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Crystal Ball Part Deux: Looking Ahead to 2013 Houston Sports, Astros/Dynamo/UH/Rice Edition

Yesterday, we took a look at the futures of the Texans and Rockets. Predictions were made. Accusations were tossed about. But no one is Carnac the Magnificent. All we can really do is guess...except when it comes to the Astros.

Astros

The Astros have been one of the worst teams in baseball the last couple years and that should continue as they make their move to the American League West this season. If they don't lose 100 games again, it will likely be considered a successful season.

Since Jim Crane bought the team, he has dismantled virtually every part of it from the front office to the dugout to the field to the broadcast booth to the uniforms. He, team president George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow are reshaping the team -- for better or worse -- to hopefully create a better future for the team. Unfortunately, that future isn't right now.

The move to the American League West, a deep and talented division, will be made even more complicated by the change to the roster that requires a designated hitter, hated by many fans. The Astros recently signed Carlos Peña to fill the position, but Peña hit below the Mendoza line last year and it's doubtful he'll contribute significantly to the lineup.

As long as the team needs to continue building its farm system after it was plundered under Drayton McLane to keep those turnstiles spinning, the product on the field, no matter who is the manager or GM, will be a very long work in progress. But that's the point for now.

A new conference, new kinda throwback unis, a new manager, a designated hitter, a new television home -- assuming CSN Houston will air on cable networks other than Comcast by then -- and a new broadcast team will hopefully begin to stabilize a franchise and put them back on a path towards winning.

Until then, it gon' get ugly. Our own John Royal, who covers the team, said, "Astros attendance will drop to levels not seen since the mid-1970s as the team once again struggles not to lose 100-plus games." Yeah, that ugly. Get more of Royal's predictions in his post from a couple weeks ago.

Dynamo

The story of the Dynamo is quite different from the Astros. The team had another great season that fell short as they lost in the MLS Cup to the LA Galaxy. The Dynamo have consistently been one of the best teams in MLS and they added a beautiful new stadium on the east side of downtown to complement their success.

But 2013 brings a new year and new challenges. Our own Danny Lopez, who covers the team, sums it up.

The Dynamo should be a contender again in 2013. The core of the team is returning next year. If they want to win MLS Cup, they'll need Boniek Garcia and Will Bruin to continue to improve from an already phenomenal 2012.

CONCACAF Champions League will be interesting. They start the knockout round in March against Mexico's Santos Laguna, which will be the toughest opponent in the tournament. If they can get past them, there's no reason to believe they can't win the tournament.

BBVA Compass stadium should be rocking again this year.

UH and Rice

Both of the major local colleges suffered really up-and-down years for their football programs and it doesn't seem like it will be getting much better in basketball. For UH, they closed the books on Robertson Stadium with a terrible down year after the one-loss season in 2011. The goal will be to improve before moving into their new digs in 2014. Unfortunately, they will need to figure out where they will land because the Big East is evaporating rapidly.

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Rice went from an awful start to a bowl victory in the Armed Forces Bowl and their baseball team continues to excel. As John Royal points out, there could be more on the horizon for Owls baseball:

Rice baseball will be bolstered by the full time addition of hitting coach Lance Berkman who will officially retire, return to Rice for his degree, and become a student coach. The football team will compete with Tulsa for the C-USA title and a shot at the Liberty Bowl.

As for UH, Royal believes conference alignment is the most pressing issue for the school:

UH will either rejoin Conference USA or will accept an invitation to join the Mountain West Conference after the Big East implodes into nothingness. The basketball team, playing it's last season in C-USA will fall just short of the NCAA Tourney when it is unable to get past Memphis in the conference tournament.

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