Every-Thing Sports

Immediate overreactions and silly hot takes - Like are the Rockets better without Harden?

James Harden's streak is over.

It's 2019 and the information age is upon us. The news cycle is 24 hours, or less, depending on what's the new/hot topic.We often move on to the next big thing before the old big thing has grown cold. In the sports world, it's even worse.

In sports, we tend to be prisoners of the moment. The last great game, performance, or team is often thrown immediately into the discussion as the greatest game, performance, or team. There's also the knee-jerk reaction to such things. Those reactions, coupled with the need for ratings and clicks, have birthed the "hot take" era in sports media. The fans are just as, if not more, guilty.

Sports media members have built careers around this foolishness. Everyday, some talking head full of hot air spews out the most insane things they, their team of writers, and their researchers can come up with. Or you get to hear two of them debate topics in a back and forth of jackassery. It's one thing if that's how you truly feel, but more often than not, it's done to create buzz, get ratings, and boost clicks.

Fans tend to do the same thing. I've noticed that their position often comes from blind faith in their favorite teams and/or players. It's sad when you hear some misguided fan think their team has a legit shot at glory and can't acknowledge their team is dumpster juice. Or when they feel a certain player is worth more, or less, than what that player is getting paid. I have a childhood friend who has anointed every mid-major college basketball star as the next big thing for the last twenty-plus years, only for said players to become little more than a role player at best.

After the Rockets beat the Warriors without James Harden, there were several hot takes out there. The one that most glance over was the "Chris Paul has a lot left in the tank" take. Paul's tank isn't empty, but he's not traveling very far. Paul is no longer the player considered one of the league's best. His max extension was more of a career achievement token than a deserving reward. I'm not bashing Paul, I'm being honest.

The other hot take was the notion that the Rockets may be better off without Harden. If you think or thought that, you're about as bright as a the Astrodome's future. There were discussions of whether the team should trade him or not. Preposterous, stupid, or any other adjective is not strong enough to describe the level of absurdity associated with that type of talk. He may not be the type of superstar that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant was, but he's the Rockets' superstar and they won't get anywhere without him.

Hot takes are an unfortunate part of society. Hell, even the president tweets out his very own hot takes. I'm not standing on my soapbox writing this because I too have been guilty of a hot take here and there. Look no further than the time I thought the Astros and Texans should trade Dallas Keuchel and Jadeveon Clowney respectively. All I'm saying is that we shouldn't be prisoners of the moment or say things we'll end up regretting. If you ever want to see some of those hot takes that have aged as well as a gallon of milk left in a parking lot in mid-July, check out this Twitter account dedicated to cold takes.

And I still think the Texans should trade Clowney.

Astros Red Sox rematch, Verlander on a roll and more

Harden is first team All-NBA, but is there a problem with Paul?

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

James Harden was named first team All-NBA Thursday. The vote for him was unanimous as it was for Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will likely wrest the NBA MVP Award from Harden. It's Harden's fifth first team selection. Hakeem Olajuwon was named first team six times. LeBron James is the all-time leader with 12 first team selections, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant each made it 11.

Sounds as though Chris Paul may not have sent Harden congratulatory flowers or candy. It seemed weak of the Rockets to not hold customary exit interviews and media availability soon after their season ended. Some light may have been shed on that if the report is accurate that Paul had done some chafing over the extent of Harden's ball dominance (maybe more so after Harden's four fourth quarter turnovers in the game six capitulation vs. the Warriors?) and stand around nature of Harden iso-ball. That style coupled with the relentless heaving of three point shots generally served the Rockets well, but has its flaws. For years Paul was a brilliant and low turnover orchestrator of offense so some frustration for him is understandable. But with that, Paul needs to understand that he's not the player he used to be. It's the Rockets' problem that over the next three seasons they'll be paying Paul as if he's better than ever.

On the Astros

The Astros are a loaded team but certainly not perfect. General Manager Jeff Luhnow has no need to act now but things may be moving in the direction of him looking hard for a starting pitcher addition between now and July 31. Collin McHugh failed and is now injured. Josh James has been wild and shaky, Corbin Martin the same two starts in a row. Framber Valdez isn't very highly regarded, and Forrest Whitley has been awful in four straight starts at AAA. Any one of those guys could wind up stabilizing the fifth spot in the rotation. Or maybe it's an acquisition like the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman.

After a disappointing series split with the White Sox the Astros spend a second consecutive weekend with the Boston Red Sox. Last weekend they took two of three at Fenway Park, without Justin Verlander pitching. If Tal's Hill still existed at Minute Maid Park, Tuesday night against the White Sox Verlander might have pitched his third career no-hitter. Verlander goes Sunday in pursuit of his ninth win already this season. He's 8-1 with a sparkling 2.24 earned run average. Verlander's career season to date is 2011 when as a Detroit Tiger he won 24 games (with just five losses) and posted a 2.40 ERA enroute to winning both the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards. The Yankees Domingo German has come out of nowhere to be 9-1 with a sub-three ERA, but Verlander is well out front to win his second "Cy." That would go with his three second place finishes and one third place finish.

Verlander is now basically a surefire Hall of Famer on top of his game at age 36. Among the seven pitchers to win a "Cy" after turning 36, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is the "Wait. What is he is doing with these other names?" guy. The others are all 300 game winners, and except for Roger Clemens, all Hall of Famers. The Rocket won three Cy Young awards after turning 36, the last as an Astro when he was 43. Randy Johnson won four in a row STARTing when he was 36. The other golden relative oldies: Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, and Early Wynn.

Home run derby

The juiced baseballs are flying out of big league ballparks at a record rate this season. The Astros have certainly done their part, hitting 90 home runs in their 51 games. Their season homer pace is at 285. The 2017 World Series winning offensive juggernaut hit 238. The Yankees set the team season record last year with 267. The surprising Minnesota Twins belted eight homers Thursday in improving the best record in MLB to 33-16. The Twins have 98 dingers in 49 games. That's exactly two per game on average, meaning a season pace toward 324. The record for most homers allowed in a season is 258, by the Reds three years ago.The Orioles' atrocious pitching staff has already given up 107 home runs. That's on pace to give up 339. 339!

Boston common

The Stanley Cup Final starts Monday night with Boston against St. Louis. The Red Sox won the most recent World Series. The Patriots won the most recent Super Bowl. Go Blues! Um, that's St. Louis. Thank goodness the Celtics flamed out in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Buzzer beaters

1. Only a boob wouldn't have voted Harden first team All-NBA. 2.The two who voted Harden first All-Defensive team are no Rocket scientists. 3. Greatest scientists not named Einstein: Bronze-Pasteur Silver-Galileo Gold-Newton

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome