Archive for the ‘basketball’ Category

An Adapted Astrodome Love Song

January 15, 2019

The Houston Rodeo Carnival
Unfolding Under the Astrodome Night Sky

 

In Respectful Appreciation to Sammy Fain

(with no commercial performance intended)

 

The lightning seems to fly ~ across the summer sky

And shooting stars begin to fall ~ around us

The most amazing things take place

Each time that we come face to face

 

And simply ’cause you’re there, ~ there’s music everywhere

The melodies we hear ~ will just astound you

And they invite us to embrace

Each time that we come to this place

 

And when ~ we aren’t here, the world’s a wintry thing

But then ~ here we appear, it’s spring again, it’s spring

 

The first time that we kissed ~ we heard our hearts insist

Don’t ever lose the Dome ~ now that she’s found you

And if the skies be grey or blue

She’ll face them face to face with you

 

If you would like to hear the music that works for me with this respectful “Astrodome as Art” homage adaptation of the words to writer Sammy Fain’s “Face to Face” from 1954, please click on to a YouTube presentation of that ancient hit song’s most popular “record” version by Gordon McRae from the same year. Then go over our humble adopted lyrics above again ~ as you listen this time with the McRae music re-playing behind them:

Those of you with stronger millennial ties by age are certainly free to find your own musical soundtrack to the way the networks will handle the first night sky shot of the Astrodome as coverage of some later date Super Bowl unfolds from Houston into the dark of evening. Or just imagine this true version of the Dome Heart, lighting up like a Christmas tree ~ or grandest Fourth of July Fireworks Show in Houston history.

The way this baby lights up the sky by shape and color variance will say “Houston” to the world as loudly as the Statue of Liberty, the Gateway Arch and the Space Needle all visually flash the names of their home cities to the world.

Would you care to get some of your health walking done at the Dome? With this beautiful plan, you will be able to take a two mile walk to the top and back. For more information, check out all the visual and written data on what will be there for you if the community decides to support the most awesomely beautiful and accurate version of what the Astrodome actually is as a contributor to Houston’s history, art, and world class architecture status.

The A Dome Park website is loaded with information in visual and clearly written form. Please be sure to see the vivid pictures of how the old girl is going to look because of her gentrification gift to the neighborhood.

adomepark.org

Please check it out with an open heart and mind. The Astrodome and the community both deserve the dynamic beauty and joy that the Richards Group Proposal brings to the table. I’ve never seen a more beautiful plan. As both a life-long fan and very, very minor and short term former Astrodome performer, I have been in love with the Astrodome since its earliest conceptual stage. ~ And now I’m in love again with its eternal essence.

In the words of Yankee broadcaster, Mel Allen ~ “How about that!”

Have a great Tuesday, Everybody!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

The Astrodome’s True Architectural Identity

January 12, 2019

With the infrastructure on display as the thing that makes it the Eiffel Tower of large covered stadium construction, the immortality of the Astrodome would be a guaranteed thing of beauty ~ just as Patrick Lopez knew it could be.
~ A work by Houston architect James Richards.

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

Regarding the Astrodome, why do we have to settle for a plan that addresses only the present economic needs of the county and near neighboring tenants at NRG ~ and all in return for a scrubbed down facsimile face of the Astrodome that probably gets an historical identity plaque for the benefit of those younger people in 10 to 20 years who need the label to know what they are looking at.

Yes, we know, politics and pragmatism contain the answer, but these usual suspects behind the smiling faces and shaking hands of big money agreements still do not visually explain what made the round-shaped building in Houston so important to the history of enclosed unit stadium sports and the annals of international architecture in particular.

I am in possession of a picture and proposal, on the other hand, which do visually portray the Astrodome for eternity by her true identity as both a mark of architectural genius ~ and a work of art on a grand scale. The infrastructure of the Astrodome, all  this time, are what have made this piece our community face as a contributor to architectural acclaim.

