By Will Martin
What to make of a team and a season when you make history before the month of April begins with career win #4000 and finishes out a season with a guaranteed crowd generator with the Yankees and two retirees with Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite?
THAT would be considered the American Way!
What to make of a squad that became the first team in the 138 year history of the National League to switch over to the newer, younger circuit and in so doing saying goodbye to 53 years of tradition, history, and a style of play that will now be but a memory never to be used again?
THAT would be considered a pioneering spirit and truly the American Way!
Starting pitching with a combined ERA of 2.73 over the span of 34 starts since July 12th, to the tune of only 62 earned runs over 204 innings pitched courtesy of Jarred Cosart, Brad Peacock, Lefty Brett Oberholzer, and Paul Clemens?
Collective success by a group of hurlers? THAT is the American Way!
A payroll that is the lowest in the majors with the youngest average age of players on the rosters (26.0) with a nucleus of great potential talent at with Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, Jason Castro, Chris Carter, Brandon Barnes, and Brett Wallace? Players who will get better with time?
Collectively and objectively THAT is the American Way!
Having Six Minor League Affiliates who make the playoffs, the first time since the Pirates of 2003 did the same thing showing an incredibly bright future awaiting for future potential superstars? Add to that a major league manager who has the patience of Job and a way with the players that is paternal, optimist, and motivational with Bo Porter.
Surrounding this virgin puzzle in a new league with a piece of art waiting in the wings to be discovered.
THAT my friends, is the American Way!
With the expectations next to nil by most experts and by local fans, many of whom were upset by the switch, 2013 for this ballclub was little more than a trial run for other teams to accumulate bottom feeding victories.
That is, unless you were playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The only ballclub Houston had success with on their schedule in the calendar year.
Learning a new system in a new environment and dealing with adversity when the crosstown Texan team comes for a visit, threatens a perfect game and going a perfect 19-0 instead of 17-2 in the new year. Career team win #4000 attained March 31st against the Rangers before a national audience.
Rivalries in sports. I dare say that THAT is the American Way.
Lastly, when you endure six months of play with victories totaling 8, 10, 12, 6, 8, and 7 for a season record of 51 against 111 losses. The worst record ever in the history of the Houston Astros after a 55-107 record in 2012. To finish out a season playing teams in contention for over two weeks and a 15 game losing streak.
To adjust and adapt to the ability to get and maintain a lead after the 7th inning and letting the lead get away. To also have your best success on Wednesdays with a 14-11 record. 5-21 on Sundays.
51-111 is not a successful record which is to be Un-American in the American League!
Suffice to say there is work to be done in Houston. Believe it when I say the upside for the Astros ballclub is about two years away but the pieces are in place. Jeff Luhnow, Bo Porter, Craig Biggio, and Jim Crane now have one year under their belts in the new circuit.
2013 ended with the Yankees. It will begin with the Yankees April 1st 2014. Times and dates to be determined. My thanks to Houston for an interesting season. In the words of my Hoboken counterpart, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come!’