KEEPING IT RAHEEL

Raheel Ramzanali: Hey Houston sports fans, stop hating on Clay Walker!

Raheel Ramzanali: Hey Houston sports fans, stop hating on Clay Walker!
You hate this man for what reason? Jamie Squire/Getty Images

We as sports fans are a weird bunch. We’ll get upset and latch onto the weirdest hate towards a person or thing and pass that hate on. I get it, this is nothing new and I’m not breaking ground on the weird hate patterns we have, but i’m standing up and speaking out against it. Specifically the hate towards native Texan and Beaumont’s own Clay Walker.

Earlier this month when Clay Walker performed the national anthem at the Astros home opener and World Series pennant unveiling ceremony, Houston sports fan lost his mind and regurgitated the played out “Clay Walker sucks!” hate. I’ve had enough - Clay Walker doesn’t deserve this hate. He’s done nothing wrong. In fact, he’s done everything right. The reason Clay Walker performs 4-5 times a year at various games around town is because teams trust him to do a good enough job on the biggest stage. Clay Walker is GOOD at singing the national anthem. But this has nothing to do with the national anthem or the success story that is Clay Walker.

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t even care who sings the national anthem. In fact, you can’t even name any other national anthem performances you’ve seen at a local game. The only reason Houston sports fan immediately hates on Clay Walker is because of the world famous perfectly-crafted-banger It’s Football Time in Houston team song that plays during Texans games. If this is the origin of your Clay Walker hate, then sit back and relax because I’m about to change your mind about this bnager and why it shouldn’t be something you hate, rather something you embrace as a sports fan.

“Well It’s Finally Here

I’ve Been Waiting All Week

Just To Kick This Thing Off

I’ve Been Rocking Away On the Edge Of My Seat

Now I’m Ready To Roll.”

In under 10 seconds, Clay captures the excitement of game day and how all week long we’ve discussed the ins and outs of everything regarding the Texans game. Now, just minutes away, you’re on the edge of your seat and are close to getting some answers. Hell, you can even say you’re ready to roll to enjoy an NFL game.

“Here they come to mix things up.

Bet Your Boots They’re Tough Enough

Let’s Get Ready To Root For Our Team

All You Texans Get Up And Scream.”

The average pair of boots in Texas costs about $350. Clay is so confident that the Texans have prepared hard all week that he’s giving you free betting advice that you should play the Texans money line because this team is tough enough AND they will mix it up. However, they do need your support so be ready to scream and root for your team. So far, all I see is a confident insider that wants to help you make money with a betting tip.

“It’s Football Time in Houston

And We’re ready to Play

You’ve Got no time to lose now

It’s Red White And Blue Today”

If you’ve ever attended a Texans game, you’ve heard this one line probably twenty times over the course of a game. It’s really not that bad once you put it in context. Clay is just stating the obvious, on a Sunday inside NRG during a game it really is football time in Houston. Sure, sometimes the Rockets or Astros are playing at the same time and it could be basketball, baseball and football time in Houston, but that happens so rare that he just left it as football time in houston. Clay also makes an insightful point that “you’ve got no time to lose now” in the chorus that should resonate with everyone reading. Tomorrow is not promised so we really don’t have time to lose. If an Instagram motivational guru posted this line, you’d all eat it up, but because Clay wrote it first, we’ll hate for no reason.  

“Welcome to the greatest city of all

Houston Texas

Are you ready for some football!”

I’m sorry, all Houston sports fan does it brag about how great his/her city is and how other cities suck. Clay puts it into song form for you to sing and you HATE IT? Get out of here. I love Houston and I’m glad Clay Walker wrote an anthem for my city. Also, once you’re done letting the world know about the greatest city of all you can ask them if they’re ready for some football.

“It can rain, it can pour

it can snow I don’t care.

I’m here til the end”

I’ve seen Texans fans hang around until the end during a snow game at Lambeau Field and Clay is right, we didn’t care! We supported the team. As for the rain, it doesn’t  matter because NRG’s roof will be closed. Also, if you actually listened to the song, maybe you would have stayed until the end of that Colts game and watched a great comeback two seasons ago.

“The spirit of victory flowing around in the air

We’re Gonna Win”

Be honest, you’re getting chills, right?

“I’m so excited we’re all here.

I love the sound of those hometown cheers

Men, Women, Girls And Boys

Get On Your Feet

Make Some Noise!”

