After a number of years of struggle, the hometown Houston Astros are once again relevant. The local nine sits in firts place and last night Mike Fiers tosses a no-hitter, the first in Minute Maid Park history! The following, from October 23, 2005, is about my favorite Astros moment.
I was there. Well, I almost was there. Did you ever watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show? Mary, who had lived a very sheltered life, was trying to portray herself as worldly in one episode and proclaimed, "I've been around!" After thinking for a second, she corrected herself, saying, "Well, I've been nearby!" That's how I feel. Last night marked the first World Series game ever for the Houston Astros, even the first ever for a team in the state of Texas. Unfortunately, Game 1 versus the White Sox, was being played in Chicago. The Houston city fathers did something incredibly simple but incredibly memorable. They had huge television screens set up downtown where fans could gather and watch our local favorites play the American League champs from the Windy City. It wasn't EXACTLY like being there but it was the best alternative.
Four of us made the trek to the middle of Houston; myself, my brother Dave, Kevin Duncan, and Reed Sutton. We took the Metro link train from the Fannin Park and Ride off 610 East, boarding an almost-empty train. By the time we arrived at the viewing site, the rail cars were crammed with strangers linked only by the love of a team that represents the best our city of four million has to offer. It was an incredible evening. Fans had gathered at adjacent parking lots in the downtown restaurant district enthralled by the action on the biggest TV sets I have ever seen. Thousands of people showed up, equally distributed to the estimating eye between our four most numerous ethnic groups- Asian, Hispanic, black, and white. Most were outfitted in some sort of Astro garb, many following our mayor's directive to cast off the wearing of white socks. (White Sox-get it?) This is what floored me. During the two plus hours we were part of the scene, I heard no profanity. In a society often marked by rancor and divisiveness, I saw only cordiality. We cheered, we groaned, we used body English to help our batted balls find gaps in the Chicago defense, and we behaved as a crowd should behave. We know that the masses can be volatile, especially in an emotionally charged atmosphere where alcohol is part of the celebratory process. I saw zero problems- none. The Astros have taken this city on a dizzy and dazzling roller coaster ride these past several weeks and have made us proud that they are our team. Last night, we made the Astros proud that we are their city. We lost- but it's a best of seven series. No "Wait 'til next year!" It's ''Wait until tonight!''
Already my mind is flashing back to an experience I will never forget. (In case you ever take that Metro train downtown, I have to give a shoutout to Frank's Pizza. The place is 12 feet wide, 100 feet long, and you have to wait in line but the Supreme- ONLY $2.95 a slice-is about as good as it gets.) Baseball is part of the fabric of what we are in the United States. We are pretty proficient at kicking ourselves around lately but look at what this Series has brought together- two teams of selfless men, headed by managers from different cultures who both embody this American ideal- DON'T QUIT. This match up would never have been predicted in March but March doesn't count much in baseball. This is a classic of what the Fall Classic is supposed to be. That is why this Series can restore the faith of many of us who have become jaded and cynical recently by what we have observed our national obsession with sports evolve into. Former Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti stated what Our Game means to us like this: "Baseball is not simply an essential of this country, it is a living memory of what the American culture works to be." Last night, I saw a vision of his faith in our people and its national past time. Good job, Houston. The final score of the game was 5-3 but on a much larger scoreboard, we won a victory that we can all savor, no matter what franchise or city we bleed for.
Applicable quote of the day:
"The only reason I don't like playing in the World Series is I can't watch myself play."
E-mail me at email@example.com