No offense to the Rockets, the Astros, the Texans or the Aeros, but we think Houston is a soccer town. Our vast suburbs are filled with soccer fields packed to the gills with people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds kicking the fútbol around. Every other minivan has one of those cheesy soccer ball stickers proclaiming that, yes, the driver is indeed a soccer mom (and chances are, her kids could lead us to an MLS Cup victory if given half a chance). And instead of building yet another new stadium, an MLS franchise team could put the Astrodome to good use and save it from the wrecking ball. But most important, Houston is an international city, with numerous Latin American, African and Asian residents who would love to show the gringos of our city a thing or two about how a ball is properly bent.

No offense to the Rockets, the Astros, the Texans or the Aeros, but we think Houston is a soccer town. Our vast suburbs are filled with soccer fields packed to the gills with people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds kicking the fútbol around. Every other minivan has one of those cheesy soccer ball stickers proclaiming that, yes, the driver is indeed a soccer mom (and chances are, her kids could lead us to an MLS Cup victory if given half a chance). And instead of building yet another new stadium, an MLS franchise team could put the Astrodome to good use and save it from the wrecking ball. But most important, Houston is an international city, with numerous Latin American, African and Asian residents who would love to show the gringos of our city a thing or two about how a ball is properly bent.

Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and Dallas Jesuit, its brother school in the Metroplex, had a big problem: For years, they had competed in the Texas Catholic Interscholastic League, but when that league merged with the rest of the private schools, they left the Jesuits in the cold, saying Strake and DJ were just too big. Ever since, these two schools have been looking in from the outside of high school sports. But thanks to the efforts of Texas state rep Joe Nixon, that's set to change next year when the Jesuit schools will join the University Interscholastic League, the public school league. At last, the winner of the Strake-DJ game won't be a state champion in a league of two.
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and Dallas Jesuit, its brother school in the Metroplex, had a big problem: For years, they had competed in the Texas Catholic Interscholastic League, but when that league merged with the rest of the private schools, they left the Jesuits in the cold, saying Strake and DJ were just too big. Ever since, these two schools have been looking in from the outside of high school sports. But thanks to the efforts of Texas state rep Joe Nixon, that's set to change next year when the Jesuit schools will join the University Interscholastic League, the public school league. At last, the winner of the Strake-DJ game won't be a state champion in a league of two.
The best managers in baseball are those who made the worst players. That's because they had to work harder, to try more things to succeed. It's easier for them to teach the game because they understand the struggles. This holds true for color commentators as well. Jim Deshaies survived in the big leagues on guile. And it's this guile, along with an out-of-left-field wit, that puts him head and shoulders above the rest in the broadcast booth. Why did the pitcher throw that pitch on three-and-one? Deshaies will not only tell you how the pitcher got to that point, but he'll also call attention to how the fielders positioned themselves because of the selected pitch. Jim Deshaies's star didn't shine bright on the Major League diamond, but that's turned out to be to his benefit -- and ours.

The best managers in baseball are those who made the worst players. That's because they had to work harder, to try more things to succeed. It's easier for them to teach the game because they understand the struggles. This holds true for color commentators as well. Jim Deshaies survived in the big leagues on guile. And it's this guile, along with an out-of-left-field wit, that puts him head and shoulders above the rest in the broadcast booth. Why did the pitcher throw that pitch on three-and-one? Deshaies will not only tell you how the pitcher got to that point, but he'll also call attention to how the fielders positioned themselves because of the selected pitch. Jim Deshaies's star didn't shine bright on the Major League diamond, but that's turned out to be to his benefit -- and ours.

The job of the play-by-play announcer is simple: Give the score and the details of the play. The job of the play-by-play announcer is also difficult: Keep the viewer involved in the game and direct traffic so that the color commentator can explain and enlighten. Nobody in Houston is better at this job than Bill Brown. He doesn't shout. He's not a homer. He doesn't try to be a comedian. He just lets the viewers of Houston Astros games know what's happening. And to anyone who has ever been stuck in car listening to Milo Hamilton scream about the height of the press box, this is a blessing. Brownie took over for the sainted Gene Elston in 1987. He's been more than up to the task since that time, and here's to hoping he's up to it for many more years to come.

The job of the play-by-play announcer is simple: Give the score and the details of the play. The job of the play-by-play announcer is also difficult: Keep the viewer involved in the game and direct traffic so that the color commentator can explain and enlighten. Nobody in Houston is better at this job than Bill Brown. He doesn't shout. He's not a homer. He doesn't try to be a comedian. He just lets the viewers of Houston Astros games know what's happening. And to anyone who has ever been stuck in car listening to Milo Hamilton scream about the height of the press box, this is a blessing. Brownie took over for the sainted Gene Elston in 1987. He's been more than up to the task since that time, and here's to hoping he's up to it for many more years to come.

Native Houstonians are rare on the sports radio dial. Most of the guys on 610 and 740 came to Houston as adults, and don't identify with Houston teams as strongly as people who grew up here. Sports Rap host Ralph Cooper is a notable exception to that rule. He's not an uncritical homer or anything like that, just a guy with a knowledge of Houston sports that's as broad as it is deep. The Worthing graduate got his start in the sports world in the early '70s and has been at every major Houston sporting event since, including the 1974 Super Bowl at Rice Stadium, the Phi Slamma Jamma and Luv Ya Blue eras, and the pair of Muhammad Ali bouts at the Dome in 1971. Cooper covers everything from junior high football to women's pro basketball, all from a Houstonian and African-American perspective. What's more, he does it with wit, punch and style. If you want to be in the know, hangin' with Mr. Cooper every weekday from 5 to 7 p.m. is the thing to do.

Native Houstonians are rare on the sports radio dial. Most of the guys on 610 and 740 came to Houston as adults, and don't identify with Houston teams as strongly as people who grew up here. Sports Rap host Ralph Cooper is a notable exception to that rule. He's not an uncritical homer or anything like that, just a guy with a knowledge of Houston sports that's as broad as it is deep. The Worthing graduate got his start in the sports world in the early '70s and has been at every major Houston sporting event since, including the 1974 Super Bowl at Rice Stadium, the Phi Slamma Jamma and Luv Ya Blue eras, and the pair of Muhammad Ali bouts at the Dome in 1971. Cooper covers everything from junior high football to women's pro basketball, all from a Houstonian and African-American perspective. What's more, he does it with wit, punch and style. If you want to be in the know, hangin' with Mr. Cooper every weekday from 5 to 7 p.m. is the thing to do.

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