In the aftermath of the (second?) most crushing loss in Houston sports history

  • Most of my thoughts and initial reactions can be found on Twitter @redninetyfour.
  • I’m 34 years old so I wasn’t around when the Oilers blew the 35-3 lead. But even if I was, while a bigger collapse, that possibly could not have been a more crushing defeat than last night’s loss because it wasn’t in the final championship game. The 35-3 collapse would have had to have taken place in the Super Bowl to be on par with the Astros’ choke job last night.
  • To me, the Houston Rockets’ 2018 Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals was more crushing than last night because it represented something different than just a title. The Rockets were on the verge of doing something I almost felt was an even greater achievement than winning a title which was knocking off maybe the greatest collection of talent ever assembled. Dethroning the Warriors with Kevin Durant was previously considered unthinkable. And the Rockets were right there and almost pulled it off, and would have pulled it off, were it not for the hamstring injury suffered by Chris Paul.
  • I said last night that Gerrit Cole waiting in the bullpen to come in relief of Zack Greinke in Game 7, and going unused, now replaces Mike Scott waiting in the wings to start a Game 7 against the New York Mets in 1986 as the greatest ‘what if?’ in Houston Astros history. It’s debatable whether Cole or Paul’s hamstring is the greater ‘what if?’ in the entirety of Houston sports history. But Astros fans will forever maintain the image of Cole sitting in the dugout with his hat pulled low, as the final outs were being recorded, wondering what would have happened had he entered that game and been handed the ball directly from Greinke.
  • I had been saying all series that this year’s World Series was actually more stressful for me than was 2017. And its because in 2017, for me there was a sense of playing with house money. The Astros were the underdog and I did not expect them to win. To me, this year, the stress was associated with the place in history that awaited this Astros team had they pulled it off. They would have been crowned as a modern-day dynasty and remembered as one of the greatest teams ever. And they were just eight outs away from getting there.
  • Eight outs away. It didn’t even really fully hit me how close we were to the finish line until this morning. Like I knew it was the seventh inning, but at the time, it still felt like there was so much further to go, just because Greinke’s performance had been so effortless up to that point. It certainly did not feel like 2/3 of the game was over.
  • I can’t even really put into words all of the mixed emotions I was feeling during the game because while I just said I hadn’t fully processed the fact that the game was in the 7th inning, I also sometime around the fifth inning began to believe that it was inevitable that Zack Greinke would pitch a complete game shut-out. I did not tweet this for fear of jinxing it. And it’s odd that I acquired this expectation because while watching it in the moment, I remember feeling a certain sense of disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was watching, really. Greinke was in absolutely complete command of that game in a way that I didn’t think was possible after the way the Nationals claimed victories over Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander (twice), especially not from Greinke who had been shaky all postseason. But I guess at some point I bought into the belief that our fate was to win by Greinke’s right hand. It felt like destiny in my mind.
  • I’m feeling the same crushing sense of loss that I did after the Rockets’ defeat against Golden State in 2018 where the pain of the outcome is compounded by the feeling of missed opportunity. It wasn’t just that we lost. It’s the feeling that there isn’t a comparable future, because Chris Paul was already 33 and would never be as good again as he was that season, which we saw turned out to be true. It’s that there likely will never be an Astros team this stacked ever again in our entire lifetimes because of the perfect storm of circumstances and timing which provided for the compilation of this stupid collection of talent, from the star prospects which took years to be developed and groomed, to the hoarding of three future Hall-of-Fame pitchers through trade, including one of the most dominant 1-2 punches in modern times. Cole will be gone and there will be decisions to be made on extensions for George Springer and Carlos Correa. It’s not possible financially to keep a team like this together.
  • Having said that, I can find solace in the fact that maybe the Astros will find the next Cole because they created Cole, or at the least, find the next Charlie Morton. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are locked up long term and Yordan Alvarez is under club control for the foreseeable future. Springer will probably be a priority and maybe the team will be better off in the aggregate with Correa’s return in trade than Correa himself. But its hard to envision a 1-2 punch as dominant as Verlander and Cole on this roster ever again because of the going rate for pitching talent of that sort, not to mention the good luck in the first place that led to their acquisitions. They didn’t just go out and pay for proven talent. Both players were undervalued at the time of their respective trades with Verlander perceived to be on the downside of his career and Cole not having yet fully blossomed into the talents which made him a former #1 overall pick.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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