MESSAGE RECEIVED

How J.J. Watt's final message to Bill O'Brien was his most powerful

In J.J. we trust. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It's apparent now that a recent "heated exchange" between Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien and star J.J. Watt led to O'Brien's firing earlier this week.

Should fans point to Watt and think, here's another big-money, super-ego, malcontent player who got his coach fired?

Or should fans just send Watt a thank you note?

I vote for the thank you note, something tasteful, from the Hallmark store, not aisle 6 at the supermarket. People can tell.

While the O'Brien-Watt blowup may have been the final straw, O'Brien leaves behind a haystack of bonehead trades, a sourpuss disposition, poor clock management, head-scratching play calling and, the unpardonable sin of an 0-4 train wreck drained of high draft picks next season. O'Brien ransomed the future for the now, and now doesn't have any wins.

The Texans had only five draft picks this year. Only one team had fewer, the Saints, but at least they had a first-round pick.

Now we hear stories that Texans management was aware of O'Brien's temper tantrums, but did nothing as long as the Texans were winning the AFC South.

O'Brien didn't just lose the locker room, he lost the whole city. It was like sports talk radio was playing a loop of "Fire Bill O'Brien" calls. Stations were wearing out their bleep button.

The day after O'Brien's firing, Watt posted a tweet that was as subtle as a ton of bricks landing on Wile E. Coyote's head. Beep beep.

The tweet was a simple image of the sun beaming into NRG Stadium with its roof open.

Oh, so that's what the stadium looks like with its roof open? It's been a long time.

If that tweet could talk, it would sing I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash, the reggae singer who was born and lived his whole life in Houston. Nash passed away this week, the same day that Watt posted his tweet.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way,

Gone are the dark clouds that had me down,

It's gonna be a bright sunny day.

Just to be sure, the dark clouds are O'Brien and the sunny day is interim coach Romeo Crennel.

It's difficult to find any mourning for O'Brien's coaching tenure with the Texans. The popular refrain in Houston and around the NFL was, "What took 'em so long?"

Fans piled on like ding dong the king is dead. To borrow from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (maybe my favorite Cliff's Notes), fans come to bury Bill O'Brien, not to praise him. That's what 0-4, a loss to the Vikings, and no first or second draft pick next year.

Watt made no attempt to hide his glee after O'Brien joined the ranks of the unemployed.

"We have a fresh start. We had a good practice today, and we're looking forward to Jacksonville," Watt said.

"RAC (Crennel) is a great man. He has rings. He has a positive air about him. He has a jolly nature to him. You can't help but smile being around RAC. It should be fun," Watt said.

Great man, positive air, jolly, smile, fun. Hmmm, as opposed to …?

The Jaguars, 1-3, are in town Sunday. As America's dad Clark Griswold once said (sort of), "The Texans are going to have so much fun, they'll need plastic surgery to remove their smiles." Kickoff is noon.

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Houston gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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