If it weren’t for Michael Jordan taking a 2 year hiatus from basketball in his prime, Houston would be the most tortured sports city in America.
The list of painful sports defeats and near misses has haunted this city.
The Houston Oilers 1980 AFC Championship game loss against Pittsburgh, where a game tying TD by WR Mike Renfro was incorrectly ruled as incomplete. The Steelers would win their 4th Super Bowl a few weeks later.
Nine months later, the city would get crushed again, this time by the Houston Astros. The Astros had their best team in franchise history with Joe Morgan and Nolan Ryan leading the way. That team also had a young backup catcher named Bruce Bochy who would later go on to win 3 World Series titles managing the Giants. The Astros lost that 1980 NLCS 3-2 to the Phillies. It was the first baseball series I ever watched and even as a 9 year old, I knew it would be one of the greatest series ever. The Phillies would go on to win the World Series 2 weeks later.
The list of painful defeats for Houston goes on and on, but here are a few more….
The 1986 Houston Astros lost perhaps the greatest game ever, a Game 6 NLCS 16 inning loss to the New York Mets at home. They were up 3-0 in the 9th. They had a rested Mike Scott, the 1986 NL Cy Young Award Winner, ready to start a Game 7 he would have never lost - but they couldn’t get him the ball. The Mets would go on to win the World Series against the Red Sox a few weeks later.
The 1993 Houston Oilers 32 point collapse against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC playoffs.
The Joe Montana Notre Dame comeback game against the Houston Cougars in the 1979 Cotton Bowl. Montana was down 34-12 with 8 minutes left and won 35-34 on the final play of the game.
And the 1983 NCAA championship game when the Houston Cougars, potentially the greatest college basketball team of all time with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, lost to Jim Valvano and the NC State Wolfpack at the buzzer.
The Houston Rockets provided the city their only championships ever in their 3 Majors sports, winning the 1994 and 1995 NBA titles.
Those were the two years that Michael Jordan took a break from basketball in between winning 3 titles before and 3 titles after his break.
Some might say that there is an asterisk with these Houston championships.
22 years later and still without a championship since that 95 Rockets team, the city of Houston has embraced the Majors Houston Astros.
The Astros have blasted off to an 8-3-2 record and 1st place in the Majors.
Manager Anthony Pedrotti and Assistant Coach Nate Loskutoff are in their 2nd year with the Astros franchise.
Like just about any baseball team in first place, the Astros have done it with 3 things…pitching, pitching, and pitching.
The Astros lead the Majors in ERA at 4.38.
No other Majors team has an ERA below 5.
They have only given up 4 home runs all season, also leading the Majors.
They have given up more than 5 runs in only 3 of their 13 games.
And the streaking Astros have now won 3 in a row and 7 of their last 9.
The Astros have not had a pitching staff this good in franchise history since that 1980 team.
That team had a starting staff of Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, Joe Niekro, and Ken Forsch.
“This team is heavy on 12 year olds, led by 3 year SCLL Majors veteran Gavin Everett”, said Manager Pedrotti.
“It’s his second tour of duty with the Astros after a brief stint last year with the Tampa Bay Rays.”
Everett fronts the pitching staff along with fellow 12 year olds Aaron Melz and Ryan Greene.
And behind that they have a bunch of kids that can come in and get the job done, throw strikes, and get batters out.
With this pitching staff, the Astros don’t need to hit a ton of home runs.
The speedy Ethan Moussa sets the table for the Astros, but they also have a few kids that can go yard.
Everett, with his 5 balls over the fence this season, is the #2 home run hitter in Majors.
Ryan Greene has gone deep twice, while Michael Pedrotti and Hudson Fox have also chipped in with a home run on the year.
With the Majors playoffs 3 weeks away, the Astros are in good positon to make a run.
They have power arms, strike throwers, and veteran 12 year old leadership.
The Houston Astros were awarded an expansion franchise in 1962.
2017 marks their 56th year in Houston, and they have never won a World Series.
That is the 3rd longest active drought behind the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.
The Majors Astros are looking to change all of that this year.
If the Astros can finally bring a baseball championship to Houston, one thing is for certain.
This time there will be no asterisk.