Houston Astros Advance To The World Series For The Second Time In History
LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:
It's been nearly two months since Hurricane Harvey brought record rainfall and flooding to Houston, Texas. The city faces a long road of recovery. But this week, Houstonians have reason to celebrate because their baseball team is in the World Series, and they needed this. Last night, the Astros routed the Yankees in game seven to win the American League pennant and advance to the big show for only the second time in club history.
Starting Tuesday, the Astros will face the L.A. Dodgers, who won the National League Championship Series. To hear more, we're joined now by Brian Smith. He's a columnist for the Houston Chronicle, and he joins us from his home in Houston. Brian Smith, thank you so much for speaking with us.
BRIAN SMITH: Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.
SINGH: The Astros have only been to the World Series once before in their 56-year history. Give us a sense of how big of a deal this is - not only for the Astros, but for the city.
SMITH: This is about so much more than baseball for the city of Houston. This is about Houstonians. This is about a city that was ravaged, and destroyed and in chaos during Hurricane Harvey just two months ago. And they couldn't play baseball at Minute Maid Park. They actually had to replace the outfield. When the Astros returned after playing some home games in St. Petersburg, Fla., and spending a little time in the Dallas area while Harvey was going on, and everyone across the country is watching on television, they finally returned to Minute Maid to play again, they had an old-fashioned double header against the Mets on September 2.
And manager A.J. Hinch, who's now in the World Series for the first time in his career, gave a pre-game speech on the Jumbotron and said, you know, Houston, this is for you. And basically, the rest of the season has been the Astros being a great baseball team that was World Series caliber. We're playing for much more than that. And to have the Astros, who have never won a World Series game in their history and, now, be in the World Series about two months after Harvey said so much about this team. And there's no question about it. The entire city has fallen in love with this team. And now, they really have something to be proud of with the Astros in the World Series.
SINGH: Because it's - also sounds like making it to the World Series gives the people of Houston that much more resolve to keep going when it seems like everything else is a struggle and hopeless.
SMITH: It really does. And I've had friends affected by it. And I'll never forget - a couple of days after Harvey started to subside, and we visited one of them, and they had, you know, floodwater in their house. They woke up to it. And one of the family members - the first thing he really wanted to talk about was the Astros. How are the Astros doing, you know? I mean, they're dealing with unthinkable chaos and destruction in their lives, and the one thing you can keep up with - and it's baseball. It's every day. You know, Houston is doing well two months later. You can drive around. You can walk around. You'd have no idea. But then, you go into a neighborhood, and they're going to be dealing with this for years.
So it's a very lovable, energetic, thrilling team. They're a very diverse team just like the city of Houston. So this entire city has followed this team. They fall in love with them. But at the same time, it's an even bigger picture than that. This is a franchise and a city that really doesn't win anything. I mean, Houston hasn't won a major pro sports title since 1995. So simply getting in the World Series means so much to the city and this fan base. But I could easily see taking this to six or seven games and maybe shocking baseball and winning the World Series.
SINGH: What do you think a win in the World Series would actually mean for the people of Houston this year?
SMITH: For Houston to actually be able to have a championship in this city what would be about three months after Hurricane Harvey, that's Hollywood, that's storybook. They're four wins away from it. And honestly, if it happens, they will go national - international. But they have the potential to really get into America's hearts if they can pull this off.
SINGH: Brian Smith is a sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle in Houston, Texas. He spoke with us from his home there. Brian Smith, thank you again for joining us.
SMITH: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.