ICE, ICE, BABY

How to choose an NHL team if you're done with the Texans

Either the Flyers or Devils would be a good choice to root for. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If you're like any number of Houstonians this past weekend, you've probably reached the end of your rope with the Texans. If I'm mistaken, and you enjoy watching Bill O’Brien continue to waste three and a half hours of your fall Sundays then by all means disregard this exercise, go Texans. If I've piqued your interest then allow me to pose a few questions.

What if there was something else out there you could watch? What if there was another sport that - like football - seamlessly blended athleticism and brutality? What if - dare I suggest - we watched something besides a Texans team that has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt its inability to properly coach in critical moments or evaluate free agents and draft talent beyond the first round?

Houston football has been mired in mediocrity for years now, and it seemed each year there was a justifiable excuse. This year is different. This was supposed to be the year that the stars aligned with a vaunted defense and an electric offense finally coming together at the same time. Instead, it looks like just another disappointing year, but this time there are no excuses to lean on.

So I've decided as a result that this is the year I give hockey its due diligence. As a native Houstonian I've had little reason to immerse myself in the sport seeing as there has never been a local (professional) team, but at 32 I believe that excuse has lost enough tread and it's time to expand. What better time to do so than during the NHL preseason just after the Texans have all but verified another upcoming season of futility? But how to go about picking a team?

I figured I'd start by eliminating cities I simply can't root for. A few fall off immediately:

Boston Bruins - if their fans are as obnoxious as Patriots fans then I can't associate with that.

Detroit Red Wings - Lazy pick, too bandwagon. Also, they're bad.

New York Rangers - Won't root for anything New York, so I guess the Islanders are gone as well

Los Angeles Kings - Won't root for L.A. either. Third Coast all the way baby.

Chicago - Not only because it's Chicago, but also because they've won a few cups recently, so it would be a lazy trendy pick. Also, I don't want to get sick of hearing Chelsea Dagger.

Washington Capitals - I like the team and I like Ovechkin, but they just won the whole thing and I can't hop on the bandwagon.

Pittsburgh Penguins - Way too trendy. As one hockey enthusiast claims “They're like the Yankees of hockey.” So yeah. No.

Every Canadian team because I don't want to go through customs to see a home game.

Dallas Stars - It's Dallas. It is Texas, but it's also Dallas.

OK, plenty of teams eliminated already. The next easiest way to get rid of a few teams is to eliminate based off of logo or uniform. Because if you're not forced to pick something as dumb as Houston's Texas Flag Bull amalgamation, then don't. A few more fall off as a result:

Anaheim Ducks - They were cool before they rebranded.

St. Louis Blues - It's a music note.

Colorado Avalanche - Just a goofy pairing of steel blue and burgundy that I can't sign off on.

Minnesota Wild - It's probably cool in Minnesota, and I get what they're doing with the hunter green motif, it's just not my thing.

Carolina Hurricanes - The logo and jerseys look like they were lazily created in a video game.

Now let's eliminate some of the worst teams, because if we're watching hockey to avoid watching bad football, there's no point in replacing it with bad hockey. They don't have to be world beaters for me, but I'd like to be less frustrated. That filters out the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes.

Eight candidates left. I'm not very keen on the idea of my hockey team being from Nashville, Columbus, or Florida, so those are gone.

That leaves the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, and Las Vegas Golden Knights.

I actually would like to watch whatever team I choose, and any Astros fan worth their salt knows how much fun it is to catch those West Coast road trips. A 9 p.m. start time for home games doesn't excite me one bit so that knocks out San Jose and - unfortunately -Vegas.

That leaves Philly and Jersey.

Now New Jersey has an awesome logo and mascot, but Philly has a great jersey. Both had fairly even decent seasons last year as well but two things stand out for Philly to me that win me over:

First, from what I've gathered, they're a young, up and coming team, a la 2015 Astros.

Second, it seems like everyone not from Philly hates them. Being from Houston, my teams rarely move the needle for anyone. You never hear “How can you be fans of Houston?!” No one hates the Texans, they just don't care about them. No one hates the Astros, they're too much fun to watch and they haven't done anything to anyone except LA. Some people grumble about the Rockets but that moreso directed at James Harden’s playstyle than anything.

Let's go with the polarizing team for once. Let's be hated. Go Flyers.

And there it is. What you have laid out for you is a foolproof procedure for choosing your very own hockey team to root for. Tinker with the eliminations as you see fit and see what you come up with. Then join me hand in hand into a wonderful new sports territory; a land scarcely explored by fellow Houstonians, yet fully embraced by her transplants.

Or hold fast and watch the Texans ship sink to the depths of the AFC South once again. Your call.

***NOTE: This article is null and void in the event of Houston landing its own NHL team.***




 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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