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All the reasons Houston's next Jack Easterby could be working for Rockets

This doesn't look good. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston pro sports teams used to have a trio of some of the best and brightest front office minds in the three major pro sports. Darryl Morey of the Rockets, Jeff Luhnow of the Astros, and...well, two out of three ain't so bad. I mean, Rick Smith of the Texans was competent. He did some good things. Brian Gaine followed him, but he barely got the chance to do anything. Morey and Luhnow built contenders, with Luhnow bringing home a title in 2017.

The walls came crashing down on all three franchises. The Astros, Rockets, and Texans had to hit the reset button to a certain extent. The Astros hired a promising young general manager in James Click who had a history of doing good work with the Rays who were built through the draft. The Texans and Rockets however, hired guys who don't really have experience. The Texans didn't technically put Jack Easterby in charge of football operations, but he's been the assumed puppet master behind their moves. He's been an operations intern, character coach, chaplain, executive vice president of team development before being named executive vice president of football operations.

Rafael Stone has seemingly had the same ascent up the ladder that Easterby has. Stone has a political science and history degree, then got a law degree. He worked in the Rockets' legal department before being named general manager. If you listen to ESPN Houston's The Press Box, you'll know exactly how Joel Blank feels about Stone. As someone who worked in the Rockets' organization for over 20 years, Joel knows the inner workings. When someone like him feels some type of way about Stone, I tend to believe him. Besides, would you promote a lawyer to be the general manager without any background in basketball operations outside of sitting in on some meetings?

The difference between the two is that Easterby was smart enough to hire Nick Caserio to be the Texans' general manager to be in control of the roster moves and contracts. Stone is in charge of that for the Rockets himself. He was even arrogant enough to say he'd "for sure, 100 percent, do that deal again" when referring to the James Harden trade. He also said that we should wait until 2030 to judge the trade. One guy hasn't been heard from in Easterby, while the other is gloating. Both have taken unconventional paths to run their organizations. Both have been seen as at least part of the reason/problem why their franchises are in rebuild mode as of now.

One guy is smart enough to cover and insulate himself, but the other feels very cavalier about his position. They're both in top spots and shouldn't be there. They both have seemingly used backdoor tactics to attain those tops spots. I believe Easterby has staying power because of his character coach/chaplain background. Stone will most likely end up a casualty of war when the team is ready to compete again. Either that, or he'll be fired before he screws anything up too badly. These two guys have a lot in common. Unfortunately for Houston sports fans, they look like they'll be here for a while now.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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