Credit for the above artistic rendering belongs to architect James Richards and his group. Although we have never met nor even talked by phone at this writing, Richards was kind enough to share with me by e-mail that he and others had been inspired by a column I had written about our late friend and colleague Patrick Lopez in reference to his ideas for using the dome infrastructure as the symbol for what was really important as art to architecture about our abandoned waif of concrete and metal.

The date of this nearly seven-year old column in The Pecan Park Eagle was April 19, 2012:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2012/04/19/the-astrodome-a-future-as-art/

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Here too is the James Richard Group’s Proposal for A Dome Park. Please read it over as openly minded as possible.

 MISSION STATEMENT

A-Dome Park is a conceptual Master-Plan that proposes to transform, Harris County’s & NRG Park’s Astrodome and adjacent parking lots into a Forty acre active urban park. The proposed park aims to bring the same economic, recreational, and cultural success to NRG Park that Discovery Green Park has brought to Downtown Houston.

At the heart of this plan, we imagine the gentle removal of the Astrodome’s exterior and interior nonstructural surfaces, to reveal and celebrate the groundbreaking work of structural engineering that lies hidden within. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Astrodome will stand proudly as an iconic, unenclosed, open air, painted steel structure, surrounded by a picturesque tree filled park.

In addition to the surrounding park, the uncovered steel structure of the Astrodome will contain a network of new infrastructure components; restaurants, a Astrodome history museum, public restrooms, indoor air-conditioned parking for 1500 cars, elevators, and a connected sequence of flat and inclined boardwalks making it possible to hike, bike, and wheelchair from street level to the very top of the dome!

WHY & HOW

In the early 1960’s the Astrodome was purpose built as a Baseball stadium. Football was also played in the dome, but it was not designed specifically for that game. The Houston Oilers football team played their last game in the Astrodome in 1996 and in the year 2000 the Astros baseball team moved to a new stadium in downtown Houston. The last concert was performed in the dome in 2003 and in 2008 the building officially closed to the public due to building code violations and life safety concerns. Since 2008 it has not been used in any significant way. The exterior and interior finish surfaces have been partially demolished and those that remain in place are slowly deteriorating to this day. If the Astrodome is to survive and prosper for the citizens of present day Harris County and future generations to come it must be transformed to become an icon of strength and ingenuity.

We believe that the most significant aspect of the Astrodome is its contributions to humanity as a masterpiece of structural engineering and building technology. At the time of its construction it achieved a clear column free span of six hundred forty three feet, nearly twice as long as any dome in the world! We propose to celebrate this engineering tour de force by removing the remaining decaying exterior and interior finish surfaces to reveal the magnificent framework of structural steel, columns, beams, ring girders, and lamella trusses that lie hidden within. For the first time, the public will witness the movement of the seventy two pivoting columns at the top of the base structure that allow the mighty dome structure above to expand and contract up to twelve inches with outside air temperature changes. The steel structure, unlike the exterior and interior finish surfaces is nearly perfectly preserved and only needs treatment with corrosion resistant paint to weather outdoor exposure.

The unenclosed steel structure of the Astrodome will contain a network of new infrastructure components; restaurants, a Astrodome History Museum, public restrooms, indoor air-conditioned parking for 1500 cars, elevators, and a connected sequence of flat and inclined boardwalks making it possible to hike, bike and wheelchair from street level to the very top of the dome! This new infrastructure will help to defeat Harris County’s current public health crisis of extremely high obesity and diabetes rates by providing the public with miles of outdoor pedestrian, wheelchair, and bicycle paths to enjoy all year long.

The new infrastructure described above will also support a distributed matrix of electrical power, lighting, information technology, outdoor cooling, and plumbing, creating a plug and play environment to facilitate and enhance any event, from the complexity of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to the simplicity a small group friends on a sunset hike up the dome.

