crowd. Watson won’t be introduced each time he takes the field.

Plus, if the Texans put up another stinker season, there won’t be that many fans in the stadium who care enough to boo Watson.

Now we come to Carlos Correa. I predict that the Astros will play a tribute video for him and the packed stadium will give him a standing ovation.

But why? Of the three departing stars, Correa was the most beloved and treasured. While Harden (wanted to play for a contender) and Watson (felt deceived by the owner) had understandable reasons for wanting to leave Houston, what was Correa’s reason? It would seem only one thing – money.

Correa was playing for a winner, the most dominant team in baseball over the last five years. Fans showered him with affection. His teammates loved him. He seemingly had a good relationship with ownership. He was on the road to being a Houston icon. A legend in the making.

And the moment he had a chance to leave Houston he was a goner.

It wasn’t like ownership told him to take a hike, the Astros offered him $160 million over five years, a respectable (I’d say) and prudent contract. Instead Correa took a 3-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $105 million with opt-outs after the first and second year. I get it, he’s banking on having a sensational 2022 season, opting out and looking again for a long-term deal for more and more money. Betting on yourself is a wise strategy, especially with Correa’s talent, but please don’t write that open letter to Houston fans saying how much he loves them and the city. It’s coming.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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