Every-Thing Sports

Texans 180 on social justice: What it could mean for their future

Photo by Getty Images.

The Texans have been notoriously conservative throughout their history. The term "Texan worthy" was attributed to their penchant for drafting and/or signing players who fit their Boy Scout mold. That outlook led to one of the team's most controversial moments. October 2017: Bob McNair was caught saying "We can't have inmates running the prison" referring to players taking a knee in protest of the National Anthem. This was also after his negative comments about President Obama being elected in 2008. Both rubbed players the wrong way. Both gave this organization a bad rep in players' eyes. Both could've set them back. Luckily, neither caused irreparable damage.

Flash forward to the events surrounding George Floyd's death, and it seems as if this once socially conservative franchise has done a complete 180-degree turn. Not only did Bill O'Brien and Cal McNair each make statements, but Cal also hosted former Texans' player Travis Johnson in a roundtable discussion with his wife Hannah and mom Janice about race relations. This was the first episode in what's titled "Conversations For Change." Things like this will go a long way. Here's how I think it could help:

Cover-up for past transgressions

If any of you have had a bad tattoo, you know what it's like. It doesn't look right. You feel like an idiot, and wish it wasn't there. However, the cover-up tattoo is better than the original in most cases. Bob McNair's comments sort of passed away when he did. When O'Brien started making personnel moves based off personality, most notably the DeAndre Hopkins deal, it looked as if things were status quo as far as having "Texans worthy" players. Given their signings and trades for players who actively work towards and protest social injustice, this could be one of the better cover-up tattoo jobs I've seen recently.

Help keep Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is so critical to this franchise's future. He now has them bent over a tree stump and ready to take it when it comes to him resigning his contract extension. Is he going to sign a mega deal? Yes. Will the recent events and how the franchise reacted to it have some influence? Possibly. I think Watson will take this into consideration, but it won't have a major impact on how his deal is structured. If anything, it'll sway things slightly and get him to the table sooner.

Future draft picks and free agents

The fact that O'Brien said he's talked to Kenny Stills (long time kneeling protester), Michael Thomas (newly signed protester), and others about the recent events gives him some leeway when it comes to player relations. Given his past transgressions, as well as this franchise's, this will go a long way towards endearing himself to future acquisitions. Guys will know they're coming into a franchise that will support their freedom to express themselves and continue to support their ideals after their careers are over given the platform the McNairs created with Travis Johnson in the "Conversations For Change" series.\

Honestly, as a black man with two teenage kids, this makes me feel as if the upper crust of society actually cares and will do something to help spur on change. O'Brien's honesty from the heart was refreshing. Cal's statement seemed more scripted, but the episode he, his wife, and mom recorded with Johnson felt more real and raw. The Texans have taken a more proactive approach. I don't recall too many other NFL owners taking this type of approach in recent weeks, which given previous history, has made what the Texans are doing very much appreciated. I can't wait to see how this plays out in the near future.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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