Richard Justice: And at 10:17 p.m. Saturday, a dynasty was born.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (13610342be) Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez celebrates his three-run home run during the sixth inning in Game sixth of baseball’s World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies, in Houston World Series Phillies Astros Baseball, Houston, United States – 05 Nov 2022

Richard Justice: And at 10:17 p.m. Saturday, a dynasty was born.

   You’ll remember 10:17 p.m. Saturday forever. That’s when the final out of the 118th World Series settled into the glove of Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker and triggered a celebration that rocked Minute Maid Park to its bones and spilled out onto the city streets and distant suburbs and pretty much anywhere people care about Houston, Texas.

“This is the damndest town,” Dusty Baker would say later. “They pull for their teams better than any other town I’ve ever seen.”

   This isn’t just about sports, either. You may have to be a baseball fan to understand why the Astros winning Game 6 by the score of 4-1 to win the World Series mattered to so many of your friends and neighbors. You do not need to be a fan to know that it mattered.

   “Shear joy and thankfulness,” Baker said. “These guys, they know how to win. They come to play. No alibis, no excuses. You can come in our clubhouse, you can’t tell the next day if we lost or if we won.”

   This is what happened on Saturday night. The Astros were transformed from a mere baseball team to a sports dynasty. Mark it down. That’s what winning another World Series did for this franchise.

   They’d been a near-dynasty for eight seasons, making the playoffs seven times and winning more regular season games and more playoff games than any other American League franchise. This was their fourth trip to the World Series in six seasons, a historic run of dominance.

   To be a true dynasty, though, not just a really good team, not just a nearly dominant team, the Astros needed to win another World Series. That first one in 2017 wasn’t going to do it. Lots of good teams win once. Only the great ones win multiple championships.

   The Astros did just that with 26 days of postseason baseball in which they won 11 of 13 games, almost all of them nail-biters. Of their 11 victories, seven were decided by one or two runs. They had to come from behind six times, and the winning run was scored in the sixth inning or later seven times.

   These are games that gnaw in the stomach of players and fans alike, that test things like poise and composure and discipline. Over the last 26 days, the Astros proved again and again that they’re made of the right stuff.

   Perhaps the best thing that happened to them was a 7-0 loss in Game 3 on Tuesday. That was the lone moment in this postseason when the whole thing felt like it might be slipping away.

   The Astros showed back up at Citizens Bank Park 24 hours later and took control of the World Series. They silenced a roaring hostile crowd on their way to the second no-hitter in World Series history from Cristian Javier and three relievers in winning 5-0. 

   The Astros pitching dominance did not stop there. The Phillies scored just three runs over the final 30 innings. Still, nothing came easy.

   The Phillies were up 1-0 in Game 6 when Yordan Alvarez launched a 450-foot three-run moonshot of a home run over the 30-foot tall batter’s eye in dead center field on Saturday night.

   He’d opened these playoffs with a three-run walk-off that rescued the Astros in Game 1 against Seattle. He brought them from behind in the sixth inning of Game 2 of that Division Series.

   He’d done little since then, but in the biggest moment of his young career, he delivered a breathtaking moment that will live in the hearts and minds of Astros fans.

   “I’ve never seen anything like it,” World Series Most Valuable Player Jeremy Peña said. “He’s a strong boy. But he’s a great hitter.”

   It was easy after that. Baker trusted baseball’s best bullpen for the final nine outs after getting six superb innings from Framber Valdez. (The Astros bullpen finished the postseason with a 0.83 ERA, the lowest ever among teams that used their bullpens for at least 35 innings, according to’s Sarah Langs.)

   Some other annoying ghosts were vanquishes in this World Series. Baker won his first World Series in a 25-year managerial career, thus making his induction into the Hall of Fame as one of the best ever a formality. He’s the seventh man to win a World Series as both a player and manager.

   Likewise, Justin Verlander filled in the only unfinished line in his Hall of Fame resume with his first World Series victory (in Game 5). If he never throws another pitch for the Astros, his legacy in this city is complete.

   Peña was the World Series MVP after winning the same award after the American League Championship Series. Way back last spring, he was the single biggest question mark for this team as he attempted to fill the hole created by Carlos Correa’s free agency departure.

   His teammates raved about his talent and work ethic in spring training. He never once seemed overwhelmed by the expectations. He collected seven hits in the final three World Series games and exited his first Fall Classic with a .400 batting average.

   “Man, where do I even start?” Peña said. “It has a lot to do with my family, my upbringing. Shoutout to my teammates as well. They took me in since day one. They gave me the confidence to just go out and play my game and, yeah, shoutout to them, man. This is special.”

   Astros owner Jim Crane wept as Commissioner Rob Manfred handed him his second World Series trophy. He attempted to thank his players and all his employees for all of them doing their jobs.

   But this World Series is his. He bought the Astros in 2011 with a vision. That is, he would tear the whole thing down and attempt to rebuild something sustainable.

   He especially wanted to win this second after the 2017 championship was tainted by the sign-stealing scandal. The Astros have been booed relentlessly in every road city in the three seasons since news of the scandal broke.

   “I think that’s what drove this team,” Baker said. “That’s motivated them. The boos and the jeers that we got all over the country, it bothered these guys, but it also motivated them at the same time. And it wasn’t an us against the world thing. It was more of a ‘come together even closer’ type of thing.”

   Jose Altuve is the only common thread through the seven playoff teams, and as boatloads of talent departed via free agency, the Astros kept winning because their scouts kept finding players like Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez, who signed for a combined $50,000.

   Crane’s minor league coaches unlocked the talent in both those guys as his major league executives acquired players like Ryan Pressly and assisted them in becoming dominant.

   “In the end, I think we were able to show why we were the best team this season,” Verlander said. “You can pick a game. Tonight, it was the slugging and pitching.”

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