Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Draw Delivers Preliminary Round and Round of 16 Matchups for 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League

Photo by https://www.concacaf.com/Straffon
Used with permission
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
MIAMI, FLORIDA (September 21, 2020) Concacaf today conducted the official draw for Preliminary Round and Round of 16 matchups of the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League. The tournament is set to kick off on October 20.  

 
The draw, which was hosted by TV personalities Alejandro de la Rosa (TUDN) and Natalia Alvarez (ESPN), included appearances by Honduran football legend Amado Guevara and Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio. 
 
In order to fit the competition into a new schedule, the Preliminary Round and Round of 16 will be played as single game ties at the highest ranked club’s stadium. All other rounds will be played as two game ties (home and away).  
 
The 12 clubs participating in the Preliminary Round of the competition have been divided into six pairings as follows (home club listed first):  
 
Matchup #1: CD FAS (SLV) vs Managua FC (NCA) 
Matchup #2: LD Alajuelense (CRC) vs Cibao FC (DOM) 
Matchup #3: CD Municipal Limeño (SLV) vs Forge FC (CAN)  
Matchup #4: CA Independiente (PAN) vs Antigua GFC (GUA) 
Matchup #5: Arcahaie FC (HAI) vs Verdes FC (BLZ) 
Matchup #6: FC Motagua (HON) vs Comunicaciones FC (GUA) 
 
The six Preliminary Round matchups will be played October 20-22, as single game ties at the highest ranked club’s stadium.  
 
The ten clubs seeded into the Round of 16 and the six Preliminary Round winners have been divided into eight parings and will play as follows (home team listed first):  
   
Matchup #1: Deportivo Saprissa (CRC) vs CSD Municipal (GUA) 
Matchup #2: CD Marathon (HON) vs CA Independiente (PAN) or Antigua GFC (GUA) 
Matchup #3: Tauro FC (PAN) vs CD Municipal Limeño (SLV) or Forge FC (CAN) 
Matchup #4: Waterhouse FC (JAM) vs Arcahaie FC (HAI) or Verdes FC (BLZ) 
Matchup #5: Alianza FC (SLV) vs FC Motagua (HON) or Comunicaciones FC (GUA) 
Matchup #6: CD Olimpia (HON) vs CD FAS (SLV) or Managua FC (NCA) 
Matchup #7: San Francisco FC (PAN) vs LD Alajuelense (CRC) or Cibao FC (DOM) 
Matchup #8: CS Herediano (CRC) vs Real Esteli FC (NCA) 

The schedule for the all rounds of the competition is as follows: 
 
October 2020  
20-22 Preliminary Round (single leg match)  
 
November 2020  
3-5: Round of 16 (single leg match)  
 
December 2020  
1-3: Quarterfinals (first leg)  
8-10: Quarterfinals (second leg)  
 
January 2021  
5-7: Semifinals (first leg)  
12-14 Semifinals (second leg)  
19-21: Final (first leg)  
26-28: Final (second leg) 
 
Kick off times and venues, will be announced in the coming days. 

In addition to qualifying its champion to the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the tournament now qualifies a further five teams. At the end of the Concacaf League , the champion and the next five best ranked will qualify to the 2021 edition of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Houston Texans ready to show improvement

Story and photo by Lou Roesch
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 20, 2020) It may not take much for the Houston Texans to show improvement following last week's season opening loss at Kansas City. Improvement comes in many forms and after six plus years of hearing general manager/head coach Bill O'Brien say we need to do better, it's time to see better.

What exactly is better for the Houston Texans? After all this is a team that averages nine wins a season so would we feel better with a 10 win team in 2020? This is a team that has won its fair share of AFC South titles, would another one make us think they are any better in 2020? This is a team that has stars at multiple positions and potential stars at others. Would one more star make us better or did trading away our star receiver make us better?


Better is a relative term and is of course in the eye of the beholder it is all about perspective. Come Sunday, the Texans will host a Baltimore Ravens team that has gotten better ever since Lamar Jackson lined up under center. Getting better doesn't necessarily mean more wins although that would be nice. Getting better on Sunday means your personnel show up in front of a nationally televised audience again and this time they play like they belong on national TV. Getting better means not coming out flat. Getting better means not sitting back after scoring the opening touchdown and thinking man we sure showed them. Getting better means manhandling the Baltimore offensive line and containing Lamar Jackson.


