Houston Fans Cling To History, Doubts

added 07/01/2017 by Bob Hulsey

The sports fans of Houston are a worrisome lot and the many newcomers to the city probably don't understand our angst. Sure, the Astros have the best record in the majors at the statistical halfway point. They're in control of a division so thoroughly that nobody even talks about who's second in the AL West.

The offense has managed 5-1/2 runs per game. The pitching has survived losing 80% of their starting rotation to still finish June with a winning record (16-11).

What could possibly go wrong?

Lots, according to weary Houston sports fans. They remember the 1980 LCS when the Astros were six outs away from their first pennant with Nolan Ryan on the mound. They remember the 1986 LCS when the Astros were three outs away from handing the ball to an invincible Mike Scott for a Game 7 that would take them to the World Series.

They remember a talent-laden Phi Slamma Jamma squad in 1984 who just had to hit their free throws at the end to beat a cinderella North Carolina State team to achieve the NCAA basketball title for the Houston Cougars.

They remember the 1992 Oilers with a 35-3 lead in the NFL playoffs at Buffalo and Jim Kelly out with an injury yet somehow lost in overtime. The next year, the Oilers rolled into a home playoff game on a 12-game winning streak. They ran into Joe Montana and the rest was, well, you know.

What could go wrong? Houston teams specialize in it.

"That was all last century," I hear some of you sniff. "Get over it.” All true, but the pall still lingers like summer humidity. You can feel it everywhere you turn.

Remember that nice lead we had in Game 4 of the 2015 ALCS at home against Kansas City? Sure you do. We all do.

Paul Simon, in one of his hits, warbled "when something goes right, it's likely to lose me. It's bound to confuse me. It's such an unusual sight. I can't get used to something so right."

In their history, the Astros have never entered a postseason as overwhelming favorites. Mostly, quite the opposite. Houston fans don't know how to handle this good fortune. It's bound to confuse them.

So, right now, they are throwing caution to the wind and embracing their squad and yet the doubts lurk in the shadows.

Houston fans are used to being Charlie Brown as Lucy holds the football for him. We're like Hillary Clinton supporters on Election Eve.

It's not fair to great players like Correa, Springer and Altuve. They should be receiving unquestioned support and feeling the swagger that their won-loss record has earned them.

Instead, the fans approach them like they can't get used to something so right. Something will burst the bubble. If the Astros had a 3-0 lead in the World Series, Jesus Himself might come down out of the clouds and hand us all the ultimate suspension in play.

So clutch your lucky Milo Hamilton bobbleheads, Astros fans. Click your heels three times and say to yourself. "We're going to win this. We’re going to win this. If the Cubs can do it then, dangit, so can we!"

Meanwhile, Hinch has Ken Giles warming up in the bullpen.