Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Be it Ever so Boring, the Pats Bring It Home

February 4, 2019

Bring ‘Em On! ~ Bring ‘Em On! ~ Bring ‘Em On!

 

Twice this 2018-2019 professional sports season, teams from Boston have risen up to smite clubs from Los Angeles for victories in both baseball and football. Yesterday the New England Patriots took the Los Angeles Rams in a most boring Super Bowl football game played in Atlanta by a score of 13-3. Last fall, the New England Red Sox did a similar job on the base-balling California Dodgers in a World Series victory that featured each club playing games by their actual urban identities as Boston and Los Angeles.

Fortunately for LA ~ and all the rest of us who do not nurse our sports addictions on the heels of either city’s success or failure, ~ the prospects for an NBA trifecta this coming June are not too probable that the LA Lakers will rise up to face, let alone defeat, a superior Boston Celtics club this year, but there are long odds on the Bostons running the table if they can get past clubs like the Golden State Warriors.

As for hockey and soccer, and without a Google search, I can’t even speak to whether they still play those two sports in America, let alone run the odds on a five-pro sport Boston slammer on the rest of us anytime this season.

Let’s just move all these oblong brown and grainy-surfaced and under-inflated balls out-of-the-way and bring on the shiny, round and sweet-smelling hard-core whites of another new baseball spring training celebration of dawn.

“Here comes the sun! ~ You pitchers need to limber up for BP! ~ You! ~ Yeah! ~ You nine guys need to grab some bats and get ready to take some cuts! ~ The rest of you need to grab your gloves and hit the field near your normal spots! ~ It’s time to shag some balls! ~ But push that lawn mower out of left field before we get started and one of you mugs breaks your neck running over it! ~ What kind of ground crew have we got here, anyway?”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

Why Grantland Rice was Grantland Rice

January 18, 2019

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, most of us who then lived in the boondocks ~ and far away from big league baseball ~ had little other choice but to read about the action in whatever newspapers were available to us. There was no television in those days, of course, and very little radio coverage. You either went to the ballpark ~ or you read about the games in whatever newspaper that was available to you ~ or you took in minor league or barnstorming baseball games ~ or you just gave up the game in favor of dancing or whittling.

It was under these daunting, but extant 1920-30 conditions that a fellow named Grantland Rice wrote to the rescue of a nation that starved for the news of baseball, football, and boxing for timely reports that American fans at large could not otherwise hope to receive out there in the hinterlands.

And, man, did Rice ever do his job! He wrote game stories that coupled words and visual portrayals like powerful box trains of thought ~ ones that chugged through our sporting news-starved stationary minds like magical lines of play that settled as clearly in our corn field farm homes as they did in town in the Saturday afternoon barber shop chair.

Here are a few examples from the syndicated story that Grantland Rice did for publication on October 2, 1932 on the action from Game Three of the World Series in Chicago the previous day. Game Three on October 1st was the one in which Babe Ruth supposedly “called his shot” in a Yankees victory over the Cubs that now sent New York into a 3-0 position on games won ~ and set them up as enormous favorites to finish the job in Game Four. ~ Which they did.

You won’t read Rice concluding that Babe Ruth called his shot, but you should be able to get the impression from his quoted game account that such a claim may have been easily perceived from what Grantland Rice and others did write ~ and what other people saw ~ and wanted to see in Ruth’s second home run of the game:

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….Ruth Jeers Cub Players

By Grantland Rice

Chicago, Oct. 1 – “That far-echoing rumbling roar you must have heard Saturday afternoon was the old rock-crusher-rolling over the flattened, crushed bodies of the Cubs. In the driver’s seat were those two mighty men of baseball, Ruth and Gehrig. Babe and Lou, the dynamite twins.

“In the presence of 50,000 startled Cub rooters and (NY) Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, this dynamic pair of slugging mastodons lit the fuse to four home runs with a fusillade that drove Charley Root from the field with his ears still ringing in the wake of a bombardment he will never forget.

“The Yankees won the scrappy slugfest, 7 to 5, to make it three in a row. and thereby step within one battle of making it a murdering four straight march.”

