The Big Texas Party was better than anything Minneapolis will do. ABC13.com
Every year thousands of media members travel to cover the Super Bowl, leading to widespread reviews of the host city. This year will be no different. There will be stories about the weather, the logistics, the food, hotels, transportation, hospitality, etc. The point: The Super Bowl is so much more than the game; it is a week-long, deep-dive experience of learning the dynamics of the host city.
Last year, Houston truly shined. This year, we have Minneapolis. Minneapolis in February -- a head-scratcher that has media members and fans from both sides grumbling. As a member of the media, I have travelled to the Super Bowl city each of the last eight years. Never has there been a back-to-back comparison of cities that is so one-sided. Allow me to offer my top five reasons why Houston is a superior host city to Minneapolis.
Idyllic conditions vs. artic freeze. This one is stating the obvious. It is almost too easy, like telling everyone that Tom Brady is a better QB than Nick Foles. Of course. But, more than any other year, the weather will define the experience leading up to the game. Last year Houston weather ranged between 60-75 degrees. The forecast in Minneapolis: temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to 0 degrees – the coldest host city experience, ever.
Minnesota Nice vs. Texas Hospitality. Having visited Minneapolis many times, I will affirm the unofficial state motto: Minnesotans are, indeed, “nice.” But sometimes I feel this is stated merely due to context. Think: well, given that the winters they endure, they do a good job of being nice. It is hunkered-down, grit-your-teeth, survivalist “nice.” Last year one of the common themes I heard from visitors about Houston: the hospitality was over the top. From the moment visitors arrived at the airport, to the time they needed directions, when they wanted restaurant recommendations, etc., there was a pervasive spirit in the air: Texas-sized Hospitality.
Nexus of Activity
Mall of America vs. Discovery Green. Every year there is a hub of all the week’s activities: the site for the NFL experience, radio row, restaurants/hotels, bands performing, etc. I don’t want to revisit the point about weather, but as I said, it defines the week. In Minnesota, the hub will be the Mall of America, a sprawling indoor monster mall. In Houston, guests strolled outdoors, sat on the lawn listening to bands, ate at covered patios. For the removal of doubt, ours was Discovery Green.
Booya vs. Barbecue. Minnesotans make stew in large vats and call it booya. Other signature dishes include cheese curds or casserole. MMM. Give me a plate of Pinkerton’s barbecue – please. I might have touted fresh walleye, a delicious fresh water fish found in Minnesota’s many lakes but, right now, those lakes are frozen – ugh! (and, no, I do not recommend ice fishing). Of course, what makes Houston’s restaurant scene world class is our incredible ethnic diversity. If Minnesota is “twin-cities,” we are about “10 cities” of different ethnic groups. Thus, the challenge for last year’s visitors was how to try it all: barbecue, Mexican, steak houses, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, etc., etc. You get the point.
The Big Texas Party vs. Anything. Every year there are large parties thrown by out-of-town entities: the Maxim Party, the Leather and Laces party, the Playboy party, etc. Those parties took place in Houston; they will take place in Minneapolis – same thing. But here is what is different. I am now revealing my ultimate “homer” status. The best party I have ever attended was last year: The Big Texas Party. Thrown by CultureMap and ESPN 97.5, the party headline was beer, bourbon and barbecue. The Mayor came. A ton of former and current football players showed up -- Mike Barber, Chris Dishman, Bubba McDowell and legendary Cowboys Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Randy White. Even a few Patriots, who would play in the big game a few days later, snuck in to enjoy the festivities. Most Super Bowl parties are a bunch of men hanging around drinking beer, wishing there were more women or staring at the few models who have been paid to attend. But this party had the perfect balance: CultureMap turned out women; ESPN 97.5 turned out the men. When Bart Crow fired up his band, the dance floor was full. The event was such a success we had folks suggesting we do it again this year. Rather, we will cling to a great memory, a party that capped off a week where Houston put its best boot forward!
The Houston Astros were in need of some serious help in the bullpen with Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek likely leaving this year in free agency.
The Houston Astros have acquired RHP Dylan Coleman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Carlos Mateo. pic.twitter.com/hDYuBLn2Kv
— Houston Astros (@astros) December 6, 2023
While some fans were getting concerned about the quiet offseason, the club has made two moves this week to get the ball rolling.
First the team signed Victor Caratini to be the backup catcher, and now they have added some relief pitching.
The Astros traded pitching prospect Carlos Mateo to the Royals for RHP pitcher Dylan Coleman.
Coleman appeared in 96 games in the past three seasons for KC, including 68 games in 2022 and 23 games last season. He has a career 3.88 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He’s fastball (95 mph), slider (81) and cutter (90) and walked 57 batters and struck out 99 in 92 2/3 innings.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 6, 2023
Coleman is under club control for the next several years, and made just over $700,000 in 2022. With the Astros right up against the tax threshold, this is a good way to add to the bullpen without having to hand out a large contract.
The Royals had a tough roster decision to make with Coleman, and the Astros made the decision easy for them by making the trade.
Something to note
There's a reason Kansas City wasn't determined to protect Coleman from the Rule 5 Draft. Despite his decent numbers over the last three seasons, 2023 was a rough year for him, posting an 8.84 ERA over 23 games.
In fact, Coleman pitched more innings (30.2) for the Royals AAA team than he did for the big league club (18.1) in 2023.
Hopefully, the Astros can get him back on track this season with some help from their highly touted player development program.
You can watch some of his 2022 highlights above.