Somehow Red must have been sleeping or engaged in important activity like smoking ribs, but he completely missed the inaugural game at the Alamodome of the San Antonio Commanders – Texas’ entry into the new Alliance of American Football. The new league which kicked off this weekend is composed of 8 teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis and Orlando in the East and San Antonio, San Diego, Arizona and Salt Lake City in the West.
The Commanders are headed by former San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley and Dallas Cowboys legend Daryl Johnston is the General Manager of the team. The Commanders name is a tribute to San Antonio’s military history complete with sword, Alamo profile and one lone star.
The AAF has some interesting rules. There are no kickoffs (possession starts at the 25 yard line), no extra points (teams must go for a 2-point conversion) and no onside kicks (under certain conditions, after scoring teams can opt for a 4th and 12 from their own 28 yard line). Teams are allowed 2 coaches challenges and there are no replays (but there is a 9th “Sky Official” who can review calls and overturn the on-field decision. And most critically to fans of all stripes, the league is streamlining time-outs and aims to complete games in 2.5 hours. And most commendably, the league is outsourcing head injury reviews to a neutral third-party.
Oh, and the Commanders defeated the San Diego 15-6 in their first game.
Billionaire owner of the Houston Texans, Bob McNair, passed away last week. Despite his overall disappointment with the completely mediocre franchise McNair built, Red will say nothing bad about McNair. McNair was perhaps loyal to a fault hanging on to coaches, general managers and some players longer than prudent. But that is not a real criticism except in the modern “What have you done for me lately” world of pro sports and other endeavors.
Red will say that there were two games he attended, which if Red had been the owner he would have gone down to the locker room at halftime and fired the head coach.
The first game was the home opener in 2005 against the Pittsburgh Stealers. The Texans were down 20-0 at the half against a team led by the young wunderkind Ben Rothlessberger throwing two TDs to the underappreciated Hines Ward. That was bad enough, but Red had never seen a supposedly decent team look so unprepared and overmatched and completely out of it from the beginning. The second half was not much better and the Texans quietly surrendered 27-7 on their way to a 2-14 season. Dom “the Dud” Capers would have been a goner under a Red regime. As it turns out, that would have just saved Bob some trouble as Capers was fired at the end of the season.
The second game was the season opener against the New York Jets in 2009. It wasn’t quite as bad at halftime as the Texans only trailed 17-0. But the Jets were led by a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez playing in his first game and tearing the home team a new one. Head Coach Gary Kubiak would have been on the street by 2 p.m. if Red was in charge. The Texans would rally to a 5-3 record at mid-season only to lose four in a row and stumble to their first winning season ever at 9-7 (courtesy of a Patriots team that sat Brady for most of the last game of the season with nothing to play for).
Alas, Red will never own a professional sports franchise and incompetent head coaches everywhere are the safer for it.
Red watched some American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) games on ESPN earlier this year and found the sport to be surprisingly well-adapted for TV, fast moving and reasonably entertaining. This semi-pro league is organized along sensible and sustainable lines with the players receiving a share of the gate and an interest in the team. The current champion Madison Radicals have been in the league since 2013 and defeated the Dallas Roughnecks in August to claim the title. The other Texas based team is the Austin Sol.
The rules are fairly simple as two teams face each other with the goal of scoring goals by passing a disc down the field. Of course it’s a bit more complicated than that, but there is one rule that Red particularly likes. After a goal is scored the teams switch sides – or in the words used on the playgrounds of Red’s youth – LOSERS WALK!
Houston Astros regular season games are broadcast on AT&T SportsNet Southwest which also provides pre-game and post-game coverage and analysis. However, during the playoffs, ATTSNSW will be the only regional sports network that will not provide such coverage. ATTSNSW is declining to provide the local angle because “they don’t have the rights to broadcast the games.” They are clearly the outlier as the other regional networks will provide coverage before and after each game even thought they are not actually carrying the games either. In the American League, Yankees fans can get the local scoop on YES, Red Sox faithful on NESN, Indians supporters on SportsTime Ohio and A’s hangers-on on NBC Sports California. But for Astros fans, the final chance to hear Todd Kalas, Geoff Blum, Julia Morales, Kevin Eschenfelder and Mike Stanton chat up the Astros will be before and after the final game of the regular season on Sunday. Sad!
Congratulation to Manager Wilmer Cabrera and the Houston Dynamo squad as they defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on Wednesday to claim the 105th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Forward Mauro Manotas led the way with a brace scoring in the 5th and 25th minute of the match with assists from Albert Elis. Manotas claimed the Open Cup’s Golden Boot award with the second goal totaling five goals for the tournament and 20 goals in all competitions this year. The game ending goal came in the 65th minute when forward Romell Quioto’s shot was saved by Union keeper Andre Blake but the clearance by Auston Trusty failed resulting in an own goal.
The Open Cup victory means the Dynamo will return to the CONCACAF Champions League in 2019. This was the Dynamo’s first U.S. Open Cup title. The club previously won the Major League Soccer Cup in 2006 and 2007 shortly after relocating to Houston.
Red’s opinion of sports talk radio buffoon Josh Innes is rather well-known to long-time readers by now. KBME – AM 790 in Houston pushed out the knowledgeable and well-liked Charlie Pallilo two years ago and brought in the obnoxious and uniformed Innes as a replacement after he was drummed out of the Philadelphia market.
Every once in a while, Red may push the wrong button and end up listening to a few seconds of Innes’ inane blather. It happened last week, just as Innes was heaping praise on Donald Trump and guaranteeing that the Insult Comic President will win a second 4-year term because everyone is piling on him and that makes Innes want to support him.
Red has to thank the blubberous Innes because for the first time in a long time, Red has some hope. If Innes thinks Trump is a shoo-in for another term, then the likelihood of that happening has gone way down. Innes should stick to talking about other subjects of which he is ignorant – like Sports for example.
FIFA announced today that the 2026 World Cup Finals (and please note that is the appropriate name for what begins tomorrow in Russia) will be played in the USA, Mexico and Canada. All three countries will receive automatic qualification for the Finals. The field will be expanded to 48 teams with additional slots likely awarded to COMEBOL, UEFA and CONCACAF. The USA will host 60 of the 80 games and Mexico and Canada 10 apiece. All games after the Round of 16 will be played in the USA with the Championship Game in New Jersey. Here’s hoping that Houston and Arlington will get games. Red’s goal – assuming he makes it that long – will be to attend at least one game in the USA, Mexico and Canada.