A BIG TEXAS PARTY

David Gow: Re-celebrating Super Bowl week in Houston, and why this city will beat Minneapolis as a host

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.  

Weather

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.    

People

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.  

Food

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.    

Parties

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!

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Houston gets back in the win column

Astros end six-game skid thanks to a gem by Greinke

Zack Greinke tossed a gem Saturday night. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the Mariners roared back Friday night to get a walk-off win over the Astros, dashing their hopes of ending their losing streak, Houston tried to even the series with a win on Saturday night with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke would do his part, throwing a terrific game, and the Astros would squeak out one run, which was enough to get back in the win column.

Final Score: Astros 1, Mariners 0

Astros' Record: 7-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Chris Flexen (1-1)

Plenty of hits, but only one run

Although the Astros were racking up hits against Chris Flexen, they had little to show for it. Eight different batters would notch ten hits against him, but the only time it amounted to a run was on a two-out RBI-single by Taylor Jones in the top of the fourth, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

Greinke spins a gem

Luckily for them, Zack Greinke was making it look like that would be enough. He cruised through the Mariners all night, allowing just four hits while giving up zero runs along with six strikeouts, one of which moved him past 2,700 on his career. He could have attempted to finish the complete-game shutout, but at 91 pitches after eight, Dusty Baker opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for the ninth. Greinke's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 91 P.

Houston finally ends their losing streak

With the high-leverage save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered to hold on to the one-run lead. He would do his job, finishing off the win for Greinke and putting an end to Houston's disappointing losing streak.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Sunday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will look to make a rebound from his disappointing first start with the Astros, while the Mariners will start Nick Margevicius (0-1, 7.04 ERA).

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