One aspect that will help the Houston Texans get better fast is to hand David Johnson the rock 25 times and let him prove he is still a stud runner. When your main man carries the ball for a 7 yard gain each time he touches it, the only thing you have to do is get better at handing him the ball. If Johnson runs for 100 plus yards and two scores on Sunday, the Texans will win, fans will feel better and no one will have to hear O'Brien say "we got outplayed, out coached, out executed, gotta do better."


If the offensive line is the unmovable wall on Sunday instead of the wall of play dough they were last Thursday in Kansas City, things will be better. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson had all of 2.59 seconds to throw on average. Even another full second would be better. A more stout performance by the line, a steady diet of David Johnson and Watson plays lights out and all will be better in Texans world.


As long as JJ Watt is a member of the Houston defense, they can always become better. What does better look like. Better sees more JJ Watt through the middle and Jacob Martin playing more then 16 snaps a game. Better includes more tackles and less misses as in 20 at Kansas City. What if that had only been 10 missed tackles.


Getting better and winning at the game of football is about executing the fundamentals correctly. It's about coming out and playing a full four quarters of football. Houston has the talent to match up with the Baltimore Ravens. The question is whether or not they will play better as a team. If they do, a win is a possibility. If not, we will have the same old excuses regurgitated for yet another week.

Houston Dynamo rally in second half for 2-2 draw against Minnesota United FC

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 19, 2020) In the first game with fans in attendance at BBVA Stadium since February 29, the Houston Dynamo scored two goals in the second half and settled for a 2-2 draw against Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening. The draw extended their unbeaten streak to four at BBVA Stadium since returning from the "MLS is Back" Tournament, and improved their home record to 2-0-3.

Minnesota got on the board first, giving them a 2-0 lead at the half. Said goals were scored by midfielder Kevin "Hot Boy" Molina in the 12th minute, and midfielder Robin Lad in the first minute of first half added time. Medina, who hails from Carenage, Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, increased his season total to six. The second goal of the match, pushed the Helsinki, Finland native's total to four goals in 2020.

Houston responded with their two goals eleven minutes apart in the second half. Forward Darwin Quintero scored first for the Dynamo, in the 58th minute; his fifth of the season. That was followed by a 69th minute score by Maynor Figueroa It was the first of the season for the Columbian.

Figueroa stated (translated from Spanish to English):
"Happy, scoring a goal always represents something for every player. Obviously, in my job, first of all, defending and well, I had the opportunity to go on the attack in that free kick. And have the conviction that the ball was going to stay there and to be able to help the team with the draw. But, obviously, wanting more. The desire to have taken the three points, the more we are in local condition." 

Quintero was also quoted:

 “When you miss a penalty, the only way to feel better is to score. I knew I had to score one way or another because I missed it, and thanks to God that happened. I was able to finish it. We’re not going home happy with the result because we feel we always have to win at home, but we’re content with the draw because we were able to come back from being behind two goals to zero.”

 The Dynamo will be back in action Wednesday night when they travel to the Windy City to take on Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field. That match will mark the Dynamo’s first of the year against an Eastern Conference foe and the club’s first visit to Soldier Field. The match is set for a 6:30 p.m. CDT kickoff and will be televised live throughout Houston on QuestTEXAS Ch. 55 in English and TelExitos Ch. 47.2 in Spanish.

                                                                                   

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Houston Dash fall to North Carolina Courage 4-3; finish match with 10 players

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA (September 12, 2020) Playing without the services of Rachel Daly, the Houston Dash played the final 40 minutes of the game with ten players, and fell to the North Carolina Courage 4-3 in the first match for both squads in the Verizon NWSL Community Shield.

Houston, playing their first game since winning the NWSL Challenge Cup, were without the talent of team co-captain Rachel Daly, who currently is "on loan" to West Ham United of the Barclays FA Women's Super League in England.

In reality, the Dash held a 2-1 lead until the final seven minutes when the Courage scored their final two goals in the 83rd and 86th minute. Whether it was fatigue or playing almost the entire second half down a player, is a discussion for another time. They scored two of their three goals early in the match; both off assists by Shea Groom. Veronica Latsco tallied Houston's first goal in the 25th minute, to even the score at one. Abby Dahlkemper put North Carolina on the board in the 18th minute, with a successful penalty kick, for the first score of the game. Kristie Mewis followed Latsco's goal 12 minutes later, to give the Houstona 2-1 lead at halftime.

