Out of this World

Houston Astros the best in baseball

           For the past two weeks, the majority of my attention has been focused on Jazz Fest and the musical merriment that takes over the Crescent City in late April and early May. I’m a Brass Passer and go to the fest every day, usually all day. As the city returned to ordinary time this week, I was surprised – elated – to find the Houston Astros have the best record in Major League Baseball.


            C’mon, Houston?

            The Astros?

            The Loseton Lastros?

            In first place?


           Color me surprised. It’s true. At 19-10, the Astros are atop the baseball world.

           A smile spread across my face as nostalgia of five-hour road trips made west to spend a long weekend getaway in Houston centered on watching baseball in the Astrodome, riding roller coasters at AstroWorld, and losing your bathing suit to your small intestine on that mammothly tall slide at WaterWorld.

           For whatever business rivalries New Orleans and Houston shared over the past half century, the Astros are the closest Major League Baseball team to our region. Their games have been locally broadcast on radio and television for decades. The closest ties between the Astros and New Orleans occurred at the turn of the millennium, when our Zephyrs were the Astros’ Triple-A Minor League affiliate. As such, they have a soft-spot in the hearts of many local baseball fans.

           It’s early May – only 29 games into the season – and there’s a lot of baseball to be played before the post-season begins in September, but the Astros are shocking fans of the great American pastime with how they are doing it. They’re winning, and on paper they’re dominating. The ’stros lead the American League in home runs and earned run average (ERA).

           At the plate, second baseman Jose Altuve is having an All-Star caliber season, batting .360. Around him, Houston has put together a lineup of power hitters. While some batters’ averages are below par for major league hitters, they are sending the ball over the wall at Minute Maid Park when they do make contact.

           On the mound, the pitching staff is lead by early Cy Young Award front-runner Dallas Keuchel. The lefty is 3-0 with a 0.80 ERA. He’s averaging 7.5 innings per game and striking out 2.31 batters for every one he walks.

           For the past several seasons, the Astros seemed to be foundering. They traded away stars like Hunter Pence – who has gone on to help lead the San Francisco Giants to multiple World Series titles, changed ownership, moved from the National League to the American League, and lost. A lot.

           The past decade has been a tough time to be an Astros fan. They went to their only World Series in 2005, only to be swept by the Chicago White Sox. They fell hard and fast, losing aging stars like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman, and dropping to the bottom of the rankings. 


           But patience is seemingly paying off. The losing led to a lot of high round draft picks, and the team has been smart in building its current roster. Last year, Sports Illustrated predicted the Astros will win the 2017 World Series. Now, staff writers are wondering if Houston may be ready this year.

           For as much as New Orleans is a football city, Houston is equally as much a baseball city. After experiencing the Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2009, it would be fun to see Houston celebrate their Astros with a championship.

            I’ve got the urge to fuel up the car, head west and catch some Astros baseball. I don’t think I’m the only one. This sure is fun.




Categories: The Pennant Chase