HARRIS COUNTY – HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

New TV show features Gow Media's John Granato

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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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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