In the 53th minute, the Dash when a player down when Allyssa Chapman received a her second yellow card of the game; colliding with a North Carolina player along the touchline. She received her first yellow card in the 18th when she slipped into Debokhs' ankle, in an attempt to break up the play. The caution foul resulted in Dahlkemper's pentaly kick goal

The Courage evened the score at two, in the 52nd minute, with a goal by Debinha. Houston responded in the 70th minute with a go-a-head goal bu Sophie Schmidt. North Carolina close out the match with their two final goals to secure the win.

Houston head coach James Clarkson expressed his disappointment in the loss after the match.

“I’m really disappointed in the result, I thought we could have had the game won by halftime. We had a number of chances that we didn’t put away and if you leave a team like this hanging around there is always a chance they can come back and take it. Obviously, getting somebody sent off that early in the second half made it difficult. I think the players showed amazing courage and fight to get back into the game and take the lead. We just had a quick chat about it and we are really disappointed in how we handled and finished the game out, because there were three points to be won out there today.”

In addition, he also praised the play of Groom.

"She has maintained a fantastic level and the way she played today was incredible on both sides of the ball. Two really good assists, she is disappointed because she could have had a couple of goals in the first half and ultimately, when you go back and look at the game they have two World Cup winners and arguably the best player in the league on the field. They scored their chances and their finishing has been top drawer, their finishing has been great. We have been very wasteful in front of goal.”

The Dash return to play on Saturday, September 26 when they host the Orlando Pride at BBVA Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CDT.

Houston Dynamo fall 2-1 to FC Dallas; Elis may be leaving team

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis,
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

DALLAS, TEXAS (September 12, 2020) The Houston Dynamo had their six-game unbeaten streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas at on Saturday evening. Midfielder Memo Rodriguez scored the lone goal for Houston; his third of the season, off a free kick, in the 41st minute. He stated after the match:
"During training, (forward) Darwin (Quintero) has taken most of the free-kicks but I told him if we had one this game, I wanted to take it. I think they expected him to take it because they put a wall with a guy that was on one knee. I think that gave me a little but of an advantage and I knew it was pretty close so I tried to hit it as hard as I could to the goalie’s side and thankfully it went in.’’

His goal was the 13th for the club in 2020.

Against Dallas, Houston was without the services of Alberth Elis. He did not play in the Dynamo's Wednesday's game against the Colorado Rapids, which ended in a 1-1 draw, despite nor being on the club's injury list. Against Dallas he did not play. Prior to the match, he was  listed as questionable with a left thigh injury.

It has been speculated in various media outlets that Elis may be headed to Boavista in Portugal. He has been a consistent producer since arriving at the Dynamo during the middle of the 2017 season. He has 34 goals and 27 assists in 88 MLS appearances, including four goals and three assists over six games in Ramos' first year in charge.

Head coach Tab Ramos (shown above) addressed the potential loss of Elis, in his post game press conference

“To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure; it sounds like something is going to happen with Alberth, but at this point I can’t really expand on that because I really don’t know. I know he was half in training yesterday, but there’s a good possibility that he goes overseas."

Houston will return to action on Saturday, September 19 when they host Minnesota in their first home match with fans in attendance since the pandemic shutdown.




Saturday, September 12, 2020

HBU, Zappe "More Than Shine" in 35-33 loss to Texas Tech

File photo by
Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

LUBBOCK, TEXAS (September 12, 2020) In a game that they were slated as a 41-point underdog, the HBU Huskies fell to the Texas Tech Red Raiders by the score of 35-33 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. With the near loss, the Huskies dropped to 0-2 in the pandemic-shorten season, with a two week break until the face Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana on Saturday, September 26. The Tech win was the first in as many games for the HBU's Big 12 foe.

Husky quarterback Bailey Zappe (shown above left) connected on 30-of-67 apsses for 567 yards and four touchdowns. His frequent targets were the brothers Sterns. Jerreth caught 12 passes for  130 yards and one touchdown, with Josh having five receptions for 209 yards and two TDs. DJ Dormeus had three catches for 82 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Brennan Young tallied 13 tackles, 12 of them solo with Caleb Johnson also accounting for 13, eight of them solo. Isaiah Cash had the game's lone interception, which he returned for 15 yards.

