ESPN NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING

Take heart Houston, another team actually had a worse week

Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images.

Remember that opening line from the Cliff Notes version of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

That was Thursday, the best of times. In one day, for the first time ever, sports fans could watch (deep breath) the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, college football, PGA, LPGA, WNBE and the U.S. Open tennis tournament on TV.

That was Thursday, the worst of times. All three of our major teams, the Astros, Rockets and Texans lost big important games back-to-back-to-back in an all-day feast of defeat.

The Astros lost to the division-leading A's and fell below .500, at risk of missing the playoffs. The Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, putting them on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. Then the Houston Texans dropped their Opening Night game to the defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs. All three of Houston's teams were Vegas underdogs. It was a three-team parlay of failure.

Around Houston today you can hear guys yelling to their wives, "I think I blew out the TV remote last night. Where do we keep the batteries?"

It was the busiest day for TV sports and it plain sucked to root for Houston teams. For all the sports world to see, the Houston Astros looked like a team in desperate need of a rebuild. The Astros are stuck in a meltdown trip to California, dropping lopsided series in Oakland and Anaheim, with the first-place Dodgers coming up.

The Rockets fell to the brink of elimination, one loss from goin' fishing. The Lakers completely flummoxed the Rockets high-octane offense. It's never a good sign when your highest-paid player is inconsistent in crunch time. Or when a key player is sidelined for allegedly breaking bubble rules in Orlando. And when the Lakers' defense pretty much takes scoring machine James Harden out of the game.

And especially when there doesn't seem to be a Plan B.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is staring at the team's organizational chart today, contemplating a major overhaul from the top down.

The Texans looked beaten from the moment they took the field, after staying in their locker room for the national anthem. That was the easiest game to analyze: you don't have to be Tony Romo to take one look and realize that the Chiefs are just better than the Texans. Period. End of story. Look out below: the Texans next three games are against the Ravens, Steelers and Vikings.

Years from now, when Sept. 10, 2020 is remembered for being the busiest day in sports TV history, there will be a footnote saying: Houston lost its baseball game, its basketball game and its football game.

There is one bit of good news coming out of Thursday's beatdown: the Astros, Rockets and Texans all have the day off Friday.

Still there were fun moments in our bleak day. I put my remote in overdrive, switching between the Rockets and Texans and the women's U.S. Open semifinals. Naomi Osaka has become a thoughtful, spiritual hero wearing face masks bearing names of African-Americans who were killed or injured by police brutality. Osaka also has the goods when it comes to tennis, too. She defeated American slugger Jen Brady. The headline match saw Victoria Azarenka postpone Serena Williams' drive to match Margaret Court's 24 Grand Slam wins. Seriously, tennis needs to do something about Azarenka screaming at the top of her lungs on every shot. It's obnoxious.

Also, the TNT guys on Inside the NBA were hilarious as always. The biggest disparity in TV history continues to be the NBA studios shows on TNT and ESPN.

TNT with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal is unique, the perfect blend of comedy and insight. Meanwhile, the studio show on ESPN: boring and unwatchable. Do something, ESPN.

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The Astros play game one of the ALDS on Tuesday. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

It's October. Fall is upon us. In Texas, that means the high temps won't be above 92 or so. Low temps dip into the low 60s. Your air conditioner only runs for about 50-60% of the time it did during Summer. Well, that depends on your thermostat. NFL and NCAA football seasons are in full swing. NBA training camps and preseason have opened. You get the picture I'm painting here. This is a wonderful time to be a sports fan.

MLB is wrapping up its regular season and the Wild Card series in both leagues are already scheduled. Your Houston Astros won't have to play in one of those. Instead, they'll be waiting to see who they play in the next round (Mariners or Blue Jays). As the team with the best record in the AL this season, they hold home field advantage throughout their stay in the AL playoffs. The path to the World Series will go through Houston.

Seeing this team in this position has become very familiar. Since 2015: they've missed the playoffs once (2016), won their division five times, made three World Series appearances, and have the lone ring from 2017. That ring is lonely because it needs a playmate. That playmate has been elusive. It would also validate the dynasty by helping erase some of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. However, I believe the window may be closing.

For starters, Jim Crane and James Click seem to have some relationship issues. Click is operating without a contract beyond this season. Crane has said he'll address Click's situation after the season. Does this mean they're headed for Splitsville? Justin Verlander will be a free agent. Will he re-sign? If so, how much will he command and will it restrict the team from making other moves? Jose Altuve is getting older. So is Yuli Gurriel (Free Agent), Martin Maldonado, Christian Vazquez (Free Agent), Aledmys Diaz (Free Agent), Will Smith (Free Agent), Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressley. All these guys are 32 years old or older. There are young guns in the pipeline at different positions and on the team already, but they aren't all proven commodities.

That is why I believe the time is now. A sense of urgency must be taken with the opportunity to win it all this year. We can't rest on "we'll be back next year" because next year isn't promised. At some point, things will need to be rebuilt and/or replaced. It took 10 years from their World Series appearance in 2005 and their next playoff spot in 2015. That gap could've been a year or so longer because NOBODY expected them to make it in 2015.

Astros fans have become accustomed to this team being in contention for a title every year. What if the pieces that helped get them get to this point are no longer viable? The fantastic voyage won't last forever. All dynasties come to an end at some point. Unless you're a college team that can consistently reload every year. The one thing I want more than anything else is another World Series win. This would silence the haters by validating 2017, seal some Hall of Fame legacies, and potentially signal the lengthening of the window. They're the John Cena of MLB: their fans LOVE them, their haters HATE them. Ultimately, their time is now.

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