Yesterday the Houston Astros had their home opener. This year’s opener had a slightly different feel since they started the season on the road…..and it has not been the prettiest start. The opening road trip was filled with random moments filled with bright lights and visions of hope (ie: the emergence of Tyler White and the continued success of last season’s gems), but ultimately the trip fell flat with series losses due to pitching. This has caused one main question to begin to surface on true fan’s minds…is the start of the season an omen to all hopeful Houston fans that maybe making the miraculous post season run in 2015, has exhausted Houston pitching for 2016??
As I battled through dreaded Monday downtown traffic combined with the fact that it was opening day, I was reminded of the past several years of Astros baseball. They have been deadlocked in a seemingly impossible grid of competitors, higher salaries, a non-desirable playing market and surrounded by teams with majors ready talent. Instead of trying to swerve around all obstacles, and create side road passages that “seem” like short cuts to their destination, they have stood idly by, all while watching, analyzing, saving their energy and waiting out the storm. In the end of 2014, slowly but surely (although seemingly forever), traffic began to dissipate and the Astros conserved energies began to activate. Launching into 2015, those energies began to take full effect and their chosen lane began to clear. They did not need the side alleys or 20 different navigational apps, they just needed to weather the storm and let new hope “Spring.”
In watching this young transitioning team during their home opener, I formed the opinion that they will be just fine. Pitching might take a while to balance out, but the offense came ready to play and back up the pitching staff. Towards September, young arms may be a bit tired, but it is obvious that this whole team wants “more” and is willing to put in their passion and drive to make sure 2015 isn’t viewed as a fluke season. In the same regard, I think the fan base is on the same level. Houston has always been known as a fair weather fan town. If the team is playing well then the whole city is onboard, even if they don’t understand the actual magnitude of the situation. However, yesterday’s home opener felt different and was filled with electricity. Even in the mid 8th when the standard fair weather fans had left, the stadium was still nicely filled in a way that was reminiscent of the 04-06 time period and there was still excitement in the air. Not just of that evening’s performance by the fan’s young stars, but of hope and belief in being a part of the beginning of something special and great. The Astros organization as a whole has done an amazing job of helping build the thrilling aura surrounding the city of Houston and the team. Their post season, fan fest and opening day efforts to build excitement and include fans of all ages were second to none and they deserve a true round of applause.
We have reached about the “3rd inning” of excitement and growth in Houston and the city and fans should be getting VERY excited about the “6 innings” left to play. Do we dare say that we smell a championship ring in the next couple of years?!? If there has ever been a team poised and ready to take center stage, it is the young stars of the Houston Astros.