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.