Send by email

your name: email to: message:
Username: Email: Password: Confirm Password:
Login with
Confirming registration ...

Edit your profile:

Country: Town: State:
Gender: Birthday:
Email: Web:
How do you describe yourself:
Password: New password: Repite password:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Astros and the dream of a dynasty

Por Jack Leyva

The magnetic personalities of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the mystic of the Cuban Yuli Gurriel and the cold blood of the northers Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Brian McCann, catapulted the Houston Astros through 2017 season. History will remember this year as the one in which the Astros got their first game in the World Series and later became the rightful winners of the champions’ ring. This title ended with years of suffering since the franchise started in the MLB in the Colt Stadium (1962-1964) and afterward in the mythical Astrodome, where they lived bitter disappointments, apart from their occasional appearances in the post- season play of the eighties and late nineties.

Unfortunately, these mentioned years did not mean a significant advance for the team, which eluded its opportunities to fight for the throne of America until 2005. In that year, when they were already playing in the Minute Maid Park, the Astros got to the World Series. After having an ill-fated start of the season, with all the specialists eliminating them from all forecasts, the team had a spectacular remount. They had a balance of 15/30 by the end of May, but then they would chain a winning streak of 42 wins in 60 games. That itself was enough to climb up positions and they were wildcards in the National League, a position that was only for one team back at the time.

The experienced arms of Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens drove them directly to the divisional game against the Atlanta Braves, in which they won 3 to 1. After that, in the Championship Series, they redeemed themselves against the Saint Louis Cardinals; a team that had them eliminated a year before at the very gates of the World Series. This time they accomplished the dream and they got to their first final of the MLB, even though their path was a short and tough one, with four consecutive losses facing the Chicago White Sox, with the Cuban pitchers Jose Ariel Contreras and Orlando (The Duke) Hernandez, mentored by Ozzie Guillen.

Since then, calamities would only follow, with seasons of 100 losses and a very slow reconstructing process that only evoked repeatedly the ghosts from the Twentieth Century, in which the baseball Gods decided not to let the Texans win. They carried this heavy weight for over fifty years, a time that has proved to be long and painful, mostly because other younger franchises got their titles when they could not even reach the top. However, nothing lasts forever, as the Boston Red Sox, The Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs, who buried centennial curses over the last decade, demonstrated it.

The Astros would be next in line and last year they celebrated with champagne, as the team got their first win in the World Series. As part of a project that started years ago, the CEO Jeff Luhnow, wisely counseled by the franchise, reunited a group of players at the top of their game. Among them, we have the Puerto Rican Carlos Correa, the explosive outfielder George Springer or the magnificent left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel, winner of the Cy Young Award in 2015, which are now key pieces of a team that aspires to maintain what they achieved in 2017. The second base has batted more than 200 hits and has stolen at least 32 bases on each one of the last four seasons, a performance that situates him as the most consistent offensive second base of the MLB.

As it should be, along with the superstars come complementary players of enormous quality, which have achieved a spectacular level at that is the case of Marwin Gonzalez, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick, who establish a very good balance in the team.

To all of this, we have to add the managements’ movements to cover up the weaker points. They used the free agents market or the trade market as a way to strengthen their bullpen, for instance, with the closer Ken Giles or the starting rotation, with Gerrit Cole or the great Justin Verlander, a true workhorse in decisive games. However, the most important was that they accomplished what expected of them.

Correa betted as if there was no tomorrow, as a confirmation that his rookie qualities were not just a mirage. The same with Springer, a slugger and great fielder in the center field. Besides, Alex Bregman has come from a prospect to a star of the game, while the Cuban Yuli Gurriel has very much adapted to a different game after a decade of playing baseball in Cuba. They all have shined like the Astros they are, but the most exciting thing is the realization that the team wants to keep shining for a long time to create their very own dynasty.