A look at the World Series curse Astros fans have suffered through the last eight years.
100-loss seasons typically do a good job of decreasing a fan bases interest. Two 100-loss seasons in a row destroy it. For Astros fans two 100-loss seasons may not have been the entire reason for the lack of patronage at Minute Maid Park this season. What if it actually started back in 2005 with the Astros first and only appearance in the World Series.
Lets take a look back at every World Series since 2005 because the Astros have played a roll in every World Series since then.
World Series 2005 Chicago White Sox over Houston Astros (4-0)
The Astros are swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox. Leading the way former outfielder Carl Everett who hit .444/.444/.444 in the series. Everett played for the Astros during the 1998 and 1999 seasons producing a 132 OPS+ in two seasons. He never stuck with the Astros, or any other team for that matter (eight teams 14 years), because he was a little rough around the edges. In fact may lasting image of him is leaning over the dugout railing shouting at the Astros dugout.
Everett really wasn't the player that hurt the Astros the most, though, in fact production wise he only scored one run for the White Sox. The player that hurt the Astros the most in the World Series only got one at bat. In 2003 the Astros traded Geoff Blum to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Brandon Back. Blum came back to haunt the Astros in the 14th inning of Game 3 when he hit the go ahead homerun. That wasn't the final nail in the coffin, but he certainly put the White Sox once nail closer.
Both Everett and Blum brought key pieces to the Astros World Series team in Adam Everett and Brandon Backe, so I wouldn't say the Astros shot themselves in the foot with those trades, it just happened that in the most important series of the season they came out on the wrong side of those deals.
World Series 2006 St. Louis Cardinals over Detroit Tigers (4-1)
On January 6, 2006 the Astros signed outfielder Preston Wilson who was coming off an average season offensively with the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals. He was only two years removed from his "monster" season in Colorado in which he hit 45 homeruns and drove in 141 runners, good for a 113 OPS+. The Astros expected Wilson to take full advantage of the Crawford Boxes and he did... exactly seven times. Wilson after signing a four million dollar contract by the Astros would be released August 12, 2006.
He signed six days later with the St. Louis Cardinals. I don't think Wilson was happy with his year, but I'm sure he was more than happy with his luck. He wasn't spectacular in the World Series for the Cardinals, but he was adequate, scoring a run, driving in another and posting a .429 OBP. Astro fans weren't exactly upset Wilson was let go, but it was a bit annoying watching him win a ring with the Cardinals.
World Series 2007 Boston Red Sox over Colorado Rockies (4-0)
In 1994 the Astros drafted a 19 year old shortstop in the 43rd round from Connors State College. That shortstop would have a steady climb through the farm system before making his debut in 2000. Julio Lugo being that shortstop spent four years in Houston as a light hitting shortstop with solid defense. He would be unceremoniously released by the Astros on May 9, 2003 after being arrested for domestic violence. He would make stops in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles before signing with the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2007 season.
He was below average offensively, but above average defensively. In the World Series he went off, posting a .385/.500/.462 line in 13 at bats. He drove in a run and scored two other runs in three games of the World Series, helping the Red Sox to their second title in four years.
World Series 2008 Philadelphia Phillies over Tampa Bay Rays (4-1)
While former Astros were off winning World Series the Astros were just getting started with their self imposed implosion. After a shaky 2006 and 2007 Drayton McLane was done with Brad Lidge. New General Manager Ed Wade was seemingly ordered to trade Brad Lidge faster than you could say "slider in the dirt." So on November 7, 2007, the Houston Astros traded Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Philadelphia Phillies for Micheal Bourn, Mike Costanzo and Geoff Geary.
Costanzo would be apart of the Miguel Tejada trade and Geoff Geary would have one good year out of the bullpen for the Astros. Michael Bourn would make the trade a win for the Astros with an 11.9 WAR in his time with Houston and Brad Lidge would only post a 2 WAR with the Phillies. A clear win in value overall for the Astros but only if you take out the World Series. In 2008 for the Brad Lidge was perfect in 41 save opportunities for the Phillies and was again perfect in World Series for the Phillies, posting a 0.00 ERA in two innings and two save chances. The lasting image of 2008 for me as an Astros fan is watching Brad Lidge falling to his knees as Carlos Ruiz runs out to hug him.
