Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Houston athletes are next level when it comes to supporting the city's other pro teams

The Astros represented the Rockets. Julia Morales Twitter account

I’ve observed something about Houston pro sports athletes over the past few years. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But after this past weekend, it clicked: Houston pro sports athletes support each other better than other cities, and it doesn’t seem close.

The impetus for this thought came when I saw the Astros wear Rockets gear ahead of their recent road trip and hashtag it on social media as the #RunAsOne road trip. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen this in Houston sports.

Guys like Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and JJ Watt of the Texans have been seen courtside at Rockets’ games. J.J. and friends have even taken batting practice at Astros games in previous years. James Harden and Chris Paul were photographed at an Astros game very recently. Dwight Howard was even seen at Minute Maid during his brief stint as a Rocket.

This didn’t just start; it’s been going on for a while. I remember seeing David Carr out to eat with his family wearing an Astros hat. But lately, things have gone up a notch. Now, it’s fairly normal to see other sports stars in the city to be seen at other games across the city. But what the Astros did in a show of solidarity for the Rockets is next level.

While embarking on their next road trip, the Astros decided to wear Rockets gear. Everyone from manager A.J. Hinch, to Justin Verlander, and even their sideline reporter Julia Morales all donned Rockets paraphernalia. Verlander was photographed holding a basketball walking into the stadium in Los Angeles! George Springer had a full Rockets uniform on, complete with a headband! In a time where the Astros have raised the bar for success, this was pretty cool to see. Maybe the Texans will abandon their silly idea of letterman jackets in favor of Rockets or Astros gear next time they have a big road trip?

Humans love and appreciate respect. Respect is a huge deal amongst pro athletes. Whether it’s from their peers, media, fans, front office people, or anyone else, respect is something they crave. It’s as if they’re fueled by it. While they may like to try other sports, there’s a certain level of appreciation for what fellow athletes can do. Seeing a Rocket or Texans player take batting practice, or an Astro or Texans player shoot the ceremonial first shot may put in perspective that they weren’t built to play another sport at a high level such as their peers. Seeing their interactions, especially when admiring each other’s accomplishments (in person or on social media) shows that the mutual respect is there.

The Astros raised the bar by winning a title last season, and have put together what looks like an all-time pitching staff that can carry the flaccid lineup to another one. It put the Texans and Rockets on notice. The Texans have never won a Super Bowl; and it has been over 20 years since the Rockets have brought a championship to Houston. Judging by the way last night’s game went for the Rockets, it may be another year, at least, before we can look forward to them bringing another title here. The Texans appear to be doing the right things to put a contender together, but with several key players returning from injury, it’s hard to say they’ll win the AFC South this year.

Despite what may seem like a bleak future for some Houston sports teams, I sincerely hope the love and respect they show one another never fades. The admiration they’ve all shown each other gives the fans hope. It makes things easier to tolerate (such as the Rockets Game 1 loss). Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn into bad juju like those letterman jackets.

 

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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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