Hope is a funny thing. The Astros were two games away from winning another World Series, and this whole city had hope they would come through.
Fans flew from across the country to watch them in person. People cleared their nights to watch hours of baseball on TV. Rally nuns waved their orange towels at Minute Maid Park. Unfortunately, the Astros ended up losing the series and are now 1-for-4 in World Series appearances.
Was the Fall Classic a failure?
Prior to the postseason, the Houston Astros finished the season winning the American League Western division. During the season, they were one of the best teams in terms of offense, pitching, and defense.
This same team beat the White Sox in the ALDS and then won the American League pennant by beating the Red Sox. Ultimately, the Astros made it to six games versus the Braves in the World Series, but fell short.
In the end, the Braves were the better team on the field for four games. Atlanta capitalized at home and at Minute Maid Park. They ended up scoring 25 runs over the series, and kept Houston from getting too hot.
Does that make them a failure? Absolutely not.
After the game in a press conference, players like Jose Altuve praised the Braves for winning the championship.
"The Braves played great and they deserved the championship,” he said.
Astros manager Dusty Baker in the same press conference talked about the process of moving past a loss.
“Yeah, it's tough, but you know something, you've got to keep on trucking, and that gives you even more incentive next year,” he said. “It's tough to take now, but this too shall pass. I mean, it really hurts, but it's over.”
It does hurt for players and fans to suffer a loss in the biggest game of the year. But it's wise words from Dusty to look to the future.
So, what does this future hold for this team?
Free agency and Carlos Correa
Now that the season is over, it's time for the offseason to begin and for major moves to be made that affect the Astros chances for next year's championship.
First on the list is addressing Carlos Correa's future. Houston has seven players who are free agents, and Correa is one of them. The Astros need to make a decision on if they should sign one of the best shortstops in the game, or hope another player can bring some production to that position.
The price tag for re-signing Correa has grown exponentially. He has said he wants to return, but the team must decide if he's worth many years and many dollars to bring him back.
A bright future
Though the Astros are possibly losing seven players to free agency, there is no need to panic. Eight of the nine hitters are returning to next year's lineup. This was a lineup that was the best in the AL. In regard to pitching, four out of the five starters are returning, plus key members of the bullpen.
Lance McCullers Jr, who was out of the ALCS and World Series, will be back in 2022 and will be looking to win a Cy Young award. He will enter the season as the team's best pitcher.
There are also prospects who may make their way up to the big leagues next season. Names like Pedro Leon (center field/shortstop), Jeremy Peña (shortstop), Korey Lee (catcher), or Hunter Brown (pitcher).
Hope keeps the window open
Losing Game 6 of the World Series will sting for a bit of time, but hope heals the pain of a missed opportunity. The team is built for long-term success, while the fan base is stronger than it's ever been.
It's completely fine to have hope for the future of this squad, and to prepare for the day when Houston gets to parade through downtown with the championship trophy.