The Houston Astros smacked in two runs in the first inning and three in the second. From there, the game was clutched with some sort of terrible inevitability, as if the entire city of Houston was clinging on for dear life to meet the destiny predicted on a Sports Illustrated cover years ago.
Watching this game, I couldn’t help but reminisce on two years ago, when my own hometown Kansas City Royals took home the pennant. In remembering that joy, I felt I understood the Houston fans more than any other fanbase in any recent finals. I remembered being in their shoes and feeling that our team, more than anything, needed to win.
When the Royals went to the World Series in 2014, there was a feeling of change. People wore blue wherever they went. Seemingly overnight, multiple brands boomed by producing shirts, hats and socks emblazoned with different logos and centered on our pride for our city. It didn’t matter that we didn’t win that year — the series breathed life into my city, which had been struggling to reshape and redefine itself for years.
And the next year, when we did win, the entire city seemed to hum with pride. I was 1,500 miles away in my dorm room in Parkside, but I watched with envy as everyone in Kansas City canceled work and school to flood Downtown in Royal blue to welcome home the athletes we revered as heroes and loved in a way that felt something like family.
Cities like mine need our teams. We live for our teams, rally around them even when things are unbearable. And even though it’s bigger than my hometown, Houston truly needed its team this year.
In the wake of the natural disasters that rocked Houston to its core, our country saw that city come together to both grieve and rebuild. At the heart of this unity was a source of unlikely inspiration and support: the sports community. The Astros, once a nobody team that barely competed nationally, began a rise that lit up a city desperate for life.
There’s a beautiful power to sports, that thing that keeps us coming back, and it’s always hard to put into words until we see moments like the one on Wednesday night. Out of the millions of reasons to love sports — the violence, the beauty, the grace, the athleticism — the thing that we all admit to loving the most is the heart.
This series, and Wednesday night in particular, reminded us of this heart. Sports are at their best when they unite and inspire, and through every extra inning game and moment of insanity, the Astros did exactly that. They gave sports fans, both of their team and throughout the league, the chance to rejoice in the power that sports have off the field and outside of the stadium.
So congratulations, Houston. Your whole city deserved this. I hope the celebration lasts for a long while.
Julia Poe is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs Thursdays.