Zappe, in twe games, has completed 73 passes on 111 attempts for 1.047 yards and seven touchdowns without throwing any interceptions. Against North Texas, on September 5,  his longest completed pass was 71 yards. Versus the Red Raiders, had-a 75-yard completion to Josh Sterns in the fourth quarter for the second of his scores.

The Husky's game against Louisiana Tech on September 26 will be broadcast on ESPN3 and on the Husky Sports Network (KKME Digital) with Lonnie King behind the microphone.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Rough start for the Houston Texans in 34-20 loss at Kansas City

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

By Lou Roesch
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI (September 11, 2020)  The Houston Texans opened the 2020 football season with a 34-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. It was a game that everyone from the top of the organization to the fanbase had waited  for for nearly nine months. It was the start that fans feared would happen but hoped they would not have to endure. After another flat showing on national television, Houston head coach Bill O'Brien has no one left to blame but himself.


The Texans came out strong scoring the opening touchdown salvo on their second drive and then much like last January the Chiefs took over scoring 31 unanswered points and just like that the game was over. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson ran for his life nearly all night as the highly touted offensive line looked more like a sieve then a wall. Oh there were a few moments where the Texans showed some flash but never sustainable until the game was out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.


Texans game notes touted the fact that defense held the Chiefs scoreless in the first quarter for the first time since November of the 2019 season but what about the other three quarters of football. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for his third lowest yards per attempt yet still he was good enough to throw three scoring strikes. The Texans held the Chiefs offense to just 203 net total yards but where it mattered most, Kansas City still put up 34 points.


Houston's David Johnson ran for 77 yards on 11 carries but maybe we should talk about the play calling. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly's play calling after the initial scoring drive looked more like O'Brien was calling the plays. Probably a good thing BOB was wearing a mask on this night because we can only imagine the grimaces he wore. The Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-

Hellarie rushed for more yards then the entire Houston offense 138 to 118 on just three more carries. If Johnson is healthy and running hard like he was, let him be the stud running back they tell us he is and not only control the clock but maybe the tempo too. A vaunted running game relieves the pressure off Watson and the O-line even us armchair Friday afternoon quarterbacks know that. Instead the braintrust throws the ball under pressure (2.59 seconds per attempt)on 68% of the team's plays costing #4 seven QB hits and four sacks. SMH.


It doesn't get any easier for the Houston Texans. In 10 days, the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson come calling at NRG. Only time will tell if things get better.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Late Manotas' goal gives Houston 2-1 win over Kansas City

Photo by 
Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved



By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 5, 2020) The Houston Dynamo improved their season record to 3-2-4 and extended their winning streak to three with a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City at BBVA Stadium. The win gave them back-to-back victories for the first time this season. In addition, it improved their all-time season record against Kansas City to 12-9-13.

Kansas City scored first with a nice shot from the right of the box in the 30th minute by Erik Hurtado. The 29-year-old forward's goal was his second of the 2020 season; having scored his first goal of 2020 against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on February 29.

Houston evened the score 29 minutes later, in the 50th minute, with a goal by forward Alberth Elis, his fourth in 2020. With the score, 24-year-old Honduran needs nine goals to tie Brad Davis for third most goals scored for the Dynamo across all competitions, at 45.

Mauro Manotas gave the Dynamo the lead in the 86th minute when he got a perfect setup from Zarek Valentin to push the score to 2-1. Manotas's score pushed his regular-season goals to 50; tying Bruin for the second most goals for Houston during regular-season action.

Kansas City and Houston met on August 25, with the Dynamo earned their first win of the season courtesy of goals from Ellis, Christian Ramirez and Niko Hanson.  Houston will close Phase 1 on the road as they travel to Colorado on Wednesday, September 9 and travel to Frisco ti play FC Dallas for the second leg of the Texas Derby.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas battle to scoreless draw in first match of 2020 Texas Derby

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 21, 2020) After one hundred seventy-four days, the Houston, the Houston Dynamo returned to the pitch inside BBVA Stadium for live soccer, as they took on FC Dallas in the first match to determine the possession of the El Capitan, in the annual Texas Derby. After 90 minutes of play, neither team could seem to get an advantage, with the match ending in scoreless draw.

Due to COVID-19 issues, the match was played without fans, with on team and stadium personal and selected media were allowed in the stadium. The Dynamo had fan and supporter noise broadcast over public address system, to simulate actual game conditions. 

It simulated game noise did not seem to hinder or help either team, as they constantly battled each other up and down the field, with neither team able to find a way to get the ball into their opponent's goal. The Dynamo had an 17-7 advantage in shots for the match, while keeping possession of the ball 58% for 90 minutes of play.

Houston head coach Tad Ramos stated:

 “I think we did exactly what we wanted to do, which was to take possession away from them. Dallas is a team that usually has possession every game, and we wanted to make sure that we were the ones dictating the game. Overall, I have to say I’m happy with the team. There wasn’t much more I could ask from them. They made an incredible effort today – I’m happy with that. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a goal. We had the shots and we created the chances, but the ball didn’t go in. That’s the way it goes.”

Goalkeeper Marko Maric, playing in his first Texas Derby also spoke about the draw:

“I think there would be more intensity if the stadium was full with supporters. In the end it’s a game. I know how much this means for Houston and our supporters, but in the end, us as players have to play our game. Of course, we don’t want to lose against our rival. Before we came in, we were pumped up. We know what is online. I wish I would’ve had my first derby win, but today it didn’t happen. To me, it would be much more attractive to play with supporters to see how much love we have here for this derby.”

Next up for the Dynamo is a Tuesday, August 25 road match against Sporting Kansas City. They will return to BBVA Stadium on Wednesday, September 2 with a 7 p.m. CDT meeting against Minnesota United FC.  

Saturday, August 01, 2020

On this day in Olympic History, August 1

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 1, 2020) August 1 is a unique day in Olympic history. Many newsworthy Olympic events have happened on August 1; dating back 92 years to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. On that day, the United States sweep the medals in a rainy pole vault final with Sabin Carr capturing the gold medal, followed by William Droegemuller (silver) and Charles McGinnis (bronze).

Below are more events from Olympic history of August 1.

1936: The Games of the IX Olympiad open in Berlin.

1976: The Games of the XXL Olympiad officially close in Montreal, Canada

1980: Gerd Wessig of East Germany becomes the first male to set a high jump world record at the Olympics with a jump of 2.36 meters (7 feet, 9 inches) in Moscow.

1980: East German runner Waldemar Cierpinski wins his second consecutive Olympic Games marathon in 12:11:03 in Moscow.

1992: American sprinter Gail Devers wins an incredibly close blanket finish in the women's 100 meters with the time of 10.82 seconds in Barcelona, with five athletes within 0.06 seconds of Devers.

1996: Dan O'Brien wins the decathlon gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics to become the first American since Bruce Jenner in 1976 to win the event.

2012: American Nathan Adrian clocks 47.52 in winning the 100-meter freestyle gold at the London Olympics; his first swim under 48 seconds.




Friday, July 31, 2020

35 years ago, first Heisman Trophy winners inducted into Pro Football HOF

Photo courtesy of
wikipedia.com


By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved'

CANTON, OHIO (July 31, 2020) Thirty-five years ago, on August 3, 1985, five men were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list included Frank Gatski, Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, O.J. Simpson, and Roger Staubach.

Two players from the list also received an additional honor, albeit not an "official" one. Roger Staubach and O.J. Simpson became the first two Heisman Trophy winners to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Staubach, who played quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy received his Heisman Trophy is junior year. Known as “Roger the Dodger,” all he lead Navy to the No. 2 tanking in the country and a berth in the Cotton Bowl, where the faced the No. 1 Texas Longhorns. He completed 106 passes in 161 attempts for 1,474 yards, and was named consensus All-America, as well as winning the Maxwell Trophy and Walter Camp Memorial Trophy.


Five years later, in 1968, Simpson won his Heisman Trophy, as a senior running back at USC, He began his college career at City College of San Francisco were he named a junior college All-American in 1966. He to USC in 1967, where he also ran track. The following fall, Simpson led the nation in rushing with 1,543 yards and scored 13 touchdowns to help lead USC to a 10-1 record and the national title.


Staubach was selected in the 1964 NFL Draft as a 10th round pick by the Dallas Cowboys, due to the fact he had a five-year commitment to the U.S. Navy once he left college. He played his rookie NFL season in 1969 for the Cowboys. He played his entire 10-year career in Dallas.

Simpson, who also played his rookie season on 1969, was selected in the first round, as the first pick, by the Buffalo Bills. He stayed will the bill until 1977. He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers prior to the 1979 season, were he played two seasons.



