I took a brief break from this column after the Belmont but it's time to get back to work. Some quick hits:
1) The No. 1 question I get asked around town about any sport involves the Texans. It's simple: Will Ryan Fitzpatrick be any good?
We've broken down his numbers before; he makes plays, but he turns the ball over too much. If Bill O'Brien is the quarterback whisperer he is made out to be, that latter can be dialed back. Realistically they aren't making the Super Bowl with Fitz at QB. But he will be better than people think, and if the defense is a dominant monster, this team will surprise people. He has looked good in practice, but if you don't look good with no one trying to hit you, then you are in the wrong business. It remains to be seen how he reacts when the bullets start flying, but I think you will see him perform at a high enough level to keep the team competitive. It's easy to look at last year's 2-14 and say this team is awful. But digging a little deeper, they were competitive in 11 of those games despite a defense that forced no turnovers, terrible quarterback play and awful coaching. I fully expect at least two of those to be cleaned up this year. It doesn't mean they are winning 11 games, but if they are competitive like that again, it's hard not to expect better than a 2-9 result. What that translates to remains to be seen, but they do have a much easier schedule this season, at least on paper.
2) With Lebron James opting out, Rockets fan is dreaming big. Time to wake up. Smart money (Vegas, not me) has him returning to Miami. While the Rockets are an attractive option, it's extremely unlikely. Of the names out there, Carmelo Anthony appears to be the most realistic option. While that doesn't deal with the teams issues on defense, it makes them significantly better. We'll know more in the coming days.
3) While it has been exciting to see prospects like George Springer and Jonathan Singleton join the Astros, this team is still a long way from being competitive. By now, players like Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez should be hitting better than .222 and .238 respectively at this juncture of their careers. Springer has shown flashes, as has Singleton, but there are serious growing pains to be dealt with in both cases and it will probably be 2016 before they become the players we are hoping to see. In other words, patience. Again.
4) Finally, I love Canadian football. It's exciting, wide open, and for me, profitable. (Saskatchewan and Calgary at 4-1 are good value plays to win the Grey Cup). It's also fun seeing players who were either too short or too small for the NFL have a place to play. The season starts this week, and if you need a football fix, check it out. You will see a lot of familiar names if you are a college football fan. Peter King is doing a very cool thing this week in covering opening week. I highly recommend checking it out; you might gain an appreciation for it.