Wednesday, May 27, 2009

OK, so the Texans are pretty bad...

(image courtesy of The Brit 2 via Flickr and used in accordance to Creative Commons terms)

How bad?...

Albert Einstein supposedly once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” It doesn’t take an Einstein to see that the Clippers are an insanely bad sports franchise. Under owner Donald Sterling, the team has had just two winning seasons since 1981.

But the Clippers franchise isn’t even the worst on our list of America’s “losingest” teams. The Clippers came in fourth place (maybe the first time the team has finished so high in a contest of any sort). No. 1? Ladies and gentlemen, your Memphis Grizzlies, who have won less than a third of the games they’ve played in the team’s inglorious history. Other losers include the Houston Texans and the Tampa Bay Lightning.


The "top" Five

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Houston Texans
2. Charlotte Bobcats
1. Memphis Grizzlies

It's pretty simple: The Houston Texans have the worst expansion record ever consistently rank near the bottom in the SI Player's poll of 'best/worst organizations', a fact not helped by their 2008 OTA controversies. The latter is somewhat surprising because, by all accounts, Bob McNair is a classy guy as an owner.

Who knows if, in 2009, this perception will get any better? Already the Texans are dealing with allegations that Rick Smith (GM) lied to fan-favorite Dunta Robinson, and there's precious little evidence that they've upgraded a shaky secondary. Maybe, if the pass rush improves enough the secondary can be 'hidden' a little. Couple that possibility with what should be an improving offense and a weakening division and the Texans might be playing meaningful football in December for a change......

Of course, we thought that before, remember? Fresh on the heels of the best season in franchise history (2004), 2005 the Carriage turned back into a pumpkin, Houston realized just how bad the David Carr pick would turn out to be, and Dom Capers was shown the door.

Of course, optimists will tell you this is what led to the removal of Casserly and Capers, leading to the bright sun-shine of the Kubiak/Smith/Denver Bronco's Lite era.

You know, Denver, the Texan's NFL role model?

Aw geez.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Stealing this from Tom Kirkendall.

Cartwright 1

Justice 0

Is Richard "the media" Justice really trying to equate what he does daily to real, honest journalism? Maybe he's just mad that Cartwright didn't even deem him worthy of being named?

Most customers, and other readers (self included), understand that the Houston Chronicle Sports Section is nothing more than a place to check up on scores of games you missed over a weekend out of town. For analysis there are much better team-specific blogs and bloggers out there who do a better, more entertaining, job relaying the meaning of what just happened. Going to the Chron for that is akin to going to a 3-year old to get a fact based account of a candy-snatching: It's likely to be nothing more than a bunch of histrionics and crying.

Oddly enough, much like Justice' response.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yeah, she's good looking but....

Can Maria Verchenova play?

That's an important question, because I think we've all had enough of 'flash in the pan' wanna-be models who have decided their pathway to fame and fortune runs through the beer-bellied fans of the sporting world. Let's be honest, the only reason we cared who Natalie Gulbis was is because she's hawt. Then she won, so we didn't feel so bad about it. Even Michelle Wie was the fantasy of a bunch of guys who looked at her out on the course and thought 'well....yeah.' Of course, when she was older, don't forget that important bit.

The problem is Wie has turned out to be a pill, one that's probably high maintenance. Then she tried to play with the guys and stopped being competitive against the women and the bloom came right off the rose. (See: Kournikovatitixs for more)

As a society we LOVE our sports heros to be be good looking as well. Most of the time we settle for passable good-looking as opposed to drop-dead georgeous hot. The main difference is this: For men, performance comes first, followed by looks. (Think Tom Brady vs. David Carr) For women: Looks get your name out there, it doesn't matter as much what you do in competition.

That's too bad, because it puts a lot of men in the awkward position of having to admit that they only follow a sport for sexist reasons.

Win something Verchenova, then we'll root for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not a bad weekend.

When the previous highlight of your career was the shot above (taken at this year's World Golf Championships - CA Classic) and failing to live up to your potential in Major Tournaments, last weekend's Victory at the Players is already being cast by some as the future of things to come for Henrik Stenson.

Despite it being cast as such, I'm fail to see the track record for past winners of the tournament using it as a spring-board to Major's victory. Of the competitors who won at the TPC Sawgrass before winning a Major Championship, I can't find one that's parlayed success at the Players into Master's gold.

Often called "the fifth major" by people not content to just let it be a very good tournament that attracts a great field every year, winning the Players is supposed to signify that a golfer is ready to challenge at the big venues and bring home a number of major tournaments, using this 'major lite' as a springboard. Except it doesn't play out that way. Don't get me wrong, winning @ The Players is a big deal. It's one of the best tournaments of the year. I just can't figure out why there's this need by some in the golfing community to make it out to be something its not.

It's not the "Fifth major" and it's not a sign of future success.

Congratulations to Henrik Stensen anyway. If for no other reason than he can finally put the skivvies shot in his rearview mirror.

Oddly enough, this year, The Players marks the start of an interesting run of PGA Golf for the Texas golf fan. This weekend is the Valero Open, in San Antonio, followed by the Byron Nelson in Irving, and then the Crowne Plaza Championship (really: the Colonial) in Fort Worth finishing off a mini-Texas Swing. Too bad the Shell Houston Open didn't see the wisdom in trying to grab one of those slots.

Following that up is the Memorial, or...Jack's tournament, and then players have a down week (well, OK there's the ST. Jude being played) before Golf's best tournament, The U.S. Open kicks off at one of its best venues: The Black Course at Beth Page Municipal Golf Course in NY.

All in all not a bad May and June of Golf.

