KATE UPTON WATCH

Kate Upton joins on-field celebration with Justin Verlander after Astros clinch ALCS

Kate Upton and Justin Verlander celebrate after the Astros in the ALCS. Roland Martinez/Getty Images

It wasn't just the Houston Astros players and coaches who were celebrating the big win over the New York Yankees on the field of Minute Park Saturday night. Whitney Crane stood next to her husband, Astros owner Jim Crane, as he officially accepted the ALCS trophy. And model Kate Upton took cell phone photos of fiancé Justin Verlander as he was named Most Valuable Player.

Upton wore a classic rainbow-striped Astros jersey over a black camisole, skinny jeans, and mango-colored stilettos with ballet ribbons as she cheered the Astros on from a skybox during the game and on the field afterwards.

She even snared a World Series cap that the Astro players received after the 4-0 win over the Yankees. And it seemed appropriate that she should be on the field celebrating. Besides adding a touch of glamour to these games, she is credited with encouraging Verlander to come to the Astros.

The Detroit Tigers sent Verlander to the Astros just seconds before the trade deadline on Sept. 1. He agreed to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, with Upton's encouragement.

"Thank goodness my fiancée Kate was there," Verlander told ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. "It made my decision a lot easier. … Finally, I'm still pacing and I just kind of stop and I looked at Kate and I go 'Screw it; We're going to Houston.' And she's like 'Heck yeah.' You know I'm kind of trying to say the right language here. But she says 'Heck yeah, we're going,' and that was it. That was the decision."

We're sure glad they did. 

Originally appeared on Culture Map/Houston

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The new-look Texans won't get started until September, but the Roughnecks' season is about to begin. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Without much fanfare, or seemingly any, the Houston Roughnecks are preparing for opening night of the XFL 3.0 season just a couple of weeks away.

The Roughnecks will host the Orlando Guardians, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus. That’s less than a week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Before one pass is thrown, one run rushed, or one groin pulled, Las Vegas has set odds for the 2023 XFL season. Our Roughnecks and the Orlandos are tied for the longest odds on the board, +750. The early betting favorite is the St. Louis Battlehawks at +400.

Just a note: if you’re like Cosmo Kramer and think wagering on early-season XFL games is “some sweet action” – well, “you really need help, you need a team of psychiatrists working around the clock, thinking about you” and George Costanza.

Not surprisingly, good seats remain for opening night. Lousy seats, too. And seats in the middle.

If the Houston Texans and the all-mighty NFL couldn’t fill half of NRG Stadium, do the Roughnecks stand a prayer of drawing big crowds to TDECU Stadium?

One thing in the Roughnecks favor: affordable seats for their five home games on the XFL’s 10-game schedule. Season tickets for Roughnecks games start at $110 and go up to $480 at xfl.com. Individual game tickets, available on Ticketmaster, are $24 and higher. Reasonably priced food and drink (I kid because I love), plus an array of team merch will be available, including T-shirts ($25), baseball caps ($28-$34), sweatshirts and sweatpants ($45-$60), and bucket hats ($45).

Of course, nothing sells seats like winning. The Roughnecks were 5-0 and dominating the league last time the XFL played. That was 2020 when Covid-19 cut the season short. That was then …

This is now. Much like the Texans (as of this week), the most recognizable and popular figure on the field will be the head coach. The 2023 Roughnecks will be led by NFL veteran Wade Phillips, who has a lot of history and DNA in Houston. Quarterbacks currently on the roster are Cole McDonald from Hawaii, Kaleb Eleby from Western Michigan and Brandon Silvers from Troy State.

Most of the roster will be new names for Houston fans, although the league is bragging that 255 XFL’ers have been on NFL rosters at some point.

The Roughnecks will compete in the XFL South division along with the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas. That’s three out of four teams from Texas. The XFL North is comprised of the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers.

Every XFL game (40 regular season, two playoffs, one championship) will air somewhere across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and FX, plus streaming on ESPN+. As they say, check your local listing to find the Roughnecks.

If you think that the XFL is just “too soon,” hold on until April when the Houston Gamblers take the field for the 2023 USFL season. Although don’t get too excited about attending home games. Houston’s “home” is in Birmingham, Ala. I know, silly.

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