~ Syracuse Herald, October 2, 1932, page 1

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(Legends Feed Easy on The Realities That Precede Them)

“With one down in the fifth, and the score tied 4-4, Ruth came to bat for the third time. Ruth and Cubs players in the dugout had been carrying on a lively repartee all afternoon and it now reached its height with the Babe waving his hands and yelling to the players between each pitch.

“With the count 2-2, Ruth motioned to the Cubs dugout, that he was going to hit the next one to his liking out of the park and, when he saw a low curve floating up the alley, he swung with all his powerful body. The ball sailed more than 450 feet into the farthest corner of the center field bleachers for his (Ruth’s) second home run of the series and his 15th in World Series play.”

~ Syracuse Herald, October 2, 1932, page 11

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“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.”

~ The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame by Grantland Rice

If Grantland Rice were ever home, his kids must’ve heard some great bedtime stories.

 

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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

Wide and To The Right

January 7, 2019

Russell Erxleben
FG Kicker Savant
(In College)

The New Orleans Saints once had a chronically errant field goal kicker named Russell Erxleben. Erxleben got into some serious legal trouble after his football career was in the can, but our anecdote is about a moment in his football playing career.

OK, let’s get started. ~ All of you Longhorn fans should remember Russell Erxleben from his happier kicking days at UT (1976-78), during part of the Earl Campbell era.

Among college kickers, there weren’t any better than this guy. ~ He was so good, in fact, that his 67 yard FG for UT against Rice in 1977 still stands today as the longest FG in college football history. *

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Supplementary Correction

* There is never a good time to simply go with the data that has registered in your own head without further corroboration. (Other than the fact that Babe Ruth hit a record 60 home runs during the 1927 American League season, of course,  all other sports records need to be checked and rechecked prior to publication. We have been reminded by the gentle correction we have received today from colleague/reader Fred Soland on Russell Erxleben’s actual place among the long distance college football field goal kickers, along with our apologies for the error.)

This excerpt from a Wikipedia article seems to confirm the ties and surpassing efforts of others to the distant college field goal record of Russell Erxleben:

  • 69 yards, Ove Johansson, Abilene Christian vs. East Texas State on October 16, 1976. (NAIA)
  • 67 yards, Tom Odle, Fort Hays State vs. Washburn, 1988. (NCAA)
  • 67 yards, Joe Williams, Wichita State vs. Southern Illinois, 1978. (NCAA Division I)
  • 67 yards, Russell Erxleben, Texas vs. Rice, 1977. (NCAA Division I)
  • 67 yards, Steve Little, Arkansas vs. Texas, 1977.[22] (NCAA Division I)
  • 65 yards, J. T. Haxall, Princeton vs. Yale, 1882.

All of the above kicks were successful with the use of a kicking tee, which was banned by the NCAA after the 1988 season.

The longest known drop-kicked field goal in college football was a 62-yard kick from Pat O’Dea, an Australian kicker who played on the Wisconsin Badgers football team. O’Dea’s kick took place in a blizzard against Northwestern on November 15, 1898.[24]

whole article link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_goal

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A straight-on kicker off the tee, Erxleben made All-America as a punter for his three years of varsity play. Helped a great deal by his exceptional ability as both a place kicker and a punter, Russell Erxleben then went to the New Orleans Saints as the 11th pick in the 1st round in the 1979 NFL draft.

The pressure apparently got to Erxleben in the NFL and he began to miss field goals ~ both in numbers and moments of critical game notoriety.

The depression that grew from this kind of NFL heat upon one of the greatest kickers in college football history apparently wasn’t lost upon the media observers who followed Erxleben around, probably looking as much for a story angle than they were anything that might actually help the distraught young man.

Maybe they had not counted on the fact that Russell Erxleben also carried with him an incredible sense of self-deprecatory humor about his dilemma.

Wish I could recall the writer who originally reported the great upcoming punch line exchange. I’d like to give him credit, but it has been too many years. And I have forgotten.

Nevertheless, feel free to laugh whenever you can’t keep from laughing.

The writer asked Erxleben if his failures as an NFL FG kicker ever had driven him to thoughts of harming himself?

“Well,” a straight-faced Russell Erxleben supposedly offered. “I did put a pistol to my head and pulled the trigger the other night, but no harm was done. ~ You see ~ the bullet sailed wide and to the right!”

