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's winning streak is up to nine

Astros secure series over Orioles as winning streak continues

Zack Greinke provided another long outing for his team on Tuesday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After continuing their recent dominance with a lopsided win over this Orioles team on Monday in the rain-plagued opener, the Astros eyed number nine in a row if they could do it again on Tuesday. Though not as one-sided, the Astros would get the victory to secure the series win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Orioles 1

Astros' Record: 45-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (8-2)

Losing Pitcher: Jorge Lopez (2-9)

A tame start for Houston's offense

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Myles Straw started the scoring with two outs in the top of the second, sneaking a ball off and over the left-field wall just out of the grasp of Austin Hays for a solo homer to put Houston ahead 1-0. After Baltimore tied the game in the third, the game remained gridlocked 1-1 until the top of the seventh, when Chase McCormick would reach on a one-out infield single then raced around to score on a Myles Straw RBI single, putting Houston back in front 2-1.

Greinke pitches into the eighth

Over that span, Zack Greinke was getting efficient innings against Baltimore's lineup. He allowed that trying run in the third, which came after a one-out walk moved to third on a single, then scored on a sac fly. That was one of his few moments with runners in scoring position, as he erased a single in the first, a single in the fourth, and a double in the seventh to maintain the new 2-1 lead.

The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth but came away with only one run of insurance on a McCormick sac fly, making it 3-1 as Greinke returned to the mound to continue working. He allowed a leadoff single then retired the next batter before Dusty Baker would come out to get him as the left-handed portion of the lineup was due up and a better match for Brooks Raley, who had been warming. Greinke's final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 91 P.

Astros make it nine in a row

Raley completed the eighth for Greinke with two strikeouts to strand the inherited runner. With it still a two-run game in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save. He erased a two-out single to finish things off, giving Houston their ninth win in a row and securing the series with a chance at the sweep in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set will be another 6:05 PM Central start time on Wednesday. Thomas Eshelman (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Baltimore to face the Astros, while Jose Urquidy (5-3, 3.65 ERA) will start for Houston.

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