Thursday, November 2, 2017

World Series Champion Hot Links

The 2017 Astros had achieved Favorite Astros Team status before the playoffs even started. No, they didn't set the record for most wins in franchise history. No, they didn't have the best record in baseball, or even their own league. But my God they were FUN. From the Memorial Day Miracle against the Twins to the Justin Verlander trade, with all of the doubt in between - injuries to the entire starting rotation, the slump in August and, oh yeah, the worst natural disaster to hit the United States - the Astros were there to take your mind away from just how bad life actually is, for a few hours every night. A lot of you, especially those of you in Southeast Texas, lost something this year: A loved one, a friend, a marriage, your house, your property. You experienced loss, but the Astros didn't. The Astros - a franchise with whom all of us identify - are your 2017 World Series champions. They won't, can't, replace your loss. But they can, and did, make things just a little bit easier.

*I was at a concert. It was June 4, 2017. I remember it. The Astros had just completed a sweep of the Rangers, and I was wearing an Astros hat and shirt. Keep in mind I live in Rangers territory. This Rangers fan - I can still see him - came up and said, "Remember it doesn't mean s*** unless you win it all."

No team has been woven into the fabric of Houston sports longer than the Astros, who were founded in 1962 as the expansion Colt .45s and grew up with a city on the rise. Through heartbreak and triumph, unforgettable highs and crushing lows, the Astros persevered.

We were at the bottom. Nobody wanted to come here. It was an open tryout, and now it's a destination for players to come. We've got MVPs wanting to come here, we've got Cy Youngs wanting to come here. We're on top of the world...literally.

*George Springer is your World Series MVP. Springer, after his 0x4 4K Game 1: .440/.533/1.160, 4K:5BB. Jeff Sullivan: Springer had an all-time World Series.

*Listen to Robert Ford's game-ending call.

*Charlie Morton, who recorded the last 12 outs of the game:
I have faith that things work out, but if you would have told me that, I would have laughed. I've never even come close to something like that. I'm fortunate to be here. It's unreal.

*Hinch's quick hook on McCullers set up the Astros' win.

*How the Astros got to Yu Darvish. Again. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts:
I know he wanted the baseball. I know he was prepared. I just can't explain the results. I really can't.

If he gets you to chase, it's advantage Darvish. If he gets you to hit his off-speed pitches, it's advantage Darvish. So you have to be very disciplined. And we did that two games in a row where we got hittable pitches and did damage.

*Jonah Keri: How the Astros went from the lowliest depths of hell to World Series champs.

*Dave Cameron: Charlie Morton was baseball in 2017.

*Ben Reiter, who wrote the famous 2014 SI article, predicts the Astros will repeat in 2018.
It's harder than ever to win back-to-back titles, in a Wild Card era with an exhausting and randomizing playoff structure. The Yankees won three in a row, between 1998 and 2000. The Blue Jays won two, in '92 and '93. Those were the only times it's happened since the '70s. If any team is built to do it, it's these Astros. 

*Buy a Springer-signed SI cover.

*Bovada has the Astros as current favorites to win the 2018 World Series.

*Craig Hlavaty on the team that saved his life.

*Jake Kaplan: Six Novembers after Luhnow pitched Jim Crane his vision, the Astros are World Series champions.

*The Chronicle has the inside look at the champagne celebration.

*Richard Justice: Houston's strength in the wake of Hurricane Harvey carried this team. Dallas Keuchel:
It means everything. We knew that, so we wanted to really be behind them. We love each and every one associated with Houston. We've been through a lot, and for us not to be there when everything was going on really hurt us. This is our redemption. This is what we give back.

*Carlos Correa was playing Games 3-7 with an injured thumb sustained in the Game 2 walkoff celebration.

*The Ringer: The Astros are not here for your "pitching wins championships" narrative.

*Get you some gear today.

*Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend on the field after the game.

*The parade is tomorrow at 2pm.

*Mattress Mack lost $10 million.

*Beyond the Box Score: Dallas Keuchel is king of the edges.

*Jon Heyman: The Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish when they could have traded for Justin Verlander.

*FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine: The Astros tanked their way to the top.

*With Alex Cora joining the Red Sox, the Astros are hiring Joe Espada as their bench coach.

*Thank you, all of you, for reading Astros County.