Every-Thing Sports

Processing A Tragedy

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There are moments in which most people will never forget where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was waking up from a nap in my man cave because my watch and phone started buzzing. There are times in which you wish things weren't real. This was definitely one of them. My good friend ET texted me and our other good friend Chris on our group message. I saw their names and thought it was about his newborn. When I opened my phone, my heart dropped. I immediately searched for a credible news source to report this was a hoax. Alas, it was real. Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

The Immediate Pain

The first thing I did was pray for his wife Vanessa and their three daughters. I got a text asking me to write something for the website on Kobe's death from Fred and jumped on it. While finding the words to write, I saw that his daughter Gianna and seven others were on the helicopter as well. I literally broke into tears. Gianna was 13 years old. My daughter is the same age. We also have a tight bond over common interests, mainly food/cooking and sports. I couldn't imagine the pain those families were going through. Then I thought about it. I've been here before when my little brother was murdered and my younger cousin died in a motorcycle accident. All that pain of suddenly losing someone so integral to the fabric of your life. I broke down again.

Trying To Understand

After I posted the article, I noticed my kids had found out. They were sad. They weren't distraught, but I could tell it dampered their spirits. We were all trying to understand how? Why? Was this even real? It was very real, and it hurt. I kept looking at my daughter thinking what if? What if that was her and I when we were on the road to go to WrestleMania? What if that was us driving to the store? What if we suddenly passed away in a tragic accident doing something we loved so much? I had to stop. So I started vacuuming the house and cooking. I was going to drive myself crazy.

Reality Sinks In

The Grammy's were on, so was WWE's Royal Rumble. My daughter loves awards shows and pro wrestling. We often will watch both when a pay per view is on at the same time. My two tv setup in my man cave is as much for my ADD as it is for bonding with my kids and not losing sight of any games that may be on. Sitting with her as she talks about the outfits and performances of the Grammy's, as well as the matches at the Rumble was humbling. I thought about Kobe trying to comfort his daughter in those final moments. I also thought about his three daughters and his wife who'll never have the moments I was having. The fact that my son would ask his sister who's performing and who's winning the matches knowing Gianna would never have those moments with her sisters hurt. Knowing those other families would never spend another lazy Sunday after noon with their loved one hurt more.

Coming To Grips

I think the pain everyone is experiencing comes from the kind of person Kobe had become. We saw him as a brash phenom that grew into an NBA superstar who fell from grace but managed to repair his image and retire a beloved hero. There were generations of fans who were deeply hurt by his passing. My mom called to see what I was thinking. She told my my grandfather was in disbelief. My kids were doing okay, but were clearly hurt. My cousin Eric couldn't concentrate while he was at work. My sister in law Taylor was shaken up. My good friend Dedrick was as shocked and shaken up as I was. I'm talking about people aged from their 80's to their teens were all hurt on some level. It was like we lost a family member because we got to know so much about Kobebeing that he came along in the age of the internet and grew to stardom at the advent of social media.

We all process gthings differently. I tend to deal with grief in my own way. This time was different. I needed to write this to get some things out and help myself and others process things. It still hurts. I fight back tears looking at the tributes, videos, pics, and memorials. Whiel Kobe and Gianna were public figures, let's not forget the others who lost their lives. There are multiple families grieving over this tragedy. I hurt for them too because I know what it's like to wake up one day and know that loved one was suddenly taken away never to come back. It's been over 20 years for me and I still can't sleep. Still have bouts of simply not feeling up to putting in any effort towards anything productive. Still fight random fits of anger and anti-social feelings. What keeps me going? Knowing they would want us to keep living. Kobe would always talk about the effort it took to succeed. I think he'd want us to kick each day's ass. My little brother Chris and my younger cousin Vincent were both taken from us way too soon. They both lived life to the fullest everyday. I'm sure they'd agree with Kobe's thought process of doing whatever it takes to make your dreams come true and live life. Give your loved ones their flowers while you can because you may not get that opportunity again. Rest in peace Kobe. Tell Chris and Vincent I love them.

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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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