It has been a remarkable eight plus years of MLB fandom for Houstonites. We have watched this team rise from the ashes of arguably the three worst years in pro baseball history to the greatest MLB dynasty in the 21st Century. We as fans have witness numerous characteristics or lessons of success. Some of these lessons we actually had to learn the hard way. I have organized these success characteristics around the qualities many of our favorite Astros over the Dynasty years have exemplified (or in two cases have failed to exemplify.)
What characteristics/ lessons connect with you the most? Please add your own and which Astros player has illustrated this characteristic to you.
The first characteristics are special because they involved the entire 2017 Astros team.
Strength through Unity- The 2017 Astros unified this city at probably one of our hardest moments in history as Hurricane Harvey ravaged large sections of the city with water like we have never seen. Much of the city was under water and some wondered if we would ever truly recover. Houston Strong was our rally cry, and the Astros gave us all hope and joy and oh how we celebrated our first World Series win because it almost proved to the entire world we were back and back better than ever.
The next two success lessons left a sting on this fan base because we learned latter that we actually failed them, and we have paid for it since.
Honesty- The environment of and what the 2017 Astros meant to this city makes this success lesson we learned in hindsight of that season even harder. Carlos Beltran is the main character in this lesson. Desperate to end his career a World Champion he guided his team to engage into what became known as the cheating scandal. While we can argue that other teams did very similar things, we should accept that when the Astros cheated and that revelation was revealed, it tarnished our treasured championship to many others. Winning HONESTLY is truly the best and gave our 2022 Championship a sense of redemption for us all.
Standing up for what is right- A.J. Hinch was the manager of the Astros, and yet somehow was unable to stop the banging of the trash cans. He ultimately lost his job for not standing up for what is right. Sometimes lessons must be learned the hard way.
OK enough of the negatives! Picture yourself telling these life success lessons to your family in years to come.
Love- Carlos Correa loved this city and his teammates. Even when Astros fans were not necessarily nice to him nor his fiancé at the time, Carlos loved you so much he took on the impossible role of owning the scandal and making the world know that his beloved teammate Altuve not only did not cheat but got mad with the others when they did. Correa and Altuve will be the story of how two men (different as they were) truly act when they love each other as brothers.
Preparation- No one out prepares Martin Maldonado. He is like having a bench coach on the field. Maldonado has extended his career at least three years simply by being the most prepared player on the team. In fact, one could imagine Maldy retiring at the end of one season and coaching the next.
Joy- At its core baseball is still a game. George Springer never allowed us to forget that. From Club Astros celebrating more and more frequent victories or just his infectious smile, Springer showed us to have fun in whatever we were doing.
Peace- Watch him swing and you know Michael Brantley brings a calm state of mind to enable his excellence. He never seems frazzled or worried. We call Brantley a professional hitter, but you can apply his peaceful nature to enable your work success.
Listen to Great Coaching- Brett Strom and Josh Miller and Bill Murphy are excellent pitching coaches and they have helped scores of pitchers to improve their performances. Their methods have often been cutting edge, and the pitchers that listened deserve credit for that.
Patience- Yuli Gurriel had to wait to even start his MLB career until he was in his age 32 season. He had to find a way to escape the tyranny of Communist Cuba. Gurriel’s patience and eventually getting to come to the Astros has been our reward. His reward has been the love of many Astros fans. One is left to wonder what Yuli’s career could have been. Sometimes success comes after we even expect it.
Kindness and Humility- Ask anyone who has played with or even met Jose Altuve and you hear the same thing. He is the nicest human being you will ever meet. He is the most-humble man you will ever meet. He is already a near Hall of Famer. He is the heart and soul and servant leader who leads by example for this team. If you met Altuve and somehow didn’t know who he was, you would not guess professional athlete, but here he is one of the best of his generation. Oh, the success stories and their lessons you are going to tell about Jose Altuve. I could have written this entire article about him!
Humility Too- Listen to any interview with Ryan Pressly and you hear his humility come out. Pressly may be the humblest excellent closer in the history of the MLB. Like Altuve the spotlight of his success is constantly redirected by him towards the team.
Confidence- If you met Alex Bregman, you probably would guess he is some sort of competitor. Bregman has worked his butt off from a young age and he is supremely confident in himself and his harshest critic all at the same time. He KNOWS that if he is in a slump, he will figure it out. It might be at 3:00 AM in a batting cage somewhere, but he will figure it out. I truly believe Bregman's success outpaces his success due to his confidence fueled by his hard work.
Know your Role- In this dynasty run the Astros had two super substitute players, Marwin Gonzalez and Aledmys Diaz. Both of these players accepted their roles and contributed significantly.
Determination- The place no batter wants to be is batting against a bulldog like Gerritt Cole. While many of other pitchers are similar in nature, at his peak Cole was simply terrifying. He knew he would strike you out and there was nothing you were going to do to stop him. Verlander won the Cy Young in 2019, but Cole terrified the other teams.
Loyalty- Players LOVE Dusty Baker. I think the main reason is because Baker is one of the most loyal managers in the MLB. Dusty believes in you when you don’t even believe in yourself. Loyalty has been one of the Dusty's lifelong characteristics of success. Even when I think his loyalty has gone too far, loyalty is what makes Dusty Dusty.
Faithfulness- Many of the star Astros players ended up leaving when they hit Free Agency. It’s not fair to blame them for wanting to earn the most money while they can. Lance McCullers Jr. famously said you will have to “bury him in the H” because he was not leaving. McCullers is as faithful and loyal to his teammates, as he is to his community too. Lance is very very active with charity work including supporting our canine best friends.
Perseverance- When a player in his late 30s needs Tommy John surgery on his elbow, that USUALLY means they are done. Except if your name is Justin Verlander. Verlander made TJ recovery at his age look….. normal and expected. I don’t have the words to truly describe the miracle that it was. Verlander intends to pitch well into his forties. He knows he will persevere to make that happen.
Good Humor-When you think of Kyle Tucker you may not think of humor. Ask his teammates and the reporters that cover the Astros. Tucker always has a witty question to break the tension or monotony of the long baseball season. Kyle shows us humor is an elixir that can lead one to perform their best and ultimately to success.
Consistency- Yordan Alvarez burst on to the scene in 2019 and has been incredible ever since. He feels like a gentle giant of a man that can hit a baseball 500 feet. Consistent excellence is the lesson Alvarez is teaching us.
Seize The moment- Many success stories have that moment where success appears. Jeremy Pena had those moments in the 2022 postseason. Pena seized the moment, and his success lies ahead.
Make a Great Plan and Trust the Process- Jeff Luhnow came to his first Astros interview with a binder detailing his plan for the Houston Astros. It was a radical plan, but he was hired to execute that plan. All of the time both Luhnow and Crane implored Astros fans to trust the process and that led to the success of the Dynasty Astros. Success requires a well thought out plan, and great execution of that plan.
There are surely more success lessons from this era. Maybe you see another characteristic you want to share. PLEASE DO. One could write a book with these stories as the chapter headings. What else would you add and what player would personify that Astros Dynasty success lesson?
We as Astros fans are truly blessed to have these Astros with these success characteristics and these lessons to tell our family members for generations to come.
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