RANKING THE BEST

The top 5 moments in Houston sports for 2017

Alex Bregman's Game 5 hit will be remembered for a long time. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Ranking the top sports moments of 2017 in Houston was shockingly difficult. In many lists every hit from Game 5 of the Astros World Series run could be a top moment, but I had to branch out. So here we go.

5. Hosting Super Bowl

Only fifteen cities have ever hosted a Super Bowl, making it one of the more exclusive lists out there. Houston has hosted three times but not since 2004. Since then, the downtown scene has been completely revitalized, the METRO rail has gone from one lonely North-South route to three routes out of downtown. The festivities downtown and the around the city presented Houston area families with plenty of exciting things to do and famous people to see. But this isn’t No. 5 on the list simply for all of the changes made around the city. The game itself will be remembered as one of the best Super Bowl endings ever. The Patriots, down 28-3 late in the third quarter, scored 19 unanswered fourth quarter points to win the game 34-28. The debate rages on – was this the greatest comeback of all time, or the biggest meltdown of all time?

4. Drafting Deshaun Watson

Ever since Warren Moon, the football team in Houston has had at best competent quarterback play and at worst play so physically vile that it causes women to run from the stadium clutching their pearls and children to scream for their mothers. The best quarterback the Texans have ever had was Matt Schaub, the man who set and still retains the record for consecutive games throwing at least one pick six. The NFL is a quarterback’s league, and as is far too evident when watching the boys on Kirby toil away in mediocrity, they’ve never had one. Cut to draft night. The Texans orchestrated a trade with the Browns to secure Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick. Now, it’s hard to say just how good that trade will be for the team because Watson was injured after playing in only six and half games. In the six games he started, Watson threw for 19 touchdowns and almost 1,700 yards with only eight interceptions.

3. Chris Paul Trade

When Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets back in June for players including Sam Dekker and Patrick Beverley, there were skeptics. Beverley was a fan favorite. Could Paul and Harden effectively share the ball enough to create meaningful offense? Twenty-six games into the season, the Rockets are 22-4, winning 11 straight since Paul returned from injury. They are scoring 114 points per game and have made 416 three pointers. Whether they have what it takes to make to the Finals for the first time since 1995 only time will tell, but if they continue to play at this high level, I don’t see why they can’t compete with the Warriors and Spurs.

2. Justin Verlander Trade

As the trade deadline loomed in August, the Astros had a team capable of making a long run in the playoffs. What they didn’t have was enough solid starting pitching to win the pennant or the World Series. Initially the team traded away some farm players for Francisco Liriano and fans and players were understandably frustrated with the lack of trade activity with a team that was so close. Dallas Keuchel was vocal in wanting the team to beef up starting pitching and he made his voice heard in the locker room and with the media. The Astros were able to trade for Verlander at the 11th hour. He was undefeated at Minute Maid and lost just one playoff game – Game 6 against the Dodgers in LA. He pitched a complete game in Game 2, which was a huge part of the Astros win.

1. Alex Bregman’s walk off single in World Series game 5

Alex Bregman’s walk off single in Game 5 wasn’t just the greatest Houston sports moment of 2017, it is the greatest of all time in Houston. If Bregman doesn’t walk off in Game 5, the Astros don’t win the World Series. Had they lost that game, they would have gone down 3-2 heading back to Los Angeles. Winning that game gave them the confidence they needed to go into LA and win in seven. Over 40,000 fans packed into Minute Maid and sustained a remarkable level of cheering through 10 innings of baseball. The game went on for five hours and 17 minutes with 22 home runs.  There was high drama – four ties and five lead changes, undeniable comedy – a fan ripped Yasiel Puig’s home run ball out of his sister in law’s hands and threw it onto the field while her flabbergasted husband attempted to reason with his brother, and a redemption story for George Springer after mis-judging an outfield hit that allowed a run to score and then hitting a home run in the next inning to tie things up. By the time Bregman singled in the winning run by Derek Fisher, everyone in Houston’s nerves were completely shot.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The 27th out of World Series game seven marked the first time the Houston Astros had ever won a world series, ending the second longest drought in baseball history, and the first time a Houston team had won a major championship since the Rockets in 1995. Even though this game didn’t take place in Houston, there were thousands of people watching the game at Minute Maid Park. Videos from inside the ball park are moving as people scream, cry, and throw beer and food in pure joy. People took to the streets to honk their horns, shout with ecstasy in the streets and blast Houston rap anthems from their stereos.

  • The World Series parade had almost one million attendees and had to be extended by five blocks right before it kicked off because the original route was so packed. Schools were closed, and people took off work and travelled into the city for the festivities. Streets downtown that had once been flooded with water, were now flooded with fans holding signs and cheering. The parade also had the best show of teamwork since the actual game when a group of fans helped a woman retrieve her dropped hat by throwing it up eight stories of a parking garage.

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This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

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