Adam Everett Back in the days before A-Rod and Carlos Guillen, shortstops were scrawny whippets who vacuumed up grounders but couldn't break a lamp taking batting practice in a hotel lobby. Think Mark Belanger or Buddy Harrelson. The Astros' Adam Everett is a throwback to those classic days, from the six-foot, 170-pound physique to the bland offensive performance. He consistently makes dazzling plays in the field, but the Astros kept him in the farm system because Major League pitching simply overpowered him. The team decided 2004 was Everett's now-or-never year, and he's come through just fine. The fielding has remained as sharp as ever, and the batting is more than adequate. Things have been up and down in the Astros' expected cruise to a division title, but Everett has set himself up to anchor the team's defense for a long while to come.

Adam Everett Back in the days before A-Rod and Carlos Guillen, shortstops were scrawny whippets who vacuumed up grounders but couldn't break a lamp taking batting practice in a hotel lobby. Think Mark Belanger or Buddy Harrelson. The Astros' Adam Everett is a throwback to those classic days, from the six-foot, 170-pound physique to the bland offensive performance. He consistently makes dazzling plays in the field, but the Astros kept him in the farm system because Major League pitching simply overpowered him. The team decided 2004 was Everett's now-or-never year, and he's come through just fine. The fielding has remained as sharp as ever, and the batting is more than adequate. Things have been up and down in the Astros' expected cruise to a division title, but Everett has set himself up to anchor the team's defense for a long while to come.

David Carr How's this for guts? Week four of the season. Texans down by three at home against Jacksonville. Two seconds on the clock, and our guys are just inches from the goal line. If David Carr hadn't made you a believer before -- what with his glitterati good looks and Roman demigod athleticism -- No. 8 won you over on this day, with a quarterback sneak for the ages. Houston is a town that loves big risks, and Carr earned himself a place in our hearts with that victory over the Jaguars. Plus, he's one of that rare breed of sports idol actually worth idolizing: no DUI rap sheets, no illegitimate children, no vials of coke or dead hookers found in the trunk. Just a No. 1 draft pick with a great arm and an even better head on his shoulders. Oh, yeah -- and gut, lots of guts.

David Carr How's this for guts? Week four of the season. Texans down by three at home against Jacksonville. Two seconds on the clock, and our guys are just inches from the goal line. If David Carr hadn't made you a believer before -- what with his glitterati good looks and Roman demigod athleticism -- No. 8 won you over on this day, with a quarterback sneak for the ages. Houston is a town that loves big risks, and Carr earned himself a place in our hearts with that victory over the Jaguars. Plus, he's one of that rare breed of sports idol actually worth idolizing: no DUI rap sheets, no illegitimate children, no vials of coke or dead hookers found in the trunk. Just a No. 1 draft pick with a great arm and an even better head on his shoulders. Oh, yeah -- and gut, lots of guts.

The Japanese Garden at Hermann Park Houston has its share of parks, but it's hard to find a picnic spot free of weeds, wailing kids and nasty views of parking lots. If you're the kind of alfresco diner who leans toward quaint gravel paths, tall shady trees and patches of soft grass, look no further than Hermann Park's Japanese Garden. Follow the reflecting pool south, and the entrance to the fenced garden is on your right. A winding trail splits in multiple directions and takes you past goldfish ponds and over wooden footbridges. Stop at one of the many soft islands of saint augustine grass and unfurl your blanket, and you'll be surrounded by old pine trees without a sliver of pavement in sight. You'll see giant tadpoles in the summer and bright Japanese maples in fall, and you'll have a view of the pagoda (also a good eating spot). But keep your eye on your watch. The gates close at 6 p.m., so for the time being, this is purely a lunch spot.

The Japanese Garden at Hermann Park Houston has its share of parks, but it's hard to find a picnic spot free of weeds, wailing kids and nasty views of parking lots. If you're the kind of alfresco diner who leans toward quaint gravel paths, tall shady trees and patches of soft grass, look no further than Hermann Park's Japanese Garden. Follow the reflecting pool south, and the entrance to the fenced garden is on your right. A winding trail splits in multiple directions and takes you past goldfish ponds and over wooden footbridges. Stop at one of the many soft islands of saint augustine grass and unfurl your blanket, and you'll be surrounded by old pine trees without a sliver of pavement in sight. You'll see giant tadpoles in the summer and bright Japanese maples in fall, and you'll have a view of the pagoda (also a good eating spot). But keep your eye on your watch. The gates close at 6 p.m., so for the time being, this is purely a lunch spot.

Marc Vandermeer When the search began for a voice to call Texans games, folks round these parts figured we'd go local. Veteran sports TV/radio names like Russ Small and even Craig Roberts were brought up on talk radio and around water coolers. So it was near-blasphemy when Marc Vandermeer, a (gasp!) Massachusetts native who most recently announced games for University of Miami football, got the gig. A Yankee calling Texans games? Hell, yeah. His historic "Rock 'n' roll! Touchdown Houston!" call, as the team scored its first ever TD, won over fans and critics immediately. Now, Vandermeer, who shares the mike with former UH and NFL star Andre Ware, is heralded as one of the best voices in the NFL.

Marc Vandermeer When the search began for a voice to call Texans games, folks round these parts figured we'd go local. Veteran sports TV/radio names like Russ Small and even Craig Roberts were brought up on talk radio and around water coolers. So it was near-blasphemy when Marc Vandermeer, a (gasp!) Massachusetts native who most recently announced games for University of Miami football, got the gig. A Yankee calling Texans games? Hell, yeah. His historic "Rock 'n' roll! Touchdown Houston!" call, as the team scored its first ever TD, won over fans and critics immediately. Now, Vandermeer, who shares the mike with former UH and NFL star Andre Ware, is heralded as one of the best voices in the NFL.

The Putting Edge Where have you gone, Malibu Mini Golf? Our city turns its lonely eyes to you. What's that, you say? Mountasia Golf has left and gone away? Of Houston's once-glorious mini-golf trifecta of Mountasia, Malibu and Celebration Station, only Celebration Station remains. Thankfully, locals wanting some pizzazz in their putting experience need look no further than the Putting Edge, the glitzy new mini-golf mecca in I-10's Marq*E Entertainment Center. In this indoor world, the black walls surround a psychedelic, fluorescent hodgepodge of scenery (think weird '70s sci-fi set) where everything glows -- the trees, the balls and even the clubs. So while it may not match mini-golfing outside on a balmy Houston evening, there's something to be said for getting off the perfect 20-foot putt, sending it around a winding trail and watching your glowing ball disappear into the night.

The Putting Edge Where have you gone, Malibu Mini Golf? Our city turns its lonely eyes to you. What's that, you say? Mountasia Golf has left and gone away? Of Houston's once-glorious mini-golf trifecta of Mountasia, Malibu and Celebration Station, only Celebration Station remains. Thankfully, locals wanting some pizzazz in their putting experience need look no further than the Putting Edge, the glitzy new mini-golf mecca in I-10's Marq*E Entertainment Center. In this indoor world, the black walls surround a psychedelic, fluorescent hodgepodge of scenery (think weird '70s sci-fi set) where everything glows -- the trees, the balls and even the clubs. So while it may not match mini-golfing outside on a balmy Houston evening, there's something to be said for getting off the perfect 20-foot putt, sending it around a winding trail and watching your glowing ball disappear into the night.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of