LANCE ZIERLEIN

Winning in the NFL "is hard," but here are some things that are harder. Plus World Series and Lil Yachty

Bill O'Brien explaining to a ref how hard winning can be. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After Sunday’s convincing 20-7 win over the would-be bullies of Jacksonville, Bill O’Brien was asked about winning ugly and, as you might expect, he didn’t really appreciate the question. To be fair on both sides, the Texans are on a four-game win streak and were coming off of a fairly dominating road performance of a Jacksonville squad who may expected win the division. On the flip side, the Texans winning streak has been far from impressive or even fluid.

O’Brien commented about how hard it was to win in the NFL and something to the effect of it being one of the hardest things to do in sports. I’m paraphrasing a little bit, but just go with it because it works best for this section of the article. I will now attempt to lay out things in sports that are harder than winning an NFL game:

  • Beating Khabib Nurmagomedov appears to be infinitely harder than winning an NFL game at this juncture.

  • Trying to beat the Golden State Warriors in a playoff series as an opposing coach would appear to be harder than winning an NFL game.

  • Trying to get a hit off of Justin Verlander is absolutely, without question, harder to do than winning an NFL game.

  • Making a hole in one….. Harder.

The Who Cares World Series

On paper, the Red Sox and Dodgers make for an interesting and potentially entertaining World Series, but if you are an Astros fan, can you even watch? I might catch a game or two, but that could have been us.

Why am I going to pay attention to what the Mega Millions winner does with their money? Why am I going to pay attention to what an ex-girlfriend does after we are broken up? I’ve got World Series FOMO, but we ARE missing out so I’ll just check out. Plus, this is obviously Boston’s year so it’s a wrap anyway.

Setting Low Bars

We all know that society is being dumbed down and is actively dumbing itself down on a regular basis. I’m not telling you something you don’t know. If I am, then you are the culprit, dummy.

I saw two examples that perfectly capture just how dumb we are getting. I’ll start with Subway. They are trying to get us hyped about their new Chipotle Cheesesteak and nothing gets me more hyped than bottle flipping.

Now one bottle being flipped is pretty cool. I mean, that’s a huge achievement. But when you are trying to get people really hyped up, you have to raise the stakes, right?!
 

OMFG!!!!! He just killed the f*#*ing game!!!! He did a four bottle flip!!!!! Give me those Chipotle Cheesesteaks right now! I want 10 of them! If this kid can flip four bottles then anything is possible! Maybe China won’t continue to lap us! Maybe robots aren’t going to take all of our jobs and then murder us! This is a wonderful celebration of accomplishment!

Oh, and it wasn’t just that. Monday Night Football featured Lil Yachty. They intentionally booked Lil Yachty because someone thought it was a good idea. I’m not fan of mumble rap and, in fact, I think it’s a classic example of how we are sliding into oblivion. There are still some very good hip hop artists out there, but somehow acts like Lil Yachty are not only in the spotlight, but are selling to the same people who think bottle flips are electric. The trick shot people are wondering how in the world bottle flips passed them. Here is some Lil Yachty in case you don’t believe me.

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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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