JERMAINE EVERY: EVERY-THING SPORTS

What is the best time of the year for sports?

Deshaun Watson and the Texans kick off the season Sunday. Houstontexans.com

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” What do you think of when you hear that line? Most people think of the Christmas carol written by Edward Pola and George Wyle, performed by Andy Williams released in 1963. Others may think of the jingle ESPN created from the song it uses to promote college football bowl season. However, I would like for us to rethink the way we see this in regards to sports.

Sure, college football bowl season is awesome. There are about 642 bowl games with random sponsors that pump millions of dollars into the branding of a bowl game. For most of these companies, it is their prime advertising season. ESPN will shove bowl season down our throats like a parent trying to get their kid to eat vegetables. The players get national TV exposure they may not have necessarily gotten otherwise. The universities get commercials run on that national TV platform to hopefully drive up enrollment. It’s usually a win for all involved. Unless your football program isn’t a good earner and drains the universities’ coffers more than it fills them. But is this really the most wonderful sports time of year?

I would like to hereby nominate early to mid-Fall as the most wonderful sports time of year. Here are a few of my reasons why:

Football season starts

This is the first and most prominent reason as to why early to mid-Fall is the most wonderful time of sports year. College football tends to start the week before Labor Day and the NFL gets their regular season started the Thursday after Labor Day. Never mind that NFL training camps start at the end of July, the preseason gives every fan base hope. Every college football fan base talks the most noise on social media this time of year as well. Once their team loses a game or two, it dies off and turns into recruiting talk. Meanwhile, NFL fans are checking every mathematical way their team can make the playoffs. Most underrated part of football season starting: high school football.

Baseball stretch run

In August/September, baseball hits the playoff push. The waiver-wire trade deadline can sometimes provide last minute additions to teams looking to position themselves in playoff push. Look no further than the Verlander deal last season for the Astros. This year, several playoff teams have added valuable pieces using the waiver trade deadline. Also, teams have a 40-man roster which allows youngsters to get important looks and reps in the Big Show.

NBA season around the corner

I know it’s considered sacrilege to speak about basketball before Christmas to some folks, but round ball is still the second most popular sport behind pigskin. The NBA and NCAA have the unenviable task of starting when football is in full swing. October is prime moving month in college football and NFL teams have now revealed themselves as to what their identity is. However, if your favorite team or school has eliminated or embarrassed themselves already, looking into what your NCAA team’s non-conference schedule or early NBA team’s start out the gate might be a nice respite.

*Honorable Mention: NHL, PGA FedEx Playoffs, European soccer, and tennis season ending.

I know basketball is last on everyone’s minds this time of year, which is why it’s listed last. Baseball is typically ranked third amongst major sports, but it’s second here because it’s a playoff run. Football is king, despite all of the ruckus surrounding it. There is no debating. This time of year gives fans of the major sports the most hope, especially since MLB expanded their playoffs to include the play-in wildcard game. Hope truly abounds in football and basketball because the seasons are getting under way. Tweet me and let me know your thoughts.

 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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