World Champions

By Robert Proctor

It only seems fitting to talk about baseball in the middle of football season. Growing up in a town which absolutely loves football, I always loved baseball that much more. Whether it be the Houston Astros, Texas Longhorns or USA in the World Baseball Classic, I have a deep passion for the game of baseball, which brings me to the reason for this column: the Houston Astros are World Series champions.

I know this may be a couple weeks over due, but I honestly needed to allow the thought of the Astros being world champions to resonate with me for awhile. It didn’t seem real when Jose Altuve made the final throw to Yuli Gurriel Nov. 1, and it still seems surreal today.

Only four years ago, the Astros were coming off their third consecutive 100 loss season. During that three year stretch of well-over 300 losses, I watched most of their games, clinging to each win like it was a championship in itself. Of course, seeing the team win regularly now is much more enjoyable, but in all honestly, I just loved watching them play with the hope somewhere tucked back in my mind that they may win it all one day.

This was wishful thinking at its finest. Not only had the Astros been down in the dumps, to say the least, during that stretch from 2011-2013, but they had never won a championship in their 55 seasons prior to this year.

Nevertheless, I loved watching them take the field each night.

Whether I would watch them on TV, go to the game or keep up with them on ESPN Gamecast, keeping up with each game was important to me, and I’m positive many others can say the same.

Let me be clear, this isn’t about me loving the Astros in the hard times, and it feeling really good now that they have a championship. In all honesty, I have more sadness in another season being over than joy in victory. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond elated the Astros won, but the thrill of the game far outweighs any trophy.

Without question, the best part about each season is the closeness it brings with me and two of my best friends: Zac Condie and Colton White. There’s no question the Astros bring us together more than anything other than our love for Jesus. Having someone to share things with makes them all the more worthwhile.

With Zac and Colton far from Cuero these days, I watch most of the games with another close friend: John Klinkerman. Even though he’s an Aggie, he still has a fairly sharp baseball knowledge.

I would be hard-pressed not to mention the acclaimed Sports Illustrated article by Ben Reiter, pegging the Astros as World Series champs back in June of 2014. I still remember seeing this story when it was originally published and naturally getting excited. Three years flew by, and hopefully this off-season will, too.

At the time of its release, Carlos Correa was still in the minors, Altuve had yet to win a batting title (he has three now), Gurriel was playing in Cuba, Alex Bregman was at LSU, future Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel was starting to burst onto the scene and World Series MVP George Springer was in his first season at the Major League level. Oh, and Justin Verlander was in Detroit.

All this to say the core of the mostly young Astros were unknown or not there only three years ago. Now, they are household names, and more fun seasons could be in store with more youngsters chomping at the bit to make their mark.

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