The picture of George Springer swinging away in a throwback Astros jersey just made the claim seem to be that much more audacious.
Well, here it is, 2017, and wow! The Houston Astros are in the World Series! The clairvoyance of that cover and the story about the building of baseball’s best farm system has just about come true. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers stand in the way. For a sport so steeped in superstition this can only mean one of two things – either the Astros will lose and the dreaded SI cover curse will stand or the Astros will become a team of destiny. I’m hoping for the latter.
Last year the Chicago Cubs won it all, ending the longest championship drought in sports history, erasing 108 years of futility. The Astros now hold the dubious honor of baseball’s second-longest current drought, one year shy of the Texas Rangers. The two Texas teams are among eight who have never won a World Series. The Rangers were founded in 1961 (as the Washington Senators) and the Astros in 1962 (as the Colt .45’s).
Only two teams – Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals – have never been to the World Series. The Houston Astros are the first team to make it to the series in different leagues. They were in the National League in 2005 when they went the first time and are now in the American League.
It would only be fitting that the Astros continue the streak of championship baseball in the Houston area. Our beloved Sugar Land Skeeters won the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball championship last season. An Astros win in the World Series would give the Houston area two consecutive professional baseball championships. Not only that, but it would give us something to brag about over our cross-state rivals.
Sometime this week I’m going to have to get me a new orange shirt. I have several orange shirts already, but they are emblazoned with Denver Broncos logos. I need one with a star and an H on it. Of course there is a frugal side of me that says wait and get one with a World Series championship image on it. Should the Dodgers prevail, we’ll probably find deep discounts on Astros ALCS championship memorabilia. I’m thinking I’d rather wait and spend a few extra bucks for World Series gear.
I learned that strategy growing up as a Broncos fan in Denver. When the Broncos won the Super Bowl, you could find T-shirts and things everywhere. In the years when they lost, stores were closing out of conference championship merchandise as if it were a fire sale. Still, if I want to wear something during the World Series, I’m going to have to break down and buy it.
Baseball is a sport I did not appreciate until I was an adult. Denver didn’t have a Major League team to root for and my own experience in Little League ball was less than stellar. When you’re slow and have poor eye-hand coordination, you’re not exactly the kind of player teams can use. I played ball because that what everyone did. It frustrated me because I really didn’t understand the game and I was terrible at it.
In 1987 I married and moved to Minnesota. I went to my first professional baseball game and had a good time. That was the year the Twins won it all and by the time the World Series came around I was a born again baseball fan. There was an expansion of my love of the game when the Colorado Rockies began play in 1993. For a few months in 1996 I was employed by the Rockies as a ticket taker. That was a good time.
Since moving to the Houston area in 2008, there has not been much in the way of baseball to cheer for, locally. The Lastros were living up to their nickname. Finally, in 2012, the Skeeters started playing. They have become my favorite baseball team. Games at Constellation Field are much more fun than any I have experienced in Major League parks.
This, however, isn’t a column about the Skeeters, or the Rockies or the Twins (which, by the way, all three of my favorite MLB teams made the postseason this year), this is about the Astros. This is about a team that just three years ago was the worst team in baseball, yet predicted to be the winner of the 2017 World Series. More than the Astros, this is about the city of Houston. This year the nation was rife with racism and unrest. When Hurricane Harvey hit, Houston proved its might as one of the most diverse and caring cities in the nation and we came together as #HoustonStrong. Now we stand united again under the orange Astros banner. We are #HoustonStronger!