About two months ago, the city of Houston was underwater after being hit by Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that knocked the city off its foundation, literally and figuratively. Wednesday night, the city’s major league baseball team, the Houston Astros, won its first World Series title.
Last week, the Astros won their first American League Series title, therefore making their first championship appearance in history. By coming out on top Houston won in more ways than one, as it showed us that one way a city can show its strength after disaster is through sports. Tragic events may knock a city down, but the city bounces back quickly and motivates its communities through sports.
In 2001, the World Trade Center in New York City was hit by two planes hijacked by terrorists as part of a greater attack on the United States. Although many of us were too young to remember that day in great detail, we still remember the after-effects. We remember how broken the country felt and we remember the fear that had been instilled as the war on terror heightened. We remember how heartbroken the people of New York City were as they lost everything from loved ones to a physical symbol of the city.
That fall, the New York Yankees won the American League Series, going on to play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series and losing 4-3 by a walk-off hit in Game 7. The World Series had to be postponed after the 9/11 attacks, causing the series to go into the month of November. In the beginning of November 2001, the city came together in a way it hadn’t since before the attacks. Both baseball fans and those who couldn’t tell you how the sport was played if they tried all came together to cheer on the city. The Yankees served as a symbolic light for New York in light of this tragic event. The series also took place in New York, serving as another morale booster in itself. Although the Yankees lost the title, the city of New York won an even greater sense of pride.
In April 2013, two men set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. Once again, the city came together through the sport of baseball to cheer on the Boston Red Sox through the whole season, and into the postseason, where Boston won the 2013 World Series. In order to show respect for the victims and love for the city, the team hung a jersey that said “Boston Strong” and had the 617 city area code printed on it. The players even came together as some of them grew beards as a form of unity, showing “Boston Strong” is stronger than any bomb or anything else that tries to take the city down.
On Wednesday night, it was Houston’s turn. With a strong start that made a statement, the team scored all five runs within the first two innings, and the Astros were able to hold off the Dodgers and claim their first title. The fact that even just a month ago, the city was still struggling in the aftermath of the storm, and now made an appearance in the post-season is inspiring in itself. Many cities say “We are stronger” after disasters, but actions speak louder than words, and sports are a prime way to act on this strength. Baseball may be just a game, but it is symbolic of rebounding, uniting a city, and bringing a positive story to a place that has been the brunt of so many depressing headlines lately.
This is Houston. This is Texas. This is America. This is sports. This is fandom. This is pride. This is unity.