HARRIS COUNTY – HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

New TV show features Gow Media's John Granato

Just Sayin' joins the Houston sports landscape. Courtesy photo

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

Producer Vince Rockwall is trying to find the right place to give a wrap up signal to our little group who is talking Houston sports. He moves a little to his right. Then a lot. We’re not seeing it.

He gives up and moves to the other side of the set - and away from the lights. He finally gets our attention and we close out the segment.

Best move of the day.

Just sayin’.

There were a lot of little things to iron out Thursday afternoon when longtime Houston sports personality John Granato, semi-newcomer Paul Gallant and I stepped in front of the cameras to tape the first installment of a new 30-minute Saturday morning sports show debuting tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on Kube 57.

The height differential. The cameras. The timing. The segment length. The one-liners. The script they edited on the fly. The normal TV production kind of things.

Just sayin’.

And the name of the show? What else?

Just Sayin’.

There’s no screaming or yelling like you see on First Take or other shows. Just a good dynamic and strong opinions. Although we do have to admit that Gallant’s enthusiasm does drive him to get so excited that his voice steps it up a few decibel levels.

“You’re all gas, no brakes,’’ Rockwall said. “Take a breath.”

That drew laughs all around. And, of course, led to a little smack talk.

Granato, who hosts a morning show on 97.5 FM, is our measured , thoughtful, semi-grumpy leader. Gallant – Pauly G – is the very talented, opinionated young “kid” who is part of a morning trio on Sports Radio 610, that airs at the same time.

And me? I’m a long-time TV reporter and the public relations director for the Harris County -- Houston Sports Authority. They call me Switzerland.

“It’s a lot of fun,’’ said Granato. “Patti and I have been working together on different things, projects – Fox Sports, Rockets games, Astros – for years. So for us do be doing something on a weekly basis – we’ve been talking about this for a while -- it’s really cool.’’

But he also knows I’m a stickler for grammar and it’s hard for me to say the words we toss around on camera, like sayin’ and ain’t.  I fact ain’t is an actual pet peeve!

“I’m going to say ain’t and sayin’ and as much slang as possible to irritate Patti because she just can’t stand it,’’ he grinned. “So that’s my plan for the show.’’

Shocker, coming from Granato. I should be saying all the right things like  – “I couldn’t be more excited to work with these two and that I’m looking forward to working with the young, up-and coming Pauly G.’’

But the truth is after one show now, and remembering what it’s like to have John harass  and irritate me, I might have to rethink this whole project! All kidding aside, John’s a pro and I love every minute of it. He will drive me nuts, but I certainly can dish it back.  It’s kind of like a marriage, you have to have a little friction.

And then there’s Paul, who started at 610 with a night slot.

“He was really, really good,’’ Granato said. “He’s energetic. He’s a loud guy.’’

“So here’s the deal – the loudest guys are the hardest to shut up. You need to slow them down. Young whippersnappers. You’re going to have to slow them down and put them in their place from time to time. And that’s what’s going to happen here.

“Until Switzerland here comes in and says calm down.’’

Gallant grins. “I’m thrilled to work with John and Patti, who I’ve been seeing at every Texans or Astros or Rockets or whatever thing I’ve been covering over the last few years,’’ he said.  “. . . It’s going to be great.’’

So far, so good.

We practiced once last week, then shot the first show Thursday. We talked about the Texans, the Rockets, the Astros and even threw in a little golf. In the coming months, we’ll be adding guests and features.

And a lot of  opinions.

“The hardest things is probably getting the chemistry going,’’ Granato said. “We all haven’t worked together and a three-man booth is hard.’’

You couldn’t tell with the launch show. We breezed through.

“We’re not going to create controversy just to create it just so we can do this great TV of yelling at each other,’’ Granato said. “We’re going to say what we really mean and hopefully we’re going to disagree on some things.  And when we agree, we agree. What we have to learn is not stepping on each other and respecting each other’s space.’’

We bounce talking points off each other all week and pull the best together before we tape.

The only strange thing? We’re agreeing a lot more than we thought.

For me, the hardest part is these two are very good at what they do and they have very strong opinions and it’s interesting playing that role of Switzerland from a Sports Authority standpoint, because we are partners with teams, and I have to keep things from getting too far offsides.


“We’re all doing different things all week,’’ Gallant said. “We each bring a unique perspective when we’re putting a show together.’’

But mostly we just want to talk sports and have a little fun.

Just sayin’.







 

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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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