Roof Wars

The Astros have been trolling the Texans by popping the top on Minute Maid this season

Houston Astros Twitter

Maybe you haven't noticed, but the Astros have been trolling the Texans hard this season. No, I'm not talking about them being a competently run franchise who swept two playoff teams from last season as well as the team leading the division last week. No, to notice this troll job you would have to look up. I'm talking about the use of a retractable roof.

Over the course of the opening six game homestand the Astros had the roof open three times. Two of the three times it was closed was due to rain and the other was due to a purported mechanical issue. The Texans on the other hand have not operated their retractable roof for a game in at least three years.

Before passing judgment I decided to go to the numbers and look at the weather conditions at game time for each of the past 6 Astros games and all 8 Texans home games last season. Let me warn you, it is not a pretty picture for those that like to see their tax dollars in use.

Astros homestand April 5 – April 10

Date

First Pitch Temperature

Roof Status

April 5

72

Open

April 6

77

Closed – Rain

April 7

65

Closed – Rain

April 8

84

Open

April 9

91

Closed – Mechanical issue

April 10

81

Open

Texans 2018 Home games

Date

Kickoff Temperature

Roof Status

September 23

79

Closed

October 7

83

Closed

October 14

92

Closed

October 25

66

Closed

November 26

51

Closed

December 2

77

Closed

December 9

47

Closed

December 30

45

Closed - Rain

To my knowledge the Texans have never stated that the roof at NRG is inoperable, and it actually was opened for part of the halftime show during Superbowl 51. This makes their failure to use this expensive piece of technology, paid for in part by tax dollars, all the more puzzling. So how much did you pay for the NRG roof? Well 43% of the stadium was financed by the public, and with the roof carrying a $48,000,000 price tag, county tax payers get to see $20.6 million of their dollars do absolutely nothing on Sundays.

Looking at the kickoff conditions for last season I see 5 games where the roof could have been open with fans in the stadium being comfortable. The most common argument you will hear for the roof at NRG being closed is that it makes the stadium louder. Well guess what – the Seahawks and Chiefs play outdoors and they are consistently ranked as having two of the loudest stadiums in the league. The issue with noise at NRG isn't the roof. It is the people in the stadium. And no, I'm not ragging on Texans fans – I myself am not one to go crazy and scream at sporting events. It is just a fact that NRG is not near the top of the list of loudest stadiums, and letting a $48 Million dollar piece of equipment go to waste to try to create an atmosphere that just isn't there is peak stupidity.

Yes, having a domed stadium is a necessity in Houston's climate but there is something that feels so right when you get to see sports played outside when the conditions are comfortable. Baseball season only affords the Astros about a month to use their roof but at least they take advantage of that time. The Texans on the other hand play almost all of their season when conditions are favorable for outdoor football, yet they deny their fans that opportunity. So to the Astros I say keep up the trolling, the Texans deserve every bit of it when it comes to use of the roof their fans paid for almost half of.

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Baseball is right around the corner. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Texans and Rockets are disasters, so bring on the Astros! Even if they weren't disasters, bring on the Astros! Their spring training opener is Sunday, their regular season opener one month from Monday. Alexander Pope wrote "hope springs eternal." I hear he played a pretty decent shortstop. All 30 Major League Baseball teams can be hopeful in March. The Astros have plenty to be hopeful about and plenty about which to be wary. A couple of early storylines: 1. Yuli Gurriel admitted he was unacceptably overweight last season. It would be great for the Astros if that explains most of Gurriel's pathetic performance as opposed to age catching up with him. 2. Jose Altuve is in great spirits and health. His MVP level days of 2016 and 2017 are likely gone for good, but getting the Altuve of 2018 or 2019 would be a tremendous boost. The Altuve of 2020 was one of the worst players in MLB.

And now to the dueling debacles…

Rough stretch for the Rockets

The Rockets are awful. They sit with 11 wins and 19 losses. Just three seasons ago they lost 17 games the entire season. They are routinely non-competitive. They lug a nine game losing streak to the court Friday night in Tampa against the Toronto Raptors. Among the losses are blowouts by 20, 22, 25, and 29 points. All of those routs came against teams with losing records. By NBA standards the Rockets' roster stinks. The injured Christian Wood is the only player they have who is or projects to be an average or better starter. John Wall's contract is an anvil.

That they are this bad is actually one of the few silver linings to the Rockets' near term future. The Rockets only retain their first round pick this summer if it falls in the top four of the draft. The Rockets currently have the fourth worst record in the NBA, just one half game ahead of third worst! Where the pick falls comes down to which draft lottery ping pong ball combination is drawn, but the worse their record the better shot the Rockets have of being in the top four. If not in the top four, the Rockets settle for the lowest of their own, Oklahoma City's, or Miami's first rounder. That's probably the Heat pick, and probably not in the top 15.

The longest losing streak in Rockets' franchise history is 17. During their expansion season the San Diego Rockets lost 17 straight. The longest losing streak in Houston Rockets' history is 15 games during the 2001-02 season. They finished the season 28-54. How many of their five most frequent 2001-02 starters can you name? Answer below.

The worst team in Rockets' history was the tanking and awful 1982-83 club that finished 14-68. Longest losing streak that season? 10. The first 10 games of the season.

Releasing JJ Watt might have been a mistake

The Texans are poised to add yet another feather to their dunce cap if J.J. Watt signs with the Packers, Bills, Titans, Roughnecks, Inmates (The Longest Yard) or anybody else for 15-plus million dollars per season. Such a deal would indicate at least one team would have been willing to give up a decent draft pick (say a third rounder) for Watt and the one year 17.5 million that was left on his contract. If the Texans think they score points for doing Watt "a solid" in setting him free they are absurdly mistaken. The Texans need all the draft capital they can get. J.J. Watt will always have a hallowed place in Texans' lore but they owed Watt nothing. Over the last five seasons he played just three seasons worth of football and was paid 82.5 million dollars for them.

More Deshaun Watson drama

Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson reportedly directly told new Texans Head Coach Edward Smith that Watson has no interest in playing for him. It's nothing personal against David Culley (Edward Smith captained the Titanic) but Watson wants the Texans' organization permanently in his rearview mirror. We'll see if Cal McNair and new General Manager Nick Caserio have the stomach to not trade Watson through the draft. If the Dolphins offer Tua Tagavailoa, the third and eighteenth picks in the first round, the fourth pick in the second round, and their first round pick in 2022, the Texans should make the trade and move on.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Rockets' starters by most starts in 2001-02: Cuttino Mobley (74) Kelvin Cato (73) Kenny Thomas (71) Steve Francis (56) Moochie Norris (26).

2. It can't soothe Rocket fan nerves that the best bet for the Eastern Conference Final matchup is James Harden's Nets vs. Daryl Morey's 76ers.

3. Most frustrating 2021 Houston-visiting player appearances: Bronze-Harden the Net Wednesday Silver-George Springer the Blue Jay in May Gold-Watt the Titan this fall? Would he really sign with the Titans?

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