To be grateful for Houston Sports? Nine reasons why

Astros are finished for the year. The Rockets are in the middle of one of the worst losing streaks … since last season (ugh). And the Texans won a match, but that was only the second win of the season. It seems like what a few years ago was considered to be the golden age of the sport of Houston has fallen deep into the legendary crapper. Wealth has a way of changing, especially in our city.

Despite all the (sports) hardships, there is still plenty to be thankful for. You may have to squint to see it, but it’s there.

Jalen Green and the Alps Sengun (2 things)

The Rockets’ first two round picks have had varying degrees of success so far. Both only 19, it is not surprising that they would have glimpses of brilliance mixed with wild meanders of inconsistency. Green probably flirts most with both ends of the spectrum. He wants big fights with highlight-real dunks and step back threes. But in the same match, he can turn the ball seven times and look physically overmatched.

Sengun has shown more coherence with a game that was honed for years against adults in the Turkish leagues. In particular, his passing has been a bright spot and it is only a matter of time before he will shoot the three on a higher clip. But like any 19-year-old rookie, he wants his fights. Either way, both are bright spots in an otherwise dark 2021-22 season for this team.

The Rockets still have a boatload of drafts.

Only the Oklahoma City Thunder have more draft picks in the coming years, and if 2021 were any indication, GM Rafael Stone will know how to use them effectively. Not just with the next year or two likely to deliver more young talent, but through trades as the team gets better. It has been a fast and abrupt fall for a team that was a perennial challenger just a few seasons ago, but it has the potential to pay off with time and patience.

click to enlarge Nick Caserio has worked out for him, but he at least has a plan.  - PHOTO: JACK GORMAN

Nick Caserio has worked out for him, but he at least has a plan.

Photo by Jack Gorman

The Texans won a fight in Tennessee.

Sure, it was only the second time this year, but it was against the former Oilers in Nashville, perhaps the best place to score a win even in a low season. There are not many bright spots for the Texans this season. It feels a lot like a transition year between the fact that they almost completely lost who they were over the last year and the building against who they want to be. In years like this, small victories are important, and an away win against a divisional rival certainly qualifies.

With cap flexibility and draft, the Texans could rebuild.

GM Nick Caserio clearly has his hands full, but it looks like he has a plan. The team is filled with veterans on one-year contracts (if you do not count one albatross contract as a quarterback) and is ready to have quality draft picks this offseason and perhaps the following depending on what happens to the aforementioned “he who should not named “QB. It’s a big wish from fans to be patient with a team that has given them no reason for it in its entire history, but hope is all we have at this point.

UH men’s basketball team is good … really good.

College basketball typically does not generate much interest here before March Madness, but if you’re a fan of hoops and wins (sorry Rockets), you might want to turn your attention to the Fertitta Center on the University of Houston campus. Coogs is TKTK and looks impressive in early season play. After reaching the Final Four last season before falling to eventual title winner Baylor, coach Kelvin Sampson has built what appears to be yet another fighting team with tenacious defense and high energy. Even if you do not follow college basketball (and who does in Houston?), This team is worth checking out.

click to enlarge Justin Verlander is back, honey.  - PHOTO: JACK GORMAN

Justin Verlander is back, honey.

Photo by Jack Gorman

The Astros core, even without Carlos Correa, is strong.

There will be a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth on the day the team’s superstar shortstop finally signs with another team. That’s the unfortunate reality that Astros fans face in the offseason. But before you get completely apoplectic, try to remember that this team also has Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman. They have a host of young talented arms in rotation and the bullpen. This is all in addition to the quality of the minor league prospects in their farm system. Losing Correa will hurt, we will not lie. But thanks to a careful list building by GM James Click (and his predecessor), all is not lost. And…

Justin Verlander is back.

Against seemingly all odds, the Astros ace re-signed with the team that helped add veteran leadership and a still hectic arm to the rotation. Verlander was thrown into the mid and early 90s by a recent training session, which was what led many around baseball to speculate that he would sign a contract with the Yankees or another major market team. Instead, after nearly two years out after the Tommy John surgery, JV is back in Houston and it feels so good.

Spring training starts in three months.

The long winter is not so harsh in Houston with our milder climate and lack of snow (most years), but without quality sports, it can still feel like dirt. Fortunately, you do not have to wait long for a winning team to be back on it. Between now and then you have a holiday! So, garden up there, Houston sports fan. It’s not entirely bad.

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