MIXING IT UP

Raheel Ramzanali: Some off-the-wall ideas to save NBA All-Star weekend

Raheel Ramzanali: Some off-the-wall ideas to save NBA All-Star weekend
Lebron might be interested in the dunk contest in Raheel's new world. NBA.com

Well, another NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, but the discussion regarding the weekend is not over. There was once a time when the Saturday night festivities were must-watch TV, but now because we’re desensitized to dope ass dunks or because I’m just older, the night just doesn’t have that oomph it once had growing up. So, being the visionary I am, here are some ways to improve the NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities.

  • Team Flight Brothers vs Team NBA Dunk Contest: NBA players are so proud to be the best in the world that they hate being challenged for that title so it would be an interesting twist if we had a Team Flight Brothers vs Team NBA Dunk Contest. Simply put, Team Flight Brothers are professional dunkers that travel from show to show. These guys throw down stuff that we haven’t even imagined and mostly do it for YouTube views. Here, I’ll wait as you go down the YouTube rabbit hole of Team Flight Brothers dunks. You back? Yep, now you know why this would shatter ratings and bring the best of the best in the NBA to protect the crown.

  • The Markelle Fultz Rule: The 3-Point Shootout is one of the coolest things to watch, but it gets so boring seeing the best shooters go at it. That’s why every year we need to put in the perceived worst shooter in the game as one of the shooters so we get a point of reference showing how good these shooters really are in the game. Just imagine the cringe factor of Markelle struggling to hit the rim while Devin Booker easily strokes in 24 plus points.

  • One Free Throw Bet: This one is one of my favorite questions to post on Twitter: You have one free throw and if you make it, you get $50,000, BUT you can choose Dwight Howard to shoot it for you and if he makes it, you get $75,000! Pick five fans and they come out and get to decide on national TV how they want to go at this bet. Look, Howard struggles from the line, but he knows the pressure of shooting from the line on national TV. Do you risk missing it all OR go for it all and let Howard get you $75,000?!

  • King of the Court: One of the best games to play with friends after a grueling practice is king of the court. Simply put, this is 1-on-1 with as many guys as we want. The goal of this game is to score 15 on a revolving group of defenders. If you make it, you stay on. You miss? GET OFF and wait your turn to play defense and force a stop. Could you imagine LeBron, Westbrook, James Harden, Durant, etc. going at it for a million dollars to the charity of choice?! This would get a bigger rating than the All-Star game, honestly.

  • Twitter Dunk Contest: Simply put, right before the Team Flight Brothers vs NBA Dunk Contest, we get four of the biggest trash talkers on Twitter to compete in a 8-foot dunk contest. So you can talk smack from your couch, but can you entertain on national TV on a lowered goal?!

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Astros defeat the Rangers, 9-2. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

Kyle Tucker doubled twice and had three RBIs and Jose Altuve added three hits and drove in two runs as the Houston Astros used a seven-run seventh inning to break a tie and coast to a 9-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

The Astros snapped a four-game skid and bounced back after allowing the Rangers to score their season high in a 12-8 win in the series opener.

Altuve said he hopes this game can help get the Astros on a roll after their early struggles.

“We as a team are very confident... this is the kind of team we are, we have done it before,” Altuve said. “I don't see why we can't start doing it again.”

It was tied at 2 and the bases were loaded with one out in the seventh when pinch-hitter Victor Caratini’s RBI single to right field off José Ureña (0-1) put the Astros on top.

Altuve followed with a double to the corner of left field to send two more home and push the lead to 5-2. Austin Pruitt took over and intentionally walked Yordan Alvarez before Tucker doubled to center field to score two more.

Houston made it 9-2 when Alvarez scored on a sacrifice fly by Yainer Diaz.

“That was great,” manager Joe Espada said. “That’s the offense that I’m used to seeing. When we get pitchers against the ropes, we've got to put them away and that’s exactly what we did today.”

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut and pitched six scoreless innings Sunday, gave the Astros another solid start Saturday. He gave up two runs in the first inning before settling down to pitch five scoreless frames. He allowed five singles with three walks and five strikeouts.

It was a much-needed performance after Houston’s starters had allowed 31 earned runs with a 20.93 ERA across 13 1/3 innings in the last five games.

“It started with Blanco,” Espada said. “He set the stage and then our offense got some big hits.”

Texas starter Andrew Heaney yielded four hits and two runs while walking four in 3 2/3 innings.

“I’m fighting myself a little bit right now, mechanically, mentally, just having a hard time getting some traction, getting going,” he said. "So I’m just going to keep working.”

The Rangers loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Bryan Abreu (1-1) struck out Evan Carter to escape the jam before Houston took the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Rookie Wyatt Langford had two hits and an RBI for Texas and Adolis García added two hits.

Houston’s José Abreu, who is hitting just .122 this season, had two hits with a double for his first multi-hit game this season and his first extra base hit of the year.

Blanco walked Evan Carter and García with two outs in the first before giving up his first run of the season on an RBI single by Josh Smith. Langford followed with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 2-0.

Abreu opened the fourth with a double and moved to third on a groundout by Jake Meyers before scoring on a groundout by Mauricio Dubón to cut the lead to 2-1.

Heaney then hit Altuve and Alvarez with pitches and was lifted for Jacob Latz. Tucker lined a double into center field to score Altuve and tie it at 2-2.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: LHP Brock Burke was placed on the 15-day injured list Saturday after breaking his right hand punching a wall after a poor outing Friday night. … Pruitt had his contract selected from Triple-A Round Rock to take his spot on the roster. … INF Justin Foscue (left oblique strain) was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day list.

Astros: 3B Alex Bregman missed a second straight game with flu-like symptoms. … RHP Shawn Dubin (forearm strain) was reinstated from the 15-day injured list Saturday to take the spot of RHP Joel Kuhnel, who was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land.

UP NEXT

Texas RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.45 ERA) opposes RHP Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.10) in the series finale Sunday.

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