Culture / Sporting Life

The Astros Leave the Dodgers Far Behind In Any Team of the Era Talk — Only Houston is Playing to be a Dynasty

Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Company’s Remarkable Consistency Should Be Celebrated

BY // 10.19.22

By the time the Houston Astros left Seattle, they had already left the LA Dodgers far behind. The Astros of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Lance McCullers Jr. and Justin Verlander still may need a second world championship to cement themselves as baseball’s modern dynasty.

But they’re the only team still in the running to get there.

The Dodgers removed themselves from consideration with yet another early round choke out of the playoffs. For all its riches, imported stars and the ability to have baseball’s highest payroll year after year (even Steve Cohen’s Mets spending spree couldn’t top them this year) LA’s lone title is that strange 2020 crown. Won in Arlington, Texas in that bizarre, drastically shortened COVID season.

The Dodgers of Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Co. have lost early almost as many times as they’ve made it to the National League Championship Series and the World Series. LA’s fallen in the division series — their first playoff round — four times since 2014. Usually as a big favorite.

In contrast, the Astros always make it to at least the League Championship Series. Six straight times now after that impressive 3-0 sweep of a dangerous Seattle Mariners team in the division series.

This remarkable consistency is a hallmark of this golden era of Houston baseball as the epic wins like that 18th inning 1-0 complete pitching staff masterpiece in Seattle.

Every team in baseball stumbles early in the playoffs at some point. Even those Yankees of 1996 through 2003 — the greatest modern dynasty in the game — lost to Cleveland and the Angels in the division series. Every great team in baseball stubs their toe at some point.

But not these Astros.

“We’re just a bunch of battlers who love to play ball,” Bregman says.

“This team is full of guys who only care about winning,” Lance McCullers Jr., one of the Core Astros who’ve been there for every big moment since 2017, says. “Nobody cares who’s the hero, or who gets the credit.

“Anybody can be the hero. We just want to win.”

There is no current peer left standing with the Astros, no other team of this era who can make a dynasty claim. This Dodgers run is defined by disappointment as much as it is by overwhelming regular season success.

The Braves have one title like the Dodgers and Houston, but they haven’t been close enough to winning it in other seasons to have a case. These Astros already have been in three World Series and they’re four wins against the Yankees in another Houston-New York American League Championship Series from making a fourth, Atlanta could still get there in several years. The Braves seemingly have a stacked roster. But they still have a lot of consistent winning to do.

You can’t take that winning for granted. These Astros never do.

This team’s pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat concentration is second to none. Maybe in baseball history.

“They just keep coming at you,” Mariners manager Scott Servais says.

The Astros of Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, McCullers and Verlander never cheat themselves. Season after season, they incorporate new players and personalities into their clubhouse mix and just keep being the surest thing in October.

There are roosters who aren’t this consistent. There are Apple engineers who aren’t this ruthlessly efficient.

If the Astros were a TV show they’d be the combination of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, just excellence stacked on top of excellence.

Yes, dynasties are defined by titles. And these Astros desperately need more than one. But if you don’t think this run of never losing early in the playoffs, never having a Dodgers stumble in October isn’t remarkable in its own right, you don’t understand baseball.

There is no current peer left standing with the Astros, no other team of this era who can make a dynasty claim. This Dodgers run is defined by disappointment as much as it is by overwhelming regular season success.

While Dodgers and Braves backers are railing against Major League Baseball’s new playoff format, trying to blame it for their early bow outs, this Houston team just rolls on to the next round.

The Astros never get truly upset. They never fall victim to an inferior team. Never give in to a lower seeded squad on a hot streak. They always make it at least to the championship rounds, the final four. No matter what the playoff format is.

The ever lauded Dodgers can’t come close to claiming that. Even those dynastic Yankees of Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius cannot say that.

The Houston Astros defeated the Chicago White Sox 9-5 behind s 5-run 7th inning, highlighted by a Carlos Correa 2-RBI double and a Kyle Tucker 2-run home run. The Astros now lead 2 games to none in a best-of-five American League Division Series
Yuli Gurriel just helps the Astros keep winning. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

How deep does this Astros consistency go? The Astros have never even trailed in a division series. Six straight division series and the opposing team’s never held a single game advantage over Houston. The Tampa Bay Rays were the only team that could push them into a Game 5. After being down 0-2.

The no-doubt dynasty Yankees didn’t just lose to Cleveland in the first round in 1997 and the Angels in 2002, they were pushed to the very brink by Oakland in 2001, trailing 0-2 in that best-of-five before the Derek Jeter flip game turned everything.

These Astros are a remarkable 18-5 overall in the division series since 2017. You can’t beat them early.

If you don’t think this run of never losing early in the playoffs, never having a Dodgers stumble in October isn’t remarkable in its own right, you don’t understand baseball.

It’s one of the most impressive runs in baseball in the last 30 years. It may not be dynastic just yet. But it screams plenty about what this group is made of.

The Dodgers? Child please.

They’re not even in the same class. They don’t have the consistency. These Astros are already a step above, pushing for more.

This ia a team that only thinks about one thing. The next win. It’s why Jose Altuve brushes off a question about his own 0 for 16 playoff start in the wake of that 18th inning Mona Lisa of a victory.

“We just won a series,” Altuve says in aftermath of the Seattle advance and another division series mastered. “We’re back in the ALCS again. I’m happy.”

He looks like it too, seems almost giddily watching his teammates, especially the younger ones, spray champagne everywhere and pour beer on anything that moves, share the moment with their families later on the field. With these Astros, it’s always winning over stats, always about making it as far in October as possible. Somehow the idea of stumbling early doesn’t even compute.

That may be a dynasty. Yet. But it’s something truly remarkable in its own right.

Something the Dodgers can lay no claim to in this era.

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