Top Ten Houston Sports Stories in 2010 (Alternate Title: "Here Comes The Prozac")
Putting together a "Top 10 Sports Moments" list is not supposed to invoke these feelings of anger and depression. But then again, I live in Houston, so try as I might to make this a list that is uplifting and inspiring, I can't.
In fact, this may be the second post I've done that requires a warning label (The first one was the one about Greg Oden's penis. Enough said.). So if you're suffering from depression, migraines, or irritable bowel syndrome, you may want to take the day off from reading my stuff today.
Whatever the opposite of a four-hour erection is? Well, that's what you're getting today. So here you go, the parade of contract dumps, failure, deceit and death (yes, DEATH) that I will call my Top 10 Houston Sports Stories for 2010....
10. Bob McNair Dishing Out Extensions Like So Many Nickels and Dimes The year began with Bob McNair rewarding mediocrity and imposing healthy fear on his staff the only way he knows how -- by rewarding Gary Kubiak with a contract extension. As underrated subplots to this season (and frankly if Kubiak is still here in 2011, next season) go, this is high on the list. How much does the desire to only pay one coach weigh on Bob McNair's ultimate decision with regard to Kubiak's future? Now, contract extensions for DeMeco Ryans and Andre Johnson? Those, I'm good with. Kubiak, not so much.
9. Houston Cougars -- Worst Trip to L.A. Since Bruce Willis in Die Hard In the 1988 action thriller Die Hard, Bruce Willis plays the part of John McClain, a New York cop who travels to Los Angeles to visit his soon to be ex-wife Holly and kids for Christmas. One problem -- Holly's company's entire building comes under attack from some sophisticated European terrorists and McClain has to singlehandedly thwart the attack. Along the way, his body is beaten to a dirty, bloody pulp, complete with shards of glass in every inch of his bare feet. Well, McClain's journey to L.A. was a day trip at Massage Envy compared to the Coogs who watched their BCS dreams (and in retrospect, their season) go up in smoke, losing Heisman candidate Case Keenum and his backup Cotton Turner within eight minutes of each other in a head-scratching 31-13 loss to UCLA. And naturally, I did a whole column on the Coogs being the "Lock of the Century."
8. LeBron: The Decision I realize on the surface this isn't a Houston story, but it was easily the biggest story of 2010 and deserves mention on the list. From a Houston standpoint, the trickle-down was the quickly aborted effort to land Chris Bosh, the coveted "impact guy" that many Rockets fans hoped would be the next NBA luminary to fall under the Jedi spell of Daryl Morey. Well, not even a free iPad from Obi Wan Morey himself could get that deal done; Bosh, as it turns out, was going to Miami all along to play on South Beach with LeBron and D-Wade. As far as the impact of this story nationally, well let's see...it was the first time a free agent had their own made-for-television special to announce his intentions, it effectively ended Jim Gray's career as a journalist, it created a collective team villain that the NBA hasn't seen since the Bad Boy Pistons in the late `80's, and it pumped enough interest into the NBA's product that TV ratings in games not involving the Miami Heat are actually up 30 percent. So yeah...this story deserves mention.
7. Jose Lima, 1972-2010 If you want to recount some Jose Lima memories, you can go back and read my obituary to him on the Houston Press website. It's easily the piece I wrote of which I'm most proud. My lasting memory from the day after his death will be doing the morning show with John Granato and Lance Zierlein on 1560. We spent all four hours playing old Lima clips and celebrating his life and his energy. I'll never forget the exact moment where I saw on Lance's face the realization that Lima was actually gone, just a random soundbite Lance heard that made all of the reality of that morning come to roost. In a day and age where athletic narcissism has never been higher, sadly it took the death of Jose Lima to remind us of what a "man of the people" is supposed to be like.
6. College Football Realignment - Crisis Averted, For Now The rumblings actually started in February with rumors of Texas going to the Big Ten. It turned into a potential for a complete earthquake in June with a mass Big 12 exodus to the Pac 10 becoming a strong likelihood, and then ultimately it ended as one big popcorn fart with Nebraska and Colorado leaving for greener pastures and the Big 12 staying together, albeit on quicksand. If nothing else, it reinforced Texas' spot as one of the top four players on the college football business landscape (the SEC, Notre Dame and Cecil Newton being the other three). 5. Yao Ming's Feet When you consider how inextricably the Rockets' recent past, their present, and their near future are tied to Yao Ming (and for future purposes, his expiring contract), this one should be higher up on the list. The predictability of his feet disintegrating, though, makes it far less shocking, but no less sad.
4. Tracy McGrady, Good Riddance I went back and looked at all of my posts from the last twelve months. Other than the Texans, LeBron, and college football, Tracy McGrady garnered the most attention. It says something about your personality when you can play a couple dozen NBA games the whole year and you matter that much. Something really good, or something really bad. With Tracy, mostly the latter. (NOTE: I wrote way too much about athlete's penises this past year. WAY too much. I may need to go surf some hot lesbian porn just to wash this feeling away.)
3. Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman -- Goodbye, Old Friends We waited and waited and waited, and finally Drayton McLane gave the okay to unload the final remnants of the halcyon middle part of the decade for the Astros. I think deep down, many Astros fans hoped we'd get to see the two franchise icons square off in the World Series. Instead, we got the Rangers and the Giants. Or so I'm told. I stopped watching baseball in August.
2. Brian Cushing -- Overtrained Perhaps we should all have seen this Texans season coming back in May, when the league announced that Brian Cushing would be suspended for the first four games of the season for failing a test for performance enhancing drugs. The list of items that made this notable is lengthy, so here goes:
-- Cushing actually failed the test in September 2009. The suspension was handed out in May 2010. Apparently, the people who run the NFL's drug testing are the same people who run the DMV..
-- Fox Sports
jock sniff football insider Jay Glazer, who trained Cushing this offseason in his MMA dojo, took all of eight seconds to throw his boy under the bus and distance himself from Cushing. This was topped only by Glazer recanting and effectively saying "Cush is my boy" about five hours later. Solid journalistic integrity.
-- Cushing failed the test for traces of hCG in his blood. Without being voluntarily ingested, hCG can only be found in one's blood to the levels Cushing had it through pregnancy or cancerous tumors. Naturally, Cushing met with the media and disclosed that he played the entire 2009 season with a fear of tumors, which was only slightly more ridiculous than if he had said he was expecting in July and registered at Babies R Us.
-- When nobody really bought the tumor thing, Cushing hired a bunch of
highly paid attorneys the finest doctors in the country to cook up the excuse discover that he had a very rare disease called "overtrained athlete syndrome." Yes, Brian Cushing (a maniacal worker, no doubt), apparently works way too hard. (And just go YouTube "brian cushing workout" and you can see just how hard he works out.)
-- Brian Cushing is now just an average linebacker. That part's not quite as funny.
1. Texans Fail It all started very promising with the Week 1 win over the Colts. Then the bye week came, and it started to spiral out of control, the ultimate kick in the balls being the Hail Mary in Jacksonville where Glover Quin batted the ball into Mike Thomas' hands on the final play of the game. Now, the only drama left is what will Bob McNair give as a valid reason that Gary Kubiak is keeping his job.
Indeed, much like this top 10 list, the year 2010 began and ended with Texans' failure. As Montgomery Burns once asked in his autobiography, will there ever be a rainbow?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 12-3 p.m. weekdays starting on January 3, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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