Well, well, well... I'm sure you all are highly disappointed that you didn't get twice daily blog posts from me (minimum) on my emotional state over the past two weeks. Honestly, there are things you all just don't need to see, and my fragile emotions, heartburn, stomach upheaval and more over the course of the playoffs just really shouldn't be public knowledge. My wife, the dear blessed soul, is the only one who should have to put up with this and that's only because there are VOWS involved. But I would be remiss to just pass over this glorious topic: The Houston Astros are World Series Champions. (I almost started crying, again, typing that last sentence). One second, I'm verklempt, talk among yourselves... here's a topic: a chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea... discuss... ok, moving on...
And not only that, they did it in one of the most amazing World Series ever played. I'm 37, I've paid attention to and been able to watch probably the past 27 World Series at a level of awareness and understanding to be able to somewhat rank them in my head. I won't go through all 27 because, well, there are people paid good money to do that and I don't see any checks coming from the Dimwit Brigade. But I will say, with some admitted bias, that this 7-game series ranks as the best series of my lifetime, and I would say should rank in the top 5 of series across all of history. Two heavyweight teams, slugging it out over a full 7 games, back and forth. It had drama, and controversy, and a beautiful non-heart-attack-inducing finish. I couldn't have handled it if it was another Closer-Vs-Star-Hitter finish like Blue Jays-Phillies. Game 7 not being a nail biter is probably the difference between me typing this and the Hotwit having to get on here and tell y'all I'm hospitalized. There was more than once during the ALCS and WS where I literally could not sleep because my heart was pounding and my heartburn was killing me. Maybe the next time we make a playoff run it won't be as stressful, but I don't see how fans of teams who are more regularly in contention do it. I slept until almost 9:30 this morning, and I'm generally up by 5:30. My body is catching up on sleep and rest it's missed over the past two weeks and I can't imagine how crushed I'd be if we hadn't pulled it out. Totally worth it.
The ALDS: The Red Sox. I'll be honest, I didn't think this series would be much of a problem. Sale was faltering down the stretch as it was, and Boston was pretty much a perfect match up for our offense and pitching. Game three was an eye opener, but the boys got back on track and wrapped it up in 4. I feel for my Boston fan friends, that is a team with some talent but it seems to me like they are putting together a puzzle with pieces from several different puzzles and can't figure out why they don't fit together to make a pretty picture. Boston is on the edge of either building to a real contender or completely falling apart. Luckily for them, they stole Alex Cora from our staff to try and get it together. I think they'll be alright.
The ALCS: The Yankees. Good god, I dreaded this series whether we played the Yanks or the Indians. Both of them weren't the greatest of match-ups for us, but I did feel we had a slighter better chance against the Yanks. Again, amazing series and I love the fact that the home team took home each and every game. But definitely didn't like the feeling of being down 3-2. I also don't think my wife appreciated the cussing and screaming at Joe Buck either - but I will say that even she noticed the hard bias against the Astros from the media in this Series. She doesn't follow baseball super close, but she paid attention a LOT during the playoffs and between the MLB crew and Joe, she caught on to how HARD they were pushing to try and MAKE Aaron Judge be amazing. He's a three outcome hitter, and if you make a mistake he will drill it - hard and long and most likely over the fence. But he obviously can be struck out. I still don't understand why ANY pitcher would give him a fastball. Low and away breaking pitches... over... and over... and over... Get them close enough to the strike zone and the kid can't lay off. Anyways, I digress. The series coming back to Houston... man, doesn't that seem like 6 months ago... with each "majestic" Judge HR, there seemed to be the mundane Astros offense doing it's job. It took us 7 but we go through the Boston/NY juggernaut and into just our second World Series.
The WORLD FREAKIN' SERIES: I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe this team met/exceeded expectations and got to the promise land. Yes, the Verlander acquisition was HUGE and I truly believe that had it not happened, we'd be sitting here talking about the Yankees and Dodgers - with the Dodgers winning in 5 or 6. Verlander didn't win a game in the WS, but he was a difference maker in the field and in that clubhouse. (And no I don't care that he went to Italy to marry Kate rather than go to the parade). Game 1 was exactly what I thought it would be. A game that came down to Dallas making two bad pitches, and Kershaw only making 1 bad pitch. It was a GREAT game. Game 2, now that was a classic. Marwin somehow hitting that homerun in the 9th. And then Altuve & Correa going back-to-back... the Dodgers coming back for 2 more... and then Springer's HR that won it. Game 3 was our first look at Darvish in Dodger Blue, and I couldn't have been happier sending him to an early shower.
Game 4... I start a new paragraph here because this was the first game I went to in the World Series. The Hotwit was all in for getting tickets and I found a couple on Stubhub in my range. Turns out we were two rows from the very top of the stadium but it was still awesome: I was at a game in the WORLD SERIES. Now, it didn't end well for us. Most of the game was a pitcher's duel and then Ken Giles decided he was done having "control". It was a great experience, a bucket list item, as I didn't have a chance to go to the World Series in 2005.
