Sean Pendergast

Houston Astros Dominate the 2018 ESPY Nominee List

Jose Altuve is up for Male Athlete of the Year, along with the Rockets' James Harden.
Jose Altuve is up for Male Athlete of the Year, along with the Rockets' James Harden. Photo by Jack Gorman
There was a time when I really enjoyed watching the ESPYs, and at the risk of sounding a little old for the second consecutive post — yesterday, I made a killer Seinfeld reference! — it was much closer to the time of the annual awards show's inception than the present day version. Back in the 1990s, the ESPYs were fresh and new, with some decent humor and some solid tear jerking moments. Maybe one of the greatest speeches I've ever seen was Jim Valvano's speech at the 1993 ESPYs:

Over the past several years, though, while the ESPYs have admittedly grown to be a household brand, and in the sports world, some quasi-version of an Oscar or an Emmy, the television show itself is largely a combination of ESPN masturbation and political statements. If I want either of those things, I know where to find them, and it's not in my sports viewing.

Make no mistake, it's been a long time since I've done anything more than do a casual drive by on the ESPYs on the night they are televised, but this year could be different. This year, there is a decidedly "Houston" flavor to many of the categories, with the Houston Astros, in particular, perhaps the most dominant team on the ESPYs nomination scoreboard.

Here are the categories which include some variation of a Houston twist. Keep in mind that fan voting online is what decides these awards, so that must be accounted for in predictions. My predictions are below, preceded by "SP":

Best Male Athlete
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Tom Brady, New England Patriots

SP: I think the online voting aspect helps both Houston candidates, given that Altuve has been an online darling in All-Star voting, leading the entire American League for 2018, as of Wednesday. Harden has the all important international factor (namely, billions of Chinese who still love the Rockets like Yao Ming is an active player) in his favor. Still, Tom Brady is tough to beat in these situations. I'll go with Brady. (Altuve and Harden will be heard from again shortly.)

Best Championship Performance
George Springer, Houston Astros - MLB World Series
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors - NBA Final
Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova Men's Basketball - CBB National Championship

SP: I think Durant wins this one, more due to the popularity of the NBA over MLB and college basketball. Springer was amazing in the World Series, but I actually think the most impressive individual performance was DiVincenzo's in the national championship game — 31 points with five three pointers, a career scoring high.

Best Game
Houston Astros defeat Los Angeles Dodgers, World Series Game 5
Georgia Bulldogs defeat Oklahoma Sooners, Rose Bowl
USA Women's Hockey defeats Canada, 2018 Winter Olympics

SP: I can't say I watched the women's hockey game. The Rose Bowl was fun, but it was a blowout at the half. That Astros game was back and forth, back and forth, and ultimately saved the World Series for the Astros. I'll take the Astros here.

Best Team
Houston Astros, MLB
Philadelphia Eagles, NFL
USA Women's Ice Hockey
Notre Dame Fighting Irish, NCAA Women's Basketball
Villanova Wildcats, NCAA Men's Basketball
Golden State Warriors, NBA
Washington Capitals, NHL

SP: It's either going to be the Warriors or the Eagles, although the Astros are certainly deserving.

Best MLB Player
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Mike Trout, LA Angels
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

SP: I think Altuve wins this one. Trout is the LeBron of this category, in that he could win every year, but this is the year to take Altuve (like the MVP voters largely did). If I had to pick one Houston winner, it would be Altuve in this category.

Best NBA Player
James Harden, Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

SP: I'd like to say ditto the paragraph for "Best MLB Player," and just replace Altuve with Harden, and Trout with LeBron. However, it's freaking LeBron. Harden gets a lot of votes from overseas, but LeBron is too much to overcome here.

Best Male Golfer
Jordan Spieth
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Reed

SP: Hey, look, a couple of non-Astro and non-Rocket categories. Houstonian Patrick Reed, and his generous sporting of the green jacket around town, is up for this award! Too bad, I think it goes to Dustin Johnson, especially if his wife Paulina Gretzky campaigns for voters on her Instagram account.

Best Moment
Minnesota Vikings defeat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game
Notre Dame defeats Mississippi State to win the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament
Las Vegas Golden Knights defeat Winnipeg Jets to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals
No. 16 University of Maryland-Baltimore County upsets No. 1 Virginia

SP: Where is the Houston tie in this one? How about one Case Austin Keenum chucking a desperation game-winning TD to Stefon Diggs to send the Vikings to the NFC title game? VOTE CASE!

The 2018 ESPYS will air live on ABC Wednesday, July 18 at 8 p.m. EST.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast