EVERY-THING SPORTS

Why this version of the Rockets embodies the city

Rockets John Wall, Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo
The Rockets have won 6-straight games. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Houston is a very diverse city and metropolitan area. It is home to the most diverse county in the United States (Fort Bend), more different ethnicities and types of foods outside any city not located on the East or West coasts. On any given day, you could encounter at least four or five different languages, or more. You can choose to eat from just about any kind of cuisine from any part of the globe, and it would be one of the better dishes you've had in that category.

Coming here from New Orleans in 2000, I was skeptical of the food scene here. Yet, here I am all these years later, and I'm still impressed. I can look up any type of food I want to try and have full faith that it'll be one of the more authentic experiences in said category. My favorite thing is talking to so many different types of people from around the globe. Getting to know the different cultures and backgrounds is exciting.

When you look at the makeup of the current Rocket's roster, you get those same feelings. The owner is a self-made billionaire who's a native of the Houston area and made his money in the hospitality business. The general manager is a guy who made his bones as a legal expert in the business department and found his way in the GM role at the right time. The head coach is the son of a former NBA player and head coach who waited over twenty years to get his first head coaching gig. All three of these guys took different paths to get to where they are right now. All three are examples of how taking different paths can lead to success.

When looking at the roster, there are similar stories of finding different paths to success. You have guys who were high lottery picks after being highly recruited NCAA players (John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins), then there are guys who worked their way into the league after toiling away on the European and other leagues around the world (PJ Tucker and Jae'Sean Tate). There's someone on this roster anyone in this city can relate to. Christian Wood is perhaps the team's best player. He was a guy who thought he'd be drafted high, went undrafted, and worked his butt off to get to where he's at now which is on the verge of making his first All-Star appearance.

This city is full of diverse and resilient stories of success and survival. When I look at this Rockets roster, I see some similarities. Not to say that any of these highly paid pro athletes have survived a Hurricane Harvey or anything, but there are stories of overcoming rough circumstances and making the best of a crappy situation to make yourself into a success. This city is covered in those types of stories and so is this Rockets roster. The Rockets are much easier on the eyes nowadays with their style of play. They hustle, play hard, share the ball, and don't have anyone with a huge diva attitude. They're more relatable and their style of play is more appreciated. The Rockets are currently above .500 for the season and working their way into securing a playoff spot. Who would've thought this was possible? No one, and that's another reason why their success is so relatable to many in this city.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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