4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

That time I got punched in the face, and the top five Houston sports fights

WWE's Royal Rumble arrives this Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Photo by Paul Muth

I'm not a big sign guy.

You know sign guys. The people who write puns on posters. The ones who carry the letter "D" in one had and a cutout of a literal fence in the other. The "Houston, YOU have a problem" sign guys.

I tried it once when I was 14, was punched in the face, and sort of lost my appetite after that.

Let me explain.

It was April 1, 2001. Wrestlemania 17. I won't ask my parents how much it cost them, but my aunt and uncle scored floor seats to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment in no better confines than the Astrodome herself and I got to tag along.

It was a hell of a show. Some say it was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever. The card was stacked, including a Triple-H match against the hometown hero The Undertaker that set the stage for the main event.

At precisely two hours and forty-eight minutes into the event, Undertaker sent Triple-H flying over the barricade and "INTO THE STANDS!"

"Holy crap," 14-year-old Paul thought. "They're headed right down my aisle."

Now I'm not sure how it works these days, but back then it was totally customary to bail on your seat and follow the fight as they weaved up and down the aisles. I wasn't about to miss the chance so I grabbed my poorly scribbled wrestling poster, glanced back and my Aunt for the OK, then darted after the action.

The fight snaked its way up to some scaffolding with a camera perched atop. There, the fight would stall as they battled their way to the top. Oblivious to anything but the action in front of me, I threw my sign up as high as I could, probably screamed at the top of my lungs, and my voice probably cracked in the process. I was 14.

Suddenly someone pushed me in the back of my shoulder. I turned around and there was an old lady, maybe five feet tall, standing on her chair. She had the quintessential cowgirl big hair and enough costume jewelry on to short-circuit a metal detector.

"GET THE @#$% OUT THE WAY, BOY," she commanded in the most east Texas accent you've ever heard in your life. I ignored her and turned back around.

Then she pushed me again.

I turned around again and before I had any clue what was happening, this knockoff mini Dolly Parton had already connected a stiff left hook to my temple. She then grabbed my sign and ripped it in half. Stunned, I retreated to my seat while tending to a now bleeding eyebrow thanks to what I assume was a Wal-Mart engagement ring.

Haven't really been a big sign guy since.

But this weekend the WWE takes over Minute Maid Park for their annual Pay-Per-View event known as the Royal Rumble. It will be the first time since that fateful night in the Astrodome 19 years ago that I've returned to a high profile wrestling event.

Now am I looking forward to this weekend as an opportunity to retake the dignity that was ripped away so long ago? Probably not. I'll most likely just drink a bunch of beer and yell at wrestlers with my friends. But I'm not ruling anything out.

Now instead of a power rankings this week, I figured that in the spirit of the Royal Rumble we could rehash some of the best sports fights Houston's served up:

#5 Charles Barkley throws man through window

Now I know this one didn't happen on a court, but the story is just too good. In a classic case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes," a 5'2" Floridian by the name of Jorge Lugo decided to harrass the 6'6" then-power forward for the Houston Rockets at an Orlando bar . Barkley ignored and avoided the issue until a Lugo-thrown glass intended for Barkley missed and struck a nearby woman. Bad move. When judge presiding over the ensuing case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, The Round Mound of Rebound replied "Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

#4 Chris Paul serves a two-piece to Rajon Rondo

This one is actually fairly recent and adds to what I discovered was a hefty list of Rockets throw downs. After breaking up a stare down between Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and James Harden, Paul and Rondo began a heated chest-to-chest exchange. From all replay indications it appeared as if Rondo then spit on Paul, which triggered a disrespectful finger push to Rondo's face, which then descended into a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich exchange. Paul was suspended for two games.

#3 Derrick Lewis verifies amateur of amateur status

Some dude actually had the nerve to walk in to UFC Heavyweight fighter and Houston native Derrick Lewis' gym and pick a fight. The amateur claimed that he would knock Lewis out because he was an MMA fighter, and not a real boxer. "The Black Beast" was more than happy to oblige, and swiftly teleported the no name into the shadow realm.

#2 Vernon Maxwell fights Portland man

Sometimes people forget that sporting events are intended to be family friendly. Some also forget that players are people with actual feelings. Maxwell claims that aside from general harassment, a Portland fan decided to bring Maxwell's wife's recent miscarriage to light as well. Maxwell stood up from the bench, calmly walked up the stairs, and knocked the crap out of the dude. Maxwell was suspended 10 games.

#1 Andre Johnson baptizes Courtland Finnegan

It had been seasons in the making. Finnegan had built a reputation out of adding cheap shots here and there, ripping helmets off at the end of plays, and various other dirty tactics. In late November of 2010 Johnson had reached the end of his rope. Schadenfreude was the flavor of the day for all Texans fans as Johnson manhandled Finnegan, reigning down fists of righteous justice.

