Off the top of my bald head: A look back at the weekend in Houston sports

Justin Verlander will get the ball in Game 6. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The greatest asset of our city is the famed Houston Medical Center. In the early 1960s Dr. Michael De Bakey and his protégé, Dr. Denton Cooley’s revolutionary breakthroughs helped save millions over the years.

Heart palpitations ran through Astro fans early as the Dodgers jumped on Dallas Kuechel. The bearded lefty gave up four runs, with his teammates facing Clayton Kershaw.

Regardless of how physically fit you are, most sports fans felt they were having heart problems watching Game Five. All five hours, seventeen minutes of heart wrenching drama.

Ten innings, five Astro homers and three comebacks later, Alex Bregman’s RBI single ended with a 13-12 Astros win.  This time it was the Dodgers’ bullpen that exploded. The hang dog look of LA pitchers making their walk of shame to the dugout after they failed, spoke loud and clear.

There were too many heroes, too many twists and turns to last night’s incredible win. Once again, the loosest clubhouse I have covered here in Houston delivered on the field.  

Welcome to Houston, where a baseball team represents Houston Strong in the aftermath of Harvey.  

Welcome to drama, usually associated with Hollywood.

Welcome to Minute Maid Park, where dreams come true.

A win in LA Tuesday night with Justin Verlander on the mound in Dodger Stadium and Houston will have its first World Series title.  There will be the usual made for television presentation, with Jim Crane getting the hardware from Commissioner Rob Manfred.  Then the MVP award followed by another champagne and beer celebration in the clubhouse.   Josh Reddick will be wearing his red, white and blue Speedo.

And more than a few million Astro fans will feel like their heart is jumping out of their chests.


Friday a story broke indicating the Texans owner Bob Mc Nair made of one the dumbest remarks about “inmates running the prison.”  It topped comments made by the late Oilers owner Bottom Line Bud Adams.

Bob is stubborn.


Surrounds himself with yes men.

A politician.

Doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about winning in the NFL.

Follows Goodell and several other owners like a sheep.

Is non-conformational.

Cannot read a room and see African-American faces staring back at him.

His health has been slipping since Mc Nair was diagnosed with cancer. He is awaiting another stem cell transplant.

But he is NOT a racist.

People forget the act that even before his “hoof and mouth disease” moment, even before he owned an NFL franchise, he and his wife gave millions that benefitted citizens of all races here in Houston

But perception is reality, especially if you have donated $1 million to Donald Trump's campaign.

We live in an overly sensitivity society. People overanalyze every word, facial expression and syllable.

“As I said yesterday, I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owner’s meetings last week,” McNair said. “I was referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.”

And the moon is made of green cheese!

All but ten Texans essentially shot the finger at their now controversial owner by kneeling during the National Anthem.  But once the game started it resembled the good old days of the AFL, before the thriller ended with the Seahawks winning 41-38 in the best game of the season.

De Shaun Watson put on another spectacular performance, demonstrating how bright the future is with the elite leader.  The rookie from Clemson was 19-of-30 for 402 yards and four touchdowns while also running eight times for 67 yards.

The poised kid with an accurate arm that has shocked defenses continued his historic start, passing Kurt Warner with 19 touchdowns through his first seven career NFL games.  Last year, with Schlock Osweiller at quarterback, the Texans three for just 16 touchdowns.

In spite of no running game, the legend of Russell Wilson continues to grow like Apple stock. The six-year pro finished with 26 completions for 452 yards and four touchdowns against an alleged professional secondary that was a joke.

Cornerback Marcus Williams read an out pattern all the way and picked off Wilson on the Houston 7-yard-line with just under three minutes left in the game, the Texans were leading 38-34

We have heard the term “prevent defense,” for years. Against one of the best defenses we saw a prevent offense.  Rather than utilizing the amazing relents of rookie superstar in the making, the Texans Head Coach prevented a win.

But in true Texan fashion, O’Brien became more conservative than a Republican Tea Party member.   He showed zero confidence in the magical rookie quarterback who kept the Legion of Boom defense off balance all day. Running Lamar Miller three straight times was dumb, with such a special player like Watson.

As is the case after a Texan loss the emotional bully went back to his all too familiar O’Brien "I made some bad play calls today. I have to do a better job."

For the last several seasons the Achilles heel for the defense has been two-fold.  Linebackers who cannot cover and poor safety play. How else can you explain Jimmy Graham being wide open for the winning touchdown.

So was a tremendous individual game by J.D. Clowney that  goes down the drain.  He led the defense in shutting down Seattle’s running game with relentless pursuit from the backside.

Hopkins caught eight passes for a career-best 224 yards as Watson put more points on Seattle's CenturyLink Field than any quarterback in the last six seasons.

The Texans fell to 3-4, a game behind Jacksonville and Tennessee in the AFC South. They play the Indianapolis Colts (2-5) next Sunday back at NRG Stadium.

Will they stand or kneel during the Anthem?


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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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