Writer’s Block: Earned History

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

It was a grounder that skipped and hopped with a jittery urgency between first and second base — closer to first than not. First baseman Yuli Gurriel had his left foot planted firmly on the bag as Jose Altuve, playing close in right field, scooped up the ball and slung it to Gurriel. Corey Seager didn’t have a chance. The southpaw got to the plate a second too late. The Houston Astros couldn’t have asked for an easier out to clinch Game 7 of the World Series.

The Astros earned history. For the first time in the franchise’s 53 year history, Houston has won a World Series. It’s not the longest wait for a championship by an MLB team, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet, in my opinion.

One of the best parts of watching the final moments of the game was seeing how much this series has meant to my friends. While it may not have been a 108 year wait like it was with the Chicago Cubs, for some of my friends, it must’ve felt that way.

One friend, a sportswriter and former colleague, wrote on Facebook that he’d been waiting his entire life to see the Astros win a World Series. Another spoke of a bittersweet celebration — excited to see history made, but saddened that his late father was not there to celebrate with him.

Lifetimes have passed between the time the Astros were established and Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. All week long, so many of my friends have shared memories of how they became ‘stros fans in the first place, bringing those lifetimes into sharp relief.

For me, it was a huge laminated poster of Nolan Ryan on the pitcher’s mound which hung in my big brother’s bedroom when we were kids. On another wall hung a motivational poster which depicted a young boy — one who bore an uncanny resemblance to my brother — wearing a 1970s style striped t-shirt, jeans and sandals. On his head, the boy wore an astronaut’s helmet.

The two images are burned indelibly in my mind. Rooted in similar symbolism — Astros and astronauts — they seemed to me to silently impart the same piece of wisdom: reach for the stars.

I must admit, though, that I’m not the biggest fan of baseball you’ll meet. In fact, it wasn’t until the World Series that I actually had a chance to sit down and watch a game this season. But, like the constant presence those posters of Nolan Ryan and an aspiring astronaut throughout my childhood, the Astros have simmered in a warm undercurrent of my consciousness.

I can remember their early successes at the start of this season which I caught via snippets of headlines or sports briefs. Those early season wins stirred a small sense of hope. Some friends, mostly sportswriters who follow the team much more closely than I do, quipped that eventually something had to give. But nothing did. Sure, there were some losses, but overall, Houston finished with a 101-61 record.

It was nothing short of spectacular. Congratulations, Astros!

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