The Houston Astros franchise has been known more for their cornucopia of colorful uniforms then winning. In fact, in 55 years the team has only seven division titles and two league pennants.
But that could change on Tuesday night.
The Astros currently lead the 2017 World Series 3-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers that are seeking their seven World Series.
The Dodgers like the two other teams that the Astros have beaten in the playoffs: the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, a strong national brand with loyal fans from across the country. But Houston is Houston.
Houston doesn’t have national cache, like many things in Texas its own thing. And the Astros have been Houston’s own special thing for over 50 years. 30-plus years of it was spent in the Astrodome, a building that could not more perfectly represent the city. It was before its’ time with indoor baseball and air-conditioning (arguably the No.1 God-given right of every Houstonian). But that only added to the novelty of Astros baseball. Gigantic scoreboards, flashy uniforms, and Astroturf were the calling cards of Houston baseball.
There were times that many Astros fans could say “What could have been?” There was the 1980 National League Championship Series with the extra-inning loss to the Phillies. The 1986 NLCS that ended in game 6 with a 16-inning loss to the Mets.
The Blue-and-Gold era Astros won three-straight NL Central titles in the 90’s but Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and the Killers B’s couldn’t get past the Atlanta Braves and Kevin Brown with the San Diego Padres.
The 2000’s had the Astros deepest run in the playoff before 2017. In 2004, the Astros were one game away from the World Series even with the heroics of Carlos Beltran. In 2005, the team broke through with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte for Houston’ first World Series. Of course, because nothing can come easy to Houston, the team was swept in four close games by the Chicago White Sox.
But the question remained, “What could have been?” What if the Astros had held on for Game 1 of the World Series in 2005? What if the team hadn’t pitched to Pujols?
The Process came to town in the early 2010’s, Jeff Luhnow rebuilt the team in a handful of years by tearing it down to the studs. In return, Luhnow got the core he has now with Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr. added to the familiar faces of Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, and George Springer.
It has come together in 2017, now the Astros are one win away from completing the “process” and putting the question of “What could have been?” to rest.