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Happy Birthday Mom! Commentary’s Mom is celebrating her 87th BD today. She came by yesterday and let me know she wasn’t happy with the way the ‘Stros gave it away Friday night. She also declared she wasn’t going to be cooking the rest of the week so my Dad’s on his own – yikes!
Happy Birthday today to Julie Luna!
As long as I can remember we’ve been Space City, Bayou City, H-Town, Clutch City, briefly Choke City, and even Magnolia City. I don’t ever remember Neck City. The Mayor told the Wall Street Journal that some folks think that H-Town is a "redneck white city down in Texas.” Ouch! I didn’t know about that. I don’t know if I would have used those words to impress the Wall Street Journal.
Here is her quote in the proper context:
“Redneck white city down in Texas."
That’s how Houston Mayor Annise Parker sums up the caricature of her town, and she wants everyone to know it’s bunkum. Houston is "a really cool city," she says. "Open and entrepreneurial and welcoming." It’s also booming.
Here is the entire article.
Now there are some burgs in the H-town area that probably have quite a few necks but I don’t know about H-Town.
FYI: Bunkum mean nonsense – I think.
When was the last time the Royals made the MLB playoffs?
I’m thinking the SA Express News three part “Twice Betrayed” series on sexual assaults in the U.S. military is award bound. The series is a powerful and painful read. Nice job SA Express News!
Now this is what you call ultimate reality TV. I’m talking about watching live the tornadoes in Oklahoma chew up the landscape the last couple of days.
There is no TV deal to report on this morning from City Hall – nada, zilch.
We will find out this afternoon if we get Super Bowl 51 so stay tuned!
In 1985 of course the Royals won the World Serious in seven over San Luis and they haven’t been in the playoffs since.
Last night at The Yard the team played like an MLB team. There was good hitting and good defense including three DPs and we picked up our 13th win of the season.
The Sunday Talking Points
Commentary is seriously thinking about walking away from the Sunday Morning Talking Points, err, Sunday Morning Talk Shows. You can say I’ve become disillusioned of sorts. They have become nothing more than a venue for both sides to trot out their daily talking points. It is so predictable and that you learn absolutely nothing. They also do nothing to ease the gridlock in our nation’s Capitol. In fact they actually greatly contribute to the gridlock.
Yesterday was the typical Sunday morning in these parts. Get up. Fetch the hard copy of the Chron. Go through it, have a couple of cups of coffee, flip on the flat screen, watch the local Sunday morning news, then the Sunday “Today Show”, then the talking points shows while fixing morning grub and browsing for other news and sports stories while keeping an eye on the talking points.
The shows like “Meet the Press”, “State of the Union”, and “This Week” all feel obliged to give each side equal time so each side comes out armed with their talking points. The media really has no right to criticize Congress for gridlock when in fact they give Congress the venues that helps create gridlock. You could say that the media are major enablers.
It was the same old same old yesterday with Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP deals.
The best of yesterday morning was the “Today Show” segment on a pregnant Jenna Wolf going shopping for baby gear, learning that of the 55% or so that don’t approve of how The President is handling Benghazi, over 50% of those don’t even know where Benghazi is on the map, David Gregory correcting Peggy Noonan’s goof of not knowing the law regarding the relationship between The President and the Attorney General, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld without talking points.
Without the Sunday morning talking points shows, I could probably get in my Sunday workout at the gym a little earlier and have time for a Sunday afternoon flick. It’s a change worth considering for sure.
The Royals visit The Yard this evening. Tonight will be the 31st time the ‘Stros and Royals have played each other over the years. Name the team with the best head-to-head record?
If you have not seen SNL’s segment the other night with Bill Hader’s “Stefon” with Seth Meyers, you are missing great TV. Anderson Cooper gets kudos for his cameo. The piece borrowed from the church wedding scene from “The Graduate.”
Check out the skit here.
Over the weekend Commentary saw an Eric Dick for Republican Mayor campaign sign on a fence off of I-45 and North Main. What’s up with that?
Kuffer has more here on Dick.
So that means The Mayor has three opponents – one that says he has money, one that will have signs, and one that I don’t know anything about.
If H-Town lands Super Bowl 51 tomorrow, count on The Mayor to include it in her campaign stump speech.
The Mayor will have the owner of the ‘Stros and one of the providers over for a sit down to see if a deal can be made. A couple of days ago the owner told the Chron that CSNH is losing money.
