HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority

Matt Bullard (left) will join legendary broadcaster Bill Worrell. NBA.com

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How do you introduce Houston sports legends?

With the city’s legendary broadcasters, of course.

Call it a two-fer. Not only will the inaugural  Houston Sports Awards bring together a Who’s Who of the city’s greatest sports legends Feb. 8 at the Hilton Americas, but they’ll be introduced by another Who’s Who list -- The Voices of Houston.

Houston native Bill Worrell tops the list of a dozen iconic Voices involved on the night and he will be up first to kick off the show.

In his 35th year as the Rockets’ play-by-play man, Worrell has been a part of the Houston sports scene for more than five decades, dating back to the 1960s when he graduated from Lamar High School. He played baseball at the University of Houston, then spent a decade at KPRC Ch. 2 as a reporter and sports director.

Worrell will be joined by his Rockets’ broadcast teammates Clyde Drexler, another Houston native, and Matt Bullard.

Drexler, nicknamed Clyde the Glide for his high-flying effortless swoops down the lane, is another Houston legend. He graduated from Sterling High School, played for UH during the Phi Slama Jama years, became a 10-time NBA All-Star and played on the Rockets 1995 NBA Championship team. Drexler, who played a dozen seasons with Portland before coming to Houston, was also named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History along with his UH/Rockets teammate and Houston Sports Awards honoree Hakeem Olajuwon.

Bullard played on the Rockets’ 1993-94 NBA Championship team and played two stints with the Rockets – first from 1990–94, then again from 1996–200.

Texans broadcasters Marc Vandermeer and Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware will also be on hand. Vandermeer just finished his 16th season as the Texans’ play-by-play announcer, while Ware, the Dickinson native who starred at UH and is in both the Texas and College Football Halls of Fame, handles color analysis.

The Astros broadcaster team of Todd Kalas and Geoff Blum, who teamed up at the start of the 2017 season and finished off their first year covering an amazing seven-game World Series and the World Champions, are also among the Voices.

The Houston Sports Awards has drawn a longtime Astros broadcast team out of retirement. Legendary Bill Brown, who retired in 2016 after 30 seasons as the Astros’ play-by-play voice will be joined by his long-time broadcast partner Jim Deshaies. Deshaies, the former Astros lefthander, spent 16 seasons as color analyst with Brown before retiring.

Soccer player-turned-broadcaster Glenn Davis is also on the list of hosts. Davis has covered Houston soccer since the early '90s.

Former Texans defensive tackle and current Sports Radio 610 host Seth Payne will handle duties as a roving reporter during the televised broadcast, while AT&T SportsNet’s Kevin Eschenfelder will host the on-site, pre-broadcast ceremonies.

In addition, there are still a few more iconic faces to be announced who will on hand to honor awards winners.

Stay tuned.

There are still tables and tickets available for the Houston Sports Awards, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m., with a dual red and blue carpet event. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the awards program starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, there are still Golden Tickets available. The $100 ticket enters you in the Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle and gives you a chance to win a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Rodeo Houston & Houston Open home games/events during the 2018-19 season. In addition, the winner receives tickets for two Houston Texans home games, the 2018 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff and the 2018 Texas Bowl.

Information on all tickets, tables and the Golden Ticket are available at www.houstonsportsawards.com

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Yordan Alvarez came up big in Game 5. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Astros can win the pennant Friday night. Can't dangle the carrot any closer in front of the face than that. Taking the last two games at Fenway Park has the Astros in excellent position, but any notion that a third American League championship in five years is now inevitable, is silly. The Astros are probably 80 percent or better to advance, but of course the Red Sox could win games six and seven at Minute Maid Park à la the Nationals in the World Series two years ago. The Astros had all the momentum after winning three straight in D.C., came home for the coronation, and pfffft. You have momentum...until you don't. It's nothing to bank on. The Red Sox had all the "mo" after clobbering the Astros in games two and three of this AL championship series. Then Jose Altuve crushed the eighth inning tying home run in game four, ahead of the seven run volcanic eruption of a ninth inning. Nine more Astro runs later in game five, and here we are.

One key distinction that makes the Astros hand look stronger up 3-2 now than vs. the Nats, the Red Sox don't have Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer ready to pitch. Like Framber Valdez vs. Chris Sale in game five, game six is another starting pitching rematch. Alvin native Nathan Eovaldi grossly outpitched Luis Garcia in game two. We'll see if Sox manager Alex Cora winds up regretting even more using Eovaldi to start the fateful game four ninth inning. Eovaldi only threw 24 pitches, but three nights later we'll see what and how much he has in the tank.

After pitching horribly against the White Sox and then the Red Sox, and then citing a sore knee, Luis Garcia is his own huge question mark. So was Valdez before Wednesday spinning one of the great postseason pitching performances in Astros' history. Framber was awful in each of his first two postseason starts, absolutely magnificent in cruising through eight innings in game five. Should the Sox force Game Seven, Valdez certainly is a relief option on two days rest. Jose Urquidy would start, opposite Eduardo Rodriguez in a game three rematch.

Valdez and the Astros hope his next outing is Tuesday night in game one of the World Series. Ideally, at Minute Maid Park against the Atlanta Braves. Alas, the defending champion Dodgers remain alive and kicking, having won their fourth do or die game already in this postseason to send the National League Championship Series back to Atlanta. Now, if somehow we knew as fact that the Astros are going to win the World Series, I'd estimate approximately 99 percent of Astros' fans would prefer to beat L.A. Since we don't know that the Astros are going to win it all, getting the Braves would be more favorable for the Astros, if for no other reason than the Astros would get home-field advantage. Should the Braves make it, among other factoids Charlie Morton would be in his third World Series with three different teams in the last five seasons (Astros in 2017, Rays last year, Braves this). If the Braves can close out the Dodgers Saturday, Morton is Atlanta's likely game one starter at MMP. Provided the Astros are the AL Champs of course.

Watt a matchup for the Texans

The Texans play at Arizona Sunday. Yeah, and? You imagine that J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins find the two team's current situations amusing? The Texans are a 1-5 stink bomb that will keep on stinking. The Cardinals are 6-0 and an emerging Super Bowl contender. While Deshaun Watson continues collecting about 600 thousand dollars per week to do nothing (and waiting to become a Miami Dolphin?), Kyler Murray has made the leap to upper echelon NFL quarterback.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Decisions, decisions. Astros-Red Sox game 6 or Rockets home opener vs. Thunder. Tough call?

2. The Rockets will regularly be overmatched and probably lose 55 games or more again this season. At least they have young talent to offer some hope. The Texans presently have near nothing.

3. Best 2021 Astros' postseason journey signature food: Bronze-Atlanta/Los Angeles, anything? Silver-Chicago, deep dish pizza Gold-Boston, lobster roll

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