Friday, November 03, 2017

Astros rule!

The Houston Astros have won their first World Series championship, prevailing at the end of a thrill packed seven game marathon. I began the Series with no particular rooting interest. If my Mets aren't involved, as they certainly weren't this year, my default has usually been to root for the National League team. This is partly because the Mets are NL, and mostly because of my dislike of the designated hitter rule. I make exceptions for two American League teams: the Red Sox, out of spousal loyalty, and the Rays, out of loyalty to my old home city, even though I left it long before they existed (of course, I wouldn't root for either of these over the Mets; when the Red Sox and Mets play I keep very quiet at home).

This year, presented with the Dodgers vs. the Astros, I chose the Astros. Part of it is that I've never quite forgiven the Dodgers, who were my first love in baseball, even though I lived far from Brooklyn at the time, for leaving the borough that has been my home for longer than anywhere else in my peripatetic life. Part of it is also my memory of the Dodgers derailing the Mets' shot, in 1988, at a second NL pennant in three years; especially the memory of Davey Lopes loping around the bases with his right index finger pointed up.

As for the Astros: well, they were an NL team within recent memory. They had never won a Series championship, thereby appealing to my underdog fetish. More importantly, having visited there several times, I came to like Houston. It's a lively, very diverse city with an active arts scene, and the source of some great blues and R&B (remember Archie Bell and the Drells?) And, as a friend and Red Sox fan put it after the 'Stros beat the Sox in the ALDS, "Houston needs something this year." Also, for reasons stated in a footnote here, which I'll repeat here:
I love Texas. Yes, I love it in spite of its perhaps greater than average quotient of jingoistic and ultra-fundamentalist nutjobs. I love it for the likes of Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, and Molly Ivins, as well as for having gotten drunk a few times with Kinky Friedman (who could sometimes be an asshole, but was always interesting) and Jim Hightower (who was always a gentleman, but never dull), and for having (at a fundraiser for Jim at the old Lone Star Cafe on 5th Avenue, when he was running for Chair of the Texas Railroad Commission) danced the "Cotton-Eyed Joe" with Cissy Farenthold and twenty or so other of her nearest and dearest friends. I love it for Terry Allen, Archie Bell and the Drells, Asleep at the Wheel, the Austin Lounge Lizards, the Big Bopper, Guy Clark, Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Freddy Fender, Nanci Griffith, Carolyn Hester, Adolph Hofner, Buddy Holly, Lightnin' Hopkins, Flaco Jimenez, Janis Joplin, the Light Crust Doughboys (especially John "Knocky" Parker), Augie Meyer, Mouse and the Traps, Doug Sahm, Joe Tex, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Townes Van Zandt, Willie and Waylon and Jerry Jeff, and Bob Wills. I love it for Larry McMurtry. I love it for having spent a couple of formative years in San Antonio when my dad was stationed there in the Air Force, where my Pennsylvania bred mom learned to buy fresh tamales, wrapped in cornhusks, and serve them to us for dinner once a week, and where my fourth birthday present was a Billy the Kid outfit from Joske's.
Yes, I love Texas; not that I don't love California, where I have ancestral roots. That's another story, though.