Houston, we don’t have a problem. Well, some problems. True, 2014 was when we saw big changes in sports, plus a quick about face in City Hall and Finger Furniture went out of business – again. So let’s look at these past 12 months.
For Rice’s Honorarium: Rice President David Leebron received $1.5 million in total compensation, more than the presidents of Harvard, Yale or Princeton, and seventh highest among private universities. Elsewhere, Mayor Annise Parker married her long-time partner, Kathy Hubbard, and, no, Hubbard is not getting same-sex marriage health benefits. However, Daniela Parker, daughter of Kathy Hubbard, had a bit of a problem obtaining a Texas driver’s license. It seems Daniela has two mothers, which threw a curve at the state bureaucrats. On her third try, Daniela got her license.
Mayor Parker tried to subpoena sermons and other writings of Christian conservative pastors who opposed her equal rights ordinance. She quickly backed down, but not before receiving a torrent of criticism. Yet what are pastors with their tax-exempt churches doing trying to influence governments? Does the IRS know about this? The Gus Wortham Golf Course – the oldest in Texas – was saved from being turned into a garden. To the Victor goes the slammer: Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino pled guilty to stealing at least $124 thousand in funds from his children’s charity to buy lottery tickets and gamble at Louisiana casinos. “A lot of Hispanic leaders have been calling, upset, because they feel it’s selective prosecution,” said Agustin Pinedo, district director of Houston LULAC.
The Astrodome was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. This means, when the dome is torn down, it will be replaced by a plaque. Speaking of sports, the Astros made giant strides forward this past season. Instead of finishing in last place as they had the prior two seasons, they finished next to last, behind the Texas Rangers. The Astros were so bad, once again they played a game and, according to the Nielsen Company, nobody in Houston was watching on Comcast SportsNet Houston. Nielsen’s report showed a 0.0 rating for households, adults 25-54 and men 25-54 for the afternoon Angels-Astros game at Minute Maid Park on July 30. The Angels won the game 9-1.
That game was the second time, according to Nielsen, that the Astros have played a game on CSN Houston that no one watched. The first came Sept. 22, 2013, when the Astros had a day game in Cleveland opposite a Texans home game that aired on KHOU (Channel 11). The Nielsen report, of course, doesn’t mean no one with access to CSN Houston was watching the game. Maybe the studio engineers had to watch. Root Sports Southwest finally connected with cable providers throughout the state. The Rockets christened the new network by playing their worst game of the season thus far, a 26-point loss to Memphis.
The lone bright spot for the Lastros was Jose Altuve, who became the only player in major league history to appear in the All-Star Game for both the American and National Leagues while representing the same franchise. Altuve led the American League in both batting average and hits. In fact, he led all of Major League Baseball – not just the AL – in both batting average (.341) and hits (225), and he was second in stolen bases (56).
One Hit, One Error: Former New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was accused of assaulting his wife at their home in Bunker Hill. Court documents allege Knoblauch, a Houston native, struck his wife, Cheri, with his hand then pushed her “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly causing bodily harm.” The Minnesota Twins said on the club’s website that plans to enter him into its Hall of Fame had been canceled.
Moving to football, UH has a new stadium, the Texas Dow Employees Credit Union, or TDECU Stadium. Catchy, eh? The Coogs also went looking for a new head football coach, and found Tom Herman, an assistant at Ohio State. After three years, Tony Levin was drop-kicked out of a job. Biggest Sports Bust: First overall college draft pick in the entire nation went to the last-place Texans, who chose Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina U. He played in exactly four games, made seven tackles, no sacks and 143 defensive plays. Biggest Sports Bust II: The Texans front office trying to go cheap on quarterbacks. They are still looking.
The Houston Chronicle finally decided to move to the former Houston Post building. Maybe now the Chron will change its name to The Houston Post and no longer be the largest newspaper in the nation to have never won a Pulitzer Prize. (But it hired one.) Houston lost its only 24-hour news station, News 92, due to insufficient audience and commercials. We used to have KTRH for news, which is now devoted to right-wing looneys – the listeners, too. Even KTRH’s on-the-hour news is opinionated: “Noted race-baiter Al Sharpton…” “Obama’s appointee didn’t bother to show up.”
Quote of the Year: “The Bay Area is a tightly regulated city. Houston has no formal zoning code, though, as the city gets more affluent, more rules are being written. The Bay Area is beautiful in the way urbanists like, while Houston is mostly ugly, in the way fast-food chains like.” – David Brooks, New York Times columnist.
According to a former NASA life support system engineer, Donald Rethke, who helped construct space diapers, each astronaut in the Gemini and Apollo programs had to wear a condom-type sheath with a hole at the end for urination inside their suits. These condoms came in only three sizes — small, medium, and large — to accommodate each astronaut’s anatomical size. They had to estimate their size correctly and, of course, every astronaut fancied himself a large. The sizes were changed to large, gigantic, and humongous.
Ashby looks forward to 2015 at firstname.lastname@example.org