WE ARE CHAMPIONS!

The wait is over: Astros win the big one for a city whose spirit could not be denied

What a moment for the city of Houston. Harry How/Getty Images

It took 56 long years, and one magnificent night, to create memories that will last forever in Houston. The Astros are World Series champions!

As the players whooped and hollered and hugged on the field, fans back home heard their message loud and clear. "We did it for our city, our fans," said World Series MVP George Springer

If anybody stood tall for Houston, it was Springer. He started the Series by striking out four times, and finished holding the Willie Mays MVP trophy. That's Houston, picking itself up off the mat and shining new again. 

Starting pitcher Lance McCullers said, "We wear this patch ("HoustonStrong") and we wear it proudly."

Jose Altuve, 5-6 and 165 pounds, all heart, became a baseball giant, showing the country who he is — baseball's best hitter, batting champion again, and surely the 2017 American League's Most Valuable Player.

We know the story: Houston went through the wringer this summer with Hurricane Harvey. Much of the city and Astros fans are still reeling from the flood. We rallied around this team of wonderful players and triumphed. If a flood couldn't get Houston down, what chance, really, did the Dodgers have?

Baseball record books will simply record Wednesday night as "Astros 5, Dodgers 1." But this was so much more. Houston baseball fans have waited since this team was born in 1962 as the Colt .45's to raise a World Series banner. The wait is over. We are champions.

Quite simply, this is the greatest sports moment in the history of our city. Nothing comes close. We're talking the World Series — the very words mean the ultimate accomplishment. And they did it with style, taking Game 7.

The two most exciting words in sports —Game 7.

How could you not cheer for Carlos Correa, rubbing the heads of his teammates after a home run, jumping over the dugout rail to celebrate a win, then getting on one knee and proposing marriage after winning the World Series? Yeah, that's a pretty good 24 hours for our shortstop.

Get ready for a party, 2 pm Friday in downtown Houston. And the party won't stop any time soon. These wondrous homegrown players, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel and others are all coming back next year. Justin Verlander has two more years in Houston.

"I literally love Justin Verlander" - Jose Altuve.

"I literally love you, too, Jose Altuve" - Justin Verlander.

"We love the whole darn team - all of you" - millions of Houstonians.

Many teams fill the back pages of newspapers with stories of ego and griping and dissent. They challenge their coaches, question their owner, mutter they want out.

Here's how that plays in Houston. When centerfielder George Springer caught the final out of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he gave the ball to manager A.J. Hinch.

Dallas Keuchel said, "I owe everything to (pitching coach) Brent Strom. He means the world to me."

Consider this, over the past few weeks, the Astros beat the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, three legendary baseball franchises, to claim their first World Series title.

This is pure joy for a team, a city, a spirit that could not be denied. Celebrate it.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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