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Nothing Surprising About Astros In World Series

In the spring of 2014 after just two seasons on the job, Sports Illustrated called the Luhnow’s rebuild the “Great Experiment,” and declared the Astros the 2017 World Series Champs

Houston Astros defeat the New York Yankees 4-0 to advance to the World Series for the second time in franchise history. From left to right, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yulieski Gurriel, and Marwin Gonzalez.

The seeds of the Astros rise to the World Series began in the fall of 2011. They will face the Dodgers in Los Angeles Tuesday night in Game One of the “fall classic.”

Following the first of three consecutive 100-loss seasons, Drayton McLane sold the team to Jim Crane. One month later, Jeff Luhnow was hired as General Manager. One year later the team was moved to the American League as part of the deal Crane signed to get the team.

On the day his hiring was announced, December 8, 2011, Jeff Luhnow began building the lineup into the American League’s best. He traded a minor league pitcher to the Boston Red Sox for Marwin Gonzalez. This has been a career year for Gonzalez who will likely start in left field, as he has for every playoff game so far this season.

Luhnow continued to use the draft, trades and free agent signings to rebuild the roster. In the spring of 2014 after just two seasons on the job, Sports Illustrated called the Luhnow’s rebuild the “Great Experiment,” and declared the Astros the 2017 World Series Champs

Sports Illustrated magazine cover June 30, 2014. Courtesy Sports Illustrated.

The rebuild was painful for Houston baseball fans. Their frustration became tangible. Attendance at Minute Maid Park dropped from 34,627 per game in 2005, the team’s only other World Series season, to 19,849 in 2012. As the team improved during the rebuild, the fans came back. By 2015 when the Astros last made the playoffs, attendance rose to 26,587. This year the team averaged 29,675 fans per game. And that includes three games played in Tampa as the team was displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey

Following the devastating storm, players began wearing a #HoustonStrong patch on their jerseys, and doing what they could to help those in need.  The Astros’ ownership group and foundation pledged $4 million to the relief efforts, t-shirts and tickets were given to those displaced and living temporarily at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The team dedicated Saturday night’s 4-0 victory over the Yankees that clinched the American League pennant, to the city of Houston.

“If you understand what we went through with Harvey, to be able to give back to the fans, it’s incredible,” said former Astro Craig Biggio.  

However, a World Series victory over the Dodgers would do much more than provide a little comfort for a city still recovering. It would also satiate a 55 year thirst. Major League Baseball came to Houston in 1962. At that time the team was called the Colt 45’s. In 1965 the team moved into the Astrodome and changed its name to Astros. 

It was 18 years before the city enjoyed its first playoff team, and only once has the team won a pennant and played in the World Series. That was 2005 when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games. That means any victory this year would be the team’s first in World Series play. 

Earn History has been the Astros motto this year. With four more wins this team will do just that.

 

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