Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Houston, We Have Many Problems

October 19 was a wonderful night for Houston sports fans.  Rebounding from a ninth inning collapse two nights earlier, the Astros defeated St. Louis 5–1 to advance to their first World Series.  The five weeks since have brought nothing but misery for the city’s teams.  On Thursday, Houston residents will give thanks – because all their teams are idle.


The trouble began when the Astros were swept by the White Sox in the World Series.  Houston’s most competitive efforts were not against Chicago, but versus commissioner Bud Selig for his decision to close the roof at Minute Maid Park.  Game 3 lasted as long as Hanukkah before former Astro Geoff Blum’s 14th-inning home run led the White Sox to victory.  Chicago capped off the sweep with a 1–0 win in Game 4, with some guy named Willie Harris scoring the only run.  Interviewed in the victorious clubhouse afterwards, Harris remarked, “Even I’ve never heard of me.”


At least the Astros made it to the big stage – something the Texans will not have the chance to do this season.  The expansion team did defeat Cleveland 19–16 on October 30.  That triumph is the only bright spot in a 1–9 season.  Quarterback David Carr is considering a second career as a crash test dummy, so he can be hit less often.  The Texans have shown great balance, ranking 30th out of 32 NFL teams in both scoring offense and scoring defense.  Houston fans are eagerly awaiting the season-ending showdown with similarly inept San Francisco.  With prime draft position on the line, the January 1 contest is being billed as the Mel Kiper, Jr. Bowl.


Current NBA standings show the Rockets as the worst team in the Western Conference at 3–9.  Superstar Tracy McGrady has missed six games due to back problems, and Houston has lost all six of those matchups.  Despite having the best 7’6” Chinese player in the league, the Rockets need McGrady to once again become solidly mediocre.  On Friday, Houston travels to Memphis for a game that will be pivotal in the Conference USA race.


Houston’s sports problems have become so pervasive, they have even spread to guys named Houston.  Running back Cedric Houston is suffering through a miserable 2–8 season with the New York Jets.  His head coach Herman Edwards, who once famously stated, “You play to win the game,” reportedly has no idea why the Jets are playing right now.  Also, Houston Nutt was unable to lead his Arkansas Razorbacks to bowl eligibility.  At 4–6, Houston’s Hogs are being led to slaughter in Friday’s season-ender at LSU.  Allan Houston must be turning in his grave.  Or, since he’s not actually dead, suffering some sort of pain while resting in his mansion.


Sports fans in Space City hope for better days ahead.  For the past five weeks, however, their teams have been lost in space.