By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – C’mon you NFL Texans, get with the program. Make a damn trade or sign a free agent. Now!
Deshaun Watson needs another wide-receiver to pair with DeAndre Hopkins or another running back to spell Lamar Miller. If you’re gonna play “big” in Houston, you better think “big.”
Look at your neighbors, Texans, just look. With the trading deadline acquisition of SP Zack Greinke, the Astros are now the favorites of the American League. That’s the whole League, not just the AL West.
The ‘Stros can start Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Greinke as their No. 1-2-3s in a playoff series, with the likes of Wade Miley, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh and Jose Urquidy waiting in the wings to spell any of the starters.
Talk about a “Super-Team?” Whew.
On the offensive side of the plate, the Houston Astros boast a super team that is finally getting all their “At Bats” together. Case-in-point, Jose Altuve has proven himself as a legitimate MVP candidate along with teammate Alex Bergman, and George Springer, Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel.
Of course, the Houston entry in the NBA is quite good, as evidenced by the Rockets and their casino-owning team owner Tilman Fertitta going “all-in” on Russell Westbrook while dumping All-Star point guard Chris Paul along the way. The Rockets high-octane, Saturn-5 meets Artemis Space Launch System offense that might or might-not be orchestrated by the great Mike D’Antoni. Of course the Rockets are nickel and diming their incumbent coach as the speedy offensive duo awaits.
The only thing hotter than a D’Antoni-Westbrook-Harden offense in Houston is Kate Upton, but that’s a story for another day, especially now that she’s a “Mom” of a newborn.
Which brings us back to the Texans who are a J.J. Watt injury away from oblivion and another 21-7 shellacking in the Wild Card round which would get head coach Bill O’Brien his walking papers faster than you can say Romeo Crenell.
Here Now, The Notes: At the rate of establishing Digital Sports Desk as a Houston-based sports news site, we’ll provide one other Houstonian news item: The Houston Astros swept the American League Player, Pitcher and Rookie of the Month awards for July, the first team to do so in either league since the Minnesota Twins in July 2006. … First baseman Yuli Gurriel was voted Player of the Month after batting .398 with 18 runs, seven doubles, 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 24 games. … Right-hander Gerrit Cole took Pitcher of the Month honors after posting a 4-0 record with 51 strikeouts, nine walks and a 1.85 ERA in five starts. … First baseman Yordan Alvarez was named Rookie of the Month after batting .333 with 10 runs, seven doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs in 21 games. …Thirteen years ago, Joe Mauer (Player), Johan Santana (Pitcher) and Francisco Liriano (Rookie) swept the monthly awards for the Twins. … The Boston Red Sox are hitting the “blame the umpires” portion of this subpar, disappointing season. … The Philadelphia Phillies philed a phederal lawsuit, errrr, filed a federal lawsuit, on Friday in an effort to keep the Phillie Phanatic as their mascot for the long term, according to multiple reports. … The goofy, green Phanatic has been part of Phillies home games since 1978. But the franchise alleges that the firm of Harrison/Erickson Inc., which it hired to create the mascot, is trying to pull out of a three-decades-old agreement and make the mascot a furry free agent. … The Phillies paid $215,000 to the firm in 1984 for permanent rights to the Phanatic and its costume, the lawsuit states, according to reports. The New York-based firm allegedly has tried to terminate the agreement for the past year and is seeking a seven-figure sum. … The team filed the lawsuit in New York, as opposed to Pennsylvania or corporate-friendly Delaware. Go phigure?
Dreaming of an NBA Christmas? The inter-city rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will headline the NBA’s five-game Christmas Day schedule, according to ESPN. … In addition to the battle of L.A., the Golden State Warriors will host the new-look Houston Rockets at the new Chase Arena in San Fran. The Warriors have eliminated the Rockets in the playoffs the last two seasons. … Two Eastern Conference favorites — the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers — will play in Philadelphia. … In other December 25th games, the defending champion Toronto Raptors will host the Boston Celtics and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will make his NBA Christmas debut as the New Orleans Pelicans will play the Denver Nuggets in Colorado. … The rest of the NBA schedule will announced in mid-August. … Three-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Cullen, who retired last month after 21 seasons in the NHL, has been hired as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey operations department, the team announced this week. … The move, announced by general manager Jim Rutherford, will be a player development position — with Cullen working with Rutherford and head coach Mike Sullivan. … “Matt’s knowledge of the game and understanding of our organization will make him a valuable asset moving forward,” Rutherford said in a statement. “With over 20 years in the NHL and three Stanley Cups, we are certain he will continue to have a positive influence on our players.” … Cullen, who was the oldest player in the NHL last season, retired on July 10 at the age of 42. The forward played his final season with the Penguins, when he had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 71 regular-season games.
