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So how did the Houston Astros do it?

Cincinnati Reds fans continue to be rambunctious about their team not playing in a World Series since 1990. And the team showed little life support in recent seasons with three straight last place finishes.

Well, the Reds have plenty of kemosabes, including the two combatants in this year’s World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, despite spending enough money to build the Navy a new aircraft carrier, have not been in a World Series since 1988.

The Houston Astros, a franchise that has existed for 55 years, has played in only one World Series and were embarrassed in four straight games by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Just as Kermit says it ain’t easy being green, it ain’t easy qualifying for the World Series.

But as the Dodgers and Astros showed this year, hope springs eternal, patience is a virtue, all good things come to those who sit and wait — and all those other clichés.

After the Astros appeared in the 2005 World Series as a membe of the National League Central, things turned downward. When the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” surfaced with NASA, it could also have referred to the baseball Astronauts.

From 2009 to 2014 the Astros never had a winning season. On or around 2010 they decided to scrap everything and start over. In the meantime, they were transferred from the National League Central to the American League West.

The growing pains were ugly and they didn’t draw enough fans in beautiful Minute Maid Park to start a good bar fight. For three straight seasons they lost more than 100 games — 106, 107 and 111.

The rebuild began to take shape in 2015 when they won 86 games and finished second. They won 84 games in 2016 and finished third.

It all came together this year with 101 wins for the AL West championship, then playoff wins over the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

And here they are in the 2017 World Series, underdogs to the Dodgers but sentimental picks among most baseball aficiandos.

People ask who I think will win the World Series and I laughingly say, “Now that the Cleveland Indians or Cincinnati Reds aren’t in it, I don’t give a hoot.”

But I do. Since I never get it right, I’m picking the Dodgers to win because I’d really like to see the Astros win because of what their fans have had to suffer. Are you listening, Reds fans?

While it is difficult not to like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger and Kenley Jansen, I counter those with Mighty Mouse Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa.

So how does a team go from three straight 1S0-loss seasons to the World Series in a short span. Or, as Reds fans want to know, how do you go from three last place finishes to the World Series in a short span?

Here is how the Astros did it:

The Astros infield of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel were all original signess. So were pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr. and outfielder George Springer.

Correa and Bregman were top draft picks. Correa was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 first-year player draft. Three seasons later, the Astros picked Bregman in the draft with the second overall selection.

Altuve and Gurriel were both signed as amateur free agents, though that pair joined the team more than nine years apart. Altuve has been with the organization longer than any other, signing in 2007 and debuting in 2011.

Gurriel, 33, was a free agent signing in the middle of last season and made his major debut just a month later and has been entrenched as the Astros every day first baseman since the beginning of 2017.

Gurriel is not your typical rookie because he is Cuban and spent 15 years playing professionally in Cuba before signing with the Astros.

The battery of ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and Brian McCann were both acquired via trade in the last 12 months. That duo, along with free agent signings of outfielders Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran and pitcher Charlie Morton all joined the team since the end of the 2016 season.

See? Easy, so easy — as long as you make the right draft picks, sign the right free agents and make the right trades. And it is rare that any team does everything right. Right now, though, it appears that the Astros Grand Plan has worked out, well, just grand.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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