Patience Is A Virtue: The Houston Astros Your 2017 World Champions
On Wednesday, the Houston Astros won their first World Series. The road to the World Series was a challenging one for the team: the Astros only other prior World Series appearence in 2005 saw them get swept, and prior to 2017, they had only made the playoffs 10 times in 54 seasons. The Astros lost 324 of their 486 games from 2011-2013. Fans attempted to remain optimistic as the Astros stockpiled prospects. Then, in 2014, Sports Illustrated published what will go down as one of the most legendary baseball articles in history.
The June 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated included an article claiming that the Astros would be the 2017 World Series champions. The raised doubt throughout the baseball world, as many of the Astros prospects had yet to play in the MLB. The Astro on the cover was George Springer, one of the first pieces of the Astros’ project. Springer was taken 11th overall by the Astros in the 2011 MLB Draft, a selection seen as questionable. The risk panned out, as Springer was named World Series MVP.
Jeff Luhnow was tasked with the Astros rebuild. Luhnow had won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, and had drafted and scouted many of their core pieces. Luhnow demanded patience upon arriving in Houston, and preached a vision for a brighter future, trading away veterans and stockpiling draft picks. The Astros showed a glimpse of the future in 2015 with an ALCS playoff run. Following this, Luhnow moved to acquire veterans, including Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Justin Verlander.
“You won’t regret this decision if you decide to join the Houston Astros.” Dallas Keuchel, Houston’s ace, made this sales pitch to Justin Verlander shortly before the trade deadline this season. Verlander had been a Detroit Tiger for his entire career, but the two were going in opposite directions: while the Tigers wanted to get younger, Verlander wanted to win. After rejecting other trade attempts, the 34-year old gave in and went to Houston. Verlander dominated in Houston, posting a 1.06 earned run average and five wins in five starts. The playoffs were no different, as Verlander led his team to the World Series by fending off the Boston Red Sox and capturing the ALCS MVP.
Not all of these Astros were highly touted prospects or superstars, though. Jose Altuve tried out for the Astros in 2007 at the team’s Venezuelan facility. He was told he was “too short” and was cut. Altuve’s father pushed him to not take no for an answer, and Altuve returned and was eventually signed for $15,000. From age 17 to 21, Altuve played for the Astros affiliates in 7 different minor leagues before he finally got the call. Even after making the MLB, Altuve would return to Venezuela to play for the Astros’ winter league team. Altuve has gone from being “too short” to being a World Series champion, and is the odds-on favourite to be the American League MVP.
At the end of the day, all the accolades and hype that came prior to this, they mean absolutely nothing to these gentlemen. As all of these men are now World Champions and have had this chapter told. For some, this is just the beginning of their illustrious careers, but for one it is likely the end of the road. Carlos Beltran, one of the most consistent players of his generation is now 40 years old, and well past his prime. This was rumoured to be his last chance at a World Series, and bi-god he got it done. Beltran became emotional at the end of his interview, dedicating the win to his birthplace, Puerto Rico. Beltran also spoke of what it means to him, and how when you reach the “Big Leagues”, you want nothing more than to experience this moment.
Beltran’s case, sums up everything of what this World Series win means to Houston. After the devastating weather, which ravaged their fine city, many of its residents rallied around this team. Rebuilding their city may seem difficult, and it will take time, but they can look to the Astros for hope. An organization who was once a laughingstock is now on top, because they remained patient and worked hard. The Astros finally realized that moment, and the city felt it with them. Your 2017 World Series Champions, The Houston Astros.