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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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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