Jon E. Garrett
Writing the future of journalism one post at a time



SPORTS

September 26, 2012

Ex Express top dog could turn Astros around

RICHARD TAPIA

As someone who first saw them play in the Astrodome as a child and covered them as a sportswriter as an adult, I can tell you with authority that it’s not always easy being a Houston Astros fan. The franchise that gave me pleasure of watching legends like the Killer B’s growing up in the Houston area and later writing about future stars like Hunter Pence as they emerged through the ranks – has seen better times.

Even a change in ownership this season couldn’t help shake off the malaise that has enveloped the club since its first, and only, World Series appearance in 2005. It’s pretty telling when the prospect of a 50-year-old pitcher joining your staff for a late season start is the biggest Astros-related story of the year.

It’s not my job to cheer from the press box. From a work standpoint a resurgent Astros club would make for great copy. As a fan it would finally give me something more to say than, “Heat, humidity and the Houston Texans,” when asked to describe my hometown.

To tell the truth, the last couple of years I’ve felt a little aloof from the old home team. Living in Austin and covering the Rangers organization the last couple of years may have more than a little to do with that. It’s hard to go back to mediocrity when excellence is so nearby.

Today, however, I finally feel like I have a dog in the fight again – a reason to believe in the Astros and hope that the franchises failures of the past will soon be behind them.

Why? Because of one man: Richard Tapia.

You see the Astros are holding contest to name a new mascot this year, and while it was open to all person 18 years of age or older, the club already had in its fold what I consider one of the finest talents to ever put on a giant head and do the Chicken Dance.

Tapia, a University of Texas graduate, is an account executive for group sales for the team, but more importantly he is a veteran mascot who began his career in high school and represented Texas as Hook ‘Em on the collegiate level and former Houston Triple-A affiliate Round Rock as Spike (the aforementioned canine) amongst many others.

Earlier this week Tapia found out he is one of the 10 finalists for the job. He is participating in a pre-game audition before tonight’s game at Minute Maid Park from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. if you’re in the Houston area, and starting Friday fans will get a chance to vote for him and the other finalist online as part of the selection process.

Why should you vote for Tapia? I could tell you that the right attitude can change anything, that during his tenure with the Round Rock Express he not only was a great mascot, often in triple-digit heat, but he also regularly dominated the local paper’s weekly football pick contest and gave as much time to charity as he did to his job and his spirit-lifting hobby. I could even say since he took his job with the Astros and moved to Houston, when his wife Nicole was accepted into a surgical residency program there – Spike has not been the same.

That’s all true, but I think I would rather let the man explain himself why he should be the next Houston Astros mascot and let you decide for yourself if he has earned your vote. If I know Tapia, it’s the way he would want it.

 
 


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