Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: On the Texans, Astros, Rockets, NFL playoffs and protests

Bob McNair re-affirmed his marriage to Bill O'Brien. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Here’s my initial weekly contribution to SportsMap. Those of you that are fortunate enough to follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or fortunate enough to be a friend of mine on Facebook, know how random I can be. This is my outlet for sports takes and the like. You’re going to get a gumbo of stuff from me some weeks, and some weeks I’ll stick to my favorite sandwich. This week, gumbo it is:

Bill O’Brien extension

The Houston Texans decided to not only hire a general manager head coach Bill O’Brien likes in former Buffalo Bills V.P. of player personnel Brian Gaine, but also make sure his contract matched that of Gaine’s in length to ensure the two are tied together. Gaine was also Director of Player Personnel in his tenure with the Texans 2014-16. Team owner Bob McNair is the guy who gets married weeks after meeting that 6 he met at the club that one night when he was wearing whiskey goggles. I’m not saying O’Brien didn’t deserve some insurance, but adding four more years to the year he had left just because you gave Gaine a five year deal wasn’t smart. To say this has nothing to do with Rick Smith’s untimely leave of absence would be speculative, but this whole situation smells like a Lifetime movie.

Astros acquire Gerrit Cole

The Houston Astros acquired the services of Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates for thirty-two pounds of brisket, seventy-five sausage links, thirteen pounds of chicken fajitas and a five gallon bucket of queso (Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran and Jason Martin). Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow is heads and shoulders the best executive amongst all the major pro sports teams in the city. Not only has he won a World Series through analytics and tanking, but he’s keeping this team in title contention by not mortgaging the future. Between this deal and the one for Justin Verlander, he’s pushed his value to the franchise beyond description. Astros fans had their panties in a bunch and wedgie thinking top prospects would be sacrificed for short term rentals. Fear not Astros fans, for Luhnow is what Rockets G.M. Daryl Morey wishes he could be!

The Rockets are faltering, but fear not

The Houston Rockets have gone from leading the Western Conference to second place and four games behind their Biff Tannen, the Golden State Warriors. Despite their fall from grace, the Rockets are still three games ahead of the third place upstart Minnesota Timberwolves. G.M. Daryl Morey has done a good job by keeping the team in contention and rebuilding on the fly under the Les Alexander era. Under new owner Tilman Fertita, I expect the reigns to tighten as far as expectations are concerned, but very loose in terms of spending and doing what it takes to build a winner. I truly feel this team has what it takes to topple the Warriors and/or San Antonio Spurs if Morey can be their Doc to the team’s Marty McFly.

NFL playoffs

Great googly moogly those were some exciting games! Of course I’m clearly speaking to Sunday’s games, as Saturday’s games were sort of ho hum. The Falcons failed to do what most of us thought they should, which was kill off a snake with its fangs missing in an Eagles team sans starting quarterback Carson Wentz. The Patriots did the Titans like every older sibling has done to their younger sibling since the beginning of time. Meanwhile, on Sunday, The Jags and Steelers decided to reenact the shootout scene from the end of Scarface. But the Every-Thing Award this week goes to the dramatic ending to the Vikings/Saints game where a simple tackle would’ve advanced the Saints to the NFC Title game…but the missed tackle led to a Vikings touchdown and trip to Philly instead. I could barely finish writing the recap after watching the end of that game.

MLK Holiday

Yesterday, the country observed a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lots of people (myself excluded, by that’s another conversation) took it as another government/school/bank holiday or even more simply put “an extra day off.” Many of those who enjoyed that day off were some of the same ones who loathed NFL players for National Anthem protests, which happen to be a portion of the things Dr. King and many others have fought to protect. Protests aren’t meant to be comfortable or fit into neat little boxes. They’re meant to call attention to issues those protesting feel strongly about. Sure the pro athletes that have protested have angered and upset many, but they have the right to do so. Some may/may not like or support/not support the protests, but that’s every person’s personal choice. We’ve been fortunate enough to live in a country where we have the freedom to express ourselves without fear of persecution or retaliation due to our views. Perhaps we should spend these holidays seeing and learning about the opposite side of our views in order to better understand one another instead of enjoying “just another day off.” Then, and only then, will we ever learn to cohabitate more harmoniously.

Now look. I’m going to tell you guys like I tell my family: just because I can cook it, doesn’t mean you can request me to do so all the time. I may feel like crawfish étouffée with crab meat, or a classic shrimp poboy, or some beef stew with potatoes. The meal depends on y mood and what the store has on sale. But I can guarantee that when you sit down to eat, you’ll leave the table fat and full!

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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