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 drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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