Former NBA ALl-Star and decorated Olympian Carmelo Anthony was not quite ready to say goodbye to the NBA last season. … Anthony said Friday that at 35, he is working and waiting for his next chance. The 10-time NBA All-Star ended last season without a team but is hopeful the phone will ring before training camps begin next month. … “I’m in the gym every single day,” Anthony said in an ESPN interview about a potential comeback. … Anthony has averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his career. He played 10 games with the Houston Rockets last season before general manager Daryl Morey called Anthony into his office to let him know the relationship wasn’t going to work. … “He came in and basically said, ‘Look, your services are no longer needed,'” Anthony said of his conversation with Morey. “I was like, ‘What? Hold up. What the hell are you talking about?’ … You telling me I can’t make a 9-, 10-man rotation on this team?'” … Rumors percolated throughout the winter that Anthony would join LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that deal never happened. … Anthony said he needed the solitude that came his way for inner reflection and to decide what was next. Specifically, Anthony said he had to “reevaluate myself, reevaluate my career, reevaluate my life.” … He arrived at the conclusion that his fire still burns for basketball. But he remains miffed about the way things ended with the Rockets. It’s part of what is fueling his comeback bid. … “I started questioning myself after that. Can I still do this? What did I do? I asked him this. … He just said it wasn’t working out,” Anthony said. “When somebody in power that tells you that they no longer need your services … I’ve been utilizing my services for a long time. For you to tell me you don’t need that no more. I honestly felt that I was fired. I felt like [what] other people go through on a day-to-day basis. People get fired. I honestly felt like I got fired.” … And he isn’t ready to retire just yet. … “I know I can still play,” said Anthony. … But, “Can he defend,” asks Digital Sports Desk‘s While We’re Young (Ideas)? … Taking a different tactic, Lance Stephenson signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Liaoning Flying Leopards, according to Yahoo Sports. … Stephenson, 28, spent nine years in the NBA playing for seven different teams. The guard spent the 2018-19 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he appeared in 68 games (three starts), averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes per game. … Stephenson is well known for his antics on the court as a member of the Indiana Pacers, most notably blowing in LeBron James’ ear during a game and playing an air guitar after hitting a big shot. … His best season came in 2013-14 when he scored 14.1 points, grabbed 7.3 rebounds and dished 4.7 assists in 78 starts with the Indiana Pacers when Indiana GM and legend Larry Bird expressed his support for Stephenson and the AND1 shoe company signed him as it top spokesperson. … In National Lacrosse League (NLL) news, a new season-long competition was created for the five Canadian franchises, based on head-to-head competition between the Calgary Roughnecks, Halifax Thunderbirds, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Warriors. The team with the best record in those games will be crowned the Canadian champion and receive a new trophy called the Alterna Cup. … Alterna is a Bank and Credit Union sponsor for the NLL. … In Sports Tech news, the German Football Association (DFB) selected Genius Sports to launch a new integrity program that will monitor over 7,500 games a year to prevent match-fixing and betting-related corruption. … Beginning with the 2019-20 season, Genius Sports’ Bet Monitoring System will provide visibility across global betting on all Bundesliga, 2. Bundesliga, German internationals, women’s and youth team fixtures. … ICYMI, EPIX and NFL Films announced a lineup of regular contributors for the weekly series NFL: The Grind, which premieres Wednesday, September 11 at 9pm ET. The lineup of some of the most impactful voices in professional football in the past twenty years – each tied to a storyline they are passionate and knowledgable about – will take fans inside some of the new stories of professional football as the NFL 100 season progresses. … Included on the initial list will be Pro Football Hall of Famers Brett Favre, Charles Woodson and Terrell Owens, along with legendary stars DeMarcus Ware, Chad Johnson, Clinton Portis and Michael Vick, all of whom will be on the road meeting with and documenting some of the unique and never before told stories of coaches, players and personnel around the NFL.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes.
We welcome feedback and suggestions (psst, they call ’em pitches) for mentions within “While We’re Young Ideas” or Digital Sports Desk. Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons).
Here’s a few comments on Dick Young, as compiled by my good bud Dennis D’Agostino for a missive, “Keepers of the Game.”
“There’ll never be another Dick Young,” said NY Daily News columnist Phil Pepe who once wrote a letter back to me after I submitted a “NY Islanders poem to the verse of “The Night Before Christmas.” Continued Pepe, “He was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a leader. With all the negative things there’s much more positive than negative. I knew him as a rival, a colleague, and a boss. His influence in the business is still felt today. He had the foresight to see the transition and what was happening with television, how people were getting their information. A lot of the jargon that we use in baseball came from him. Ribbies for RBI, for instance. The way players talked, he’d write it that way.” … One of his mantras as a columnist was to “”Always take care of your beat man.” That was important, as the beat man (or woman) was with the team 24/7/365 and it was their job to nail all the news. … “Diamond Dust” he once was, and is now, and forever.
Field Level Media, GraceNote and Staff reporting contributed to this column.