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Baseball is in my brain

James Larken Smth and
Larry Dierker
Photo by Lisa Warren
Copyright 2020 Al Rights Reserved
By James Larken Smith
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

SUGAR LAND, TEXAS (July 29, 2020)  As we go into the third week of Constellation Energy League play, it is appropriate for me that the teams we saw playing last night were the 5-5 Skeeters and 5-4 Team Texas, teams playing very evenly so far in this league, and teams that I can speak a lot about for reason I will mention in this article. 

My love of baseball started as a young lad in Grapevine Texas, just a few minutes from Arlington. Yes Astro fans. I confess my sins. I grew up a Texas Ranger fan. Feel free to flog and feather me after you finish reading this write up. You might notice that Team Texas’s uniform has a very slight look and feel to the Rangers uni’s. Several folks have mention this to me. It’s not lost that a number of Skeeters front office folks have worked for the Rangers in the past, most notably former President Jay Miller, who now is in Wichita. I was 9 years old when the Rangers moved from Washington D.C. to that contraption they called a baseball stadium in Arlington. But at 9 years old, I did not know the rigors of the modern Astrodome yet, that would not happen for another 10 years. My heros on the field were Jeff Burroughs and Jim Sunberg, and Bill Mercer and Bill Merrill in the radio broadcast booth. 

I have been a  Sugar Land Skeeters season ticket holder since day one. I have been writing and doing radio stories and coverage both about the Skeeters and the Atlantic League, the league to which they have played for their eight years of existence until the COVID outbreak this year. Being a season ticket holder, and doing coverage of the league and the players, coaches, front office folks, broadcasters, and stories about the moves that take place in the league has allowed me to meet and speak to so many wonderful people in baseball these past years. Print space does not allow me to list all of them. But having lived in Houston since since 1981, you can guess that many of them have been connected to the Houston Astros, and several with my original love, the Rangers. Players include Jose Cruz, whom we know has a connection to a player on Eastern Reyes del Reyes, Of coarse Roger Clemens, Felipe Paulino, who is playing for the Skeeters again. I met and interviewed Jeff Bourrough’s son Shawn, who himself made it to play in MLB a few years, and was playing and coaching in the Atlantic League. And of course, Skeeters skipper Pete Incavigli, who played four years for the Rangers, and had two stints with the Astros. Also included in this list is former Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti, who was a bench coach for the Astros for several years as well. 

I’ve also gotten to to know and meet a number folks from the broadcasts booth at Constellation Field. Longtime Astros broadcaster Bill Brown made a trip to Sugar Land to share a book he had written about a young man going through a serious illness. It was such a blessing to talk to Bill for almost 30 minutes on the concourse about baseball and life in general. On a number of occasions, I’ve got to speak to longtime Astros and Houston Rockets and Skeeters broadcaster Greg Lucas. Greg is also such a gifted writer, and he has shared so many wonderful stories with me, including one about how longtime player and broadcaster Joe Garaagiola kept a notebook with notes from every game he broadcasts. He showed him that notebook on the day Nolan Ryan had his fifth no-hitter in the Astrodome, and all 3 of us were there on that day! There are many more, but there is one man, one Astro, that I met at Constellation Field, that fits the category of player, broadcaster, baseball writer, manager, and one more very special category that he had only with me that night I met him. That of a survivor of a brain malformation, and brain surgery. 

On June 13, 1999, Larry Dierker was manager the last year that the Astros would be in The Astrodome. With the Astros ahead 4-1, Larry had a grand mal seizure in the dugout. He was transported to the nearby medical center where it was discovered he had a tangled web of blood vessels in his brain, otherwise known as an AVM. He had emergency brain surgery to correct the condition, and had a complete recovery, thanks to the quick action of doctors on site in the Astrodome. The game was a rare suspension in the Astrodome, one that was continued a month later, with the Astros wining 4-3. Put that in your next trivia convo.

Photo by Lisa Warren
Copyright 2020 Al Rights Reserved
On July 28th, 2004, I was playing piano in church, when I felt some weird pain in my neck. I finished leading worship on that Wednesday night, and sat down for our bible study, when my lefty arm started going limp. Realizing the severity of what was going on, I called our pastor over, and he stopped the study and he immediately took me to the hospital. After I got to the hospital, my left leg went limp. Once I got into the ER room, just like Larry, I had a grand mal seizure. That’s all I remember, until waking up a week later in St. Lukes Hospital in Houston’s Medical Center. It had been discovered that I had a bleeding AVM and aneurysm, stroke, and unknown to me, had brain surgery the morning of July 29th. After another week in St Lukes, I was transported to Memorial Herman TIIR, to begin what would be 6 months of in and out patient traumatic brain surgery recovery that would change my life forever. 

