HERE'S WHAT THEY'RE WAITING FOR

Put your Watson trade bias aside: here’s critical context for the open-minded

Sometimes it's best to go your separate ways. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

It's time for the Houston Texans, specifically owner Cal McNair and Geppetto Jack Easterby, to get off the pot, forget about making kissy-face with Deshaun Watson and trade the gifted quarterback now – and end the most embarrassing soap opera in Houston sports history.

OK, maybe it's not as shameful as the Astros cheating scandal, but it's up there.

Wednesday, ESPN unleashed a scathing feature about Texans v. Watson in "J'Accuse" fashion, like a prosecutor presenting evidence to a grand jury.

Watson wants to be traded out of Houston because he feels the Texans betrayed him by breaking their promise to let him help pick the team's new general manager and head coach. It's about trust.

"Once trust has been broken, it can be nearly impossible to get it back. Even if a couple (Watson and the Texans for example) manages to forgive and move on, it can still take years to get back that bond they once shared."

No, that's not from Captain Obvious, although it could be. That simple fact about the wreckage of violated trust is from Divorce Magazine. Watson and the Texans don't have years to work on their relationship. Watson is entering his fifth NFL season, coming off a year when he threw for 4,823 yards (most in the NFL) and 33 touchdowns with a sparkling passer rating of 112.4. He's entering his prime and his trade value couldn't be higher. So what are the Texans waiting for? Just git-er-done so everybody can start life without Watson. It's elementary.

Teams reportedly are falling over themselves offering trade packages that include an armful of draft picks and a lesser quarterback. The Panthers, Dolphins, Vikings and '49ers all seem to be in play for Watson. Probably more teams are holding back their offers till the dust settles. The Texans swear (fingers crossed behind their back) that they're not listening to any trade proposals and have no intention of dealing Watson. Yeah, sure.

Here's what the Texans are waiting for. They're hoping that new general manager Nick Caserio, who's never been a general manager before, and new head coach David Culley, who's never been a head coach before, can sit down with Watson and explain that they weren't part of the process that hired them over Watson's preferred choices.

But the bigger problems, namely owner Hillbilly Cal and Brother Love Jack Easterby, are still here, and they're the ones who call the shots at Texans headquarters.

It's not like Texans fandom doesn't know what's going on behind the scenes, and who's to blame for the Texans circling the drain. Last month, fans held "Fire Easterby" signs over the Southwest Freeway. Sports Illustrated ran not one but two long articles about Easterby's questionable past maneuvering. Chuy's Mexican restaurant, famous for its creamy jalapeño dip, says it has a table reserved for "anybody other than Jack Easterby."

Can Watson and the Texans work it out? Unlikely. It used to be that parents who didn't get along stayed together for the kids. But their disagreements only intensified and the relationship grew only more bitter each passing moment.

As distinguished psychologist Dr. Rick, author of How Not to Become Your Parents and star of Progressive Insurance commercials, will tell you, love doesn't flourish in a home filled with distrust and deep-rooted hostility. It's better for everybody if the parties find love elsewhere.

The ESPN piece was a dramatic closing argument against Texans management, going back to original owner Bob McNair's ultra dumb, yet revealing (he claimed misinterpreted), statement in 2018, "We can't have prisoners running the prison."

The network ran video of former first-round pick Duane Brown expressing anger over McNair's comment, then a graphic, "Brown was traded three days later." The implication was clear.

It should be noted that, at the time, Watson was asked what he thought about the elder McNair's comment, too. His answer: "Next question." I'm confident that Watson would have a different answer now. Watson is a bright man deeply concerned about social issues.

The team was 4-12 last season despite Watson's sterling performance. They traded away his favorite receiver for little in return. The Texans currently have little to look forward to in the draft. A roster housecleaning is looming. After the last game, as they left the field, Texans legend J.J. Watt told Watson, "I'm sorry we wasted one of your years." Watt later asked for his release from the Texans so he could sign with a team with a prayer of winning the Super Bowl. The Texans are in shambles.

If Watson leaves, who will be the face of the franchise? Will there be one Texan left who can rally this city like Watt and Watson? Heck, is there one Texan you'd recognize in line at Cleburne Cafeteria?

ESPN concluded its piece on Watson and the Texans with, "the story will work itself out over the next few months."

Few months? It's over now. Watson wants to get away from the Texans, Jethro and the TV preacher. Trade Watson now and end this dissolution of a marriage.

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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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