The ‘Stros are 17-13 in head-to-head versus the Royals of course.
We gave one away Friday night. Right fielder Jimmy Paredes ran into second baseman Jake Elmore causing Elmore to drop a pop up and letting the Pirates snatch a win. It looked so 2013 ‘Stros. We start an eight game homie this evening. Did you know that Miguel Tejada is a Royal?
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The Fall Guys
A number of folks are downright gushing about the new hire over at The Yard that will be announced today. I’m talking about Reid Ryan of baseball royalty – the son of Hall of Fame great and former ‘Stro Nolan Rayn. Here is what MLB.com’s Richard Justice gushes:
Reid Ryan’s hiring as team president is a stroke of genius by Astros owner Jim Crane. It makes sense on so many levels that it’s difficult to know where to start.
Woah now! I don’t know about that! I would only go as far as to say it is the best move out of The Yard this week.
Here is the entire Justice gush.
Former ‘Stro CEO George Postolos who unceremoniously resigned this past Monday is the ultimate fall guy and he is being made to be a local sports villain and that’s too bad. He is getting blamed for the ugly signage in left field. He is being blamed for not getting the TV deal done. We don’t know if he had any involvement in pulling the plug on the Wives Gala but some folks probably think he had a hand in it. He took the hit for hiking the ticket prices when the good teams visit. You get the picture.
The fact is the owner signed off on all of the above. In fact the owner is the only one that has been quoted on the TV deal mess. He has taken a hard ball stance on the TV deal which is interesting in where is the demand to watch a team with a 11-30 record. The owner was the one who communicated to the Wives Gala folks that the team would handle it.
When you factor in mounting losses on the field, the front office finally started to sense that their fan base was restless and somebody had to go and Postolos was the fall guy, after all, you can’t fire the owner.
In comes Reid Ryan to save the day, errr the franchise. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt but the owner is going to have to kind of admit that his actions have contributed to the negative perception fans have today. It wasn’t all the fault of Postolos just like Reid Ryan by himself isn’t going to turns things around. The owner has to step up.
The TV deal, left field signage, ticket prices, Wives Gala are issues that need to be addressed. Telling the fans and season ticket holders to kiss our arses isn’t going to cut it. Get your heads out of the sand! Got it!
If they don’t get it, Reid Ryan is the next fall guy in waiting and I don’t care who his daddy is.
The ‘Stros visit PNC Park this weekend. How many World Serious titles do the Pirates own?
Burkablog decided to slap around the House Dems up in the state legislature on the budget deal. I really don’t know what is going on but here is Burkablog’s partial take:
As for the Democrats, I hate to say this, but they have lost so many times that they have forgotten how to win. The latest example is the battle over restoring the education cuts. After a hard day of negotiations, Speaker Straus put an offer on the table: $3.5 billion in additional public education spending. The deal, Straus told the Democrats, will be "dead in the morning, " as reported by Mike Hailey, if they haven’t accepted it and promised to support funding for the water plan. Oblivious to their own infirmities as the minority party, Democrats griped that the Republicans were moving the goal posts. This was truly stupid. As I have written earlier on this topic, Straus has bent over backward to give the D’s what they wanted, jeopardizing his standing with conservative Republicans in the process. This is the textbook case of why the Democrats don’t win: they think they’re entitled, because they represent all that is true and good and right in politics. Until that attitude changes, they’ll never win.
Here is the entire Burkablog.
The Pirates own five World Serious titles of course: 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979.
Only 40% of us have the opportunity to watch the Reid Ryan announcement live this afternoon on CSNH.
Since our pitchers can’t pitch, I wonder if they can bat as we go interleague this evening minus the DH.
Saturday over Tuesday
Commentary heard that the H-Town City Council Ethics, Elections and Council Governance Committee met yesterday to discuss the issue of holding City Election run-offs on Saturdays like they do now or holding them on a Tuesday. I wasn’t there but I’m betting it has something to do with saving money.
Holding the runoff elections on Tuesday means you don’t have to pay as much rent if the voting locations are held at public schools or other places that are normally open on weekdays. Holding the election on a Saturday means you do have to pay rental fees if the place isn’t open on Saturdays.
Here in H-Town we don’t have a lot to brag on when it comes to voter turnout. It seems like holding the runoff on a Saturday when more folks are not at work would get us a better turnout and more campaign volunteers. Keep the runoff on Saturday at least until we reach the 50% voter turnout level in a runoff.
