Every Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Don't look now, but Astros season is not too far away

The World Series champion Astros will report for spring training in just a couple weeks. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There’s a lot going on in sports these days. So naturally, there’s a lot going on in my head. Adult ADD isn’t so bad when you know how to control it and harness it for the sake of writing an article. So here goes…

Astros spring training draws near

The Astros are set to start defense of their World Series title. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14, while position players report on Feb. 19. Spring Training always gets me excited for the upcoming baseball season. This season has me more pumped coming off the World Series win. General Manager Jeff Luhnow has done yeoman’s work in shaping this roster into not just a contender, but a contender for years to come. Pulling off the Gerrit Cole deal was akin to hustling the Pittsburgh Pirates at 3-Card Monte. Playing a 162-game schedule is a grind in and of itself. From their “pre-season” until the last out is recorded, a baseball season lasts about ten months. I believe the only thing standing in their way is staying relatively healthy for that journey. Speaking of the Astros…

Jose Altuve putting in extra work

MLB Network host and Houston native Robert Flores recently tweeted that A.L. MVP Jose Altuve has been at the Astros training facility for FOUR WEEKS! If you needed another reason to love this guy, there ya go. I applaud the fact that he’s gone about this without any shameless self-promoting social media posts (looking at you J.J. Watt). He simply told a media member and let the rest take care of itself. Never mind that, but the man could be resting on his recent accomplishments and taking it easy. Instead, he only took about a month off and got right back to work. He knows the big payday will come. Yet, with all the accolades in tow, he chooses to grind harder in order to stay at the top of the mountain. If only some other top athletes in this city would follow his lead, I wonder: where they could lead their teams?

G.O.A.T. talks

With the New England Patriots making yet another Super Bowl appearance, quarterback Tom Brady has been mentioned as perhaps the greatest athlete/sportsman ever, especially in comparison to Michael Jordan. Those types of arguments are great for debate, difference of opinion, generational divides, and overall discussion. However, one of the flaws I’ve noticed is the lack of inclusion of other athletes/sportsman. Roger Federer just became the first male tennis player to win 20 Grand Slam titles. No mention of him or the three women who did it before he did (Serena Willaims, Steffi Graf, or Margaret Court). What about Pelé, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, or Cristiano Ronaldo of soccer? I’m guessing baseball players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, or Barry Bonds get no love either? I’m not even going to mention some of the others from sports less popular. Let’s be sure we open our minds and broaden our horizons when making these types of arguments before we eliminate reasonable competition.

The Rockets are ready to contend

The Rockets are ready to contend for the NBA title…if they can remain healthy. Do they need to add some pieces? They sure could use the extra help. Fellow Sports Map columnist Joel Blank laid out his argument for help in the form of another big man. While I agree with him, I believe this team’s biggest obstacle is health. Their record of 19-1 with James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela in the starting lineup is astonishing. At 35-13 on the season with a fairly firm grip on the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, they’re currently four games back of the Golden State Warriors for the No. 1 seed and hold the tie-breaker. But that’s not enough. The Warriors are like a large corporation in a lawsuit against a very successful mom & pop operation. Sure the mom & pop operation may have a winnable case in court, but the corporation has longer money and better lawyers to outlast them and will eventually win out unless something drastic happens. Going 16-12 when their version of the Big Three is out doesn’t spell success in the postseason. Making a move is one thing, making the right move (no matter what they may look like) could make or break their chances this season.

The Texans’ blessing in disguise

The Texans’ coaching staff had the task of coaching the South team in the 2018 Senior Bowl. Going into the offseason sans a first and second round pick in the draft and a change at general manager, this came as a blessing in disguise for the Texans. Bill O’Brien and his staff got the chance to be up close and personal with a group of potential draftees, or undrafted free agents, this past week. Scouts, coaches, and front office personnel often attend these events en masse. I sincerely hope they used that time wisely and were able to pick up on more than they would have given normal access had they not been coaching in the game. This would be more beneficial given the stacked deck they’re facing when it comes to rebuilding this team on the fly, particularly this offseason, given that they’re already a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

Bonus!

-If you haven’t seen the footage of Nick Saban doing the Cupid Shuffle, it’s a must-watch.

-A New Orleans Pelicans fan sitting courtside had a brief run as a member of the team in warm-ups.

If you’re reading this, I love you. Thanks for putting up with me this long as my own attention span sometimes won’t allow me to do the same without at least three or four breaks. Remember, I’m available for rebuttal, debate, or general conversation on Twitter. Until next week, be good, or be good at it.

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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