FALCON POINTS

Let's discuss if the NFL's policy on allowing fans is unfair to some teams

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer brought up a topic over the weekend; is it fair that some NFL teams will allow fans while others will not?

With the season just two weeks away and the Rona epidemic showing no signs of slowing down, some teams will have limited capacity for fans; others, like the Texans, will start off with none at all.

While it's arguable that 20,000-plus fans in an 80,000-seat stadium will have much impact on a football game, it still did not stop the Twitterati from raising questions. Why not a uniform rule? Announce the first month will be without fans, then re-evaluate?

Their answer seemed simple: Money.

Unlike the NBA, NHL and MLB, they argue the NFL wants every dollar it can squeeze. Even a limited number of fans will help build the coffers. More than those other leagues, the NFL could easily survive and even thrive without fans. But they are choosing to leave it up to the individual teams. And is that so bad? There will be roughly 17,000 fans at Arrowhead when the Texans open the season in two weeks. Of course, Chiefs fans have already shown they can't be trusted when they shed their masks at an open practice, but that's another issue.

The danger to the fans is not really a concern. If they want to risk getting the virus to see a football game in person, that's their choice. If the NFL is willing to enforce a mask and social distancing policy, then there really is no issue.

Will 17,000 fans give the Chiefs an advantage over the Texans? No. Houston should be more worried about stopping Patrick Mahomes and trying to hold them under 51 points.

So why not a uniform plan like the one mentioned above?

Every state has different rules right now. Fans in the stands will not raise the risk for players, because there will be no contact. If a team can get some fans in, why not let them? To Zimmer's point, it's hardly an advantage.

The rules, however, need to be enforced. No mask, no entrance. Masks to be worn unless drinking or eating. No one within several rows of each individual group. Basically, the same thing we are asking people to do in public at restaurants. If we can do it there, why not at stadiums?

And if it goes well at the stadiums that are allowing it, that should open things up for others. And why not?

Would I go to a game if allowed? No. I will enjoy it on my TV, and everyone has the right to make that choice. If you want to go, it is allowed by your team and you are willing to buy a ticket and follow the rules?

Enjoy the game. And no, you will not be an advantage.


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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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