The Astros’ championship means more to me than it probably should. The heart-pounding anxiety I felt throughout the playoffs would’ve been appropriate in a serious place like a hospital waiting room. But there I was, watching a mere game, stressing out between every pitch. astros are world series champions
At one point, Aniela (my wife) looked over at me in my miserable state and said “You don’t seem to be enjoying this.” To which I replied “It’s not a matter of enjoying. It’s a matter of winning. I’ll enjoy it after we win it. But until then, this is the way it has to be.” I’ll be the first to acknowledge this may not be a healthy perspective for a sports fan. But if you’re a fan of Houston sports like I am, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I chronicled the ups and downs of these playoffs in my online journal (link).
The Year of the Dodgers?
As the 2017 MLB Playoffs began, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the overall favorite to win the World Series. Not only did they have dynamic hitters and starting pitchers, but they also had a deep bullpen which hardly allowed any runs or hits. I knew that if the Astros managed to beat the resilient Yankees, they would likely have to play the dominant Dodgers. As focused as I was on the Astros, I hardly paid any attention to what the Dodgers were doing on the National League side. All I knew was that they were crushing their opponents. And it would be hard – maybe even impossible – to beat them.
I prepared myself mentally to accept another Astros’ loss in the World Series. “This was simply the year for the Dodgers,” I thought to myself. “And even though the Astros can score a lot of runs, their pitching simply isn’t reliable enough to beat the Dodgers four times.” Perhaps we’d have to wait until next year. Perhaps we would make some trades in the offseason to make us a more complete team. And then we could arrive to the World Series in 2018 or 2019 with a better chance of winning it.
But here’s the nagging feeling I couldn’t escape; even if we were to win the World Series in 2018 or 2019 or perhaps even both years, I would always look back and know we also could’ve won it all in 2017. I dreaded this nagging regret of “what could’ve been.” Fans of the Seattle Seahawks know what I’m talking about. They will always have this regret. I know they’re happy to have won the Super Bowl in 2014. But deep in their hearts, they know they should’ve won it again in 2015. But that’s another story.
The Year of the
The Chicago White Sox crushed and swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series. They were clearly the better team. No one looks back on that series and thinks “We were so close!” Nah, they kicked our butts.
After winning Game 2 of the 2017 World Series in Los Angeles, however, we knew the Astros were capable of beating these unbeatable Dodgers. We had a real shot at winning this thing. And instead of accepting the Dodgers’ championship as inevitable, the Astros simply held it together long enough to steal a title they weren’t supposed to win. And now, Houston is celebrating like it’s never celebrated before. We Houstonians all have the same thing in common; we’ve been waiting our all our lives for this moment. The Houston Astros are World Series Champions.
I remember the euphoria of the Rockets’ championships in 1994 and 1995. That was truly a magical time in the city. But this World Series victory by the Astros … just two months after Houston’s worst-ever disaster … is (arguably) the most meaningful, most important, most cherished moment in Houston’s history.
— Houston Astros (@astros) November 4, 2017
Not only did the Astros win the World Series, they had to beat the iconic blue-bloods of the League to win it. They didn’t beat any obscure expansion teams like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Colorado Rockies. They beat the freakin’ Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers, three of the most storied franchises in America. A coworker of mine, who pays virtually no attention to sports, told me “I’ve heard of those teams, but I’ve never heard of the Astros.”
The celebrities of Boston, New York and L.A. showed up in their ultra-expensive seats to support those teams. Meanwhile, the Astros’ biggest celebrity fan was Kate Upton. The supermodel became an Astros fan just three months ago when her boyfriend (now husband) Justin Verlander was traded to the team.
But this was perfectly fine by me. Houston has never been a flashy, high-profile city. We only have a few big celebrities. Our tourism is nowhere near that of New York, LA, Miami or Chicago. Oh, and another thing…it’s freakin’ hot in Houston. I mean, really freakin’ hot. So yeah, it is what it is. Not many people outside of southeast Texas really care about this Astros championship, but it means everything to us.
They Finally Did It
I’m so proud of this team. And I’m so thankful for Jim Crane and the smart people who put this team together. They quietly and confidently told the baseball world what they were going to do and they simply did it. Check out this tweet from 2014, just after hiring manager AJ Hinch:
— Houston Astros (@astros) September 29, 2014
And you gotta hand it to Ben Reiter at Sports Illustrated, who had enough foresight in 2014 to accurately predict the outcome of 2017.
— Ben Reiter (@BenReiter) October 22, 2017
The now-famous article in that 2014 issue is a long read, but it clearly lays out the shrewd strategy which made this championship a reality. And it’s so perfect that they chose George Springer, the MVP of the World Series, to be on the cover of the issue.
And what more can be said about the players themselves? They’re a likable group of guys and they truly played as a team. Some guys really struggled (Giles & Reddick). But there are always a couple of guys who struggle in a 7-game series. Other pitchers came in to get crucial outs in key moments. And other batters came up with clutch runs to take the lead or erase the lead of the other team. And before we give all the credit to the Astros’ pitching and batting, how about their outstanding defense? Goodness gracious, they were incredible, especially Alex Bregman. Amazing!
“This World Series Won’t Be Their Last”
The most exciting thing to consider about this championship team is that they’re only just beginning. George Springer is 28. Jose Altuve is 27. Carlos Correa is 24 and Alex Bregman is 23. Brian McCann said that one day we’ll look back and marvel that all these superstars were on the same team. And that’s just the core four. There’s at least a dozen other players on this team who have a bright future. According to Sports Illustrated, we should expect to see the Astros in the World Series again in the next couple of years (article).
— Houston Astros (@astros) November 7, 2017
Clutch City City of Champions
Enjoy this, Houston. I don’t have to tell you how special this is. For 55 seasons, Houston’s MLB team has been one of several teams that simply didn’t have what it takes to win it all. All our lives, every season, we watched as other teams celebrated. They even celebrated on our field. But not this season.
And don’t ever forget how close this Series was. So many little things had to go our way in order for us to win. And if any one of them had not gone our way, Los Angeles would be celebrating right now instead of us.
But they did go our way. In 2017, the Houston baseball team did win it all. Some fans of the team may gloat or talk trash, but most of us are humbled. To be rewarded with greatness and celebrations after such a terrible time in our city…we should all be so grateful. The Yankees have 27 of these championships and we now have 1. We’ll treasure it forever. And we’ll never forget the astronomic joy we felt for the city of Houston and our 2017 Astros.
— ESPN (@espn) November 4, 2017
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