Jeff Van Gundy In these, basketball's showbiz days, Jeff Van Gundy doesn't look like a typical NBA coach -- he's a schlumpy bald guy with a permanent hangdog look whose idea of glamour is probably going for Wish-Bone salad dressing instead of the store brand. But looks are deceiving. Not only did Van Gundy lead the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time in, approximately, ever, he did it with a direct, blunt style that was completely refreshing in these days of coddling superstars. Not only did he call out star guard Steve Francis for missing a road trip, he stuck to his story that Francis had opted instead to go to the Super Bowl, even after Stevie Franchise's people tried to spin their way out of the claim. When the Rockets started a losing streak that put their playoff spot in jeopardy, Van Gundy didn't say anything about "taking it one game at a time"; instead, he said the team was on the verge of a "historic collapse." He doesn't bark this stuff out in mad-dog Lou Piniella style; he just matter-of-factly calls it like he sees it. As he said after one dispiriting early-season loss, "What am I supposed to say, 'Wow, we're busting our asses out there?' We're not."

Jeff Van Gundy In these, basketball's showbiz days, Jeff Van Gundy doesn't look like a typical NBA coach -- he's a schlumpy bald guy with a permanent hangdog look whose idea of glamour is probably going for Wish-Bone salad dressing instead of the store brand. But looks are deceiving. Not only did Van Gundy lead the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time in, approximately, ever, he did it with a direct, blunt style that was completely refreshing in these days of coddling superstars. Not only did he call out star guard Steve Francis for missing a road trip, he stuck to his story that Francis had opted instead to go to the Super Bowl, even after Stevie Franchise's people tried to spin their way out of the claim. When the Rockets started a losing streak that put their playoff spot in jeopardy, Van Gundy didn't say anything about "taking it one game at a time"; instead, he said the team was on the verge of a "historic collapse." He doesn't bark this stuff out in mad-dog Lou Piniella style; he just matter-of-factly calls it like he sees it. As he said after one dispiriting early-season loss, "What am I supposed to say, 'Wow, we're busting our asses out there?' We're not."

Larry Dierker Color commentators are often former players or managers. Good ones have a background in the game and can tell the listener or viewer what's going on in the minds of the players and explain the strategy. This year, Houston Astros fans are lucky. This year, the Astros welcomed back Larry Dierker to the broadcast booth. Dierker is a special kind of color commentator. He's a former player. He's a former manager. He's a newspaper columnist and an author. He knows the game well. He has a passion for it. Whenever he speaks, the viewer is educated. Even the lifelong fan learns something when Dierker works a game. Dierker's skills are such that he's even worked games on the networks (NBC and ABC when they had the Major League Baseball package), and in past years, the occasional game on Fox. Unfortunately, the Astros have yet to bring Dierker back full time. He's just a fill-in, working a schedule only Roger Clemens could love. So, Astros, finish the job and bring Larry Dierker back full time.

Larry Dierker Color commentators are often former players or managers. Good ones have a background in the game and can tell the listener or viewer what's going on in the minds of the players and explain the strategy. This year, Houston Astros fans are lucky. This year, the Astros welcomed back Larry Dierker to the broadcast booth. Dierker is a special kind of color commentator. He's a former player. He's a former manager. He's a newspaper columnist and an author. He knows the game well. He has a passion for it. Whenever he speaks, the viewer is educated. Even the lifelong fan learns something when Dierker works a game. Dierker's skills are such that he's even worked games on the networks (NBC and ABC when they had the Major League Baseball package), and in past years, the occasional game on Fox. Unfortunately, the Astros have yet to bring Dierker back full time. He's just a fill-in, working a schedule only Roger Clemens could love. So, Astros, finish the job and bring Larry Dierker back full time.

Astros outfield deck We see George and Barbara down there near home plate, a looming, presidential presence behind every televised pitch. They don't know what they're missing. Way up here in the nosebleed section, we've got the whole damn north 40 to ourselves. We can stretch out and curse without offending small children. And since the seats set us back only five bucks, that leaves lots of cash for beer and dogs. And more cursing. If only the team on the field looked as consistently pretty as the skyline out the left-field window, this would be heaven (of course, it seems like we're already at that altitude anyhow).

Astros outfield deck We see George and Barbara down there near home plate, a looming, presidential presence behind every televised pitch. They don't know what they're missing. Way up here in the nosebleed section, we've got the whole damn north 40 to ourselves. We can stretch out and curse without offending small children. And since the seats set us back only five bucks, that leaves lots of cash for beer and dogs. And more cursing. If only the team on the field looked as consistently pretty as the skyline out the left-field window, this would be heaven (of course, it seems like we're already at that altitude anyhow).

Porretto Park Everybody knows about East Beach, where Playboy models and other assorted hardbodies gather during the summer. Not as many folks know about No-Name Beach off Condominium Road, where the topless and queer crowds commingle behind the dunes. But our favorite place to drop the beach towel is also Galveston's best-kept secret. Despite the fact that the seawall has been declared alcohol-free by the city, there's an exempted zone along the beach between Sixth and Tenth streets at Porretto Park. The quirk in the ordinance was created because a local Italian family privately owns this stretch of beach, and that means you can unashamedly break out the malt liquor. Just don't chug it while you walk along the concrete part of the seawall, or the cold steel of a jail cell might be cooling your sunburned hide later.

Porretto Park Everybody knows about East Beach, where Playboy models and other assorted hardbodies gather during the summer. Not as many folks know about No-Name Beach off Condominium Road, where the topless and queer crowds commingle behind the dunes. But our favorite place to drop the beach towel is also Galveston's best-kept secret. Despite the fact that the seawall has been declared alcohol-free by the city, there's an exempted zone along the beach between Sixth and Tenth streets at Porretto Park. The quirk in the ordinance was created because a local Italian family privately owns this stretch of beach, and that means you can unashamedly break out the malt liquor. Just don't chug it while you walk along the concrete part of the seawall, or the cold steel of a jail cell might be cooling your sunburned hide later.

Tour 18 Tour 18 is the Epcot Center of golf courses. What they call the "cathedrals of golf" are exact re-creations of the 18 most heralded holes on famous courses worldwide. What club would you choose on the famed Amen Corner at Augusta National? Could you shoot par on Harbor Club's 18th hole? Tour 18 gives you the chance to step out from the role of armchair golfer and put your Titleist where your mouth is. With reasonable greens fees ranging from $39 to $95 (depending on day, time and season), your PGA dreams are only a 20-mile drive north of town. Now go get 'em, Tiger!

Tour 18 Tour 18 is the Epcot Center of golf courses. What they call the "cathedrals of golf" are exact re-creations of the 18 most heralded holes on famous courses worldwide. What club would you choose on the famed Amen Corner at Augusta National? Could you shoot par on Harbor Club's 18th hole? Tour 18 gives you the chance to step out from the role of armchair golfer and put your Titleist where your mouth is. With reasonable greens fees ranging from $39 to $95 (depending on day, time and season), your PGA dreams are only a 20-mile drive north of town. Now go get 'em, Tiger!

Best Of Houston®

Best Of