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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

Nostradamus and The Crimson Tide

December 30, 2018

“I SEE SOMETHING WE COULD DO BETTER!” ~ Lou Saban.

Shortly before I slipped into something like a weekend coma with flu-like symptoms early Saturday morning, I had been working here and there on a coach-speak article that focused upon what we constantly hear college football coaches say in these fifteen second pre, middle, and end game statements they make to the sideline TV reporters as their teams are running on and off the field.

Thanks, Coma! ~ You caused me to miss out on a pre-event publication of a pretty much literal peg on what Alabama head coach Nick Saban had to say last night about the Crimson Tide’s 42-31 win over Oklahoma last night. It wasn’t anything Nostradamus would have e-mailed home, but even these no-brainers are an act of artful pride out here in the boonies of 21st century blogging.

When asked by ESPN what he thought of Alabama’s performance in their win over Oklahoma, Nick Saban said, “I saw some things we could have done better, but I was pleased with our overall effort.”

What I had written at least sixteen hours earlier in my unfinished draft read as follows: “Win or Lose the 2018 National Championship, Nick Saban of Alabama will humbly express his final post-game view that he saw some things the Tide could have done better.”

As I watched the game bedside in the second half, I recall seeing Saban barking at one of his players that he had just removed from the game for causing the Tide to miss the benefit of a completed pass deep into the Clemson red zone because of an illegal procedure move he made in the ‘Bama backfield on the same play.

The rapidity of Saban’s speaking lips and the lurching motions of his body toward the player suggested that he was trying to be instructive on some level, but the coach’s general demeanor suggested that the subject was along the lines of the player’s need to re-locate his head from some dark nearby crevice and get it refocused on his duties in the game.

Forgive me. I’m going back to bed now.

Since tomorrow is New Year’s Eve ~ and also my friggin’ birthday and a planned reunion with an ancient cousin on my mother’s side ~ I will be quietly busy through New Years Day and not catching up on non-urgent calls until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, Everybody! ~ Please know that you are both loved and appreciated!

As long as they are making new baseball seasons ~ and as long as we can keep our head clear and our eyes open ~ there will always be a sandlot game going on of some kind here at The Pecan Park Eagle.

Come by anytime.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2019!

Regards,

Bill McCurdy

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

November 21, 2018

 

Classic Thanksgiving cartoon by Glenn McCoy.

Dear Pilgrims ~ Hail Ye! ~ Hear Me!

This is the Voice of the Future speaking to you from the year 2018! We may sound to you that we are speaking in a strange new form of English usage ~ but that’s cool. ~ We’re down with that!

Our time/space broadcasting technology may also resonate into your neck of the woods ears like the always booming Voice of God ~ but hang tight ~ we are not God ~ nor any other spirit that your own ladies in those black pointed hats has conjured up in one of those big boiling plots! ~ No way! ~ We simply are who we say we are ~ The Voice of the Future ~ and we are here to give you a shout out about that not-so-fast first Thanksgiving cartoon that you dudes have decided to publish! ~ You know the one! ~ The one that shows all the female Pilgrims sweating their hearts out over the preparation of that first turkey day dinner of gratitude ~ while the male pilgrims cavalierly engage the even then famous Washington Redskins in the first Turkey Day football game in history!

Just hold the presses right there, folks!

My wife saw that cartoon all the way up here in the 21st century (thanks to an ancestral aunt who lives among you in 1621 as one of the black pointed hat ladies who witch-crafted it all the way up here to her) and now she wants me to do what I can to dissuade you from letting this new practice of an annual thanksgiving day upon which the men get to play while the women slave away fixing them a scrumptious meal as the whole thing unfolds into the shocking tradition it is likely to become!

“I’ve never seen such rampant sexism and racism in the act of getting started from the very first day as an American tradition ~ while everyone just moves around ~ filling all the necessary roles ~ and making it happen!” So said me deary ~ and in a fomentation of fury I’ve rarely seen in this once sweet image of youthful saucy energy that she truly is!

“Me neither,” I said ~ and in my strongest voice of concisely chiseled emotional support.

“William,” Norma continued, “I think we should try to do something about it with our present level of understanding, need, and technology! ~ DON’T YOU?” ~ She added, in a voice that reverberated like a bolt of runaway thunder.

