CHARLIE PALLILO

So long, Carmelo, the Rockets will be just fine without you

Mike D'Antoni and the Rockets have moved on from Carmelo. Harry How/Getty Images

So what’s your favorite Carmelo Anthony Houston Rocket memory? A dubious move at point of signing, it played out worse more quickly than even the most hardened cynic could have anticipated. The Rockets looked ridiculous with their BS claim of Anthony having been sidelined by “illness” the last few games. Yeah. His performance level made Mike D’Antoni sick. His defensive contribution was a malignancy.

By all accounts Carmelo Anthony is a good guy. As a Syracuse alum I’ll forever have a warm spot for his carrying the Orangemen to the 2003 NCAA Championship. That was a long time ago. Anthony hasn’t been a big-time player for a while now. Before last season when dealt to Oklahoma City Anthony thought he made for a big three with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Not close. Then after being traded to and then bought out by Atlanta, Melo joined the desperate for bench help Rockets. Melo thought he’d make a big three with buddy Chris Paul, and James Harden. Not close again. It was never even a possibility. William Shakespeare wrote “Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow.” Not always. No sorrow on this one.

Meanwhile the Rockets have exhaled after their 1-5 mess of a start and settled in to playing some darn good ball. Getting back to .500 merits no celebration, but winning six of eight including this week’s wins at Denver and over (granted, Stephen Curry-less) Golden State is quality. The Western Conference is ferociously deep this season, but the Rockets schedule softens over the next couple of weeks so they should be leaving the .500 mark in their rearview mirror.

A Cougar low

Divergent agendas can make for ugly moments. Such happened during UH’s Thursday night rout of Tulane when Ed Oliver grew furious with head coach Major Applewhite when Applewhite told him to take off a jacket that was reserved for players playing in the game. Applewhite is the Cougars’ second year head coach trying to avoid a second disappointing season. His defense had been godawful in multiple recent games, the most recent played without All-America defensive lineman Oliver. Oliver was injured by an illegal block October 20. Two weeks later UH announced Oliver would play that night against SMU. Oliver did not, and has missed two more games since. The obvious undercurrent is that a number of people (maybe including the head coach) think Oliver is healthy enough to be playing. As much as it’s a team sport and any player on a team should feel obligation to his teammates and school, Ed Oliver cannot be blamed for taking no chances. He’s a surefire top 10 NFL Draft pick. That’s millions and millions of guaranteed dollars waiting for him. A blown out knee could wreck that. It’s not as if UH is chasing a national championship.  

On the road again

The Texans play at Washington Sunday in a matchup of 6-3 teams that really don’t seem to be all that good. With the possible exception of the Bears, the Texans and Washington are certainly the two weakest division leaders in the NFL. Which means, they are division leaders. Play the course.

The Texans somewhat surprisingly are road favorites by a field goal. That means unless they falter badly the Texans will be favored in six of their remaining seven games, the lone underdog role being at Philadelphia, and that could change since the Eagles’ Super Bowl defense could be dead by the time that game rolls around. So by the chalk the Texans should finish…12-4. 12-4!!!

But why are the Texans favored at Washington? The Texans offense hasn’t been very good this season, legitimately topping 20 points only twice. Washington’s defense has been stout, giving up more than 17 points only three times. Well, flip the script. Washington has won three of its last four games but hasn’t scored more than 20 in any of them. The Texans front seven has been hell-raising. J.J. Watt is probably running second behind Andrew Luck for comeback player of the year. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and friends should maul Washington’s injury ravaged offensive line. Both of Washington’s starting guards are out injured, and so is Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams. If the Texans don’t lose the special teams matchup or the turnover battle, they should have a seven game winning streak going into the huge Monday nighter upcoming against the Titans.

In the AFC South race the Texans’ ideal Sunday is they win while the Colts beat the Titans in Indianapolis. That would give the Texans a two game division lead and margin for error ahead of the Titans’ visit. If both the Texans and Titans win, control of the AFC South race will ride on that Monday nighter. If the Texans lose and the Titans win, the Monday nighter becomes a virtual must win for the Texans.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Justin Verlander had a fabulous season, but Blake Snell was the best pitcher in the American League in 2018.  2. Go Orange! Beat Notre Dame! 3. Most absurd games with SEC teams this weekend: Bronze-LSU/Rice Silver-Georgia/UMass Gold-Alabama/The Citadel.


 

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For some reason this week really got to me. All the Antonio Brown stuff, Kevin Durant scolding the media, Justin Verlander whining about millionaire players not becoming billionaires, Odell posting a cryptic tweet because he might be traded.

There's so much drama now. Maybe there was in the past too but it was behind the scenes. We didn't hear about every player's every thought. I liked not knowing this much about our athletes.

Sometimes it was misleading not knowing them better. I didn't root for OJ because I was a Walter Payton guy but I admired what OJ did right up until he started killing people. Same goes for Rae Carruth. But those are extreme examples.

Today we know way too much about our athletes. Way too much. Back in the day I wouldn't have known that Josh Hader and Josh Allen were little racists. I'd be fine not knowing that.

I'd be good not knowing that Laremy Tunsil is a weed enthusiast and ready for nuclear holocaust at the same time.

I'd be better off not knowing that Kevin Durant has Twitter burner accounts. I just have a hard time understanding why one of the great basketball players of our time cares what some 18-year old thinks of him.

I didn't need to know every detail about the KD - Russell Westbrook cat fight. It just wasn't necessary.

I'd rather not hear about how LeBron's pee pee hurt because Phil Jackson used the word posse.

How Antonio Brown and Big Ben have hissy fits.

How the Steelers offensive line was so mad at LeVeon that they started talking about his money. That was a big no-no back in the day. You never talked about another man's money.

Of course none of the old rules apply today. Used to be, guys retired at the end of the season. Now they retire at halftime of the second game.

Used to be you didn't record your teammate admitting how he cheated on his girl and then make it public. That would have gotten you killed not just traded.

Used to be you respected the office of the commissioner of the league. Kennisaw Mountain Landis, Pete Rozelle and David Stern were icons. Now coaches and players wear Roger Goodell clown shirts.

Do we really need to know which player is gay and which isn't?

Who everyone is dating?

Do we need a red carpet at all-star games?

Do we need 9-hour pregame shows before the Super Bowl?

Are we really giving a penalty for horns down now? Are we that soft?

And do we really think that if we call it the Red River Shootout that we're promoting violence? Really?

Do we ever need to hear one more Lavar Ball thought again? For God's sake the man's an idiot. Why do we give him a national platform?

Now don't get me wrong. There is some good that comes from today's tell-all athlete. When Kobe threw Shaq under the bus after Kobe was caught cheating in Colorado, Shaq won the title with the Heat and came up with one of the great rap lines of all time. "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes." Classic.

I've also kind of enjoyed the off-season back and forth between Alex Bregman and Trevor (Tyler) Bauer. They don't like each other. Can't wait until they face each other for the first time this year. But I'm sure the media will make such a big deal out of it that they'll hug before the game and have a press conference about how much they respect each other. The media ruins everything.

Back in the day Bregman would have taken a 96 mile an hour fastball to the back and the benches would clear and we'd have a good old fashioned brouhaha. That's how men settled stuff back then. Sure you might throw it a little high and maybe kill him but that's the risk you took. That's what men did.

What's more fun, a press conference or a bench clearing brawl? Not even close.

I know I must sound like the "get off my lawn guy." Maybe I am. I don't shave with a Gillette razor. I use Schick.

Now give me back my sports without all this drama.

And get off my lawn.

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