In case you haven't been conscious the past few weeks, I'll fill you in on all the important stuff you missed:
- All of Houston's sports teams lost a multitude of big games to key rivals
- The Astros (last I checked) escaped unscathed
Yea, yea, yea...the Astros haven't "played" a "game" since early October. And sure, you could argue that Drayton tying Ed Wade's hands with $15 million handcuffs could probably count as a loss. It's not though. Check the loss column. We're good. For the first time since mid February, the Astros aren't contributing to the city's sports malaise. Take a lap around the city, and you will find times are not quite as heady for the other teams that call Houston home:
The Texans have lost three back breaking, maddening, (negative word)-ing games in the course of two weeks. Two missed field goals in the closing seconds against Indianapolis and Tennessee, and a Reliant Stadium Meltdown 2.0 against Indy just yesterday. Each loss has seen the offense stagnate terribly in the second half. The loss of Owen Daniels aside, a porous offensive line hasn't given Matt Schaub all that much time to throw the ball, while the running game has been MIA all season. Steve Slaton's glass slipper has apparently broken since his near Rookie of the Year performance in 2008. The whole of their parts is definitely less than the individuals that comprise the whole. Ultimately, not living up to expectations, fading down the stretch against rivals, and failing to overcome adversity time after time falls in the lap of the head coach. Gary Kubiak is a local product, has proven himself a successful coordinator and came in with expectations of changing the culture of losing that his predecessor couldn't shake.
While progress isn't always constant, plateaus have become the rule and not the exception with the Texans. Two straight 8-8 seasons in 2007 and 2008 will perhaps be followed with.....an 8-8 season in 2009. Could this be the last season for Kubiak to prove his worth? What about his young coordinators- Richard Smith (defense) and Kyle Shannahan (offense)? Will the young duo be given another season to coach 'em up?
On the other side of the coin, the well run, star deprived Rockets are coming off a week that saw the club lose to Dallas and San Antonio. Really? Could the schedulers have looked at the city and thought, "Hmm...how can we see to it that Houston loses three games in one week to it's three biggest rivals?" All loses hurt to one degree or another. Losses to the Spurs and Mavericks hurt more. It's just how it is. The nature of Texans is think of yourself as the biggest and best- rationality, sanity and self awareness be damned. It's ok to fall back on the whole, T-Mac and Yao aren't here excuse, but when the games are being played, it's tough to think that way. Especially with Jason Terry shooting 112% from the field one game, and Chuck Hayes continually challenging Tim Duncan the following game.
It's like slamming a hammer against your thumb time after time after missing the nail. Moving your thumb is an option, but in sports, this isn't possible. It's not as simple as what is wrong and choosing to avoid it the next time. However much the Rockets could have used a New Jersey-Memphis homestand this week, it wasn't happening. DAL-SAS stared Rick Adelman and Co. in the face, and that is exactly where they took their lumps. Their deficiencies were made readily apparent by these two veteran clubs. All the ink that has been used to promote the Rockets as hardworking, team first, undermanned and plucky is great to make excuses and spin a particular ball club, but this season is more of a continuation of the Rockets' inability to make good on a promising start. From the mid-late 80s compilation of Sampson/Hakeem, to the current amalgamation of TMac/Yao, what looks good on paper has always turned out to be unfulfilled promise. With McGrady on his way out in the near future, GM Daryl Morey will have to use his considerable talents to build the next Rockets roster.
Oh yea: the Dynamo were knocked out of the MLS playoffs (I think) by a team with David Beckham.
Other cities have it much worse, this much is true. The past few weeks have seen the city take body blows repeatedly, the sort of punches that can reaffirm a fan's conclusions that: 1) the sports world is not fair 2) conclusion one is especially true in Houston.