Our vision for the transformed Astrodome imagines it surrounded by thirteen acres of Live Oak tree filled park space. To accomplish this we propose to relocate 1500 existing outdoor car parking spaces to a two level indoor air-conditioned garage placed within the dome footprint between the existing sunken playing field and ground levels. Not only will this new park space provide endless recreational and event possibilities, it will help to reduce flooding by transforming the impervious asphalt surface parking into water absorbing green landscaping. The new park will also help to naturally cool the adjacent NRG Park by significantly reducing the surface area of the existing black top parking lots.

The Astrodome will be reborn as the Eiffel Tower of Harris County, an iconic work of long span structural engineering set within a picturesque tree filled active urban park.

 COST

A-Dome Park will be funded using the same private/public partnership model used to pay for and maintain Discovery Green Park. We estimate the cost of Phase-One of the park to be 90 million dollars and like Discovery Green, most of the funding will come from public donations, and the many private foundations and endowments that support public health, environmental and cultural projects in urban areas.

Phase One of A-dome Park will include:

1-Demolition of selected exterior and interior non structural surfaces
2-Parking for 1500 cars on two levels
3-Two elevator/stair towers
4-The Great Floor
5-The Inner Perimeter Ramp
6-Ten acres of landscaping
7-Restrooms
Miscellaneous structural modifications
Miscellaneous mechanical, electrical and plumbing
10-Interior and exterior lighting

Maintenance costs of the park will be generated by a combination of revenue streams; private sector rental of the park for private and public events, private amenity rental, and indoor parking fees. Discovery Green Park successfully deploys this strategy to fund most park maintenance costs.

SCHEDULE

We believe the entire project could be built within a two year time frame.

SOURCE OF ABOVE

https://www.adomepark.org/about

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IN CLOSING

After coming this far with our efforts to save the Astrodome for the generations to come, we should still be open to asking, “What is it, here and now, that could make any plan at this late planning stage even better?”

In this instance, I believe the answer is ~ let’s at least listen to the proposal of the James Richards group. After kicking its tires a few times in solitude over time and, by the way, no other soul in the world ~ not Richards ~ not nobody ~ not anybody ~ even knows I am writing this column this Saturday ~ I simply now have to say that I really, really love it.

The James Richards Group Plan is the glimpse that the late Patrick Lopez had of the Astrodome a few years ago. It is not the preserve-our-memories of the Astrodome past that we all carry with us down the road. ~ It will be the eternal face of The Astrodome by art that new visitors will recognize at first sight as surely as they now do The Eiffel Tower ~ and they will be able to do so ~ even if they do not know an Astro from an Oiler ~ or a Bobby Riggs from a Billy Jean King.

Those sports, rodeo, concert, and convention histories will still be known to future first time visitors who come to see the Astrodome, but the much larger group of tomorrow’s visitors may be those who come to see Houston’s artful homage to the history of world class architecture.

Now we get to find out if we Harris Countians have all of the will, courage, and insight as a community it is going to take to set our preservation planning at a little higher level so that our deeper into the future gift to the world and history is rendered possible.

I love what you’ve done here, James Richards! ~ You’ve also shown that you have included a specific plan for an Astrodome Hall of Fame ~ That’s really important. Your plan seems aimed at clarifying the Astrodome’s identity for the future while you also build and enrich upon the creation and growth of the place’s incredible history. Maybe the Harris County Astrodome Preservation Group and new Harris Commissioner Lina Hidalgo will give your plan a serious look-see.

If we forget the needs of future generations in the process of preserving a bargained away blurry reminder of the past, vis-a-vis, the rental room route, I feel that we are only a step up from razing the Astrodome and turning it into a parking space. ~ People forget parking spaces, they just use them. ~ Unfortunately, over time, people also forget rental space too, they just use it. ~ On the other hand, people do not forget art that shall forever inspire yet unborn generations of the Astrodome’s once greatness of purpose ~ and even more importantly ~ of its true identity as a major contributor to world architecture.

Nobody forgets an Astrodome that lights up the summer sky.

It’s time we pushed our Astrodome plans a little further, and a little higher, up the road.