Yao's foot

I realize that most of the talk surrounding the Rockets is going to be centered on thier attempts to win game 5 against the Lakers this evening, but you have to wonder if Rocket's GM Daryl Morey isn't the least bit concerned about the long-term implications of Yao's 4th major foot injury in 4 years?

I know I would be.

Until that time however....

Go Rockets.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Cleaner

You knew the Rockets were in trouble when the NBA's Cleaner was announced as the referee.

No way were the Rockets going to win.

NBA officiating is a joke. If the league wants to fix its sagging image they'd do well to clean up how games are called. It won't happen, because TV ratings trump all, but fans have long since caught on and TV ratings Nationwide are reflective of that.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rockets win game one,

...City reacts with glee.

But first, today's moment of torturous prose: [Jonathan Feigen,]
For a few agonizing, heart-stopping moments, Yao Ming rocked back and forth on the floor, grimacing and holding his right knee.

The Rockets had taken the usual Lakers fourth-quarter hit and hit back harder. But then Yao crumbled to the floor, felled when Kobe Bryant’s left knee crashed into Yao’s right. All that the Rockets had built seemed to be crashing with him.

Yao, however, had been knocked down, but not out. He grew stronger, more unstoppable and so did the Rockets, until they surged through the final six minutes to stun the Lakers with a 100-92 win Monday at Staples Center in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

Ouch. Brutal.

Second: Today's 'huh?' moment: [Richard Justice,]
The Rockets believe in themselves. I'm not sure when they started to believe. It probably was sometime after the trading deadline when the roster finally was stabilized.

By the end of the regular season, they were a completely different team than they'd been just a few weeks early. They were built around terrific defense and a tenacious competitive spirit.

There's also a collective ego. There are individual egos, but there's a collective ego, too.

The Rockets think they're pretty good, and if you don't believe it, that's your problem.
Justice' insistence on writing in an adversarial tone toward his readers, or anyone who disagrees with his take o' the day, is confusing. It's also dissapointing that writing talent of that quality is attached to the emotional and analytical equivilent of a three-year-old. Today Richard's all on the Rockets, if they lose Game two he'll be off the bus, and calling anyone who disagrees with him names.

Finally, and most importantly, Congratulations to the Rockets.

Sure, this is only one game and can hardly be viewed as something pivitol. What it does signify however is that we have a playoff series on our plate that's got the potential to be very competitive and very exciting. In one game the Rockets have changed most people's opinion of them from 'lucky losers' to 'Western Conference Final Contenders' with a game on Los Angeles.

There's still a long way to go before this very good, very talented Lakers team is beaten, but at least the Rockets have given the faithful hope.

Something they've been lacking for 13 years now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sports Shorts (05/01/09)

Rockets end 12-year playoff draught. [Jonathan Feigan,]
After 12 long, sometimes torturous years, through several eras of Rockets basketball and the whole of Yao Ming’s career, the Rockets had to end the torment of their first-round misery.
With the second round tauntingly in their sights again on Thursday night, they would leave no doubt, waste no time and savor every moment of the success that had eluded them for so long.
Wow that's tough prose to read.

Still, congrats to the Rockets on finally breaking through to the second round.

Hits aren't coming, strikeouts mount for Berkman. [Jose de Jesus Ortiz,]
Because of his witty personality and candor when putting baseball in perspective with the rest of life, Berkman at times has appeared like a player who couldn’t care less about the game. Yet this latest slump has caused sleepless nights and testy exchanges on the home front.

He realizes some fans assume he doesn’t care as much as they do about his troubles at the plate.

“That couldn’t be any further from the truth,” he said. “You wish that those people could experience just one of the sleepless nights where you lay awake and think about every one of your at-bats and what you could have done differently.
Houston's reporting answer to Stuart Smalley strikes again.

Slumps happen to everyone. With Berkman's big swing they're likely to happen once per season.

The Astros will be .500 in a week. [Brian McTaggart,]
The Astros enter play Tuesday at 8-12 (which is their same record after 20 games last year) and looking for three wins in a row for the first time this year. They have seven games remaining on this road trip, but I see them coming together this week. The Astros always play well in Cincinnati, they can beat Atlanta and then it's two against Washington, which is the worst team in baseball.
He says about the team that couldn't win a series against the Pirates, who lost to Manatee Jr. College....

It's going to be a really long Summer if local writers persist with the meme that every two-game plus winning streak is a 'sign' that the team is turning the corner.

Man United too forgiving in win. [Bernardo Fallas,]
Sure, Manchester United beat Arsenal 1-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal series.

But will the one-goal advantage prove enough next week, when the Red Devils visit the Gunners at Emirates Stadium?
This is why Minor League Soccer beat writers shouldn't spend much time commenting on the goings-on of the major leagues.

Unlike MLS (where 4-2 games are commonplace) the Premiership and other Major Leagues are places where goals are at a premium. What Arsenal (full disclosure: I'm a huge Arsenal fan) have to do now is win at home by two or more goals to advance. If Man U scores at Emirates then the Gunners need to score 3 goals to move forward. I can assure you that Man U fans are very content with that prospect.

The Maggard Memo: A vison for UH's future.[Steve Campbell,]
One of the things Dave Maggard has been kicking around lately is a five-year plan for the Houston Cougars athletic program. Not long before Maggard decided to step down as the UH athletic director, he sent a memo to school president Renu Khator outlining his vision for the future.
People who know the UH beat understand that announcing this memo to the public against Khator's will was what caused Unca' Dave to step down. Campbell? Not a peep.

Firing Mike Murphy set back the Chron's UH coverage 15 years.