4th and a mile with Paul Muth

The Roast of baseball whiners, and what to do this weekend

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images

I think I'm on my 8th or 9th full run through of The Office right now. The Office Ladies podcast got me back into it this time, and if you haven't given them a listen, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I was watching the "Stress Relief" episode where the office takes turns roasting Michael Scott. He eventually craters and leaves, only to return and head shot roast everyone with one liners.

I'm at the point in this Astros offseason episode where I've cratered. I've kept silent while I watch Astros fans don their Twitter armor and go to Twitter war in defense of their team. But it's old, and I'm human.

Now I don't condone the cheating they were found guilty of. And I also think it's OK to be mad if you were on another team when it happened. But whining about it on Twitter or into a microphone isn't doing anything, especially if you haven't taken the time to make sure your side of the aisle is clean. It's important to not throw stones if you live in a glass house, and frankly, all of this piling on is going nowhere and changing nothing.

So, whatever. Let's throw some back.

"[I] thought Manfred's punishment was weak, giving them immunity. I mean these guys were cheating for three years. I think

what people don't realize is Altuve stole an MVP from [Aaron] Judge in '17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us."

-Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder

Your own player's union prevented the punishments and even if he did they would have all been thrown out due to good old fashioned labor laws. And don't talk about stealing an MVP, you're one Christian Yelich kneecap away from a 2nd place finish last season dude. Even then he still should've won it.

Boom roasted.

"I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating. It's wrong."

-Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves outfielder

I mean, bold words dude. It's a shame that the next day 70-year-old Dusty Baker crumpled your entire manhood into a ball with a simple response: "I didn't think Markakis talked too much, maybe he had his Wheaties." Also, try swinging better than .121 in the postseason the past two years.

Boom roasted.

"If I knew what [pitch] was coming in '17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs,"

-Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees outfielder

Let's get you on the field for more 80 games first, then we can have this conversation, bud.

Boom roasted.

"Listen I know I don't play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be F*^king irate! I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do! Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this. Literally the ball is in your court(or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports! #JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay"

-LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers small forward

So speaking up about the sanctity of baseball is more important than speaking up about the basic human rights of the people of Hong Kong. Noted. I guess Houston didn't buy enough of his shoes.

Boom roasted.

And finally, here's a one tweet mic drop to all of the journalists piling on for easy page views:

Boom roasted.

This weekend in Houston

Sabrecats - Live sporting events are a little thin this weekend, but if you're feeling adventurous, there's a Sabrecats rugby game this Saturday at 7 pm. Watching rugby isn't the adventurous part. Driving down 288 to get there is.

Doomsday Wrestling - If you've never seen Doomsday Wrestling put on a show, be at Numbers on Westheimer on Saturday at 9 pm. You don't have to like wrestling to enjoy it. You're welcome.

Mardis Gras Stuff - It's Mardi Gras weekend, people. be prepared. If you haven't tried Mardi Gras in Galveston, this is their last weekend. Get going. There's also a pub crawl in the East End (or EaDo for the hipsters).

It's also National Margarita day this Saturday, for what it's worth.

What to watch this weekend

Your Houston Roughnecks hit the road for the first time against the Tampa Bay Vipers on Saturday at 1 pm (FOX), and the Rockets will be in action against the Utah Jazz at 8pm (ATT-SW).

But that's not what this weekend is for.

This weekend is about the Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury rematch on Saturday (8 pm, ESPN+/FOX PPV). We're dealing with two absolute mammoth human beings in what has been a fairly underwhelming weight class to watch for some time. This is the biggest boxing match of 2020 to date, and last time these two were in the same ring it was a draw.

4 Downs of the Week

I'm switching up the formatting of the Ultimate World Power Rankings of the Week to be a little more on theme. It's simple, we'll get through this together

1st down (a good thing) - JJ Watt ties the knot, boogies with grandmother, stays wholesome.



That couple is so adorable it's exhausting. Probably the most heartwarming sports-ish news Houston has had in awhile.

2nd Down (An okay thing. Mainly just a thing.) - Brodie and the Beard, swag on max.

On July 16th 2019, a sage mind (me) predicted an unquestionable truth on this site:

"Harden and Westbrook may be in the running for best on-court duo on the league, but they are hands down the most fashion-forward."

-Me

And would you look who made the cover of GQ! The Oukast nod didn't go unnoticed, either. Very nice.

3rd down (not great) - Astros have a target on their backs, Vegas has an over/under.

Place your bets, Houston. According to an ESPN.com article, Vegas has the odds of Astros batters being plunked at 83.5. Last season teams were hit about 66 times on average, for reference. I wonder what the over/under is for Astros bench clearings?

4th and a mile (Bad) - As if Houston needed another reason to cancel Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings found itself in a bit of hot water in the Bayou City earlier this week after someone's twitter fingers got ahead of themselves.

Houston fans didn't take that lying down, and BWW soon tweeted an apology. Then this happened:

I'll see you guys at Pluckers. Forever.

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