Unlike most Octobers in my lifetime, this year, the Houston Astros were in the mix! After an electrifying season that defied the predictions of every expert who has a microphone, the Astros won the American League wild card game and advanced to the American League Divisional Series. The last time my 'Stros played this late into the year was the year Caroline was born - ten years ago, the fall of 2005. I spent many evenings in the last month of my maternity leave holding her, sitting in the recliner, and watching the Astros make a run all the way to the World Series.
Now, in October of 2015, the Astros were back! Ten years' worth of changes - I'm still sitting in the recliner, but it's two moves later in our living room in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Caroline is a 5th grader, and she has a little brother who is eight years old. The Astros have never been in the postseason in his lifetime; in fact, they've barely been relevant. The team moved from the National League to the American League in 2013 and over the last ten years, they have a combined record of 709-910, including three seasons where they lost over 100 games. I'm as super of a fan as you'll ever find, but even I had lost interest in the boys of summer. We'd make the annual trek to Minute Maid Park while home in Houston, but other than that, I didn't follow the Astros with any fervor or enthusiasm.
Then this year, the Astros somehow managed to lead the American League West division for almost the entire season. I figured out that even up here in NW Arkansas, I had a cable channel that carried all of the Astros games (thank you, Root Sports!). I began turning the games on in the evenings and turning the volume down low while I read on the couch. I got to know the players' names, and was enchanted by the enthusiasm and exuberance with which the team played. As I was drawn into the drama of an unfolding season, the wins kept piling up. The new playoff format of the one game Wild Card playoff meant the Astros made the postseason and went head to head with the New York Yankees, who they dispatched to earn their way into the ALDS! Next up, the Kansas City Royals!
Wait a minute - Kansas City. Like, just three and a half hours up the road, Kansas City. After the Astros won Game 1, I was keyed up for Game 2. I spent the day after the first game in the office a bit distracted, talking about the series with other baseball fans in the office. As the day went on, I kept thinking about the fact that KC was just up the road - straight up I-49, an easy drive that I'd made before. By early afternoon, I had checked Stub Hub, just to see if there were any tickets. Once I found there were plenty of tickets I thought, may as well see what they cost...
I called Justin. I thought about how much the tickets were, and tried to decide if it was worth it. I got more and more excited just thinking about the possibility of being at the game. There are no guarantees in life, and most certainly not in sports. Would it be another ten years? Would they ever play KC in the postseason again, the closest MLB park to our home? I checked with my boss to see if there would be a problem with my taking a last-minute day off on Friday. And then... I BOUGHT THE TICKETS.
I'm goin' to Kansas City... Kansas City, here I come!!! Not alone, but with my trusty little man by my side, of course - John and I are sports buddies of all kinds, and what an awesome way to spend a Friday in October!
We hopped in the car Friday morning, headed for Kauffman Stadium to yell for our Astros!
It would've been nice to get a win; the series may have turned out differently if they'd kept the lead. Instead of Friday night movie night, we could've been watching the Astros play the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS. As with so many things, though, the joy for me last Friday wasn't in the game, per se. It was in each and every moment I spent with my son, seizing the moment and what may be a one time opportunity to see our team in a big game. As my dad said, the cost of the tickets was one thing, but this moment - this one day in 365 - was priceless.