A Look Back
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.
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.
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 means. 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.
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.
This column originally appeared on SportsMap.