Every-Thing Sports

What to look forward to in 2020

What a year in sports! We had all sorts of cool things happen this year. Astros made it to another World Series. Texans won the AFC South again., The Rockets made the playoffs led by James Harden averaging 36 points a game. UH football got a new (old) head coach, while the basketball program came within two wins of a Final Four appearance. This time of the year, there's always a ton of year end, or in this year's case, decade end lists and articles. I do love a good list because it gives us something to debate over.

Fred Faour gave us his 2019 year in review of Houston's top five athletes a couple weeks ago. While I mostly agree with his list, I'm not going to bore anyone with a breakdown of what I agree or disagree with. Instead, I'm here to look forward. So here are a few predications I have for the upcoming year in Houston sports (presented in no particaular:

UH men's basketball makes the Elite 8...or more

Coach Kelvin Sampson has this program rolling. Led by Kansas transfer, and Woodlands native, Quentin Grimes, the Coogs are poised to improve upon their Sweet Sixteen appearance last season. Defense is always going to be a calling card of any Sampson coached team. One of the main reasons I believe in this team's ability to go further than they did last year is their length. Only three guys on the roster are 6'3 or under. Long arms make it easier to get in passing lanes. They also make rebounding a bit easier. Grimes was a McDonald's All-American and former top 10 recruit in his class. Having elite level talent like that has to make things easier for Sampson. It could also help with recruiting.

The Astros will barely make the playoffs

With the cheating scandal still looming large, there's a ton of uncertainty surrounding the defending American League champs. No one really knows for sure the result of MLB's investigation or what penalties will be enforced. That being said, there are questions heading into next season regarding the roster. Gerritt Cole got $324 million dollars to shave and get a haircut to be a Yankee, so good luck replacing the Cy Young runner up. Not to mention there are three question amrks in the rotation, bullpen still needs to be solidfied, and this team could be counting on everyday players that have largely been question marks (looking at you Kyle Tucker). I think they'll win the AL West because it's not a very good division, but don't expect another run in the playoffs.

Bill O'Brien's seat will get hot

The Texans went 11-5 last year and won the division. They went 10-6 this year and won it again. The difference is that this year's team was more poised to do bigger things than last year's team. O'Brien has seized power on Kirby and is currently in a position where he can almost do whatever he sees fit as far as personnel decisions are concerned. Given his authority over the roster and winning back to back division titles, expectations should grow. When you constantly make a mess and spend more time cleaning it up the way O'Brien has, you have to continue to win and win at a high level. If the Texans show any regression next season, I expect his seat to warm up. I'm not suggesting they'll miss the playoffs. But another dismal performance in the playoffs this year after what happened last year and whatever they do the following year isn't a good look. It'll further the narrative the O'Brien isn't the right coach for this team and a change should come.

Simone Biles will further cement her legacy

If you don't think Simone Biles is one of the greatest athletes of our time, you're a dumbass. Any time they name moves after you because no one else has attempted or pulled them off, it means something. Any time you win as much and at as high a level on a consistent basis the way she has in a subjective sport despite judges sometimes grading you on a curve because your moves have a degree of difficulty others can't match, you're a badass. I expeect her to win at least another five or more gold medals in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and garner more attention as one of the greatest athletes of our time.

The Rockets will remain in purgatory

James Harden and Russell Westbrook are dynamic talents. As former MVPs, these guys can still play at a very high level. However, I don't see them challenging for a spot in the NBA Finals this season, or maybe any time in the near future. While the Western Conference is more wide open, they aren't consistent enough to make me believe in them. The Lakers and Clippers have gotten much better. The Nuggets and Mavs are both younger and very talented. The Jazz are another good young team and the Warriors will be back next season armed with a lottery-level talent due to their current record. How the Rockets overcome all this and their own issues is beyind me. They'll make the playoffs and probably win their first round series. They could even find themselves in the Western Conference Finals again. But I highly doubt they go any further.

UH football will get back to their winning ways

Dana Holgorsen is a smart man. There's a reason he always has a job and is always in demand. While his controversial decision to redshirt D'Eriq King and others was met with backlash, I happen to think it was genius. If you're not looking at the rules for loopholes on how to beat the system, you're doing it wrong. Holgorsen will get this team back on track whether King comes back or not. I doubt King leaves, but Clayton Tune showed enough to prove himself worthy. Couple the return of King with a recruiting/transfer class and Holgorsen will have more guys he wants to run his system the way he wants it run. This includes guys that were already here learning his system even better. Expect the Coogs to make a run at 10-win season and King to get some Heisman hype.

Most of these things will end up coming true. Some I hope I'm wrong about. One thing I don't do is shy away from being wrong. Some people wait for you to be wrong so they can tell you how wrong you are, but will fail to acknowledge what you're right about. That's fine. I don't mind at all. I hope some of you will note this article and bring it back up next year some time so we can discuss the accuracy. Things like that create discussions and dialogue which I'm open to, as long as it's respectful. So, until then, Happy New Year!

Texas Div. I Football Rankings: Houston's up, down season continues

UH Dana Holgorsen UH Football/Facebook
Houston Texans Bill O'Brien Houston Texans/Facebook

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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