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And Then There Was Game 7 ... and 8

Monday 30 October 2017 at 5:49 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for October 26, 2017, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            A couple of my cousins in Deer Park are faithful Astros fans, loyally supporting them in good times and bad times; however, I must confess that I am an on again, off again, Astros fan. When they are doing great, I’m a great fan, but when they’re not, I drift away. Some of my friends have faithfully supported the team since 1965, when they evolved from the Colt 45’s to the Astros. I became a fan much later in life, as I was actually a Yankee fan pre-1965.

            When the big bats showed up on the team, -- Bagwell, Biggio, and Caminiti, -- that’s when I watched a lot of games on TV, and even went to one in the Astrodome (I decided my TV set was a better viewing point than the gigantic Dome where my seats were so far back I could see nothing). Then followed a very exciting year, the 2004 season, when the ‘Stros had Biggio, Bagwell, Lance Berkman, and they added pitchers Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens. They were one of the favorites to win the National League, as they advanced to the National League Championship Series for the third time. It was an exciting year in spite of the fact they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.

            Of course the BIG YEAR for me and other Astros fans was 2005, when our team won the National League pennant and went to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. I remember that Phil Garner was Manager, and first baseman and homerun hitter, Jeff Bagwell, played his final season. His good buddy, Craig Biggio, played third base, though I remember him well when he played catcher.

            Being a person who dislikes change of any kind, I was turned off by the decision to move my favorite team to the American League. But here we were witnessing baseball history in the making, as the October 20, Friday night, game in Minute Maid Park was enshrined in franchise records, as was the Saturday night finale! The ‘Stros won the first two games of the series, then the Yankees won the next three. Before that awesome 6th game, just about everybody and his grandmother had suggestions regarding what the team had to do to face Game 6 with New York, -- the most common suggestion being “luck.” Of course, they didn’t just win, they won 7 to 1. Then the suggestions started flying forward about winning the Big Game 7, with some giving reasons why it was inevitable that New York would win.

Friday was not necessarily a good night to stage an important game, considering the popularity of Friday Night High School Football in the Houston area. Not only did East Bernard have a game that night, but also it was Homecoming. I’m sure there were a lot of cell phones and radios at the East Bernard stadium listening to Game 6. The fans at Minute Maid Park made up for the excitement of the fans who weren’t there. The Yankees’ only run occurred in the top of the 8th inning when Aaron Judge hit a home run. It was a great night for Justin Verlander as he pitched seven shutout innings!

So Houston marched on to Game 7, Saturday night, October 21, also in Minute Maid Park, with the winner heading to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in the World Series. What excitement that was for super Astros’ fans like my cousins, -- and, yes, for the rest of us, too. Nobody wanted to get their hopes up for the World Series, and then have them come crashing down.

Amid fans’ fears and hopes, the Astros WON! Like in 2005, they are now headed to the World Series, but this time representing the American League. In the last minutes of the game, the roar from the crowds was deafening in Minute Maid Park. To top off a joyful triumph for Houston, the Astros announced they were dedicating their Pennant Win to the people of Houston who were devastated by Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic flooding.

Many highlights from the game will be remembered for a long time. Starting pitcher, Charlie Morton, threw five shutout innings. Reliever Lance McCullers, Jr., took over in the 6th inning and pitched four scoreless innings. Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve both hit home runs. But the game wasn’t about individual stars, but about the “stars,” the Astros as a cohesive unit, fully functioning and totally unstoppable and unbeatable! Look out Dodgers, they’re coming for you!


Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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