Recent history shows the strength of the nation in addition to the home town is enough for a team to push for a title run. With the disaster that hit Houston, Texas this last week in Hurricane Harvey, don’t be surprised to see the Houston Astros make a run to the World Series, if they don’t just win the whole thing.
I know, it’s easy to make that prediction this season. The Astros are the best team in the American League, and the third best (by record) in Major League Baseball. However, as a Seattle Mariners fan, I also remember the best team in baseball forgetting to show up for the American League Championship Series in 2001. It does happen, and it can happen to the Astros. History is on Houston’s side in this case, though.
With the damage that Hurricane Harvey waged on Houston, it’s going to be hard not to cheer for the Astros when the playoffs come around. Let’s be honest, if your team’s not in the postseason, that’s probably who you’ll be cheering for. This team will be representing the strength of the nation will be even stronger than it was the rest of the season (the addition of pitcher Justin Verlander helps, too). Let’s look at the few times this has happened this millennium.
We’ll never forget when our entire country was turned on its head Sept. 11, 2001. When the MLB postseason rolled around, there were no more New York Yankee haters, because they had become America’s team. Those Yankees had won 95 games, but the 116-win Mariners were the heavy favorites to win the AL. But the ALCS was all Yankees, and New York cruised to a 4-1 series win. The Yankees ended up losing the World Series in one of the most exciting Game 7 finishes you’ll ever see.
The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing brought the nation behind Boston for the entire season. Now retired Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit the memorial service with the infamous, “This is our f***ing city,” and their city became the country’s city. The Red Sox ended the season with 97 wins, never dropped below .500, and never fell more than three games back of the division lead. The Red Sox were on a mission, and downed another 97-win team in the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 in the World Series.
Crossing over sports, the New Orleans Saints of the NFL turned things around just one season after Hurricane Katrina hit their home town. The Saints played to a 3-13 record in 2005, then improved to 10-6 their first season back from the flooding in their city and the nation behind them. As part of the massive turnaround, the Saints played to the NFC Championship game, but lost to the Chicago Bears 39-14.
The Houston Astros now have more to play for than themselves, which is bigger than a ring. They’re playing for the city they represent now more than ever, and the rest of the nation will be pulling for them.
Photo by Brigham Berthold