That’s it, friends. Now it’s time to read up. Catch up. Talk it up. Get the word out to one and all.  Some action is needed. And soon.

Sincerely,

Bill McCurdy

Addendum Links

If you are interested in communicating your questions or support for A-Dome Park, here’s a list of links that will be important to you:

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo / email:
judge.hidalgo@cjo.hctx.net
A-Dome Park website:
adomepark.org
A-Dome Park instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/adomepark/
Houston Public Media Video on A-dome Park:
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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

What Off Season?

January 6, 2019

As post-World War II kids in Houston, we thought of the three big sports (Baseball, Basketball, and Football ~ and truth to tell, we didn’t think much about basketball at all back in those days) as having distinct and separate seasons from all others over other parts of any given year.

Maybe it was never that way, but today it sure is not. In 2019, the seasons overlap and cover almost every month of the year in some form of pre-season practice activity or extended playoff game extension ~ so much so ~ that there’s little time left for any of them from competition with one of the other majors for the public attention and dollar they all seek.

This little table we drafted this morning to show all the months of the year in which the Big Three professional sports are normally in business from early practice to final championship game shows the gross overlap very well ~ and it doesn’t even include the additional traffic that would be there had we also added hockey, soccer, and all the women sports leagues that take to the field and court each year.

One Lesson: Any human activity that generates a prolific revenue stream also generates a need to use considerable portions of that income river to pay for the people, activities and resources that are needed to keep the product moving in some positive direction all the time. Bottom Line: There is no true off-season for any serious professional sport.

Our Table: How Many Months Per Year

Are Each of the Big Three Sports Obviously at Work?

SPORT Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
MLB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes *
NBA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFL Yes ** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

* One could make the argument that Houston’s clinching of the 2017 World Series in a Game season win on November 1, 2017 creates an argument for including November in the baseball season, but we chose to not take that step. With MLB moving the start of official games back to March this year, reaches into November are expected to possibly disappear, barring disruption by the appearance of an extensive period of inclement weather in late October.

** The Super Bowl usually happens during the first week in February. That one big day wasn’t enough for me to give the NFL the whole month of February, but I wouldn’t have any problem with anyone who did. To me, two asterisks were enough ~ and I didn’t give those to MLB for any further Game 7 possibilities, now that the season will start earlier.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Fearless Houston Pro Sports Predictions

January 1, 2019

The Pecan Park Eagle will celebrate its 10th online anniversary on July 21, 2019. Thanks to all of you for making our journey such a fun ride. We’ll make it too ~ as long as the old guy’s heart holds out ~ and the creek don’t (doesn’t) rise.

 

Happy New Year, Everybody! ~ And thanks so much for all the Happy Birthday wishes that so may of you sent my way yesterday by Facebook and personal e-mail. It makes this one old guy out here very happy that so many of you cared enough to drop an electric buzz on me ~ one way or the other. I literally could not answer them all personally today and also have had much time remaining for anything else.

Today’s prognostication column should cover some ground on reducing the message toll next birthday New Years Eve ~ if there is one for me to celebrate again at age 82 ~ but it’s best to take nothing for granted. All of us, at any age, only have one day to start with each 24-hour cycle, and that’s the one our eyes awaken to behold each time.

When that happens, measure it with fragility, treasure it wholly, and use it for all we’ve got to give in the moment at hand. ~ But, as we’ve already said once ~ and also with a nudging, murmuring cry for repetition ~ never take it for granted.

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Our Pecan Park Eagle Houston Pro Sport Outcome Predictions for 2019 by Date

I. February 3, 2019: Behind four Watson-to-Hopkins TD passes, the Houston Texans will defeat the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl by a score of 28-24 to become the 2018 NFL Season Champions of Professional Football.

II. Some Time in March 2019: Houston’s Dynamo and Dash men’s and women’s soccer teams will be named as the 2019 champions in their respective gender fields of competition as the result of a complex formula for evaluating team style points during a double season in which no actual goals were scored by any teams in either the male or female brackets of play.

