The game ended almost 24 hours ago, and my adrenaline hasn’t stopped surging yet.
The Houston Astros, the target of anger, boos, jeers and taunting signs in every ballpark all season — and overzealous cheers when they’ve been hit by pitches or struck out in key situations — blocked out the noise of over 40,000 Chicago White Sox faithful Tuesday and did what they’ve now done for 5 straight years:
They advanced to the American League Championship Series. This time, as in 2018, they’ll face the Boston Red Sox, who beat the Astros that year in 5 games on their way to a World Series title.
Two days after a White Sox reliever intimated that the Astros might have been cheating at the plate in winning Games 1 and 2 at home before striking out 16 times while losing Game 3 on the road, the Astros let their bats do most of the talking.
When Jose Altuve finished off the Pale Hose with a 3-run homer in the top of the 9th for the Astros’ final 3 runs in a dominating 10-1 clincher, I ecstatically turned to Kay sitting on the couch behind me, said “I’m soooo happy!” and kissed her foot (it was closer than her lips, which I kissed when the game was over).
For those fans of other AL teams and Astros haters who are tired of seeing them in the ALCS, I understand your desire to see their run end. And if their unparalleled shortstop, Carlos Correa, signs elsewhere during the off-season as is likely, we may see the Astros’ window start closing next year while other teams (Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals, White Sox) start gaining an edge.
But for now, the Astros are looking to make their third odd-numbered-year World Series since 2017, when they won it all (yes, I know what also happened that year). The Astros-Red Sox ALCS shapes up as a potential classic, with both teams playing at an extremely high level. I think the Astros have the pitching edge, but it still could end up being a slugfest.
And oh by the way: In a rare show of Frank spontaneity, when the game ended Tuesday, I went online to see if any tickets were left for Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS in Houston, since I’m off this week. Mind you, I’d already told myself I wasn’t going to spend money on another playoff game since I’d already gone to ALDS Game 1.
But when it comes to the Astros, I just can’t help myself. I found that there were quite a few tickets available — all in the upper deck — so I asked Kay what she thought. Should we spend the money? That became could we? After all, I’d just made a little extra covering the Larry McMurtry tribute in Archer City for the paper over the weekend, so ….
We’re driving to Houston for Saturday’s Game 2. I regret that we had to change the plans we had, attending a party that some longtime friends are hosting that night. (And we haven’t been to a party in … I have no idea how long.)
But Kay’s never been to a playoff game. And after all, ALCS tickets are cheaper than World Series tickets. And even if the Astros make it that far, we’d never spend THAT much money.