HARRIS COUNTY-HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Artist Otterstad ready to unveil massive Astros mural

Opie Otterstad unveiled his latest painting. Patti Smith/Twitter

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You’ve been watching him for months now.

The man in the fedora and plaid jacket. Always on his scaffold, always hard at work on that giant painting.

You recognize Altuve. Keuchel. Verlander. The scene – Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. And definitely the moment – your Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series in seven.

Opie Otterstad has been a staple on the concourse at Minute Maid Park all season. His last stop was just behind the Insperity Suite, but he’s moved around the park, letting fans see at least one-fifth of what will be a Texas-sized celebration mural for everyone.

The final product – all 10 feet x 25 feet of it -- will be unveiled at a press conference Friday afternoon at 4:30 on the Suite level. That’s when Otterstad, Houston’s own and one of Texas’ best sports artists, will show off the challenging piece.

It is, for the most part, a larger version of the work he released this spring, but with some tweaks. Because of the size and proportion, some of the players are in a slightly different position and the background has changed a bit

“Doing a mural like this is different than doing a piece in the studio because in the studio, it’s a completely different rhythm,’’ Otterstad said. “You paint sort of on a regular schedule, but when you add the element of fans and people talking to you, it’s a different experience all together.’’

Fans and friends have dropped by to see the progress over the last four months, but, before the All-Star break, Otterstad took the painting back to his studio to stand with it by himself – no people, no distractions – and put the finishing touches on the canvas.

Otterstad has done the official World Series celebration paintings for the past 15 years. He’ll tell you the 2004 World Series when the Boston Red Sox snapped the curse and the 2016 Series that went to the Cubs are among the special moments. But nothing can compare to being at every Astros’ playoff game last season and being on the field for the Game 7 win.

In fact, he did an entire series of paintings of the Astros – including the smaller official painting -- that can be viewed at Off The Wall in The Galleria.

In addition to baseball – Otterstad has a special affinity for the sport going back to his younger days when he grew up with Nolan Ryan and Jose Cruz’s children – he has also painted athletes like Ben Crenshaw, Brett Favre and Tom Brady.

He was also the official artist for the first annual Houston Sports Awards and the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

Each work has a place in his heart, but this mural? It’s on another level. And, if the Astros would happen to repeat? Would he do another massive project?

"This sets the new precedent,'' he said. "It's the gateway painting for a new culture of winning in this town. I don't know that I'd want to work on a painting this big again. I'm not a muralist. I like painting big, but this is on a completely different level."








 

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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

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