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Kaz's Korner

Houston Astros, Texas both have new Decision-Makers

The Houston Astros and the Houston Texans made changes recently that got the attention of many sports’ history buffs.

Astros’ Jim Crane became the first major league baseball owner to replace his general manager AFTER winning the World Series. Not since Larry MacPhail was let go by the Yankees in 1947 had a general manager lost his job in the offseason after winning a World Series.

Veteran baseball man Dana Brown, who has spent his entire adult life in major league baseball, replaced James Click as the team’s general manager.

Click left after the World Series in November when he balked at a one-year contract offer for 2023. He wanted another multi-year deal, didn’t get it and left the organization for greener pastures if there’s even another team ready to win the World Series.

Crane’s first two general managers, Jeff Luhnow and Click, were involved in World Series victories, even though neither of them ever played a professional baseball game.

“Both got Ivy League degrees and built their baseball careers around date-driven, analytical decisions,” Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle pointed out. Crane decided to change directions, somewhat.

“Brown’s career spans four franchises, three decades, dozens of draft picks and every job title a front office can fathom, He now has the one eluding him for so long after seeking a general manager’s job for more than a decade. His reward for patience is prolonging a dynasty,” the article concluded.

Crane and Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell engineered almost all of the Astros off-season moves that will more than likely being one of the main focuses for Brown.

Brown plans to be “slow to speak and quick to listen,” according to the article.

The Houston Texans last month hired former NFL All-Pro linebacker DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith after one season. The team got the attention from the rest of the NFL for firing two black head coaches in consecutive seasons and then hiring a third one.

Ryans will be working closely with General Manager and Nick Caserio, who spent last week and Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to look at prospects to fill the many positions the Texans desperately need help. Ryans specialty has always been defense and he could very well coordinate the defense as the head coach.

Many of the Texans hierarchy aren’t convinced that Davis Mills is their quarterback of the future and could very well spent that No. 2 draft pick on one of the many quarterbacks that are expected to go in the first round—Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Florida’s Anthony Richardson or Kentucky’s Will Levis.

The Texans have a good chance to do well in next month’s draft by earning three of the first 33 selections. Their other first-round choice (No. 17) will probably be a lineman like defensive end Luke Van Ness of Iowa, DE/OLB Keion White from Georgia Tech or tight end Michael Mayer of Notre Dame.

One team that’s in a real quandary about the quarterback situation is the Green Bay Packers. At this time of the year every season veteran Aaron Rodgers plays his game of either retiring or going into the free agent marketplace.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback is scheduled to cost the Packers $59.5 million, a prohibitively high number which would cripple the team from doing much in free agency. Rodgers says that if he does come back and play for Green Bay this season, he would likely redo his contract.

KWICKIES…Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, quarterback for USC, won’t be eligible for the NFL draft until after the 2024 collegiate season because he just completed his freshman year for the Trojans.

The Houston Roughnecks won their third straight game in the new XFL, defeating San Antonio 22-13. Head Coach Wade Phillips, a native of Orange, used his starters in the first half—scoring all 22 points—and then turned the offense over to the reserves in the second half.

The Beaumont United Timberwolves will be going for a “Three-peat” in the state basketball tournament this week, playing in the semifinals 7 p.m. Friday in the San Antonio Alamodome. An unfriendly crowd is expected as the Wolves—who have won 33 straight-- meet San Antonio Northside Brennan.

And while on the topic of basketball, most of the men’s and women’s collegiate conferences will be playing their post-season tournaments this week with the winners getting an automatic bid in next week’s March Madness Tournament.

Kurt Kitayama broke out of a pack of golfers at -8 with a 15-foot birdie putt on the Par-3 No. 17 hole and then made par on the 72nd hole to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the $3.6 million winner’s share. Rory McIlroy and Harris English were one shot down and each pocketed $1.78 million.

New Lamar University head football coach Pete Rossomando wasted little time in finding an offensive coordinator last week when he named Valparaiso offensive coordinator Will Fleming to the position. Fleming also coached at Boston College and Rhode Island.

JUST BETWEEN US…The best kept secret in this area has to be the Lamar Cardinals baseball team, which began the 2023 season with nine straight wins before being slowed down twice by Pennsylvania of the Ivy League and then preventing the sweep by downing the Quakers 3-1 Sunday. The 10-2 Cardinals travel to Baton Rouge today to meet LSU and then return home for a three-game weekend series with California-Riverside.

 

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