III. June 11, 2019: Boosted by a 53-point James Harden triple-double Game Four sweep, the Houston Rockets shall roll to a crunching 122-101 win over the Eastern Champion Toronto Raptors in Houston to claim the NBA Championship for 2019. (We had seen this originally as a win over the Golden State Warriors, but as Rick B. so keenly observed in the comment section, that could not be ~ given the fact that they and the Rockets both play in the Western Division. ~ Wait a minute. ~ Now the true story is coming through in a fully corrected telepathically driven imagery. ~ The Rockets will reach the Western Division finals by beating the Golden State Warriors in a record scoring 149-112 rout.)

IV. October 28, 2019: Led by AL Batting Champion Jose Altuve (.368) and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, the Houston Astros sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers of the NL to regain their title as World Series Champions of the Baseball Universe for the year 2019.

That’s it, but that should be enough. Try not to break your necks getting to Vegas and putting some money down on the successful outcome of all these sure-thing calls.

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Bonus Prediction in College Football:

January 7, 2019: Regardless of who wins the 2018 NCAA, Division 1 Season Title ~ Alabama or Clemson ~ ‘Bama Coach Nick Saban’s post-game comments will include the qualifier statement that he “saw some things we could have done better.”

On this totally light note, let’s get this 2019 new year started. ~ In Houston Sports, we could use one that floats a little more fun than frustration this time around the sun.

 

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“Hello There, 2019!”

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston Sports Poll: Influence or Expectation?

July 17, 2018

Dashaun Watson is No. 1 Pick in 2018 Poll That Alleges Him To Now Be the Most “Influential” Houston Sports Figure.

DALE ROBERTSON’S 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL 2018 HOUSTON SPORTS PEOPLE

(All of the tabular information shown here, plus all of his previous six year rankings, from 2012 thru 2018 were published in Sunday’s July 15, 2018 Houston Chronicle.) ~

The 2018 List

Rank Name Role Club Level
1 Deshaun Watson QB Texans NFL
2 Jim Crane Owner Astros MLB
3 Jeff Luhnow GM Astros MLB
4 Jose Altuve 2B Astros MLB
5t James Harden MVP Rockets NBA
5t Chris Paul Guard Rockets NBA
5t Daryl Morey GM Rockets NBA
8 Justin Verlander Pitcher Astros MLB
9 J.J. Watt Defense Texans NFL
10 Ed Oliver Defense Cougars NCAA

Impressions

People who control the money and the flow of resources that produce championships ~ and people who devise long-term plans that actually result in championships ~ each share a common bond among fans and the media. Nobody really hangs their hats of hope on requests for patience and time to prove the efficacy of whatever they happen to be doing. Then ~ once in silvery orange-blue moon ~ along comes a logistics savant owner like Jim Crane and a baseball genius like Jeff Luhnow and it’s like the baseball gods left the locks off the doors at their hall of baseball cookie miracles.  ~ The result? ~ Here’s your baseball miracle as promised, Houston! ~ Delivered on time, as promised three years earlier, here are your 2017 World Series Champions!

That isn’t the stuff that gets you the number one spot with Dale Robertson. Robertson is listening to the Houston fan heartbeat for great expectation, and, as much as I hate to say it, but have to admit it, Dale is sniffing football, and mainly NFL football, most of the time at the top spot. In the seven seasons that Dale Robertson has been doing these rankings, he’s picked someone from the Texans five times as his number one ranking figure.

Here’s the tabular rundown on # 1 picks:

ROBERTSON #1 RANKED HOUSTON PEOPLE: 2012-2018 

YEAR RANKED #1 ROLE CLUB LEVEL
2012 Wade Phillips Def. Coach Texans NFL
2013 Dwight Howard Player/Center Rockets NBA
2014 Bill O’Brien Head Coach Texans NFL
2015 J.J. Watt Player/Defense Texans NFL
2016 Brock Osweiler Player/QB Texans NFL
2017 Dallas Keuchel Player/Pitcher Astros MLB
2018 Deshaun Watson Player/QB Texans NFL

 

This movie title in a film featuring an earlier Dale Robertson stands well as a headline in a year following a poll when someone other than a Texan was picked for the top spot.

