THE PALLILOG

Texans-Jags leaves a lot to be desired, and George Springer may have gotten good news

Springer could be closer to a big payday. Photo by Bob Levey /Stringer/Getty Images

Not the busiest of sports weeks around here. Or anywhere. If COVID had never happened or at least had magically disappeared back in the spring, we'd have the new NBA season underway. Alas, we'll have to wait until Christmas week to get pro hoops going again.

This Sunday's Texans at Jaguars matchup looms as one of the least interesting games in franchise history, if not one of the least interesting games in NFL history. Evidently Cal McNair doesn't see it that way. Suckling at the teat of in-house Texans Radio earlier this week, Cal termed himself "extremely optimistic" and opined that the rest of the season "is going to be fun." There's a difference between optimistic and detached from reality. I guess the rest of the season can be fun, given an alternative of being stuck in an elevator until Thanksgiving. Sunday's matchup is a pair of 1-6 teams going nowhere. Vastly more interesting matchups in the noon window Sunday include Ravens at Colts, Bears at Titans, and Seahawks at Bills.

The NFL trade deadline came and went with the Texans doing nothing other than trading a defensive lineman who never played a snap for them for a seventh round draft pick in 2022. Yippee! Whatever confused or inert state of the Texans' football operations at the moment, they didn't screw up the deadline. The Texans had very few players of any interest to anybody. If they could have given away wide receiver Kenny Stills for the more than three million dollars in salary cap savings that would have been gained, not doing so was stupid. I give the Texans the benefit of the doubt that no team wanted to pay Stills the balance left on his seven million dollar salary. If the best offer for Will Fuller was a fourth round pick, not dealing him was a reasonable call. If the Texans wouldn't take a third for Fuller? Silly. What other viable trade candidates did the Texans have that would generate A. interest and B. a worthy return? Answer: none other than J.J. Watt, who the Texans were presumably too scared to trade. As if the Texans' fan base would have marched on NRG Stadium in protest.

The old college try

Having a hard time getting engrossed in the college football season? Texas and the rest of the Big 12 are already essentially eliminated from any shot at the playoff. Texas A&M should win its next four games which would have the Aggies 8-1 heading to Auburn for their season finale. Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State seem a cut above the field. 9-1 Aggies with the lone loss to Bama would have a better claim than undefeated Cincinnati or BYU. If an Ag wanting to think big, root for Florida to beat Georgia Saturday and for Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson to win at Notre Dame.

Meet the Mets?

The pandemic economy probably results in the Major League Baseball free agent market moving sluggishly. George Springer will certainly have his suitors. He may have gotten very good news with the final approval of the sale of the New York Mets to reeeeeally rich guy Steve Cohen. Reeeeeally rich meaning estimated net worth 14 billion dollars, by far the richest of all current MLB owners. Cohen did not buy a team for it to be a Big Apple afterthought to the Yankees. While the team was no good, the Mets actually got excellent outfield production in the shortened 2020 season. An important variable in a Mets' pursuit of Springer may be if and when this offseason the National League permanently adopts the designated hitter it used in 2020. Four good outfielders work just fine with a DH spot to be rotated among them.

Even if the Mets have no Springer interest, as I have noted before the Cardinals, Nationals, Giants, are all legit playoff hopeful teams and well-heeled franchises who would make sense. I presume Dallas Keuchel would agree that the White Sox would be a great fit. And never rule out the Yankees, though pitching should be their upgrade emphasis.

Writer Ben Reiter (he of the Astrodamus 2017 World Series Champs prediction) over the past six weeks has been releasing a podcast series called "The Edge" digging deeper into the Astros' cheating and culture of the era, in part wondering how he missed any clues about it while granted insider access in writing his "Astroball" book. Fired Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was the main subject this week. One nugget I found interesting/amusing: Luhnow says Jim Crane fired him in a 29 second phone conversation. That was January 13. They have not spoken since.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It's not surprising that Houston weather is beautiful this time of year, but it sure is working out nicely for the first Houston Open at renovated Memorial Park.

2. George Costanza: "It's not a lie, if you believe it." George was full of it. Lies are lies.

3. Most famous clowns: Bronze-Krusty Silver-Ronald McDonald Gold-Bozo

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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