World Series 2009 New York Yankees over Philadelphia Phillies (4-2)
I sometimes wonder if Andy Pettitte regrets signing with his hometown team for three years. He had two good years preceded by an injury filled one and I have to wonder if he regrets not sticking with the Yankees and become the greatest Yankee pitcher of all-time. He's third all-time in rWAR and wins for pitchers and likely would have been first by now in both those categories. Instead he trails both Mariano Riveria (rWAR) and White Ford (several categories).
He'll still end up as one of the greatest Yankee pitchers of all-time but there's that blemish on his record when he decided to "experiment." Having returned to his "roots," Andy Pettite was a key player in the Yankees 2009 run. He didn't pitch great, but he provided just enough to get the job done.
In 11.2 innings spanning two World Series starts Pettitte posted a 5.40 ERA which isn't great, but again just enough considering he was the winning pitcher in Game 3 and Game 6.
World Series 2010 San Francisco Giants over Texas Rangers (4-1)
Let's take it back to 2006 for a moment, despite missing the playoffs the Astros were a good team that year and in July they traded for a Houston area native that the thought would help improve the offense. That player featured above average offensive production which is something only Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg were providing the team at the time. Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist (also in the 2008 World Series) were the prospects needed to acquire said player. This player hit for a 107 OPS+ in 2006 for the Astros and then was granted free agency during the offseason.
After brief stints with the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers Aubrey Huff landed with the San Francisco Giants. His first year with the Giants, 2010, he hit .290/.395/.506 in 668 plate appearances during the regular season. His World Series stats were even better. In five games against the Texas Rangers Huff hit .294/.368/.588 with one homerun, two doubles, one walk, three runs scored and five runs driven in making the trade for Huff one of the worst trades in franchise history.
World Series 2011 St. Louis Cardinals over Texas Rangers (4-3)
After essentially being told there was no interest from the Astros in bringing him back, Lance Berkman decided to sign with division rival the St. Louis Cardinals. After a year in which he hit for a 112 OPS+ between the Astros and New York Yankees, Berkman rebounded and hit for a 164 OPS+ in 587 plate appearances helping the St. Louis Cardinals to their third World Series in eight years.
In the World Series he hit even better with a.423/.516/.577 hitting line in 26 plate appearances while playing a pivotal role in Game 6. In the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6, with the Cardinals season hanging in the balance, Berkman hit a game tying single to centerfield. In the bottom of the 11th inning, David Freese hit a walk-off homerun to win the game and tie the series at 3-3.
Former reliever and one time closer Octavio Dotel also appeared for the Cardinals in the World Series. Dotel spent five years, the most he's spent with any of the 13 Major League teams he's been on, with the Astros. Dotel allowed two earned runs in his 3.2 innings of work, but also struck out five hitters. It was a great series, but provided much angst for Astros fans who had to watch the Rangers and Lance Berkman play for a World Series ring.
World Series 2012 San Francisco Giants over Detroit Tigers (4-0)
Aubrey Huff makes his second trip in three years to the World Series and tagging along with him is former Houston Astros fan favorite Hunter Pence.
In 2011 the Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies for a boat load of prospects. In 2012 with the Phillies out of the playoff hunt, Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants again for prospect. In 59 games with the Giants Pence posted a 91 OPS+ the lowest of his career with any team. He didn't fare much better in the playoffs. In 15 plate appearances he collected four hits, only one of the extra base variety (a double) and struck out six times. He did however score three times, walked once and stole a base.
More importantly the Giants were in the World Series with the help of this hit by Pence in the National League Championship Series:
This hit managed to fool the shortstop who went one way and watched the ball go the other way. This hit also started what would be a five run inning for the Giants against the Cardinals in the Game 7 of the NLCS. This hit also highlighted why the quirky outfielder was such a fan favorite in Houston.
World Series 2013?
Who will be this years former Houston Astros to help another team to a World Series win? Could it be: Wandy Rodriguez and Clint Barmes of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Chris Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks; Mark Melancon and the Boston Red Sox; Wilton Lopez and the Colorado Rockies; Michael Bourn and whoever he decides to sign with.
To be honest, I really hope none of those players make it this year and it's nothing personal I'm just tired of seeing Astros in the World Series without a star on their uniform.