As a matter of fact, it’s a title that works well pretty much any year for describing the #1 pick as most “influential” sports figure in Houston in July, when the appetites of those awaiting the forthcoming NFL season are frothing at the mouth for a QB who comes along and fulfills the “great expectation” of Houston winning a Super Bowl.

Oh yes, making the world forget about Tom Brady in the process also wouldn’t be frowned upon by Houston Texan movers and shakers and other local NFL Joes. 

  • see the “Editor’s Footnote at the end of this column.

About that seasonal help to the poll when the picks are made in July. Some of Dale’s picks may have been helped by the seasonal impact of when lists were made. By July of each year, Houston basketball fans are usually too busy digesting their still recent disappointments to build any new peak expectations for next year. Although, based upon Dale Robertson’s approach ~ and had the Rockets signed LeBron James, it’s easy to see King James pushing Dr. Watson back to the #2 hole in 2018, with no arguments from anyone, but that’s not what happened. And, here we are, at the time of year when we Houston baseball fans are too busy exchanging our fantasy hope for the reality of watching the defending World Champs play ball.

And that leaves the large legion of Houston football fans, many of whom happen to be crossover all Houston sport team fans, where the bait is still the player who can drag his tail in the water like a silver spoon flipper and lure the masses of football fan fishers in numbers through the stadium game dates in the fall.

This year, the heroic Deshaun Watson is the QB of allure. A couple of years ago, it was the forgettable Brock Osweiler.  Is Watson for real? He could be, but all we know for sure is that he will have to do more than share time with J.J. Watt and “Scott the Marketing Man” ~ making TV commercials for HEB ~ before Houston has its latest great expectation either finally realized or crushed again.

As one who has been reading Dale Robertson since the time he was roughed up by former Oilers QB Dan Pastorini in an interview that ran into sensitive ground at a tough moment in the season a thousand weeks ago, I already believe that he’s a much bigger football and tennis fan than he seems to be of baseball, but he keeps on trying to cover all the bases that go with his job. ~ I give him lots of credit for his durability, even when I do not agree with his conclusions in this set of rankings for the wrong reason.

That being said, I think we disagree mainly because we interpret the word “influence” differently.

“Influence” always translates to me as “power” and, in that regard, there are no others on this list with more “power” over the fortunes of the three Houston big sport teams than Masseurs Crane, Fertitta, and McNair. That is why I personally would have chosen Jim Crane as my #1 pick in 2018. Crane is the guy who used his power to set up the ground for optimal on-term success in Houston baseball.- How did that work out? And how could it have worked at all, had Crane’s ego needed to take more direct credit for all that Jeff Luhnow did? On the other hand, if we are talking about the “specific influence” of one being able to attract fans by great expectation, it is almost always going to be a player or head coach or field manager that takes the #1 spot. And, most of the time, a magical and talented new QB for the Texans is going to stir up our NFL crazy fans to the Great Expectation (GE) of a Super Bowl ride. – Viewed in that hungry light, I would have to agree with Robertson’s pick of Watson for the top spot as the “GE” giant influence upon that large group of Houston crossover sports fans. Only LeBron James could have beaten Deshaun Watson in Houston from this point in 2018 going forward from mid-July.

Hang in there, Dale Robertson. Maybe Deshaun Watson will finally come through as your cash cow pick.

  • Editor’s Foot Note: Thank you, Tom Hunter, for setting in motion the serendipity that spread from your reminder to me that there once was a Grade B movie actor, also named Dale Robertson, that once starred in a movie entitled “Return of the Texan”. Due credit is all yours that it lead me to find the movie poster for that less than august film that served here as a visual guide to the extra comments included  in conjunction with the movie poster’s use here as a result.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle