A cheat sheet for success

Houston Roughnecks: a game day survival guide

The XFL is back. Photo by Paul Muth

Don't worry guys, I made it.

I'm six days removed from surviving the Houston Roughnecks' inaugural XFL game against the Los Angeles Wildcats. I've had time to process the moment, and I've come to an important conclusion:

The XFL is Muth-Approved.

The pace was better, the scoring was exciting, and the atmosphere in TDECU was absolutely electric. Who knows if it will carry over to this weekend, but one thing that's for sure is that I'll be there to find out. If you're planning on coming out this Sunday, here's a survival guide to help you enjoy week 2.

Parking

Here's a pro-tip: don't. Only park if you plan on tailgating. The METRORail can drop you off right in front of the stadium. The cheat code if you aren't tailgating is to park for free out in East Downtown (or EaDo, for the hipsters) and pregame at any number of the bars located around BBVA Stadium. The METRORail is free on game days, so hop on the purple line heading south and it'll drop you off in front the stadium within 15 minutes.

If you have to park, the cheapest lots are 9B and 9C for $25 and can be found at the corner of Cullen and Wheeler. All of the parking is close to the stadium, but because they only have a few lots open at the moment, congestion is terrible. It took about 30 minutes to get in and 30 more to leave out of 9C last weekend, so plan appropriately. Otherwise, make your family proud and tailgate like a true American.

Tailgating

Now if you plan on using the parking lots as they were intended, here's what you need to know. The tailgating lots are 9B and 9C (again, on the corner of Wheeler and Cullen). You can get there up to four hours before the game, and the same rules for Texans and UH Football games apply. Get there early and find a spot that backs up to Cullen Boulevard and you'll have plenty of grass and trees to set up under.

Inside the stadium

Personally, my cell phone reception was awful, so if you have digital tickets make sure you have them pulled up before you get to the gate. If you're looking to buy any merch, I recommend getting in a line at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff. The lines for everything were pretty awful. I had one buddy tell me it took him the entire first quarter to get a hoodie. If you're looking for beer, your best bet is to bring a bunch of cash and just walk around until you find an aisle vendor. They were so busy last weekend, they didn't have to move.

So to recap:

  • Don't park unless you're tailgating.
  • Tailgate up against Cullen.
  • Bring cash money.

Oh, and be loud. Like, really loud.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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