What’s not to love about the story of Houston, Texas, in 2017? It’s been an amazing ride with the city hosting both the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year.
Think back to January when the Houston Texans defeated the Oakland Raiders 27-14 in a playoff game and advanced to the divisional round, capping a 9-7 regular season and the AFC South title. A few weeks later Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, which proved to be the most exciting game in the 51-year history of the NFL championship game. The heavily favored New England Patriots fell way behind the Atlanta Falcons, only to come back and win it in overtime. The Patriots were down 28-3 late in the third quarter, but won 34-28 behind the arm of Tom Brady.
Houston hosted the biggest Super Bowl event in history with huge festivals, concerts and activities that will have a memorable and lasting impact on the city.
As we moved into spring, baseball began to percolate. The Astros took off on an astronomical start to the season. Locally, we celebrated the Sugar Land Skeeters 2016 championship with their ring ceremony. On the sports front, Houston has been enjoying the limelight this year. Nationally, however, storm clouds of racial and political unrest began tearing at the country’s seams. Just when it seemed things were about to get ugly, Hurricane Harvey hit. Although the storm came ashore south of us, it lingered for days and dumped up to 50 inches of rain, causing the worst flooding in Houston’s history. This is where Houston’s character and strength began to surface.
All discriminating factors of race, religion, ethnicity, etc., were thrown out as we all came together and rose to the challenge of survival and recovery. Houston discovered a resilience, strength and unity that have always been at the heart of the community but it came bursting forth in unimaginable ways. We showed a nation struggling to get along what it means to come together. In our darkest moment we found our finest hour.
New heroes arose in the form of a furniture salesman, a football player and hundreds of guys with fishing boats. Stories known and private have been etched upon the pillars of strength and unity that now define our town – H-town. All the while we turned our attention – as we normally do that time of year – to football. The Houston Texans, under the leadership of J.J. Watt, were instrumental in recovery efforts and, more importantly, in bringing the city together.
Meanwhile, the Astros continued to churn along as a force in baseball every bit as mighty as the storm that brought death and destruction to the Bayou City. Not only did the Astros rise to meet the challenges of Harvey, but they did it without losing steam on their way to recording 101 wins.
In a city filled with a history of sports letdowns and the weight of Harvey heavy on our hearts, the Astros offered a glimmer of greatness. The Astros bandwagon took the city like a bullet train. Longsuffering fans painted the town orange as the Astros took charge of three of the Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises. First to fall were the Boston Red Sox. Next up were the New York Yankees. Finally, we faced the Dodgers – the team with the best record in baseball.
The Astros took the Dodgers in seven games – seven wild, heart-stopping, adrenaline-pumping games. And then we danced in their house.
With the exception of a few, rare postseason trips, the Astros have been a poster child for baseball futility. It took the franchise 10 years before experiencing a winning season. Their first trip to the World Series in 2005 ended in a 4-0 sweep by the Chicago White Sox. They lost more than 100 games a season for three years from 2011-2013, going 162-324. They were a dismal 70-92 in 2014 when Sports Illustrated did the cover story predicting the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. Well, here we are and that they did!
With just under two months to go, there is still plenty of history to be made in Houston’s stellar year of 2017.
It doesn’t have to be sports history, but it could be. The Texans are 3-4 and have suffered several season-ending injuries, including Watt’s broken leg and now Deshaun Watson’s torn ACL. The road ahead will be hard for the Texans, but the AFC South is still wide open with half the season left to go. It’s time to man-up and move on. The Astros earned it. The Texans must make it happen.
Aside from football and baseball, the Houston Rockets are off to a fast start and have the potential to be a powerhouse team this year. And let us not forget Houston’s other orange team, the Houston Dynamo. They are in the playoffs and could bring more glory to H-Town.
I don’t think a major city in this country has ever had so much potential for sports glory than Houston does right now. Let’s do this thing! Let’s show the world just how #HoustonStrong we are!