A look back

What this World Series means to someone who has been covering Houston sports all his life

These are moments we should not forget. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I wrote this the night the Astros won the World Series. I thought it would be worth bringing back for Father's Day.

It was about an hour after Game 7 that it hit me. The Houston Astros are World Series champions. And for the first time in a long time, I got emotional. I felt incredible joy for the players, team management, and most of all the city of Houston.

My city. 

I hoped the people celebrating realized how truly memorable this moment will be going forward. How rare it is. How special it is.

How sports gives us memories like this that we should never forget.

I come at this from a different perspective. I am an old man, three years younger than the Astros. I have been covering sports in this city in one form or another since I was 16. But my ties go even farther back than that.

Both my parents were in sports journalism. I grew up around it. I thought every little kid got to go to Don Wilson pitching camps. Dan Pastorini quarterback camps. I thought they all got to meet Gordie Howe and Guy V. Lewis. At the time, I did not appreciate any of it.

I lived through all the moments Barry Laminack wrote about. And I see what this means to the city, as the incomparable Ken Hoffman wrote.

But sometime during the evening, after my work posting stories to this site was done, sipping on whiskey, I realized what it meant to me.

So about that different perspective...I am not a fan. I can’t be. I have to be detached. I could not really enjoy the games as they were happening. My mindset was simple: What do we need to do for the site? What will we talk about on The Blitz? I look at teams with a detached eye, because that is how I was brought up.

Fans can truly enjoy the moment, but can’t really be honest. They can’t see things from a neutral perspective. I have always had to do that, whether it was my time at the Chronicle or now. It does not always lead to popular takes. But it is how I have to be to do my job.

But when the job was done, I could sit back and appreciate what we just saw.

What sports is really about is escape. It is the greatest and best form of reality TV. It takes our mind off our everyday troubles. It gives us amazing memories.

And that’s what hit me. It made me think of my dad, Fred B. Faour, one of the smartest, funniest people who ever lived. A man who endured terrible hardships growing up. He was abandoned by his mother and grew up in an orphanage. He was kicked out of our great grandparent’s house because my mom had married an "N word." He was Arabic and looked different from everybody else. He was discriminated against. He was not promoted because he was not a white man. 

And he never complained. He was irreverent. He buried himself in sports as an escape. He covered sports and coached kids and gave them hope. He created memories.

As a journalist, he never acted like a fan, because he couldn’t. But he lived and died with the teams. My worst sports memory was UH’s loss to N.C. State. I was devastated. I thought none of my teams would ever win anything after that. I was an 18-year-old kid who watched people he knew -- I went to high school with Alvin Franklin -- lose a game they were supposed to win.

I could tell my dad was hurting, too. But he made jokes. And I felt better. That’s what he did. When my grandfather died, my dad cheered us up by making jokes. When I went through my first divorce, he hit me with one inappropriate joke after another. And it made me feel better.

Year after year, as the heartbreaking losses mounted, he would make me laugh. When we lost him in 1997, I tried to make people think of the good things, make them laugh. And that’s been my policy ever since.

But early Thursday morning, when I no longer had to work,  I understood what this World Series meant. Memories we will have forever. My dad made me realize that sports is not just the “toy department,” as we were often called in my newspaper days. It is how we bond. How we come together. How we find joy and sorrow together. It is about emotion. Watching everyone celebrate, whether it was the players in LA or the people in Midtown or in Minute Maid: We came together. We were all on the same side. We rejoiced.

Not a day goes by where I do not think of my dad. And when I finally had a chance to be a fan, all I could think of was how I wish he had lived to see it. How I wish we could have talked on the phone for hours about every detail of the game. How we could make Dodger jokes. I could almost hear him say something inappropriate like “how many (lady parts) do you think Springer is test driving tonight?”

And that is what sports is to me. Talking about it with people we love. Sharing the moments, good and bad. And there have been a lot more bad than good in this city.

The older you get, the less emotional you get. But this has been a tough stretch. Harvey was devastating. Seeing the people piling into the George R. Brown was heartbreaking. Talking to friends who lost their dream houses and are still displaced was more than depressing. The shootings in Vegas also hit close to home. I spend a lot of time there and was just at that venue, and two of my favorite people were in the middle of it. Our world is a mess right now. Bad news dominates everything.

But moments like this make it all melt away, like light snow on a fall day, even if it is fleeting. We can escape. We can feel.

And it brings back so many memories. Watching Jose Cruz. Enos Cabell. Earl Campbell. Moses Malone. Living my entire life as part of the sports landscape of this wonderful city, from the time my parents took me to the first game in the Astrodome in a stroller, to the Rockets titles, to me creating the tombstone, to UH winning the Peach Bowl, and finally to this.

Memories.

So many times I came close to leaving Houston. Even in the last five years, I had opportunities in Denver, Los Angeles and Toronto. But this is my home. This sports scene is my life. All my memories are here.

This moment is why I stayed. This memory we will have together forever.

The Astros are World Series champs. And for once, dad, we don’t have to make jokes to cheer each other up. The Astros actually won.

I wish you were here to see it.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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