POINT BLANK

Joel Blank: ESPYS will have a distinctive Houston flavor this year

Jose Altuve is up for best male athlete. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If you’re a sports fan, one of the most difficult weeks of the year is on the horizon. Baseball is on its annual hiatus due to Tuesday’s All-Star game, there is no basketball to speak of except for the uneventful Summer League tournament, and NFL training camps don't open up for another 10 days.

For golf fans, the current major is the British Open, which means you either have to set your alarm for the middle of the night or rely on late night highlights. About the only prime time viewing option you have aside from the MLB All-Star game is the ESPY's on Wednesday night. Thankfully, Houston has a big presence this year as the Astros and Rockets are up for numerous awards. H-town has a shot to take home some serious hardware.

The Astros will be front and center, picking up nominations both as individuals and as a team, compliments of their storybook season and World Series Championship. George Springer is up for Best Championship Performance after taking home the MVP of the World Series. The team is up for Best Game, for their thrilling 10-inning Game 5 victory over the Dodgers. Jose Altuve is up for Best MLB player and Best Male Athlete and the team is also up for Best Team for all of last season.

Overall, that is quite a laundry list of nominees and you have to admit, they have a pretty good chance to take home several trophies when all is said and done. James Harden is also up for Best NBA Athlete, as well as Male Athlete of the Year. You have to believe that the team would have been up for a whole lot more had they found a way to pull out the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. Damn those hamstrings!

The interesting category for me is the Best Male Athlete Award, as you have two Houstonians in Altuve and Harden, as well as Tom Brady of the Patriots and Alex Ovechkin of the NHL's Washington Capitals. To me this should come down to Altuve and Ovechkin. Both have a great case to be made based on their franchise's title drought and the way they went about their business both individually and as a collective unit. Sure there was drama in the Stanley Cup and the Caps squashed the Cinderella story that was the Las Vegas Knights, but there is no denying Altuve and the Astros. Just looking at him, you have a soft spot for a guy that plays so big and looks so little.

Then you delve a little deeper and see that MVP, the laundry list of individual awards like Silver Slugger and Player of the Year, as well as statistics like another 200 hit season with 204, another batting title htting .346 and leading the American league in hits for the season. He was everything for his team from start to finish he deserves to be the Best Male Athlete of 2017. Don't get me wrong, Ovechkin was great, but Atuve just did more. Tune in to the ESPY's Wednesday night at 7 p.m. as see how all the local nominees fair and if you want to vote for your favorites, go to espn.com/espys and support your local jocks. With the sports world basially taking a Mulligan this week, what else do you have to do?

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This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

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