“Me too!” I quickly answered. Then I looked into a nearby mirror and smiled, as I also mutely formed the sound of those two glorious words of courage again ~ this time, mimed and so silently whispered into my own smiling face ~ as I watched the formation of each facial muscle I was required to make to have pitched and flat-out delivered the first aloud expression of these great liberators ~ the ones that came instants earlier with credible affirmation oozing from both my words of response to my dear wife Norma’s strongly emphatic request for support of her opinion ~ and my own desire to do the right thing.

“Me too!” ~ Gee, I thought! You did sound great, kiddo! Then I uttered those same two turn-key words again ~ and this time ~ more softly ~ and to my own congratulatory ears.

Norma wanted more.

“Well, what are you going to do about it,” Norma demanded. ~ “Are you going to do one of your time travel broadcasts ~ one that shakes the leaves of every apple tree in the valley during their harvest time season? ~ ‘Cause, if you do, let ’em think you’re God all they want. We sure know you’re not, but they’ve never met you ~ and it wouldn’t hurt them to worry about an invasion of bugs for a while ~ and, at least, until they mend their ways!”

“Me too!” ~ I said again, in even greater focus. ~ “But I cannot tell them an untruth. And besides, I’ve already told them the truth in the part you walked in and heard.”

But here’s what I will tell them, sweetheart ~ even if the word “commandments” does fall a little bit on the heavy-handed and unenforceable side: …..

Male Pilgrims Behold ~

And Heed These 11 (ahem) Commandments

For Pilgrims on Your Next & 2nd Thanksgiving Day:

1. Put away that oblong-shaped ball.

2. Only pick it up when its freezing outside.

3. Send the Redskins home to help their squaws.

4. Never play football on Thanksgiving Day again.

5. Make baseball your Thanksgiving Day tradition.

6. First find 4 trees that are 90′ apart in a diamond shape.

7. Make sure you can hear the dinner bell from that spot.

8. Cut down the trees, but leave the stumps in place.

9. Use the 4 stumps as home plate and the 3 bases.

10. Play ball ~ if you can find the balls to do so in 1622.

11. When dishes are invented, men should help wash them. *

* And, if ever there were a new 11th General Commandment, this one about the dishes ought to be it. If it weren’t for the more general “raise and lower the toilet seat with the ladies in mind,” it probably would be #11 among the new general commandments too.

******************************

Norma to Bill: “I’m grateful that our relationship always has been based on giving each other the mutual right to be different from each other!”
********
Bill to Norma: “Me too!”

            ~ from Everyone at The Pecan Park Eagle!

 

******************************

 

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

What Happens to The Astrodome Plan Now?

November 7, 2018

Harris County Commissioners’ Court
Fall 2018

 

Like many of you, I just woke up to the surprising news that incumbent Republican candidate for Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, had lost his race for a continuation of his 11 years service  to 27 year old newcomer to any political office, Democratic challenger, Lina Hidalgo.

Congratulations to Ms. Hidalgo, whose life storyline itself speaks eloquently for everything that is wonderful about these United States of America.

As the Channel 13 Internet site reports, “Hidalgo was born in Colombia but was raised in Peru and Mexico before emigrating to the U.S. with her family in 2005.

“Hidalgo holds a degree in political science from Stanford University. The same year she graduated from Stanford she also became a citizen.

“While living in Texas, Hidalgo has served as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center.”

She also speaks with the clear voice of one who wants to lead the county to better long term planning for hurricanes and floods, and with an eye toward service to ~ and recognition of the needs of ~ all the people.

As one who supports the Astrodome plan that Judge Emmett and local preservationists put into place, we now have to wonder: Will the new Judge Hidalgo, who came to Houston in 2005 ~ when she was only 14 years old, but as the Astros were reaching the World Series for the first time ever ~ and as the historic Astrodome already lay wasting to the south of downtown in those early years of its neglect ~ will she ~ with no roots of her own in the long struggle for its appropriate recognition ~ give a hoot or a rat’s ankle for what happens to the current plan ~ or any other plan ~ carefully designed to preserve the cultural significance of this mighty local entity in Greater Houston life ~ in light of the many other more imminent human service needs that are with us ~ and shall always be with us ~ down here on the low flood plains of the most successful international community in America?

