Every-Thing Sports

Never fear Houston, Watson is here!

Deshaun Watson wearing a Warren Moon jersey
Matt Patterson/Houston Texans

Sometimes in life you encounter people who command a room. Whether it's a good or bad thing, these people make eyes and attention shift to them. There's almost a mystic or magical draw to them. You can hardly describe it. You simply feel drawn to them for some reason. That feeling is amplified when the person is true and genuine. When they're perceived as real and/or authentic, they tend to have a more long-lasting effect on those around them.

A perfect example of the kind of person I'm referring to is Texans' quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson is the type of athlete that only comes along every so often. Not only is he very good at his profession, he's also the kind of person you'd root for if he were a regular guy.

His backstory

It's been mentioned, featured, and talked about ad nauseum that Watson grew up under-privileged, dodging trouble in the streets of Gainesville, GA, and even getting one of the houses Warrick Dunn would gift to single mothers. Overcoming all of this, plus his mother's tongue cancer, is why he's built for just about anything. It is also why he's so easy to root for.

His abilities

It was second and six on the Bills' 44 yard line in overtime and the game was still tied at 19. Each team had a possession, so the next score would win the game. Watson evaded two would-be sackers, spun around, and found Taiwan Jones for a 34-yard gain that set up the game-winning field goal. Going back to his collegiate days at Clemson, we've seen Watson do these types of things. He's the only quarterback in the last 15 postseasons to lead his team to 14-point plus comebacks in both college and the NFL. Why? He works hard and prepares to amplify his God-given abilities. Remember that touchdown run against the Bengals his rookie season?

His likability

This kid gets it. He got drafted by the Texans and almost immediately endeared himself to the city. The picture above of him wearing the Warren Moon Houston Oilers throwback jersey heading to a game was one of those moments that made people instantly like him. The amazing plays help, but he knows what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. When he donated his first game check to cafeteria employees of the team affected by Hurricane Harvey, he started off the right way and has done nothing but make the right moves at every turn.

The results

While beating the Bills was huge, there's more work to be done. Watson has some impressive stats he's put up, as well as some good wins. But in the NFL, the only thing that ultimately matters is winning titles. The Texans have never advanced to an AFC title game, which also means they've never won, or played in, a Super Bowl. If Watson should happen to pull that off, he will cement himself as the greatest athlete in Houston sports history. Baby steps need to be made however, but Watson is seeming to make them in leaps and bounds. He will need help bringing a Super Bowl to Houston, but he appears ready to shoulder the bulk of the load.

When one looks at current Houston athletes and ranks them, most would put Jose Altuve or James Harden on top of that list. Some may still have J.J. Watt up there. For me, Watson is taking aim at that crown. Altuve is no longer the best player on the Astros. Harden hasn't been able to get the Rockets over the hump, despite putting up insane numbers. Watt has missed more games than he's played in over the last few years. Add all of this up with the fact that Watson has emerged as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, and his other intangbles, I don't see how you can't have atop this list.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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