With baseball, I never allow myself to hope. I didn't until this year, that is. Even last year, with Carlos Beltran becoming the best player in baseball for a shining fortnight, even then I just didn't feel it. But I started feeling it this August. I wish I could say I'd been feeling it all along, at least since the All-Star break, but I hadn't. Nevertheless, this current hope--no, really it's faith--this current faith I have is the kind of thing I NEVER used to voice. I don't know why I'm willing to open myself up to this kind of heartbreak this year, but some superstitious, oracle-consulting, entrail-reading part of me thinks it is imperative to be absolutely honest right now and admit it. This, I believe, is the year. Maybe it has to do with losing Orbison in September and getting that reminder driven home that grief and loss means you have had something worth grieving for. It gives you a little courage to take the risk and admit your hopes. So you lose--so what? It hurts? Big deal. Look at what you've had. With Orbison, it was a big, gentle, pure-hearted love and respect, and now there are places in the hallway and in the den that look strange without him, but you were lucky to live with him long enough for that impression to become indelible. The Astros were born the year before you were. Growing up in Houston was about afternoons at Astroworld and nights spent at the Astrodome, eighth wonder of the world. Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, J.R. Richard, and fall 1986, the season you got married and the season of the worst baseball heartbreak you've ever known, all in one month. When your marriage started to fall apart seven years later, you went on a long road trip alone and sat in the springtime sun in Osceola County Stadium, watching the players stretch and laugh with each other on the field, a brand new season lying unspoiled ahead.
I caught myself in tears last night after the last out had been made and we had escaped the charging Cards. Astroworld closed this year. The Astrodome is going to be torn down. This is the year my team will go to the World Series. I swear to you it is.
Edited after the game to add:
Thank the baby Jeebus for Adam Everett. Now could you guys stop leaving so many men on base? You're killing me. Killing me!