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The Hall of Fame with Booker T & Brad Gilmore premieres on ESPN 97.5 tonight; WWE honors tag team

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Booker T. and Brad Gilmore are an exciting new addition to the ESPN 97.5 lineup and will get started on Monday, March 11. The show will air from 9-11PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The Hall of Fame will discuss all things sports and of course will feature plenty of wrestling, MMA, boxing and more.

Booker T. is not new to sports talk radio having hosted his own show in the Houston market for several years. He and Brad Gilmore can't wait to get started and will bring plenty of energy and hot takes three times per week. You can listen live on the radio or with the ESPN 97.5 radio app.

Meanwhile, Booker T and his tag team partner Stevie Ray - aka Harlem Heat - are being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

According to the press release:

The 10-time WCW Tag Team Champions, Booker T and Stevie Ray, also known as Harlem Heat are taking their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. Harlem Heat debuted in WCW after wrestling in the Global Wrestling Federation as "The Ebony Experience" and quickly became one of the top teams in the business. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Harlem Heat the "Tag Team of the Year" in 1995 and 1996 as well they were ranked in the Top 25 Greatest Tag Teams of All Time. Booker T and Stevie Ray would team together until 2000 before finally reuniting for one last time at "The Final Heat" in 2015 and won the Reality of Wrestling Tag Team Championships. After winning 38 Championships between them and going into the Cauliflower Alley Club Hall of Fame in 2018, Harlem Heat solidifies their place in professional wrestling history by being inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2019.

The 2019 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on April 6th, 2019, the day before WWE WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium and will be televised on the USA Network at 7pm CST.

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Can Hunter Brown replace an Astros legend like Peña did? Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It’s official. Justin Verlander’s time with the Houston Astros has come to an end after he agreed to a two-year, $86.7 million deal to be the newest pitcher for the New York Mets.

Now with the 39-year-old, soon to be 40-year-old, in a different shade of blue and orange, Houston’s starting pitching rotation has completely turned over a new leaf. What exactly is next for the group?

Verlander, who joined the Astros at the last hour in 2017, helped lead Houston to two World Series championships, and he was a key figure in the organization during his tenure. His latest season, coming off Tommy John Surgery, was nothing short of sensational.

He won his third AL Cy Young award by unanimous vote. He led Houston with a 1.75 ERA, a WHIP of 0.83, and an 18-4 record in his starts. In the postseason, Verlander’s run was filled with more ups and downs, but he also accomplished new accolades, including getting his first career win in the World Series in the pivotal Game Five. Replacing his production will be a tough task.

The Astros, overall, are in great position with their starting rotation. Framber Valdez presumably slides in as the new No. 1, although he is in arbitration with the team. The same goes with Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy, all of whom showed they can start, and who are also in arbitration or close to entering it.

Lance McCullers Jr. is the only starting pitcher with a long-term deal in place as of now, however, his health and ability to stay on the mound for Houston has been a long-time concern. The name that is interesting for the Astros is Hunter Brown.

The 24-year-old appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 2022, including three in the postseason. Coincidentally, Houston won every game in which he made an appearance. In the short sample size, Brown pitched in only 20.1 innings with a 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a 2-0 record in the regular season.

Most importantly, Brown showed flashes of brilliance in the postseason. The most noteworthy performance came in Game Three of the American League Divisional Series against the Seattle Mariners.

With no room for error, the young pitcher came into a scoreless game knowing that one swing of the bat could hand Houston a loss. He not only managed to control the nerves in front of a hostile crowd that hadn’t seen a postseason game in over 20 years, and he pitched two scoreless innings, only allowing one hit.

Again, only a short resumé, but impressive nonetheless. Brown should have a rotation spot secured. Ultimately, the Astros need to see if his flashes were previews of a young, bright career. Best-case scenario, Brown could become the 2023 version of Jeremy Peña, which would be incredible for the Astros.

Owner Jim Crane said a week ago during José Abreu’s introduction news conference, Houston can never have enough pitching. The Astros could kick the tires on available free agents.

With the Astros saving $43 million in 2023 had they matched the Mets’ offer for Verlander, and Crane also saying the biggest needs were an outfield player and a catcher, it would not make sense for Houston to spend big on another pitcher, especially one that would be fourth or fifth in the rotation.

However, it would make sense to bring one on a budget, with the promise of competing for another championship.

Some names worth taking a look at could be Nathan Eovaldi, who is from Houston, Noah Syndergaard, who the Astros saw in the World Series, and Corey Kluber. All three pitchers had an ERA of 4.34 or less in the 2022 season, and according to Sportico, are anticipated to have a market value less than $17 million, which also offers the Astros flexibility to improve other positions.

What the Astros do, only Crane, and probably Jeff Bagwell, know. One thing is for sure, regardless if a new face is brought in or not, Brown deserves a spot in Houston’s 2023 starting rotation.

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