Houston Astros

It’s all over. With a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies Nov. 5, the Houston Astros have won the 2022 World Series, 4 games to 2.

Houston Manager Dusty Baker won his first World Series as a manger, making him, at age 73, the oldest manager to win a Series. He’s been to the Series before, so it was nice to see him win one.

The Phillies’ “Cinderella” season came to an end. After getting in the back door to the playoffs and defeating two heavily-favored opponents in the National League to reach the Series, it all came to an end. They all turned back into pumpkins. Of course, Halloween is over, but there’s always Thanksgiving.

I suspect we will hear endless speculation about how the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, or Atlanta Braves would’ve done against the Astros.

At least the Astros didn’t cheat this time. Or did they? I want a forensic audit of all the runs scored! Where are Cyber Ninjas when you really need them?

If I had to pick the highlight, it would be Game 4 on Nov. 2, when four Astros pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. It was only the second no-hitter in World Series history, coming 66 years after Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. It was also the first combined no-hitter in post-season baseball ever.

Cristain Javier started for the Astros and went six hitless innings. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero each tossed a perfect inning, and then Ryan Pressly closed it out. The final was Astros 5, Phillies 0.

I was impressed, but I couldn’t help but notice something. This game highlighted what has become an almost non-existent stat these days:  the complete game.

It seems like starting pitchers rarely throw complete games anymore. That’s to be expected, with all the relief specialists they have now. When I was a kid, however, starting pitchers took pride in the number of complete games they had.

There was a time when a starting pitcher stayed in the game unless he got into trouble.

Pitchers are also starting fewer games now. When I was growing up, most teams had four-man starting rotations. Today, most have five starters in their rotation.

Today, if a starting pitcher puts in 200 innings, he’s considered a hard worker. When I first started following baseball, it was not unusual for the top starters to put in 300 innings. Someone like Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers or Wilbur Wood of the Chicago White Sox would be kept in even if the game went into extra innings.

In the HBO series from the early 1990s, “When It was a Game,” there was an interesting recollection by Eldon Auker, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the 1930s. He recalled what Tigers’ owner Frank Navin told him when he was first called up to the team. Navin told Auker that, when he hired a man to pitch a game, he expected him to pitch the whole game. He didn’t care if it went nine inning, 10 innings, or how long it went.

“He said. ‘I can’t afford to pay one man to start a game and another man to finish it,’” Auker said.

I’d say the attitude of baseball has changed a little since those days.

So, the Astros pulled off a 21st Century no-hitter, with four pitchers combining to blank the Phillies. It just shows you their entire staff is good. They’re a well-balanced team, which is what you would expect from a World Series champion.

Congratulations to the Houston Astros, World Series Champions for 2022.

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