WHAT A WEEKEND

No matter who you rooted for, it was a great weekend for Houston sports fans

It was a big weekend for fans of Houston teams. Elsa/Getty Images

If you are a Houston sports fan, chances are this past weekend was one of the best in recent memory. No matter who you rooted for, you had something to celebrate. A look at the winners:

1) The Astros took the first two games of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park before raucous crowds on Friday and Saturday, beginning their defense of the 2017 World Series title. They wrapped up the series in Cleveland on Monday with a dominant 11-3 win.

2) The Texans? They beat fan rivals (if not real rivals) Dallas 19-16 on Sunday Night Football before a national audience. The win was their second in a row after an 0-3 start.

3) Fan of the Texas Longhorns? They are officially back. They knocked off previously unbeaten and arch-rival Oklahoma to take charge of the Big 12.

4) Texas A&M? They beat a ranked Kentucky team (yes, Kentucky is good at football this year) and moved back into the Top 25.

5) The Houston Cougars started the weekend off with a nationally televised win over Tulsa on Thursday night. After an abyamal start, they cranked it up in the fourth quarter and kept pace in the American Athletic Conference.

6) While the post-fight brawl got all the attention at the UFC card Saturday night, Houstonian Derrick Lewis stole the show before all that with a monster knockout. He also picked up a bunch of new fans with his funny, memorable postfight interview. Lewis could be in line for a heavyweight title shot after the win. 

So unless you are a Rice Owls fan (well, sorry to all six of you), you had a good weekend. 

In the grand scheme of things, it's not much. But for a city that is not exactly swimming in titles, we don't get too many weekends like this. The Astros' World Series win was the first in the franchise's 50-plus year history. The Rockets, while close in the last few years, have not won a title since 1995, which means fans have the same bragging rights as Cowboys fans do on their most recent title. (Quite simply, neither of you can brag about those anymore. If a team has not won a title since you were born and you are drinking age or older, it no longer counts. Sorry).

All that aisde, the Astros might be on their way to another title and will face the Yankees or Red Sox next (they vanquished both on the way to the title last year). The Texans are now 2-3 and only a game out of first in a suddenly mediocre AFC South. And chances are good your college team still has a lot to pay for, too. So it was a darned good weekend for Houston fan.

No matter who you rooted for.

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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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