Several years ago, the Skeeters hosted a Hot Stove banquet to honor Houston area high school baseball athletes. In attendance were a number of the folks I mentioned above. Most important to me, was the chance to meet and speak to Larry Dierker, who was one of the guest speakers. At the conclusion of the dinner, I was fortunate to finally meet Mr Dierker. Larry of coarse was the first Astro to throw a no-hitter. When I first met him, I told him, that I was pretty sure we were the only two to have something in common, and he immediately guessed what it was. He and his wife who was with him, she unfortunately passed away last year, mentioned that they often get mail from other AVM survivors due to the book that Larry wrote, “This Ai’nt Brain Surgery” – How to Win The Pennant Without Loosing your Mind. They always took the time to write back to each person that wrote to them. It talks about Larry’s time in baseball, and goes into that time in 1999, when just like me, his brain blew up. 

Mr. Dierker was kind to take a picture with me, share a few wonderful stories that were pre-curses to might have been signs of his AVM, like his catcher having to remind him that a game was already in progress, a sign that while he was writing his line-up card in his office he was probably having a seizure. 

I had similar signs. So on this day, I’m just so happy to celebrate 16 years of life. Sixteen years of Astros and Skeeters baseball that is a reminder that I got through something that should have killed me, but didn’t. And just like Mr Dierker, when the doctors opened up our brains, they saw baseball built into it…..








Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Meet Houston Dash forward Shea Groom

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
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By Jennifer Edwards
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (July 28, 2020) On Sunday, July 26, over 653,000 people tuned their televisions to watch the finals of the NWSL Challenge Cup. They were treated to a great game between the Houston Dash and the Chicago Red Stars. The Red Stars are used to being in the finals position. They were in the finals of the 2019 NWSL regular season against the North Carolina Courage. They came in the runners-up that year, just as they did this year. Fans were treated to a team they don’t normally see make it out of regular season play, the Houston Dash. While Houston fans know their players, a player that was traded for stood out and shined in the finals. 

Shea Groom (shown above), a forward for the Dash, made herself a household name on Sunday. Her outstanding performance in the stoppage time of the second half showed Groom’s tenacity, as well as her ability to read a play and dismantle it just as quickly. Groom scored on a breakaway play after pulling veteran goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher, off her line solidified the Dash’s place in NWSL history. For this play, the 2014 Texas A&M graduate
Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
earned the Most Valuable Player for the final game award. Groom is known for throwing herself 100% into each and every play, which is a good thing, and 
sometimes, a bad thing sometimes. Over the course of the tournament, Groom could be seen charging headlong into the play and positioning herself to be at the right place at the right time. 

The Groom Airways celebration was seen twice during the tournament ,and created a lasting impression on many people watching. Dash fans hope to see her play in person next season in her bright orange uniform and the same “go get ‘em” attitude.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

PVAMU PANTHERS LAND 13 ON PHIL STEELE’S ALL-SWAC PRESEASON TEAM

PRAIRIE VIEW, TEXAS (July 25, 2020) The Prairie View A&M football team made its presence known on the Phil Steele All-SWAC Preseason team, with 13 Panther standouts receiving recognition.

On offense, a trio of offensive linemen and a pair of wide receivers earned spots on the team. Tony Mullins landed on the second-team offense while Tristen Wallace landed on the third-team offense.  
Mullins led the Panthers with 604 yards receiving during his junior season, and the Katy, Texas native hauled in seven scores, tops among all PVAMU players.


Wallace led the team with 40 receptions for 485 yards, grabbing a pair of touchdowns during his 2019 campaign.

First-Team All-SWAC player Danny Garza (First Team), DeJohn Jones (Second Team) and Eric Dunn (Second Team) were also honored. The senior trio opened holes for the top-ranked offense in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and helped form an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks among league teams.

Defensively, Jason Dumas – one of Prairie View A&M’s most disruptive pass rushers from 2019 -- was named to the second-team defense. The first-team All-SWAC honoree posted 12.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in the prior season. 


Dynamic linebacker duo Tre’Shaud Smith and Storey Jackson both received first-team nods. Smith, a second-team selection to the 2019 All-SWAC team, led the Panthers with 93 total stops – 12 for loss – and 6.0 sacks. Jackson ranked second among Panther defenders with 72 tackles, adding 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.

