Subverting expectations may have been the Texans master plan all along

Are the Texans capable of orchestrating this? Composite image by Jack Brame.

BetMGM has released its odds for the Super Bowl. Not Sunday's ultimate quarterback clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. BetMGM already is taking action on the 2022 Super Bowl. The Chiefs currently are the favorite at +600, followed by the Packers (+900), Ravens (+1200), Bills (+1200) and Buccaneers (+1200). All this will change when the quarterback trade carousel stops, though. For example, last year the Buccaneers were listed at 60-1 before Tom Brady signed with the team. Immediately the Bucs jumped to 16-1.

The Jets currently are +8000 to win the Super Bowl in 2022. That price will skyrocket like GameStop stock if the Jets acquire Deshaun Watson in a trade. Meanwhile our lovable Houston Easterbys are a lowly +8000 long, long, longshot. Trading Watson will only make the Texans a stupider bet. Save your money.

Don't you get the feeling that Cal McNair orchestrated this whole Texans mess – refusing to fire Jack Easterby the cherry on top - to force Watson into demanding a trade? He probably hoped that would make Watson out to be the villain. Sure, McNair may realize Watson's greatness … he just doesn't like the guy. Or someone in the organization doesn't like the guy.

Last men standing for Rockets

If the Rockets are listening to trade offers for P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, as reported by ESPN, that would leave only sixth man Eric Gordon and seldom-used Ben McLemore as survivors from last year's roster. Not one starter was here in 2020. And don't be surprised if Gordon is being shopped around. The only other basketball team to suffer this much turnover in one season was Mayberry Elementary School's Sixth Grade All-Stars.

The Rockets are 7-3 since shipping James Harden out, and they're back in the playoff picture. So trade away, general manager Rafael Stone.

Count me out

I love bagels. I love ice cream. But I think I'm going to hate Jeni's newest ice cream flavor: "Everything Bagel." It's "the perfect balance of sweet, salty and umani." I don't know what unami is. The upscale ice cream is packed with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onions and garlic. It sounds hideous. Note to Jeni's: I love pizza, too. Please don't get any ideas.

You, again?

Red Sox MVP Dustin Pedroia announced that he's retiring. I thought he retired five years ago.

Star power dwindling

Last week, the Athletic ran a story with the headline: "If Deshaun Watson requests a trade, Texans should make him wait."

In journalism, this is called a "standing head," meaning it runs so often that editors have it ready at a moment's notice. As in "If Harden requests a trade," and "if Watt requests a trade" and "if Westbrook requests a trade," and "if Watson, Watt, Harden, Springer, and Fuller leave, who's the biggest star left in Houston?"

What's your fantasy?

With Curt Schilling sabotaging his chances for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it's looking more and more unlikely that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez will make it to Cooperstown, let's ponder an ultimate fantasy World Series:

Hall of Famers vs. The Mean Machine of reprobates banned from the Hall or stand little chance of being inducted because of steroid use, suspected steroid use or other off-field shenanigans.

It's not a mismatch. For the right price at the sports book, I might take the bad guys. I've got the home run champ, the all-time hit king and perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time. This is like a basketball Hall of Fame without Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Bird and Magic.

Here's my lineup of banned or tainted baseball players.

First base: Rafael Palmeiro: 3,020 hits, 569 home runs.

Second base: Pete Rose: all-time record 4,256 hits, most games played, most at bats, most lots of things, mostly bad.

Shortstop: Omar Vizquel - 11 Gold Gloves.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez - 548 home runs, 3 times MVP, engaged to J-Lo.

Right field: Shoeless Joe Jackson - lifetime .356 hitter.

Center field: Barry Bonds - all-time home run champ with 762 round trippers, 7 MVP awards, big head (Hey, I mean he's egotistical).

Left field: Manny Ramirez - 548 home runs, .312 lifetime batting average, World Series MVP.

Catcher: Benito Santiago - 5 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, 4 time Silver Slugger Award.

Pitcher: Roger Clemens - all-time record 7 Cy Young Awards.

Righty designated hitter: Sammy Sosa - 609 home runs.

Lefty designated hitter: David Ortiz - 541 home runs, .286 lifetime batting average, SI Sportsman of the Year.

The NFL Hall of Fame has banned no players because good citizenship is not a criterion for induction. There is no NBA Hall of Fame, it's called the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, encompassing the NBA, international leagues, WNBA, college and amateur ball and driveway pickup games. No player has been banned from induction.

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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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