Monday, October 12, 2015

Houston Astros: ALDS Game 4 Does Not Compare to Oilers/Bills

After struggling through a brutal 8th inning, which saw the Astros squander a 6-2 lead and fall behind 7-6 before ultimately losing 9-6, the Houston Chronicle's John McClain was among the first to bring up Buffalo.

Of course, he was referring to the infamous Comeback a game so etched into long-time Houston sports fan's minds that it almost has a life of its own. Think of it as the Houston sports version of Watergate, a disaster so big and so impactful on Houston's psyche that all other sporting meltdowns are compared to it, much in the manner every government scandal is now followed by -gate.

The problem here is that the analogy doesn't quite work.

The reason being is that the Comeback was final. When the game was over the Oiler's season was done. It was lose and you go home and they certainly did.  This was also near the end of the team's reign as they had one more good year (1993) before owner Bud Adam's made good on his promise to break up the team if they didn't win the Super Bowl.

The Astros, on the other hand, did have an epic collapse but their season is not over. They still have a Game 5 to play and a chance to redeem themselves.  Yes, the task is going to be much tougher in Kansas City than it was in Houston and yes, losses like this hurt. But if you remember back to 2005 the Astros faced adversity then as well. It was in the 2005 ALCS, Game 5, the Astros had a 3-1 lead, were up 4-2 heading into the 9th inning and then this happened.:

I was watching with a group of people at a bar and I remember when Pujols hit that shot. My immediate reaction was "Ding! You are now free to move about the Country" in a take-off of the old Southwest airline commercials. Anything moving that fast should have been staffed with flight attendants serving drinks.

The thing was, in game 6 the Astros came back, won the game 5-1 and advanced to the team's only World Series behind the arm of Roy Oswalt.

One big difference between this Astros team and the Oilers and Astros of the past is also glaring: In short, this is an Astros team on the ascendency, not an aging team making a last big run before things get blown up.  The core of this team is young, resilient, and is well ahead of where anyone projected they would be at the beginning of the year.

So yes, I will admit, watching that seemingly unending 8th inning drag on and on, while Royals filled the base-paths repeatedly, was painful. It was like a slow, persistent leak that starts to crack the walls that you cannot locate or fix. It was a collapse, maybe even an epic collapse.  But it wasn't the end.

There's still another game to look forward to and that makes all the difference in the world.

So no, this was not just like the Bills, it wasn't even closely reminiscent of that.  It was a loss against a team that can hit the baseball like few others in the Major League's this year and which also had the best record in the American League.  The Royals are good.  I am not surprised they didn't go down without a fight*.

I do not expect the Astros to go down without one either.  So here's to a good game 5 and Go Astros!

*Although we might need to consider sacrificing a live chicken to offset the anger of the Baseball Gods caused by this Tweet from the news office of Governor Abbott. (Thanks Guv)

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