Who is the last Hall of Fame great to throw a no-no?
Graci Garces had around 50 or so folks last night at a very nice Downtown venue on their outdoor patio.
I’m not going to say a whole lot about the Astros Wives Gala PR mess but you can check out what the Houston Press says here.
You can also read the Jerome Solomon of the Chron piece on “Blame Crane.” He must have looked at yesterday’s Commentary when he says:
It is simply bad PR. And bad baseball.
Here is all of his column.
The word is the ‘Stros will name a new CEO/President and Nolan Ryan’s son is seriously being considered so stay tuned. Well at least he knows baseball business.
I have to give The Mayor and the City props. Here is from the Chron for subscribers only for now:
In downtown Houston, there are about 3,200 parking spaces on the street – and a whopping 5,800 signs drivers must decipher to use them without getting towed or ticketed.
Aiming to fix this "confusing mishmash of signs," as Mayor Annise Parker put it, City Council on Wednesday approved a $1.3 million contract with a Houston firm that will spend the next year removing signs and replacing them with a standardized set.
The types of parking signs posted downtown will drop from 120 to as few as 16.
When I park on a street Downtown sometimes I have to walk the entire street block to read the myriad of signage to make sure I don’t get towed. Way to go!
In 1991 Nolan Ryan pitched a no-no over the Jays of course.
We have the day off then begin interleague play tomorrow against Pittsburgh. Now that sounds weird. We have played 25% of the season and we have 11 wins.
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Self Inflicted PR Blunders
Don’t forget to join the Graci Garces Campaign “Tapas on the Patio – A District I Women’s Event”, this evening, 5:30 – 7 p.m., Batanga Houston (908 Congress @ Travis)!
It wasn’t a good day for the front office at The Yard yesterday. Local media ran stories of the ‘Stros no longer supporting the Astros Wives Gala that benefits the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC). The ‘Stros attempted to ‘splain they were focusing their philanthropic efforts on at-risk youth. I get that they want to go elsewhere but they didn’t take into account the popularity of the Gala among ‘Stros fans. They didn’t because all the experienced front office hands have been run off.
The blunders also included having the ‘Stros Senior VP for Marketing talk to Culture Map but dodging Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Chron. Jesus Ortiz is a freaking member of the Baseball Writers of America, a former ‘Stros full time beat writer, and he wrote a freaking book on the 2005 World Serious season!
Here is the Jesus Ortiz story.
Here is part of what the team put out yesterday after 5 pm from the Chron:
• This was not an Astros Event or Astros Foundation event and the former wives charity that hosted it is now essentially no longer in operation as no current Astros Wives belong.
• The event was managed by a paid consultant who received a % of funds from the charitable proceeds. It was not managed by the Astros or the Astros charity.
• The % of funds raised by the gala that were spent on expenses and fees were very high – ranging from 40% to over 59% of gross proceeds spent on party expenses and fees over the past 3 years. That means in recent years, the Women’s Center actually received only a little more than half, or in one year less than half, of what was raised for the Center.
• Best charitable practice assumes donors can expect 70% or more to go to the charity – this is not in keeping with that standard. With such high fees and expenses, the gala was not in keeping with best charitable practices, nor was it aligned with our team charity’s new strategic focus on at risk youth.
Here is all of the response.
The ‘Stros said the Gala donation ratio wasn’t good. Last year they raised $450,000. It had expenses of $200,000 and $250,000 went to HAWC. Well then cut costs or come up with a less expensive event. Did they even consider fixing it?
Check this from the Jesus Ortiz:
“While we were in the process of deciding on our new strategic focus, the Astros Foundation also reviewed details of the Wives Gala and its budgeting, culled from recent publicly available tax returns,” said Meg Vaillancourt, the team’s senior VP of Community Relations. “We learned that in recent years, in our opinion, it appeared far too much of the funds raised by the gala seemed to go towards expenses, rather than to the charity.
“As a best charitable practice, it is common to expect some 70 percent — or more whenever possible — of funds raised should go towards the charitable purpose people intended in supporting the event. In the case of the Gala, in recent years, it appears that a little more than half — and at least in one recent year, less than half – of the funds raised actually went to the Women’s Center.”
In the last available IRS filings, the Astros Wives Organization had $432,000 in contributions in 2011 and distributed $220,000 to the Houston Area Women’s Center. That’s 50.9 percent to charity. Most of the other money was used to fund the banquet and silent auction, which were held at Minute Maid Park and included fees paid to the Astros.
