Smith

The greatest run in the history of Houston sports has reached another pinnacle.

Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez and Ryan Pressly have the American League’s best team just four wins away from a second world championship.

Dusty Baker has evolved from a 2020 question mark into the perfect answer for the Astros in 2021.

And while “Cheaters” trends on Twitter and the rest of the country focuses on old things while ignoring critical facts, your Astros just keep winning and winning and winning.

The team that didn’t need to cheat in 2017 and ’18 — because it was so darned good at the plate, on the mound and in the field — has spent three consecutive years either playing in the World Series or reaching Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Take that, haters.

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The Astros’ last three campaigns have also been 100-percent asterisk free, according to everything we currently know and a governing body officially known as Major League Baseball.

“Like I tell these guys, you don't have anything to prove or show anybody,” said Baker, after the Astros ended Boston’s season on Friday night and orange-and-blue confetti covered Minute Maid Park’s infield. “The only entities that you have to satisfy are God, family and yourself, and then the other people can see you later.”

Houston versus Everyone is perfect for these Astros.

Throw in the fact that this will be the Astros’ third Fall Classic in five years, and I’ll say it again: How can you not love this team?

Especially with the 72-year-old Baker remaking the Astros’ national image in real time.

“I had some things over my head, too, and so we had a lot in common,” Baker said. “When you can identify with the people that you're with, no matter what age they are, it's easier to get along and identify the struggles that they're going through. I feel very fortunate to have this group of guys and to be in this position to possibly win the World Series.”

So does Houston.

There’s a fierceness to the local pride that surrounds this team right now.

The Astros still need to win four more big games to prove everyone else wrong. But making it this far again says a ton about the talent and heart that has defined the club since winning baseball returned to our city in 2015.

“The guys stick together,” Astros owner Jim Crane said. “I just give them a lot of credit, and Dusty for guiding them through that.”

My favorite thing about the Astros annually thriving in October isn’t 10-1 road team in Chicago, 9-1 Astros inside a near-empty Fenway Park or 5-0 home team in an ALCS clincher.

It’s what happens to Houston when the Astros make our home a baseball city, day after day and night after night.

You go to sleep at 1 a.m. thinking about the Astros.

You wake up at 7 a.m. thinking about the Astros again.

What a game. What a win. What a series.

What time is the first pitch of Game 1 and who's pitching?

On the morning after the Game 6 victory over the Red Sox in the ALCS, large Astros flags waved in neighborhoods, Astros caps were proudly displayed on the heads of sleepy-eyed Houstonians, and colorful displays of Astros orange blended in with all the front-porch pumpkins. Discussions turned to the best way to obtain World Series tickets.

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“I want to congratulate the Houston Astros, Mr. Crane, Dusty and the group for an amazing series,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “The American League is well represented in the World Series. That's a great team. They have a great program. They're doing an outstanding job and they deserve to be in the World Series.”

After spending Game 1 of the ALCS wondering when my ears would stop ringing — remember those huge late-game home runs by Altuve and Correa that now feel like they were blasted two weeks ago? — I’m convinced after Game 6 inside a cranked-to-11 Minute Maid Park that hard rock concerts sound symphonic compared to the white noise that saturates the stadium in downtown Houston in October.

Feel the tingling magic.

Feel the noise, literally.

“It’s a special fanbase,” said catcher Jason Castro, who was a member of the two worst teams in Astros history and returned this season as a key veteran backup. “I look into the stands — even during batting practice on a Wednesday during the regular season - and you see a lot of the same faces that were here during batting practice on a Wednesday in 2012 and 2013. That’s really special. That means a lot. You know that they’re with you and everything this organization’s been though.”

The Astros have been through so much the last two years.

So have we.

The disappointing New York Yankees are done. The 107-win San Francisco Giants weren’t good enough. The White Sox and Red Sox couldn’t handle Correa, Altuve, Baker and Co. The Dodgers were trying to force a Game 7 in Atlanta while the Astros were resting and waiting.

A team that was rebuilt, then remade is back in the World Series after everyone else wanted the Astros to go away.

No wonder Houston loves its Astros more than ever.

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Source : https://www.houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/brian-t-smith/article/Smith-Houston-vs-the-world-is-perfect-for-these-16557503.php

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