By Ernie Williamson
Baseball and fracking have nothing in common, except they were the subject of stories that I found interesting. I hope you do, too
MONEY DOESN’T BUY PENNANTS
Big payrolls are not a guarantee of success in Major League Baseball.
According to Ross Porter Sports, the three teams with the highest opening day payrolls did not even come close to making the playoffs.
I doubt Houston fans will be shedding tears over the fact that two of the teams were in New York.
The three teams that struck out were the New York Mets ($354 million payroll, 29-1/2 games out of first), the New York Yankees ($277 million, 19 back), and the San Diego Padres ($249 million, 18 back).
If that is not amazing enough, consider this: Two of the three teams with the lowest payrolls among MLB’s 30 teams did make the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays with a payroll of $73 million had the second-best record in the American League, and the Baltimore Orioles, with a payroll of $61 million, finished with that league’s best record.
The Oakland A’s have had baseball’s lowest payroll at $61 million and baseball’s worst record.
By now, you are probably wondering about our Astros.
We know they made the playoffs, but where does the organization rank in payrolls? At $193 million, the Astros ranked 10th in payrolls.
An attention-grabbing report in the New York Times concludes that giant new oil and gas wells that require huge volumes of water to fracture the bedrock are threatening our fragile aquifers.
Called “Monster Fracks,” these complex oil wells are sweeping across parched Texas, the birthplace of the fracking revolution, and the nation.
These days, the energy giants are drilling not just for oil, but for the water they need.
The New York Times investigation revealed that the amount of water consumed by the oil industry has soared to record levels. Fracking wells have increased their water usage sevenfold since 2011.
Oil and gas operators report using 1.5 trillion gallons of water since 2011, much of it from aquifers. These “Monster Fracks” barely existed a year ago.
Now, according to the Times, they account for almost two out of three fracking wells in our state.
In a portion of the Eagle Ford, one of our state’s major oil producing regions, aquifer levels have fallen by up to 58 feet a year, according to a University of Texas study.
The oil and gas industry is aware of the challenge.
Holly Hopkins, an executive at the American Petroleum Institute, told the Times that the industry was ‘focused on meeting the growing demand for affordable, reliable energy while minimizing impacts on the environment.”
Its members, she said, were “continuing to develop innovative methods to reuse and recycle” water used for fracking.
BAD THINGS DON’T STOP AT THREES
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column exploring the idea that bouts of household misfortune seem to come in threes.
I wrote the column after a television went kaput. Then I needed a new caster on my wheelchair and would be without it for a week or so. Finally, or so I thought, an air conditioning unit needed repair.
All this happened within a week.
But I now know for sure that misfortune does not always come in threes.
The day after writing the column we had to replace a leaky water heater. Then the same air conditioner needed another minor repair. And I was told my wheelchair needed more than a caster. It needed part of the frame replaced, and that would take five or six weeks.
Apparently, misfortune can come in fours, fives, or sixes … or even more.