Vaillancourt came to the Astros this year from the Red Sox Foundation. By comparison, the Red Sox Foundation had $9.2 million in contributions in 2011 and distributed $4.4 million in grants. That’s 47.9 percent to charity.
Ouch! Maybe they should have been more cooperative with Jesus Ortiz.
Heck, they’ve been moving players in and out of The Yard at warp speed that it is kind of hard to grab a player and ask him if he has a wife. Heck most of them are probably afraid to unpack their suitcase for fear of getting released, sent to Triple A, or traded. Oh, well.
The Chron’s Randy Harvey says this:
Two fan blogs, The Crawfish Boxes and Astros County, announced they were going dark for a day, maybe longer in the case of Crawfish Boxes, in protest.
Timothy de Block of The Crawfish Boxes said the site might return with fewer writers.
"… several of our writers have expressed a disinterest in covering this team for the moment," he said.
The Astros have a general manager. They have a manager. They need a crisis manager.
What they need to do is start winning. That cures a lot of stuff in baseball.
Who is the last Hall of Fame great to catch a no-no?
The Graci Garces Campaign didn’t invent the photo that was sent to us. Some of our supporters saw it and didn’t like it. Now the Mendez campaign is denying putting it out there but folks aren’t buying the denial. They could have denied it last week but they didn’t. Here is the Houston Press piece on it:
Houston City Council District I candidate Graci Garces is calling for opponent Ben Mendez’s apology after Mendez — or someone with his campaign — allegedly e-mail blasted a photo of….um, Garces enjoying a meal at a restaurant.
"I was appalled that Ben Mendez and his campaign would distribute a photo of me that is intended to bully, harass, and discriminate," Garces explained in her statement.
She continued: "The Mendez campaign crossed the line of decency and should be held accountable."
Hair Balls has to admit: we’re a little confused by the whole thing. We’re not sure what the Mendez hoped to gain by distributing the photo, or if it was just someone’s idea of a joke. What’s the message of this photo? That Garces is not a size 2, and therefore is a freak of nature whose very existence must be documented and shared with the rest of the world?
We think Garces and her supporters — some of whom have written their own open letter demanding an apology — are raising too much of a stink over this, but that’s politics. What bothers us most of all is the way Mendez’s campaign is(n’t) dealing with this.
We asked Mendez’s campaign manager, Joaquin Martinez, about the photo Monday, and he claimed that this was the first he’s heard of it. Strike one, dude. If it really was the first he’s heard of something that one of his opponents is now turning into a campaign issue, then he needs to be let go and replaced by a more effective manager, like perhaps an orangutan, or a block of wood. There is no reason Martinez shouldn’t have had some canned statement at the ready.
Martinez said he’d get back to us, and of course he did not. Nor has Mendez returned our calls. But sometime between our brief conversation Monday afternoon and this morning, the contact number on the campaign’s website changed. Strike two, dude. That’s just freakin’ stupid.
And here’s strike three: the new number’s voicemail doesn’t identify the campaign, or name any associated individual. It doesn’t even state the actual phone number — what it does is state the phone number as if it’s an actual number, as in, "You have reached two-billion-eight-hundred nineteen million…"
We’re guessing this is what happened at Team Mendez Monday night.
Martinez: Hey, Ben, some jack-off reporter asked about that photo. What should I tell him?
Mendez: (thinking long and hard before a luminescent bulb clicks on over his head) By Jove, I’ve got it! Don’t call him back — just change the number on our campaign site. And make sure it has a really fucking stupid outgoing message!
Martinez: Sir, how did you get to be so smart?
Mendez: By never eating, my son. By never eating.
Update: Martinez just sent us a response, which states, "Ben Mendez is running a positive, energized, grass-roots campaign based on the needs and concerns of the citizens of District I, and at no time indulges in or condones negative campaign tactics. In the face of competition, we’re aware that campaigns sometimes present items in attempts to get traction in the news….[Mendez's] campaign staff and volunteers will continue to work hard to energize and engage the citizens [of] District I in discussions about ways to improve the overall quality of life in the community."
The late Hall of Fame great Gary Carter was behind the plate when Charlie Lea of the Expos put a no-no on the Giants in 1981 of course.
We suffered another loss last night. Maybe the new owner should have considered having the team as the designated charity. Heck, he probably would have gotten a better response if he had decided to cancel the season instead of the Gala.
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