—————————————————— Best Play-by-Play Announcer 2006 | Milo Hamilton | Best of Houston® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Houston | Houston Press
For a true baseball fan, it's not just the image of the triple play or the stolen base that makes it memorable; it's also the sound of the announcer's voice. For 21 years, Milo Hamilton has led fans through the Houston Astros' regular-season bumbles and postseason heroics with his velvet timbre. Who can forget last year's 18-inning, NLDS Game Four against the Atlanta Braves, when Chris Burke nailed the game-winning home run? Nothing could encapsulate the moment like Hamilton's "Iiiiiit's gone! Iiiit's gone! It's gone, Chris Burke! Holy Toledo, what a way to finish!" And somehow it didn't sink in that the 'Stros were headed for it all until Hamilton announced "Your Houston Astros are going to the World Series!" With the team changing and Hamilton scaling back his duties, we might never again hear such a call. So we'll say it now: Holy Toledo, Milo, we love you, man.
It's not the bouncy organ music or seven seconds of a metal-pop tune that calls Houston Astros fans to order at Minute Maid Park. No, it's the booming pipes of Bob Ford, who, as he checks names off the starting lineup, sounds as if he's listing horsepower and torque stats on a Chevy truck commercial. In the lull of a regular-season contest (and there are several), Ford picks up the pace with his overly dramatic intonations, such as "No. 14: Morgan Ehhhnsberg!" Or he'll make a player's name sound like an action verb: "And now, JasonLane!" And the dude has an excellent command of syllables, as evidenced by his syncopated "Ad-am-Ever-uuuuhhhtt!" If this guy ever said "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" during a game, we'd be in heaven.
On a team that boasts the inhumanly powerful and blazingly fast wide receiver Andre Johnson, it would seem blasphemous to name anyone else Best Houston Texan. But Andre the Giant, while ever fearsome, was felled by a lackluster offense last season. Truthfully, there were few obvious standouts in the 2005-06 campaign. But without question, Dunta Robinson was one. The second-year cornerback didn't show the flash of his 2004 rookie season, where he almost nailed Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but on a Texans defensive unit that too often disappeared, Robinson always showed up. At five foot ten and 178 pounds (soaking wet with pads), Robinson was clearly the team's best hitter. He racked up 93 tackles and one highlight-reel-worthy interception against the Indianapolis Colts. The single INT is a sign that savvy teams aren't throwing the ball his way, the ultimate show of respect for a defensive back. Another show of respect: Robinson is one of the first names opposing teams request in trade talks. With the Texans revamping the defense this year, the young, diminutive Robinson promises to be a huge asset.
We love football on TV -- and we love twins. And, thanks to the Houston Texans and the Houston Texans Cheerleaders, we have both. While the football team didn't dazzle anyone last year, the cheerleaders most certainly did, with members such as Larisa and Marisa, the identical -- ahhh -- twins. A few of the lovely ladies (including our fave, Celina) recently made the cover of ESPN The Magazine with Texans No. 1 draft pick Mario Williams, showing pigskin fans that the Texans offer plenty to watch on and off the field. Cheerleading director Alto Gary is considered one of the best in the business, and it shows: Not only are these dancers impossibly beautiful (just the tryouts could be a spectator sport), but they're talented and community-minded. It's almost a shame that the Texans figure to be so good this year; we really enjoyed focusing on the ladies and their pom-poms.
Maybe it's the trippy mushrooms and butterflies. Perhaps it's the gaping mouth on the great white shark. Or maybe it's just that everything around you is glowing: The funky neon murals and figures at The Putting Edge seem like they're straight out of a Tiger Woods acid trip; black lights splash on the neon set, casting a weird glow and highlighting every piece of lint on your shirt. The 18-hole setup offers all the kooky obstacles of your standard putt-putt course, but the dark room and distracting surroundings make things a little more challenging. Slap on a glowing bracelet, grab a beverage and putt your way through a weird jungle and forest, then through a medieval castle with sunken treasure. When you're finished, hop into one of the side rooms and tally up your score on the glowing tables, which leave an impression of your handprint long after you've left. It's a perfectly cool -- if weird -- way to work on your short game.
It looks like a friendly neighborhood city parks department recreation facility, but local ballers know that the Fonde Rec Center is a hallowed hall for hoopers. For years NBA stars past and present have run pickup games on the center's basketball courts. The facility isn't far from the Toyota Center, so it's not uncommon to catch Rockets players running the lanes during the off-season. (Moses Malone and Steve Francis have been fixtures in the past.) Those looking to hop in on a game better bring it -- the ballin' locals and regulars dominate, and only the best can make it as a sixth man. Hoops reign here, as the center offers a free camp for kids and a city youth league. But if you're frustrated by wanting to break into a game, you can always hit the weight room -- or find peace at a tai chi class.
Who just won the Pro Staff of Greater Houston (PSGH) High School Football Sportsmanship Award? Who just sent its former coach, George Kirk, to the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor with an 89-43-5 record? The Klein High School Football team, that's who. Actually, that should be teams. Plural. The school has varsity, junior varsity and freshman Bearkat squads. The junior varsity team had the best record of the three last year, going 9-0-0, but they all did well. And being the first team ever to be acknowledged for their sportsmanship by the PSGH is a singular honor, showing that these guys not only win, they win gracefully.
Admit it -- upon watching Albert Pujols's titanic bomb off Brad Lidge in Game 5 of last year's NLCS, you had that sick feeling that you were witnessing yet another in the Astros' long history of dismal postseason choke-jobs. With the series returning to the soon-to-be-imploded Busch Stadium, the cosmic script seemed all but written for the Cards to go to one last World Series in that crumbling old hulk. Luckily for us, Roy Oswalt thought otherwise. The atmosphere at Busch was electric, and it reached a fever pitch when Pujols dug in the batter's box with a man on in the first inning. Whereupon Oswalt made the slugger look like a beer-buzzed softball hacker -- the slender pitcher uncorked a 95 mile-per-hour fastball in on Pujols's fists that had him swinging and diving out of the way at the same time. That one at-bat seemed to take the crowd out of the game and turn the series back toward the Astros -- Oswalt surrendered just three hits and one run on his way to the Astros' pennant-clinching 5-1 victory and NLCS MVP honors.
Goodrich, Texas -- about an hour north of town up in the Piney Woods of Polk County -- is little more than a wide spot in a logging trail, home to a mere 243 souls. Their high school had only 70 students, one of whom was Adrian McGowen, a five foot ten guard on the basketball team. Admittedly, the class 1A competition that Goodrich faced wasn't the stiffest, but McGowen's high school feats pretty much redefine the word "domination." On graduating last spring, McGowen left behind a legacy that includes scoring 62 points in her high school debut, a 75-point outburst in her junior year, and before it was all over, the all-time national scoring record with 5,424 points. Next year, McGowen makes the quantum leap to big-time college ball at Texas A&M, where many doubters believe she'll founder. Yeah, that's what the big-time colleges thought about Bird, too.

Best Candidate to Be the Next Hakeem Olajuwon

DeAndre Jordan

Standing just a shade under seven feet, this Jordan is not of the Michael mode. Instead, he's a shot-blocking machine, recently described by one national basketball recruiting junkie as "a black hole for runners, floaters, short jumpers and lay-up attempts" who "makes Ben Wallace look lazy and meek." Jordan, who recently announced plans to transfer from Episcopal High School for his senior season, ranks as the second-best prep center in America and plans to take his game to Texas A&M next fall.

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