 

The Panthers’ ultra-productive secondary was well-represented as well, as Jaylen Harris received a first-team spot, Drake Cheatum picked up a second-team selection, and Reggie Stubblefield earned third-team consideration. Harris emerged as one of the SWAC’s top cover men, earning first-team all-conference honors after ranking among the nation’s best in passes defended. Harris intercepted four passes, best among PVAMU players.

Cheatum, a fellow first-team All-SWAC honoree, made 89 total stops along with a pair of tackles for loss while anchoring a Panthers defense that fielded the second-stingiest pass defense in the league as far as yards allowed.

Stubblefield was one of the most active Panthers, making 40 total tackles – a pair behind the line of scrimmage – and picking off a pass in just six games.

Punter Caleb Darbone (Second Team) and long snapper Desmond Calloway (Third Team) rounded out the Panthers’ selections to the team. Darbone averaged more than 37 yards per punt, with seven of his kicks landing inside the 20-yard line.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fearless MLB Predictions

Photo by:
James Roesch, LJR Sports Media
Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved
By Lou Roesch

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved


HOUSTON, TEXAS (July 23, 2020)  The MLB season is upon us and as all great sports fans do we make our predictions on who wins what and who doesn't and why? Our choices make for great conversation and fuel our desire to watch even if it's only on T.V. Here are the fearless predictions for the 2020 season. Debate them, share your own but above all enjoy the season.


American League

AL East: New York Yankees

The AL East may be baseball's most competitive division again but hey what else is knew. Place your money on the Yankees. Their lineup is formidable and Gerritt Cole is a difference maker. Just ask  Houston, they'll tell you the mistake it was not to pitch him at all in Game 7 and thus handing the 2019 World Series title.


AL Central: Cleveland Indians

The AL Central is a forgettable division in a 162 games but in a 60 games season it should be fun to watch three teams battle it out. The Tribe pitching staff makes the difference with Shane Bieber and his 259 K's in 34 appearances leading the way,]..And with Francisco Lindor playing for a big day this is the team to beat as they edge out Minnesota and the Sox.


AL West: Houston Astros

Cheating or not this team has all the tools to run away and hide in the first 30 games. Don't be surprised if they challenge the 1984 Tigers  record of 35-5 after 40 games. A pitching staff of Justin Verlander, Zach Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr could put the team in position to threaten the road record of 17 straight wins by the 1916 New York Giants. And the lineup of Altuve, Bregman, Correa and Springer is the best up and the batting order.


AL Wildcards Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Angels


AL Champion: Houston Astros over the NY Yankees in seven games. Should be plenty fireworks here plus strikeouts, home runs and story lines.


AL MVP: George Springer

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

AL Rookie of the Year: Luis Robert

AL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker


National League

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

This will be the most interesting pick of any predictions. Atlanta and the Nationals are glamour choices but the Phillies have a healthy Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutcheon plus DIdi Gregorius is in the hole at short and J.T. Realmoto behind the plate. All this aside, the Phillies win because they have Joe Girardi in the dugout and we know what he did New York.


NL Central: Cincinnati Reds

This will be the most fun division to watch in baseball once again. The Reds have been a team that hangs around until the All-Star break but this 2020 is different because its only 60 games. With a $165 million spent on off season acquisitions, this team will finally be steady and consistent. Is there a better potential Murders Row then Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas in the National League. Should the Reds pitching staff falter the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers will be waiting in the wings. Guesing these four wind up with in four games or less of each other.


NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers

Mookie Betts is in the fold and Clayton Kershaw is well Clayton Kershaw and so the Dodgers should win the West again like a broken record. There are many reasons to think the Dodgers will beyond just these two players. A short season plays right into the hand of the Chavez Ravine Boys of Summer


NL Wildcards: Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs


NL Champions: Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs in six games. There's just something about having a catcher as a manager that makes a big difference and an interesting series. The Phillies are a team with a chip on their shoulder not to mention their manager.


NL MVP: Bryce Harper

NL Cy Young: Josh Hader

NL Rookie of the Year: Shogo Akiyama

NL Manager of the Year: David Bell


And now for all the marbles: the Houston Astros win it all in 2020 handing Dusty Baker the one thing missing from his Hall of Fame resume as they sweep the Phillies.