Kudos to the Astros and all their long-suffering loyal fans in finally winning a World Series since becoming a franchise in 1962, wrapping it up in game 7 Wednesday night, 5-1, at Dodger Stadium
There will be a huge welcome at the airport today and an even huger parade in the Lone Star State city where Hurricane Harvey was a disaster back in August
By Arnie Leshin | November 2, 2017
After finally hitting the sack and reminiscing each game of this epic World Series, I fell asleep until my neighbor texted me at 7 in the morning with a message, “Can’t believe it, they won.”
He and his wife and young daughter had visited his mom in Houston and seen some of the damage in late August from Hurricane Harvey. He likes the Dallas Cowboys, but isn’t much of a baseball fan. But he did watch game seven Wednesday night, and it was easy to see who he was rooting for.
As for myself, no problem showing my age. I was just beginning covering sports for the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J., in 1962 when Major League expansion welcomed the New York Mets and Houston Colt 45s.
The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants had already relocated to the west coast, so the Mets played in the ancient Polo Grounds until the new Shea Stadium became home.
Houston already had a home, the huge and hollow Astrodome. But I never saw the place, the closest I got was watching the Bad New Bears play there in the movies.
So the early years went by, the Mets had pieced together a squad of old timers, the likes of Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, Don Zimmer, Charlie Neal, Roger Craig. The 45s had put together a young group, one being future Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan. Under aging manager Casey Stengel, the Mets were horrible, going 20-100 in 1962. Houston was bad, but not that bad.
When they matched up, it was Houston winning most of the time. But to fast forward, while New York had won a pair of World Series to add to four pennants, the Colt 45s were renamed the Astros and a long time after finally had a new home at state-of-the-art Minute Maid Park in Houston.
.But they were zero in the postseason, finally making the big show while still in the National League in 2005 and being swept by the Chicago White Sox.
The franchise was frustrated, suffering. Ditto the faithful fans who had stuck by their team. After four-straight losing seasons, three with over 100 defeats, the Astros had a new owner and his team was placed in the American League. He and a new staff created the magic, the complete turnaround.
They assembled a new look of mostly young players with talent, determination and a will to win. This year, he added veteran right-hander Justin Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, former Astro Carlos Beltran, and veteran outfielder Josh Redick.
Verlander, who had been with the Detroit Tigers for all of his 11 years in the majors, had to undo his no-trade clause two minutes before the midnight trade deadline on Aug. 31 of this campaign. He had just purchased a home in the suburbs of Los Angeles and so it was thought he would become a Dodger.
McCann left the Yankees having to pay him $4.1 million for this season, and
Beltran, a future Hall of Famer who was Houston’s best player in that 2005 season, signed a one-year contract. With all this, it was a team that clicked, handily won the AL Central and 101 games.
That’s enough of that, for some 17,000 fans in Minute Maid Park last night had a chance to finally whoop it up, finally ending 56 years by celebrating their initial World Series championship via a 5-1 win over Los Angeles in game seven at Dodger Stadium. They cheered as their team hoisted the championship trophy and passed it around.
It was a classic seven games. The Dodgers, who last appeared in the World Series in 1988 and have won it five times, took game one at home and the Astros took game two.
Then they went home to the largest city in the Lone Star State about two mouths after Hurricane Harvey had caused damage to homes, injuries, some loss of lives, flooding, and just more suffering for the city that once was the nationwide and world center for launching spaceships until Cape Canaveral became the site. The magic words were “Houston come in, come in Houston.”
But baseball was in the air now and there wasn’t a seat available at Minute Maid. There the aggressive, clutch hitting from a well-balanced lineup won 2-of-3 and headed back to Chavez Ravine. After losing game six to even things at 3-3, it was a magic moment when second Jose Altuve flashed a smile as he fielded a routine ground ball and fired it to first for the final out.
From the dugout they came, from the bullpen they came, and every Astro celebrated in the area of the mound, pouching on righty Charlie Morton after his stirring four innings of relief pitching kept the home team at base. Same with reliever Brad Peacock.
The franchise had never been so happy, so relieved, and so worthy of finally winning it all. Outfielder George Springer won the Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award for his long-ball hitting and fielding. The personable team leader also received a 2018 classic custom-made black Chevrolet Silverado truck that was driven to where Springer was presented with the MVP trophy.
Then came shortstop Carlos Correa with his surprise moment. He went straight from a interview to turn to his fiancé, knelt down, and, with the gleaming engagement ring in the box he held, asked her to marry him. She said yes, leaped into his arms, said yes again, exchanged hugs and kisses, and said yes again, than he slipped the ring on her finger.
Correa said he felt it was the time for this, so did his family in Puerto Rico he said, as he emotionally spoke of the hurricane that has torn up the island.
For him, it was giving a ring before receiving his world championship ring.
The popular Beltran, in probably his final season, had no trouble letting the tears fall. He never held it in, instead let it all hang out. He had never won a World Series and felt so fortunate to once again become a part of this franchise. His teammates said he was a true clubhouse leader.
The young, talented, spirited shortstop-second baseman combo of Correa and Altuve hugged many times, with Correa lifting the much smaller Altuve in the air. Springer praised the entire ballclub, including manager A.J. Hinch, the owner and the general manager.
Morton, a much-traveled player, gave thanks to the club for giving him this chance, and kudos pitching coach Bret Strom for sticking with him and making him a better, more confident pitcher.
Kevin Gaddis, a reserve and designated hitter when the series played in Houston, was just happy to be alive and be part of this. He was once so poor and so unsure of his future, he often contemplated thoughts of suicide. Now, as he stroked his beard, he was a person living the good life, and a member of the world champions.
Third baseman Alex Bregman, only 23 years old, was ecstatic. He had clutch hits, ran the bases well, and was simply amazing in the field. Already plays like a future Hall of Famer.
Until now, the only championship for Houston by a professional franchise came in the mid 90s by the Rockets. On this night, the Rockets were playing the New York Knicks, and whooped it up every time the World Series game was announced. Winning going away, they even called time out when the final score was known.
As for the Dodgers, they won the National League East with ease, had the best record in baseball, won 104 games, and will be back. Manager Dave Roberts, who once drove teams crazy with his base-stealing, taking the extra base, did a splendid job. Next week is free agent time, so it shall be interesting to see what moves, if any, they and the Astros make.
As for delirious Houston, its fans will pack the airport grounds when the team lands. Arrangements for a huge parade are underway. It has been a long time coming for a franchise that has never deserted this city.
One thing, the Associated Press sidebar in the daily newspaper today continued to emphasize that it was a shame that game seven was a “dud,” A dud? Give me a break, nothing is perfect. Yes, perhaps he’s a Dodger fans and there was no Hollywood ending, but for the eyes of Texas, it was a thing of beauty.
The writer also said the final game of the season was a total bomb. A what? It was simply an emotional contest where the visiting team got in front and stayed there. It executed with clutch hitting, solid hurling, and good play in the field, whereas the home team didn’t do enough to emerge victorious. A dud, a total bomb? No way. Maybe this writer missed the game.
So, just to let you know, it was an exciting and electrifying World Series between the two best teams in the game. I think I’ve seen enough of these
classics to provide these kudos.
Oh, and there’s now 145 days until the next opening day of the National Pastime.