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's magic number stays at 2

Astros drop series finale to Mariners after rough start by Greinke

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With their magic number at 2 to secure their spot in the 2020 MLB postseason, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for this three-game series' finale and rubber game. Here are the highlights from the game:

Final Score: Mariners 3, Astros 2.

Record: 28-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

Greinke unable to complete five innings

While the Astros were being held scoreless, the Mariners were putting up runs on Zack Greinke. They took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles followed by an RBI-double with one out. Greinke would stop the damage there, then looked to settle in over the next few frames.

He allowed just one baserunner in the second through fourth innings, a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, the Mariners would knock him out of the game by getting a one-out single that would come around to score on a two-out RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single to extend the lead to 3-0. Greinke faced one more batter, allowing a single before Dusty Baker would take the ball and move to the bullpen. His final line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 92 P.

Astros try a late rally, come up short

On the other end, the Astros were unable to break through against Nick Margevicius, getting just one hit and two walks through the first four innings. They had a chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth, starting the inning with back-to-back singles before a walk loaded the bases with one out to turn the lineup over. They'd come up empty, though, with George Springer striking out before a long flyball to center by Jose Altuve to end the inning.

After finishing the fifth for Greinke, Andre Scrubb returned for a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out walk. Still 3-0, Blake Taylor took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a leadoff single and two-out walk to keep Seattle from extending their lead. Houston had another chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting two runners in scoring position, but again would strand them.

Cy Sneed was the next reliever out for the Astros, working around a two-out walk to send the game on to the ninth. The Astros would avoid the shutout, getting a two-RBI single by pinch-hitting Josh Reddick in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. That's as close as they'd come, though, as the Mariners would eventually get the final out to take the series and keep the Astros' magic number stagnant at 2.


Up Next: There is one series left in the regular season for Houston, and it awaits them in Arlington with a four-game series against the Rangers, who are well eliminated from playoff contention. The first of the four games will start at 7:05 PM Central on Thursday with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53 ERA) for Texas and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33 ERA) for the Astros.

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