NFL FIRING, MLB HIRINGS UNUSUAL FOR JUNE
This has been a very strange first 10 days of June as far as the National Football League and Major League Baseball are concerned.
Football franchises have just finished the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamps with the players and coaching staffs using the next six weeks to take well-deserved vacations with their families or friends.
Major League Baseball is about 10 weeks old with teams making personnel moves within their respective 40-man rosters. The idea of signing holdouts just doesn’t happen this late in the season.
But it has!! Out of the blue the Houston Texans suddenly decided to fire General Manager Brian Gaine, despite the fact he has only held that position for one complete NFL season.
And All-Star pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel agreed to new contracts after rejecting and holding out on offers from their long-time teams.
After rejecting a $17.9 million offer from the Houston Astros in November and opting instead for free agency, Keuchel agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves that will pay him $13 million for the remainder of the season. Former Boston Red Sox closer Kimbrel agreed to a three-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Both players remained unsigned after the season began because no major league franchise was willing to give up a draft pick as compensation for signing them. Consequently, both pitchers had to wait until after June 2 when the compensatory draft pick rule expired.
However, the Houston Texans’ firing of Gaine has caused the most commotion in the Houston area plus Southeast Texas.
As usual, the Texans’ CEO Cal McNair is using the same old reason—“While the timing may be unusual, this decision was made in the best interest of our organization in our quest to build a championship team for the city of Houston.”
The same song-and-dance was heard after the team let general manager Rick Smith go and when Gary Kubiak was fired.
This same Gary Kubiak returned to his old team—the Denver Broncos—as their head coach and merely guided the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2015. And to make matters worse, Kubiak used a collection of former Texans coaches, including defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
If the real truth be known, I believe Gaine was canned because he and Head Coach Bill O’Brien could not get on the same page with their football philosophies.
The bottom line is that the McNair family just handed O’Brien much more control with the provision he brings the city of Houston a championship.
Oddly enough, the Texans already have interviewed a couple of prospective candidates. San Francisco 49ers vice-president of player personnel Martin Mayhew and former Cleveland Browns’ general manager Ray Farmer were interviewed last weekend.
Houston Chronicle columnists claim these two candidates were interviewed merely to satisfy the Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview minority candidates for vacant jobs as head coaches and general managers.
“Among potential candidates are New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio and Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort,” the Chronicle article pointed out.
“Before Gaine was hired, the Texans had Caserio and Ossenfort on their list of candidates, but New England denied them permission to interview,” the articled added.
Other possible candidates could be former Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie and Scott Pioli, who was Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s right-hand man for nine years.
Finding a quality replacement for Gaine may be quite a chore at this time of the year, especially since the New York Jets just plucked Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Douglas as their new general manager.
Whoever the new man will be for the Texans, he will have a yeoman’s job facing him trying to make star linebacker Jadeveon Clowney a happy camper. He skipped the OTA’s in retaliation for the lingering franchise tag the Texans put on him again. He may not be around for this week’s minicamp.
The new man will have to decide quickly whether to keep an unhappy Clowney, extend his contract like he wants or to trade him.
That’s one heck of a greeting!!
KWICKIES…Sir Winston fooled most of the railbirds watching Saturday’s third and final jewel of the Triple Crown–the Belmont Stakes–by holding off favored Tacitus and winning the grueling 1½-mile race. The victory was worth $1.5 million as Sir Winston paid $22.40 to win, $8.80 to place and $6.10 to show.
Irishman Rory McIlroy went into Sunday’s final round of the Canadian Open tied with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson and then fired a nine-under par 61 to win the event by a whopping seven strokes.
And a lot closer to home, Orange’s Michael Arnaud shot 67-65-68—200 to finish ninth in last weekend’s Web.com Tour BMW Charity Pro-Am and collect a check for $16,800.
The Lamar baseball program may have lost out when former West Orange-Stark standout Payton Robertson transferred to LSU-Shreveport and batted .404 and was named to the first team NAIA Baseball All-American team. The junior third sacker also was named the Red River Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was also his team’s Newcomer of the Year. Besides belting six homers and driving in 45 runs the fleet Robertson also stole 32 bases.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros haven’t missed a beat despite the laundry list of players out with various injuries. But the front office is doing an outstanding job shuffling players from Round Rock to Houston. The latest addition to the team is slugger Yordan Alvarez, who is leading the minor leagues with 23 home runs and blasted a long two-run round-tripper Sunday in his second at-bat in the major leagues to break a scoreless tie and send the Astros to a 4-0 victory over Baltimore to win the weekend three-game series. Houston continues to play well with several Round Rock players in the everyday lineup, winning 12 of their last 16 games and maintaining a 9½-game lead over the second-place Texas Rangers. Houston began its interleague play last night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid park.