This is one of my favorite parts of the song. It’s so nice to be appreciated and thanked for being a fan. Clay takes the time in a song to thank us, the fans. You still hate this song? This song has been with the team since it started and even back in the 2000s Clay was all about being inclusive. Clay could’ve done the “men only watch sport” bit, but instead he shouted out all.

“Courage
Pride
Independence
Tradition
Strength
The Texans are about to March
Toro’s getting ready to charge!”

OK, I’ll be honest - this part is kinda weird with him just chanting important traits that most leaders value in a job setting. In fact, I don’t think any of us have even gotten this far into the song, but damn it, it’s beautiful. We as a society hate on millenials for everything, yet here is a song that could drive home the value of tradition, courage, and pride if we let it play all the way through. Maybe all the millenials needed was Clay Walker just saying important traits over a mildly entertaining riff.

So there you have it, It’s Football Time in Houston isn’t this horrible song that you’re making it out to be. As with anything in 2018, I encourage you to dig a bit deeper and form your own opinion instead of following the group think that occurs on social media and sports talk shows. If you’ve made it all the way here, turn up your speakers and let your entire office know, IT’S FOOTBALL TIME IN HOUSTON!

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The Astros have their work cut out for them. Composite Getty Image.

Through 20 games, the Houston Astros have managed just six wins and are in last place in the AL West.

Their pitching staff trails only Colorado with a 5.24 ERA and big-money new closer Josh Hader has given up the same number of earned runs in 10 games as he did in 61 last year.

Despite this, these veteran Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series seven consecutive times, have no doubt they’ll turn things around.

“If there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said.

First-year manager Joe Espada, who was hired in January to replace the retired Dusty Baker, discussed his team’s early struggles.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “It’s not what we expected, to come out of the shoot playing this type of baseball. But you know what, this is where we’re at and we’ve got to pick it up and play better. That’s just the bottom line.”

Many of Houston’s problems have stemmed from a poor performance by a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Ace Justin Verlander and fellow starter José Urquidy haven’t pitched this season because of injuries and lefty Framber Valdez made just two starts before landing on the injured list with a sore elbow.

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut April 1, has pitched well and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts this season. Cristian Javier is also off to a good start, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts, but the team has won just two games not started by those two pitchers.

However, Espada wouldn’t blame the rotation for Houston’s current position.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster how we've played overall,” he said. “One day we get good starting pitching, some days we don’t. The middle relief has been better and sometimes it hasn’t been. So, we’ve just got to put it all together and then play more as a team. And once we start doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The good news for the Astros is that Verlander will make his season debut Friday night when they open a series at Washington and Valdez should return soon after him.

“Framber and Justin have been a great part of our success in the last few years,” second baseman Jose Altuve said. “So, it’s always good to have those two guys back helping the team. We trust them and I think it’s going to be good.”

Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason to give the Astros a shutdown 7-8-9 combination at the back end of their bullpen with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly. But the five-time All-Star is off to a bumpy start.

He allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Monday night and has yielded eight earned runs this season after giving up the same number in 56 1/3 innings for San Diego last year.

He was much better Wednesday when he struck out the side in the ninth before the Astros fell to Atlanta in 10 innings for their third straight loss.

Houston’s offense, led by Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, ranks third in the majors with a .268 batting average and is tied for third with 24 homers this season. But the Astros have struggled with runners in scoring position and often failed to get a big hit in close games.

While many of Houston’s hitters have thrived this season, one notable exception is first baseman José Abreu. The 37-year-old, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting 0.78 with just one extra-base hit in 16 games, raising questions about why he remains in the lineup every day.

To make matters worse, his error on a routine ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday helped the Braves tie the game before they won in extra innings.

Espada brushed off criticism of Abreu and said he knows the 2020 AL MVP can break out of his early slump.

“Because (of) history,” Espada said. “The back of his baseball card. He can do it.”

Though things haven’t gone well for the Astros so far, everyone insists there’s no panic in this team which won its second World Series in 2022.

Altuve added that he doesn’t have to say anything to his teammates during this tough time.

“I think they’ve played enough baseball to know how to control themselves and how to come back to the plan we have, which is winning games,” he said.

The clubhouse was quiet and somber Wednesday after the Astros suffered their third series sweep of the season and second at home. While not panicking about the slow start, this team, which has won at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons, is certainly not happy with its record.

“We need to do everything better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “I feel like we’re in a lot of games, but we just haven’t found a way to win them. And good teams find a way to win games. So we need to find a way to win games.”

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