So we moved on to Game 5, one that I felt would be pivotal in determining who was end up with the title. And my hopes were not high - with Kershaw on the mound, I felt we were in for a repeat of game 1. Two innings in, it wasn't looking good. In a 4-0 hole. Then our offense came to life and tied it up. And then Dallas gave up three more. And we came back and tied it again. Then Springer misplayed a ball he shouldn't have dove for. Then he tied it with a mammoth shot of his own. Back and forth with HRs and worn out bullpens. Again, a heavyweight slugfest. This was Holyfield and Tyson landing hay makers. I knew it would come down to who got the last AB, and with it being in Houston, I felt pretty good. Bregman with the HUGE single to score Fisher. Crowd goes nuts. Houston goes crazy - we have a 3-2 lead. But we have to go back to LA and win another.
Game 6... so the Hotwit and I start a conversation Monday around lunch time. Can we get to LA for game 6? Should we? Well, we DO have these credit card points racking up... and we DO have a "rainy day" account that we can borrow from... and tickets for game 6, FIELD LEVEL, are cheaper than the game 4 tickets I bought. Next thing I know, after a whirlwind day of travel, I'm sitting in my seats in Dodger Stadium. I actually got interviewed by the Houston Chronicle too! We are picture #4 if you're curious... But alas, this game didn't go very well for the Houston squad either. Justin Verlander pitched remarkably well. It just happened that Rich Hill and the Dodger bullpen pitched better. Springer got his solo homerun, but that was all we could muster. If you had told me in advance that Justin would go 6 and give up only 2 runs, I'd have bet you a lot of money we win that game. But it wasn't meant to be. As much as I would have loved to, we just couldn't stay for game 7. And after seeing some of the Dodger fans react to winning game 6, I don't know if I'd have felt real safe at game 7 anyways, win or lose.
So, game 7... magnificent pitching by our Astros staff. Most notably Charlie Morton. Can you believe that the 4 most important innings of the entire season were pitched by Charlie Morton???? A guy that people scoffed at when we handed him 2 years and $14 million? A guy many thought should have gotten a minor league deal based on his performance (or lack thereof) with the Phillies last season. A guy with major injury history. This was redemption. This was Charlie going out and pitching the game of his life. 4 innings against that vaunted (if not deflated) Dodger line-up. Wow. George may have gotten the series MVP, but Charlie was amazing throughout the series and pitched remarkably well. Not bad for a guy slotted in the #4 or #5 spot going into Spring Training. I should also touch on the offense. They rocked Yu Darvish again. And I saw an article highlighting Eduardo Perez's take, that Darvish may have been tipping his pitches. And if he was, good job for our guys figuring it out and bad job on the Dodgers for not noticing it as well and correcting it. Either way, if you basically tell the hitters what you're about to throw, it's really hard to get them out. It was a bit of a boring game after we put up a 5 spot and our pitching showed they weren't going to open the door to let the Dodgers back in. Those last three outs. It was amazing. Standing in my parent's living room in Houston. Throwing my arms up in the air. Feeling the wave of emotion flow over me. They had done it. They did it for Houston. They won. The Houston Astros had something that no one could take away. A trophy. A championship. It is our first. And hopefully not our last.
Before I go... I'll address the whole Yuli Gurriel controversy. I won't gloss over it, but I will say that my feelings on it are conflicting. Should he have done it, absolutely not. Should he be vilified and made out to be some kind of walking monster, absolutely not. The media kept saying it was "targeted" and an "attack". I don't see it that way at all. He wasn't on the front step of the dugout, yelling at Darvish, pointing at him, etc. He was in a place where he thought he was out of sight and out of mind. He was relating a story to teammates who possibly couldn't understand him really well, and in the language he is accustomed to in his homeland. This is a story that would have never caught local or national attention in another era. But we live in a world dominated by social media, and an ever disappearing line between private and public life. Biased or not, I don't believe Yuli is some kind of racist monster. I think he made a poor choice in the way he communicated, had a big lack of situational awareness and is going to pay a hefty price for it. And he'll learn from it. I think we all need to look no further than Yu Darvish's statement on the matter. We aren't perfect. Yu isn't. Yuli isn't. The sooner we all learn to get off our social media soap boxes (yes, I see the irony), the better of we'll be. If EVERY person's most private mistake were to become a matter of public record and social commentary, I believe we'd all want to pull the veil back over our lives and disappear. So, Yuli will be suspended for 5 games next season. Obviously the Dodgers fans wanted a stiffer penalty, but the CBA would never allow it - and the appeals process would last well into the off season. There was no way he would be suspended for a game in the World Series. He's a good guy and been a good teammate. He's not a villain.
Alright, I'm down off my soapbox. The World Series was all I hoped it would be. And I made it through without my first heart attack. Win/win.