Let’s hope that her intelligence, her Stanford education, and her particular experience in life, already have brought her into direct contact with the wisdom that some matters of importance to others, but not so much to you personally, are still deserving of the genuine attention and support of the power she soon shall hold.

Congratulations, County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo!

Now please, Ms. Hidalgo, help our preservationist leadership group bring the currently approved county plan for safeguarding the Astrodome forward to completion as the Greater Houston area’s historically significant architectural contribution to world history ~ and to the fulfillment-level life it both deserves and demands.

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Oakland “Raiders” Way Back into Hunt

September 21, 2018

“Listen up, Lunk Heads! The A’s won a game by 21-3 over the Angels last night! ~ If we can’t do better than that this weekend playing football, we are going to be the unfunny laughing stock of Oakland, California!”

Winning big at home by the football score of 21-3 over the LA Angels on Thursday, the Oakland A’s have battled back to within 3.5 games of the Houston Astros in the AL West with only nine games left on the schedule. Maybe a closer look at the A’s bench would have revealed that A’s manager Bob Melvin had drafted Oakland’s NFL Raiders skipper John Gruden as his baseball bench coach for a miraculous stretch run.

We Astros fans hope not, but we also hope that what the A’s did yesterday at least rings a bell that’s loud enough to awaken our own offense against the Angels, who had to take that beating Thursday before getting on a plane and flying to Houston for the rested Astros’ final 3-game home series of the 2018 season, starting tonight. With any luck, our guys could run into some tired Angel bullpen arms. It also will not register well either if we fall back into our often seen home range of a 0 to 2 runs game at home.

It’s also important that our Astros start making an offensive statement of their own. The season ends a week from this coming Sunday on November 30, 2018. This is no time to lose our grip on this always rare opportunity.

And left’s face it. If the Astros win it all again this year, they are going to have to do it without their ordained offensive trinity of Altuve, Springer or Correa having the kind of lights out year they each enjoyed as young and uninjured players. You know the story. All have been injured this year and none have played as well this season, either before or after getting hurt. Altuve probably will finish in the low .300s; Springer seems headed for the .260s, about 13-18 points down from last year; and Correa is off the cliff down, with an average of .238 – or .077 points down from his final total of .315 in 2017. Correa has the kind of back injury that will keep him from recovery until (if or when) he regains the flexibility to reach those low outside pitches that the league now knows he can no longer reach in time.

Other than that, Bregman, Gurriel, Gonzales, White, Reddick, Gattis, McCann, and Kemp all need to pick up the tempo of the lost offense that took us all the way last year. It would be a double shame to lose because we couldn’t offensively support the great pitching staff that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has put together this year. 

The lack of an early offense has been really rough on Astros starters. Too often, our starters have been forced to high pinch count their ways through five qualifying innings, just to hang in the hunt for a 1-0 or 2-1 win, if the lead holds. Other times, when the low one-run difference favors the other team early, the departing Astros starter just gets hung with the loss. With a steadier stream of high early scoring, this 2018 Astros club could have 2 to 3 guys closing in on 20-win seasons, instead of none.

********************

Top Ten AL Batting Averages 

Thru Games of Thu., 9/20/18: 

BATTING AVERAGE

1. Betts • BOS ~ .334

2. Martinez • BOS ~ .331

3. Trout • LAA ~ .317

4. Altuve • HOU ~ .315

********************

AL WEST SCORES, 

Thru Thu., 9/20/18:

Houston (Did not play.)

Oakland 21 – LA Angels 3.

Seattle (Did not play.)

Texas (Did not play.)

 ********************

AL WEST STANDINGS

Morning of Fri., 9/21/18

TEAMS

WON

LOST

PCT.

GB

Houston

95

57

.625

 —-

Oakland

92

61

.601

   3.5

Seattle

84

68

.553

 11.0

LA Angels

75

78

.490

 20.5

Texas

64

88

.421

 31.0

********************

SCHEDULE BALANCE FOR

HOU, OAK & SEA:

DATE

HOU

OAK

SEA

9/21

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/22

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/23

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/24

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/25

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/26

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/27

@BAL

TEX

9/28

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/29

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/30

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle