Culture / Sporting Life

Justin Verlander Didn’t Snub Anyone — His Teammate Brings Him to Astros Parade After All

Get Over Kate Upton Wedding Skip Day and Enjoy the Moments

BY // 11.03.17

Dallas Keuchel just cannot imagine his new buddy/mentor being left out. So he brings Justin Verlander to the microphone with him. Right up there on the big stage at Houston’s City Hall, with a sea Astros fans stretching out before him, including dozens of wet folks who turn the reflection pond into something of a soggy mosh pit.

It’s quite a scene and Keuchel brings Verlander to it as best he can.

“There’s one member of our team not here today,” Keuchel says. “He hasn’t really done much.”

Keuchel smiles, still looking at the crowd — and turning his iPhone towards the happy masses. “I want to give a little shout out,” the 29-year-old who’s been an Astros for six seasons, longer than any other pitcher on the team, says. “I want you guys to tell me how much Justin Verlander means.”

As the crowd roars, Keuchel keeps recording, getting a nice little video to send Verlander’s way. To Italy With Love.

Parade day —  officially Houston Astros Day in all of Texas, thanks to a proclamation signed by Governor Greg Abbott — turns out to be full of examples that demonstrate just why these Houston Astros won it all. Keuchel’s little video stands front and center. It’s the loudest demonstration on a day full of them on just how close this team is.

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If you’re upset that Justin Verlander elected to skip the Astros victory parade so that he could get married to Kate Upton in Italy, you just need to get over it. Celebrity weddings are notoriously difficult to pull off. They’re an industry to themselves — with complex negotiations over who gets the first photos, who’s tipped off about the secret location, etc, etc…

This isn’t like rescheduling a Las Vegas wedding at the Elvis chapel.

None of Verlander’s teammates seem to be at all begrudging of his choice. Houston’s not having this parade without Justin Verlander’s guts-out pitching performances. That should be enough.

Still, Keuchel — the clear No. 1 Astros pitcher before Verlander’s arrival, the guy with the most natural reasons to be envious — makes sure to bring Verlander to the parade. That’s pretty cool.

Then again, that’s what these world champion Astros are all about. You can see it in the way Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa — the team’s young superstar middle infield core — interacts with Alex Bregman, the 23-year-old third baseman who had as many sneaky big playoff moments for the champs as anyone, on the float they share.

It’s like Bregman is Correa and Altuve’s little brother — even though Correa happens to be the same age as him and Altuve is only 27.

Astros Parade Troubles and Magic

It’s that kind of day — the kind the kids watching on the shoulders on their dads and moms along the insanely-jammed-packed parade route will likely always remember. Yes, the parade route was made way too short (Houston’s a big city — take advantage of it). Yes, the METRO situation is beyond bad. And yes, a few of the politicians on the stage at  City Hall act like they won the World Series rather than you know… the Astros!

But in the end, the moments and the magic win out.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner calls it “the largest parade this city has ever seen.” Yes, this is one Houston parade where the crowd numbers do not have to be exaggerated. Streets that were flooded with immense amounts of water just a few months ago are now flooded with blue and orange confetti.

People climb up in trees and lean over out over the street from four-story parking garages, in some cases seemingly putting their lives in danger just to get a good look at their baseball heroes. You can doubt the saneness of some of it, but you can never question Houston’s passion.

And the Astros soak up the love. Every team talks about playing for their fans. But in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, these Astros treat it like a treasured responsibility.

“We won this World Series together!” Keuchel yells from the stage.

If you’re worried about Altuve getting a big head from getting to go on The Tonight Show, you can rest easy. If you’re stressed about Correa getting Today Show crossover star obsessed, take a breath. These are the same Astros you’ve loved all along. They’re not changing. Altuve even hands off the microphone to teammate Josh Reddick without saying a word despite the the rest of the Astros getting that “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chant going.

The Astros make this day more about their fans than themselves.

“Thank you for making Houston a championship city,” manager A.J. Hinch tells the crowd.

The funniest moment? Maybe when World Series MVP George Springer takes the microphone, wearing those Top Gun aviator sunglasses, and starts talking like Joey from Friends.

“What’s happening?!” Springer shouts. “How you all doing?! Yeah… I remember when we were beaten in New York and we weren’t supposed to win. How’d that work out? I was told before Game 7 that we didn’t have a chance. How’d that work out?

“Houston, we have a championship team and nobody can take that away from us.”

No one can take away this messy, imperfect, utterly magical day in downtown Houston either. No, Justin Verlander’s not there. But Dallas Keuchel still makes sure he’s part of it.

That’s perfect. That’s so 2017 Astros. Verlander’s teammates are good with this. You should be too.

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