Game Time: Okay Rockets, It's Your Move In The "Summer Of Trying To Be Moderately Interesting" In Houston
"Can you really not be aware we've been building a RICO case against Tony Soprano for five f**king years? And then you blow this popcorn fart?" -- Federal agent to local prosecutor in Sopranos episode "Soprano Home Movies"
"Popcorn fart" is an appropriate term (actually, it's probably somewhat inappropriate if you're at a dinner party in River Oaks or something) to describe this summer of sports so far in Houston for our professional teams, each of them taking various swings at trying to remain moderately interesting and thereby giving freelance bloggers, like yours truly, something (ANYTHING) about which to write.
The Texans have tried -- Lord, have they tried. I mean, we had a good ol' fashioned performance enhancing drug (PED, for children of the Steroid Era) scandal with Brian Cushing that included the following:
1.) An athlete testing positive for a hormone found most often in pregnant women (Manny Ramirez nods in dimwitted approval)
Rice University Owls Football vs. Prairie View A&M University Football
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2.) Revelation of Fox's Jay Glazer as the biggest hothead jock-sniff in the free world.
3.) An unprecedented re-vote (and show of sanctimony by AP voters) for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
4.) Cushing ultimately dropping a mention of fear of tumors (like real casually, like bizarre casually, like they were zits or something) that plagued him throughout the 2009 season
I managed to suck five blog posts out of that week-plus worth of drama, but in the end, Brian Cushing could have stepped up to the microphone that fateful Thursday and, in French, said that alien dustmites crawled up his lower intestine and planted hCG pods in his blood stream and we would have forgotten about it in two days.
It's football. Guys juice up. We get it. Go win games, And stop getting suspended.
Ultimately (and somewhat amazingly), it became nothing. Popcorn fart.
Andre Johnson, for every shred of all-world physical ability that he has in his body, did his best to give the Texans a storyline worthy of hand-wringing and national attention by holding out of voluntary organized team activities, but even he could only keep that facade of "me first" up for three days before rejoining his teammates in the Texas heat and
whacking his family members doubling as "agents" hiring new representation to negotiate a new long-term deal.
Hell, in this day and age where "obscure equals surreal," it's actually far more entertaining when a fourth or fifth wide receiver like Patrick Crayton or Sam Hurd act like they deserve the privileges of a Pro Bowler by demanding a trade and lamenting how an employer is "messing with people's careers and lives." Well, I guess if by "messing with people's careers," Patrick, you mean "drafting a player at your position who is worlds better than you" then I guess, yeah...guilty as charged.
I mean, I guarantee that a David Anderson holdout and/or trade demand would be a jillion times more entertaining than Andre Johnson's three days worth of posturing during OTA's. To wit, I give you his ESPN video of his trip to Prague and his near scrap with Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle that took place right in my very studio.
Yeah, a D.A. contract dispute, while possibly not ending well for D.A. nor fans of infotainment, would be a highly infotaining ride.
So sorry, Dre. Your little "stay away"? Popcorn fart.
As for the Astros, for all of his greatness on the mound this year (despite his 3-7 record) there's only so much that Roy Oswalt can do to keep us interested in baseball when the team is on pace to lose 108 games. Skipping out on a media session here and there,
demanding a trade mentioning that he wouldn't have a problem with a trade to a contender, and having the overall stat profile of Walter Johnson with a won-loss record of Walter Matthau (or as I like to call him, the Real Buttermaker...suck it, Billy Bob Thornton) are all valiant efforts. And, Roy, your near heel turn this weekend with a third-inning ejection in your last start is going above and beyond the call of duty.
But wake me up when you're doing all of your interviews like this....
Sorry, suck is suck, and the Astros suck. When your most promising storyline of the season is the development of your fifth starter (who is 0-7, if you need him), it's not good. When your 3-7 ace is about to be traded and he was your no-brainer All-Star representative, it's mindnumbingly terrible. And when your $34 million middle-of-the-order pairing of Berkman and Lee (or as my son is now calling him, Chunky C) combined have three fewer home runs than Ty Wigginton and one more than Luke Scott -- two guys the Astros scrap-heaped -- that's comedically tragic (sports tragic, not real-life tragic -- a little perspective).
At this point, I'm starting a grassroots movement to bring Shawn Chacon back just to see someone in Astros' management get chokeslammed into the ice cream bin again.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Houston Astros! One big collective popcorn fart.
So now it's your turn Rockets. I know this is a lot to ask, you were back in the lottery this season for the first time in a few years. Barely, but still. As our only "big three" sports team to win a title, the bar is set a little bit higher for you. The fact that we're not complaining about an early fade this season more represents a one-year reprieve than the softening of the Houston sports fan.
Yao Ming opting out of his deal would have been relevancy inducing, but now it's been watered down. Everyone's doin' it. Hell, even Matt Barnes -- yes, the tatted-up Orlando Magic journeyman -- is opting out of his deal when free agency signing season gets here. Opting out as a storyline is soooo May 2010.
Hopefully, Aaron Brooks isn't watching Tyreke Evans make headlines in Sacramento with his, um, hastiness in getting from here to there. The Houston roadways are unsafe as it is -- treating them like your own personal Daytona is neither interesting nor advisable. Don't do it, AB.
So it's now up to you, Daryl Morey. A guy with an M.I.T. pedigree now faces his toughest conundrum yet -- saving the summer of 2010 for the Houston sports fan. Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudamire, something. It may not win a title for our fair city, but it just might save our summer. And at this point, we'll take it.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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