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Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are Heroes.

Carlos Correa played 2018 with a deviated septum, inhibiting his breathing.

MLB: Houston Astros-Championship Parade Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It is said too often of grown men who happen to be good at playing kids’ games that they are heroes.

Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are heroes.

The essence of heroism is the willingness to undergo pain or sacrifice for the good of others. We all saw the hobbled Jose Altuve last Fall, at times suppressing agony, walking with a pained limp, and yet on the field making maximum effort, even running with his usual haste to transform routine ground outs into infield hits. And then he’d limp...Again.

As manager A.J. Hinch said (I paraphrase) “He shouldn’t have been playing, but you try telling that to Jose Altuve.”

Almost immediately after the season was over, Jose Altuve underwent knee surgery.

This morning, as I was reading the news feed on my cell phone, I discovered that Carlos Correa, besides struggling through back pain last season, just underwent surgery for a deviated septum, which inhibited his breathing on the field of play. ARE YOU KIDDING? He played professional baseball and HE HAD TROUBLE BREATHING? As CBS Sports put it, with considerable understatement: “We can’t help but wonder if it contributed to his down year.”

Last Spring I wrote an article entitled If Anyone Can, the Core Four Can. Well, it turns out they couldn’t, win another championship that is. But I think I am just as proud of these young men in defeat as I was of them in victory. One thing I noted about these Astros Four was their indefatigable desire, even by the insane standards of professional baseball players.

So it turns out Carlos Correa plays baseball not only with back pain, but with difficulty breathing. Sounds like the child-Carlos, playing in the Puerto Rican Pampers league, who would often implore his dad: “Hit me grounders by the tree roots Papa.” He would come to school after such sessions with bruises on his face. And he’d do it again.

I have heard through the grapevine that some Astros “fans” are whispering that Carlos Correa should be traded. To you I say: GO TO HELL.

In my earlier article I said that if a team is blessed with even one such example of leadership and character as the four who comprise the core of the Astros, they should deem themselves most lucky. Never prematurely break up a team with George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. NEVER. These are not just uncommonly good baseball players, but outstanding human beings, and equal much more together than the sum of their parts.

After hearing about Carlos Correa’s perseverance through double injury and his recovery, I joyously anticipate celebrating another Astros World Series Championship. And I think I’m just young enough to have a chance to go to Cooperstown on that distant day sure to come when Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa follow Jose Altuve as inductees into the Hall of Fame.

My I propose the following inscription on Correa’s plaque:

Carlos Correa, who in 2018 slashed .237/.323/.405, helped lead his team to the ALCS despite back injuries and a deviated septum, which caused him to have labored breathing.

Go Stros, champions in victory and defeat.