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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Houston's Pro Sports fans being grossly short-changed


Last updated 4/20/2021 at 7:16pm

There are probably no more ardent professional sports fans than those in the Houston area. These fans show up in droves at the stadiums and sports complexes to watch their heroes in action.

And for most of the time, the Houston Astros, Houston Texans and Houston Rockets have been good enough to qualify for the respective post-season playoffs.

These three franchises for 2021 have really hit the skids and are working diligently just to have a chance at victory in the latter stages of their respective games.

The talent level for all three franchises has dropped considerably due mainly to stars being traded and coaches and managers being replaced or fired.

The Houston Rockets lost their superstar James Harden. who insisted on being traded and was granted his wish. Their head coach also left the team and was replaced by a dude named Stephen Silas, who had to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each player. Many changes in personnel were made and it probably will take time for the team to jell.

Going into Monday’s action, the Rockets had the worst record of the 30 teams in the league. Luckily, they beat Orlando Sunday and fell into a tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves with 14-42 records. It snapped a five-game losing streak and also a five-game losing streak on the road.

The Houston Astros aren’t much better. Thank goodness they started the season with a five-game winning streak, taking four straight at Oakland against the A’s and one of three against the LA Angels and then came home to Minute Maid Park and lost five of six games.

Oakland did just the opposite, after losing their first six games, they have won nine of their last 10 through Sunday.

Things didn’t go any better back on the road at Seattle where the Mariners grabbed two of the three games. Fortunately, Astros’ ace Zack Greinke pitched a gem Saturday, going eight shutout innings and having the 1-0 lead saved by closer Ryan Pressly, who still has a perfect 0.00 ERA going into Tuesday’s action at Colorado against the Rockies.

But the heavy hitting that took place the first week of the season is long gone as the team is leaving double-digit numbers of men on the bases due to the lack of clutch hitting.

And then to add to their woes, the Astros lost Jose Altuve, slugger Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia, who were all sidelined due to the health and safety protocols of COVID-19.

Monday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle stated that all five are now permitted to work out individually, according to Manager Dusty Baker, but “ambiguity remains about where and what they can do.” None of them will play until at least after this five-game road trip which ends after today’s game in Colorado.

The team took a big hit when it lost lead-off star George Springer, who seemed to be the glue that held the team together over the years. He’s hard to replace as a team leader in the clubhouse, a job that apparently has been inherited by 37-year-old Greinke.

After coming out of the chute with both guns blazing and enjoying the top spot in the AL West Division, going in yesterday’s game Houston was 7-8, one-half game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Texas Rangers.

The saddest situation of this trilogy belongs to the Houston Texans, who are trying to keep a positive attitude about the 2021 season, although they are without several stars including J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins, who both have defected to the Arizona Cardinals.

A bigger problem lies with quarterback Deshaun Watson, who vows to have played his last game in a Texans’ uniform. He may not be wearing any uniform this coming season due to the 21 lawsuits filed against him for sexual improprieties with female masseuses.

Watson’s future became uncertain after the NFL and even the Houston police became involved by investigating the situation. The 25-year-old quarterback was a fan favorite during his four years with the Texans, but many have left due to the alleged situation with the lawsuits.

Bill O’Brien was canned after the first four losses of the 2020 season and has been replaced by David Culley as head coach and Nick Caserio as general manager.

Every NFL team was supposed to begin its off-season program Monday, but the NFL Players Association has recommended to its membership that players stay away from the nine-week program that started Monday and ends June 18, according to Monday’s Chronicle.

“The union cites COVID-19 concerns and points out that even though there was no on-field offseason program in 2020 and that everything was done virtually, the season came off with very few glitches,” the article pointed out.

Things don’t look so shiny to the pro sports buffs in the Houston area.

KWICKIES…Clemson’s stellar quarterback Trevor Lawrence who will be drafted No. 1 by the Jacksonville Jaguars next weekend, pledges $20,000 to Jacksonville charities and says he and his wife are looking forward to being part of their community,

Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber is the first pitcher in major league history to begin the season in four starts with 10 or more strikeouts. He fanned 13 Sunday as Cleveland downed Cincinnati 6-3 as Bieber upped his strikeouts to 48 for the season matching Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for the most through the first four starts of a season. Bieber has fanned at least eight batters in 16 straight starts, one short of Randy Johnson’s major league mark.

Cleveland was on the losing end of a great pitching performance last week when Carlos Rodon pitched a no-hitter, blanking the Indians 8-0 and missing a perfect game when he hit a Cleveland batter in the ninth inning. Rodon is 2-0 this season and yet to give up an earned run.

Tom Brady says he is recovering well from knee surgery and hopes to participate in Tampa Bay’s mandatory June minicamp.

Beaumont’s Jay Bruce announced his retirement Sunday after 14 years in the major leagues. The West Brook alum says his performance to start the 2021 season was not at a “level that was acceptable to myself.” Bruce, who had been playing for the New York Yankees, is a three-time All-Star who has hit more career home runs (319) than doubles and has driven in 951 runs in his career.

Sam Houston State, who zipped through the Southland Conference with a 6-0 record, is the No. 2 seed in the FCS playoffs and will play Monmouth in the opening round April 24. The FCS championship game will be played May 16 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, site of the title game for the 11th straight year. ABC will televise it starting at 1 p.m.

Forty-seven-year-old Stewart Cink took over the RBC Heritage lead after Friday’s second round at Hilton Head, South Carolina and cruised to a four-stroke victory over Emiliano Grillo and Howard Varner III to the delight of son Reagan, who caddied for his dad. Cink, who won his third RBC Heritage crown, was 19 under-par and collected $1,278,000 for his effort.

JUST BETWEEN US…Orange’s Chad Dallas found out Friday night what every pitcher playing anywhere has faced—YOU DON’T WIN MANY GAMES WHEN YOUR TEAM SCORES ZERO RUNS!!! Chad pitched well enough to keep his undefeated college winning streak alive by giving up only three runs (two earned) in seven innings and striking out seven, but Tennessee was shut out 5-0 by No. 2 Vanderbilt’s mound ace Kumar Rocker (8-1) who gave up two hits in his seven innings of work at Knoxville. Chad is scheduled to pitch Friday against Texas A&M in College Station. Hopefully, there will be a good crowd of Orangeites there to watch him pitch.


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