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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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The Texans have a big decision to make. Composite image by Jack Brame

The last few weeks have brought us some very interesting episodes of "As Kirby Turns." Cal McNair has admitted he hasn't spoken with Deshaun Watson and has also doubled down on his affinity for Jack Easterby by saying he's staying around. The franchise's only member of their Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson, came completely out of character by tweeting his support for Watson to "stand his ground" in what most assume is his desire to play elsewhere. Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio has the hardest job in the NFL because he's basically a one leg man in a bleep kicking contest. National and local media are all floating rumors and opinions about Watson's status with the team. Meanwhile, Watson himself has been cryptic and hasn't come out and said one thing either way about his status with the team.

My opinion is that he won't be traded and this is his way of using the leverage he has to get some things done his way to ensure more of his career won't be wasted. Once they hire a head coach he approves of and they talk, he'll be back in the fold and blow things over by saying he never demanded a trade and was only upset about some things due to miscommunication. Blah blah blah. However, where there's smoke, there must be fire. I'll examine some pros and cons to a potential trade of Watson.

Bad news first. This franchise has waited its entire existence for a franchise quarterback like Watson. Finally getting one and having to deal him amidst the bumbling owner and charlatan right-hand man would be a big blow to overcome. This coming year is shaping up to be difficult as it is, but doing so with Watson wearing a different jersey could prove to be a near fatal blow. It would take an additional year or so to recover. The only way this timeline is expedited, is if they get a quarterback back in the trade or with one of the draft picks that they feel can be the man moving forward.

The bright side. Watson is this team's most attractive asset as it looks to rebuild. There are teams in the top five of this year's draft who need quarterbacks, and a couple of them have multiple first round picks. The Jets, #2 and #23 overall in the first round this draft, are the most intriguing destination because they may be bad next season with Watson if you get that pick in the trade as well. Throw in Sam Darnold, who's still young and salvageable, and this could be a hard reset that may not take as long. The Dolphins, #3 and #18 overall this draft, also have a lot to offer. Rumor has it Watson would like to go to Miami in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, who was a guy Caserio liked when entering the draft. Again, another potential hard reset that may not take long if either young quarterback pans out. You could also trade back from those top slots to acquire more picks to help fill some of the many holes you have.

I reiterate, I do not believe Watson will be traded. I'm not even sure his no trade clause is applicable since he's still under his rookie contract and his extension hasn't kicked in yet. The new CBA rules call for stiffer penalties for players who refuse to report, so a holdout is highly unlikely. I'll be glad when they hire a coach Watson likes, and we get the happy family press conference introducing him, so this soap opera can move on to its next episode.

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