A sign-stealing scandal has clouded the glory years of the Houston Astros.
Houston, We Really Do Have a Problem
Some Houstonians hate the misuse and overuse of the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem” from the movie “Apollo 13” because many people using the phrase in mainstream media and social media take it out of context.
In “Apollo 13,” Houston did not have a problem.
The astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 had the problem.
Those distressed astronauts needed Houston to fix the problem.
But over the last decade, Houston has indeed endured several problems.
To paraphrase the novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” the past 10 years has represented the best of times and the worst of times for that H-Town.
The 2017 Houston Astros winning the franchise’s first World Series kinda represented the best times.
But because of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, many haters put an asterisk on that title as if other Major League Baseball teams did not cheat in a similar fashion.
To make matters worse, the Astros lost star centerfielder George Springer to a lucrative deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021.
For years, even through the down years at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Springer brought personality and joy to the ball club that seemed contagious.
Although Houston sports teams did not win many championships over the last decade, with the exception of the Astros and the Houston Dash soccer club, many of the city’s professional teams made moves that made them contenders for years.
Many of the Houston teams almost made it to the big dance in their leagues.
But like R&B diva Brandy once sang, “almost doesn’t count.”
The Houston Rockets did everything in their power to recreate the Clutch City championship years of 1994 and 1995, but could not come through in the big games like their predecessors.
Those shortcomings often came because of lack of clutch play by the Rockets’ former star, James Harden.
Although Harden put up monstrous numbers during regular seasons, and even won a Most Valuable Player award, he often came up short in the playoffs, while blaming other star players and not doing enough soul searching.
To appease Harden, Rockets general managers got rid of other stars like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.
Honestly, the Rockets added those star players at Harden’s request to begin with.
However, “The Beard” still forced his way out of Houston so that he could join a super team with the Brooklyn Nets.
Not to be outdone, in 2019 the Houston Texans appeared Super Bowl bound when they got up big in a playoff game against the eventual champions, Kansas City Chiefs.
But bad play calling, combined with the talent of the Chiefs, ended the Texans’ championship drive, while also ending an era.
The Texans mistakenly let former coach Bill O’Brien become general manager. While also letting a team chaplain named Jack Easterby take on an executive role.
That led to trading DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league to the Arizona Cardinals for scraps, in what might go down as one of the worst trades in sports history.
The Texans finally fired O’Brien, but kept Easterby, much to the chagrin of Texans’ legends past and present, like Andre Johnson and Deshaun Watson.
Watson requested a trade and the Texans released future Hall of Fame defensive end, J.J. Watt.
But the bad times in Houston over the last decade have not limited itself to sports.
“Space City” currently finds itself in the midst of an arctic blast, unprecedented in the fourth largest city in the country.
Most of the city lost power and water while dealing with freezing temperatures inside their homes.
During the arctic blast, roads iced over, making it a dangerous ordeal to try to flee the city.
In 2017, Houston experienced devastation in the form of Hurricane Harvey.
People lost property.
And people lost their lives.
Then in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic hit Houston like every other city or town in the world.
But the fact that Houston gets major revenue from conventions hit the city hard.
The loss of conventions like the 2021 National Association of Black Journalists convention, scheduled for August, which now has to go virtual, will hit the city in the pocketbook.
The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo had to close its doors for basically two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cowboys, cowgirls and students from across the state and country would come to the annual event at NRG Park in Houston to participate in the biggest rodeo in the business.
Musicians from the top of the pop charts would perform each day of the three-week rodeo.
All of that money and opportunity went by the wayside thanks to the dreaded COVID-19.
But despite all of the pain that Houston has endured over the past decade, the “Bayou City” remains Houston Strong, with hope popping up everywhere of better days.
The University of Houston men’s basketball team has reached a status in college basketball not seen by Cougars fans since the days of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the big brothers of Phi Slama Jama.
Local talk shows like “Isiah Factor Uncensored” have gone national thanks to Fox Soul.
A new generation of Houston area rappers like Megan thee Stallion, Travis Scott and Tobe Nwigwe have taken over the music genre like Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire did in 2005.
Furthermore, the Astros still managed to make it to one game away from the 2020 World Series despite missing injured star pitcher Justin Verlander and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez for the majority of the 2020 season.
So while Houston currently has a problem, the city has to know that we have always been the problem solver and this episode is just another small thing to a gigantic city.